Sensory Awareness

Al Kaufman, COMS


Sensory Awareness was designed to help people who have recently lost their vision make maximum, beneficial use of their remaining senses and sensory abilities, thus increasing their independence. Sensory techniques designed to improve the sense of touch can improve interpretation of information obtained from the cane and make the learning of Braille and keyboarding much easier. In the same way, being able to distinguish between sounds increases the understanding of orientation and mobility techniques as well as daily household tasks such as cooking and cleaning.


What are the senses and sensory abilities we will be discussing?


1.                  Olfactory- sense of smell

2.                  Listening Skills and Sound Localization- ability to distinguish sounds and determine where the sounds are located in relation to your body.

3.                  Tactual Perception- awareness of ability to feel objects and determine shapes, textures, etc.

4.                  Chemical Sensation- ability to taste.

5.                  Kinesthetic Ability- movement of body.  A sense that perceives bodily movement, position, and weight and is mediated by nervous elements in tendons, muscles, and joints.  (Example: Finding the bathroom in your house without tactual information- sense you are there).

6.                  Perception- awareness of one’s environment through physical sensation.  (Example: feeling the cold outside air against face when door is open).

7.                  Physical Orientation- awareness of self in relationship to self and environment.  (Example: you, in a classroom, within a building, within a block, within a city, etc.)

8.                  Manipulative Ability- Ability to manipulate the environment to use your sense to keep yourself oriented.  Ability to add sensory information to the environment to increase awareness of the environment.  (Example: wind chimes in the tree to locate house).

9.                  Coordination- Use all of your senses together to become aware of the environment.  


Class Content and Exercises:


Visual Memory:


Recalling past visual experiences to form a mental image. This skill should be enhanced for people who have become adventitiously blind. For visualization skills to remain effective they must be continuously practiced and reinforced.  Additionally, visual memory must not be confused with daydreaming: images that enter a person’s mind without conscious decision.


Sample Exercises:




Being able to consciously form a mental image of a person, place, object or situation. 


Sample Exercises:


Auditory Awareness:


Important because the students need to learn how to tune out distracting sounds and focus on important sounds. 


Sample Exercises:


Tactual Awareness:


Perceptions gained through the tactual sense coupled with auditory and visual memory abilities will serve to increase the student’s visualization skills and total awareness of all aspects of their daily life.  The tactual sense includes information obtained not only from hands and fingers but also the skin, feet, face, etc. and perceptions such as slopes.


Sample Exercises:


Chemical Sense:


Taste and smell.  The following exercise emphasizes the importance of using all of the senses together. 


Sample Exercises:


Kinesthetic Sense:


Time and distance. The following exercises show how using kinesthetic senses alone may be detrimental.


Sample Exercises:

  1. Tell students they will be asked to estimate the time of a walk. One by one take students out on a sighted guide walk. The guide should carry on a conversation with the student. At the end of the walk ask the student to guess how long they have been walking. Record the estimated time and the actual time. Read all the times aloud at the end.
  2. Mark off 25 feet in a long hallway. Have students, one at a time, walk the length of the hallway until they think they have reached 25 feet. Mark all their places then have them all come out and stand at their marks so they can notice the wide range.