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Spatial orientation in adolescents with visual impairment

Duquette, J. (2012). Spatial orientation in adolescents with visual impairment : Related factors and avenues for assessment : Information monitoring summary. Longueuil : INLB. 17 pages.

Spatial orientation is a person’s skill in using the information received through their senses to determine their position in space and their destination in relation to significant objects in the environment. In the context of visual impairment, this term refers more specifically to knowledge of distances and directions that relate to objects in the environment and have been observed or memorized, and the ability to commit these spatial relationships to memory when they change as the person proceeds. Spatial skills are defined by putting in place and using spatial relations between a particular place and oneself (e.g. in a given fixed position) or between different places (independently of one’s own position).
Orientation integrates perceptual and cognitive learning. Integrating the sensory information needed for orientation requires conceptual development that includes among others, body scheme, the body-to-object relationship, spatial updating, the object-to-object relationship, the environment and time, as well as conceptual understanding of objects.
Spatial orientation may be affected by dysfunction of any of the basic sensory systems (touch, proprioceptive, vestibular, olfactory, auditory or visual). The development of orientation skills and the construction of a mental representation of the environment are also related to various cognitive faculties such as attention capacity, short-term, long-term and topographic memory, and language skills.
At an integration level, mental representation of space involves localizing the stimulus, spatial memory, inference skills, and using symbolic representations and cognitive maps.
Regarding what is observable, some authors have determined that generally speaking, an adolescent with visual impairment (VI) should be able to describe the areas they are in, develop cognitive maps, follow route directions, demonstrate spatial actualization skills and the ability to estimate a time/distance relationship, and employ problem-solving strategies when they are disoriented. Fazzi & Naimy (2010) have established guidelines regarding the skills expected of children and adolescents with VI, among others students in grades 10 to 12 (age 15-17). These skills fall into different categories (mobility, orientation, concepts and sensory skills). Finally, there are various ways to evaluate factors associated with spatial orientation, ranging from the simplest (e.g. localizing the stimulus) to the most complex (e.g. externalizing mental representations).

Sujets : Orientation et mobilité; Orientation spatiale; Adolescence

Type de document : Veille informationnelle

Aussi disponible en français sous le titre : L’orientation spatiale chez les adolescents ayant une déficience visuelle : facteurs associés et pistes d’évaluation

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