The role of touch, hearing and olfaction in the construction and of cognitive maps by individuals with visual impairaments
Η συμβολή της αφής, της ακοής και της όσφρησης στη διαμόρφωση και ενημέρωση νοητικών χαρτών από άτομα με πρόβλημα όρασης
The present doctoral dissertation explores the role of touch, hearing and olfaction in the construction of cognitive maps by individuals with visual impairments. The theoretical part of the dissertation includes a review of the fundamental terms used in the field of orientation and mobility and cognitive mapping. It also focuses on key concepts related to sensation, perception and memory. The theoretical part of the dissertation also reviews the existing literature regarding the role of remaining senses in the acquisition of spatial information by individuals with visual impairments.The research has been organized in three stages. The first research stage examines which haptic, auditory and olfactory cues individuals with visual impairments use most often and determines which of these cues these individuals deemed to be the most important for wayfinding in urban environments. It also investigates the ways in which these individuals use the most significant haptic, auditory and olfactory cues. The second research stage sought to examine the role of touch, hearing and olfaction in the cognitive mapping of an unfamiliar environment by individuals with blindness. The third research stage aimed at investigating the type of environmental attributes that individuals with blindness recall from their cognitive maps for familiar environments. To meet the research aims a mixed methodology was used, including a focus-group interview, questionnaires, closed-ended interviews and two spatial tasks.The findings reveal that individuals with visual impairments use several haptic, auditory and olfactory cues in various ways to orient themselves and navigate within urban environments. The findings also show that individuals with visual impairments use a variety of informational stimuli, picked-up through touch, hearing and olfaction to determine the nature and position of environmental attributes in an unfamiliar environment. Finally, the results indicate that the cognitive maps of blind individuals for familiar environments contain information about several environmental attributes that can be perceived through touch, hearing and/or olfaction during novel navigation.