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?
sense of smell
Skills and Sound Localization- ability to distinguish sounds and determine
where the sounds are located in relation to your body.
Perception- awareness of ability to feel objects and determine shapes,
Sensation- ability to taste.
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).
awareness of one’s environment through physical sensation. (Example: feeling the cold outside air
against face when door is open).
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.)
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).
Use all of your senses together to become aware of the environment.
Class Content and
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
- Teacher describes a pencil
and the class guesses what it is: Slender cylinder, point on one end,
soft-cushion material on the other end, smells of lead, light in weight, length
can be 7” long, writing instrument.
- As a class, think about what
a doorknob that you have seen before looks like, (characteristics- waist
high, round, plastic, wooden, key hole, brass, color of door). Ask one student to describe the doorknob
they are picturing. What other questions need to be asked to get a good
idea of the characteristics of the doorknob?
- Imagine what you think a car
would like if the last time you saw a car was 30 years ago. How can this be beneficial and/or
Being able to consciously form a mental image of a person, place,
object or situation.
- “Missing Person” - Describe a
family member as if he/she were missing. Description should be to assist
the police in locating the missing person. The class should visualize the
person described and ask additional questions to form an accurate mental
- Picture someone you have not
seen in many years. How may your visualization be inaccurate?
- “Walking Through
Walls” - Imagine starting at the front door of your home and walking ahead
in a straight line, going through any walls. Visualize and describe the
rooms you pass through.
- “Mystery Guest” - Walking
sighted guide the student should be aware of the information they are
tactually receiving through their hand.
Based on such information, the student should be able to construct
a mental image of the guide even if they had never seen the guide
before. Examples of information:
height, age, body structure, gender, race, and personality factors. Have
the blindfolded students walk sighted guide with a mystery guest for 1-3
minutes. The guide is not allowed to talk.
Do not let the students discuss what they learned until all of the
class has walked with the guide.
When all of the students have had a turn, have them describe the
guide and guess the person, through the information they obtained from
because the students need to learn how to tune out distracting sounds and focus
on important sounds.
- Sound Recognition – Have
students identify various sounds: opening a zipper, pencil/pen/marker
writing on paper, pulling tape from dispenser, various coins falling on
- Sound Discrimination - Read
the emergency exit procedures for the building with noise in the
background (a radio with static sound).
Discuss the difficulty, but importance, of tuning out the
distracting sound. Good exercise for children with autism.
- Sound Localization - Have
students walk toward a constant, then intermittent, then single sound
source. Practice alignment with a stationary and then a moving sound.
Doorbell works well. Can make it a game for two people.
- Eye Contact - Make eye
contact by looking just above the sound of the voice. Discuss with class their feelings
concerning eye contact and the importance of eye contact. Identify and
point to the sound (voice); turn eyes to the sound; turn head and focus
eyes on the sound; and turn body toward the sound.
- Shaking hands - Discuss
difficulties with and importance of shaking hands. Listen for the voice of
the person with whom you intend to shake hands and turn to face that
person, state your intention to shake hands. Bring your hand to your
waist, keeping hand and arm close to your body, extend the fingers in
preparation for the handshake and move your hand and arm slowly toward the
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.
- Identify various household
objects by touch.
- “Apple Baby” - Each student
is given an apple and told to get to know the apple through their tactual
sense. The apples are then
collected and handed out to a different student. Each student’s goal is to get their
“baby” back by describing their original apple so that the person
currently holding it will recognize it and return it. The people holding
the apple are allowed to ask questions as well to verify information.
- Give a wooden, plastic, and
metal spoon. Talk about likenesses and differences.
- Visit a taxidermist
smell. The following exercise emphasizes
the importance of using all of the senses together.
- Talk about the strong
association between smell and memory. Have them think of a memory that
- Ask class to feel a tube of Chapstick. Then
ask them to feel a tube of insect balm (in an identical container). Ask
them to announce what they think the items are. Then, ask them to smell
the contents, relying on their olfactory sense to determine the object.
Repeat with baby wipe and Clorox wipe containers. Adults enjoy comparing
Preparation H and toothpaste.
- Have students try to
determine the taste of a jelly bean while holding an onion to their nose.
Time and distance. The following exercises show how using kinesthetic senses
alone may be detrimental.
- 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.
- 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