The World without Sight. A Comparative Study of Concept Understanding in Polish Congenitally Totally Blind and Sighted Children

Katarzyna Jaworska-Biskup 1
  • 1 University of Szczecin

The World without Sight. A Comparative Study of Concept Understanding in Polish Congenitally Totally Blind and Sighted Children

The paper presents the outcome of an experiment on concept understanding in Polish congenitally totally blind and sighted children. A test of free associations was administered to a group of 40 sighted and 24 congenitally totally blind children between the ages of 7 and 9. The research instrument included 25 sample concepts grouped into four categories such as colors, nature phenomena, features of living organisms and physical processes. The collected responses lend support to the fact that there exist many impediments to proper concept understanding due to limited hands-on experience arising out of blindness, visible in the research by the presence of gaps in knowledge or egocentrism-based responses. The data exhibits a blind child's high dependence on contextual clues and a delay in the process of decontextualization, especially if it is not accompanied by sufficient stimulation from the child's environment.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aitchison, J. (1987). Words in the mind: An introduction to the mental lexicon. Oxford and New York: Basil Blackwell.

  • Anderson, E. S., Dunlea, A., & Kekelis, L. S. (1984). Blind children's language: Resolving some differences. Journal of Child Language, 11, 645-664.

  • Bartmiński, J. (2007). Stereotypy mieszkają w języku [Stereotypes are living in language]. Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS.

  • Bigelow, A. (1988). Blind children's concepts of how people see. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 82, 65-68.

  • Bloom, P. (2001). How children learn the meaning of words. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24, 1095-1103.

  • Boldt, W. (1969). The development of scientific thinking in blind children and adolescents. Education of Visually Handicapped, 1, 5-8.

  • Brambring, M. (2000). Lehrstunden eines blinden Kindes. München: Verlag.

  • Burlingham, D. (1965). Some problems of ego development in blind children. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 19, 95-112.

  • Byrne, R. W. & Salter, E. (1983). Distances and directions in cognitive maps of the blind. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 31, 293-299.

  • Caton, H. (1977). The development and evaluation of a tactile analogy to the Boehm test of basic concepts, form A. Visual Impairment and Blindness, 71, 382-386.

  • Child, D. (2007). Psychology and the teacher. New York: Continuum.

  • Cratty, B. J. & Sams, T. A. (1968). The body-image of blind children. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

  • Crow, L. & Crow, A. (1953). Child psychology. New York: Barnes and Noble.

  • Cutsforth, T. D. (1932). The unreality of words to the blind. Teachers Forum, 4, 86-89.

  • Cutsforth, T. D. (1951). The blind in schools and society. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

  • Dale, N. & Salt, A. (2008). Social identity, autism and visual impairment in the early years. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 26, 135-146.

  • DeMott, R. M. (1972). Verbalism in affective meaning for blind, severally visually impaired, and normally sighted children. New Outlook for the Blind, 66, 1-8.

  • Dokecki, P. C. (1966). Verbalism and the blind. A critical review of the concept and the literature. Exceptional Children, 32, 525-530.

  • Dunlea, A. (1989). Vision and the emergence of meaning. Blind and sighted children's early language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Engelmann, S. & Carnine, D. (1982). Theory of instruction: Principles and applications. New York: Irvington.

  • Fontana, D. (1995). Psychology for teachers. London: Macmillan.

  • Gander, M. & Gardiner, H. (1981). Child and adolescent development. Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.

  • Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

  • Gleitman, L. (1989). The structural sources of verb meaning. Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, 28, 1-48.

  • Gottesman, M. (1973). Conservation development in blind children. Child Development, 44, 824-827.

  • Grzegorzewska, M. (1964). Zjawisko kompensacji u niewidomych i głuchych [A phenomenon of compensation in the blind and deaf]. In M. Grzegorzewska, Wybór Pism [Selected writings] (pp. 48-76). Warszawa: PWN.

  • Harley, R. K. (1963). Verbalism among blind children. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

  • Harrison, F. & Crow, M. (1993). Living and learning with congenitally blind children. Canada: University of Toronto.

  • Hatwell, Y. (1985). Piagetian reasoning and the blind. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

  • Henri. P (1948). Cecite et verbalisme [Blindness and verbalism]. Journal de Psychologie Normale et Pathologique, 4L, 216-240.

  • Higgins, L. (1973). Classification in congenitally blind children. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

  • Hulek, A. (1969). Teoria i praktyka rehabilitacji inwalidów [Theory and practice in rehabilitation of disabled persons]. Warszawa: PZWL.

  • Kennedy, J. (1993). Drawing and the blind. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

  • Klimasiński, K. (1989). Organizacja czynności poznawczych przy głębokim defekcie wzroku [Organization of cognitive activities with a severe visual defect]. Kraków: Uniwersytet Jagieloński.

  • Kurcz, I. (1992). Język a psychologia [Language and psychology]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Szkolne i Pedagogiczne.

  • Landau, B. (1991). Knowledge and its expression in the blind child. In D. Keating & H. Rosen (Eds.), Constructivists perspectives on developmental psychopathology and atypical development (pp. 173-192). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Landau, B. (1997). Language and experience in blind children: retrospective and perspective. In V. Lewis & G. M. Collins (Eds.), Blindness and psychological development in young children (pp. 9-28). Leicester: British Psychological Society.

  • Landau, B. & Gleitman, L. R. (1985). Language and experience. Evidence from the blind child. London: Harvard University Press.

  • Leech, G. (1987). Semantics. The study of meaning. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

  • Majewski, T. (1983). Psychologia niewidomych i niedowidzących [Psychology of the blind and visually impaired]. Warszawa: PWN.

  • Marek, B. (2005). Learning from experience. In B. Harań (Ed.), Teaching foreign languages to disabled students (pp. 143-153). Siedlce: Wydawnictwo Akademii Podlaskiej.

  • Marslen-Wilson, W. D. (2002). Functional parallelism in spoken word recognition. In G. T. M. Altmann (Ed.), Psycholinguistics. Critical concepts in psychology (pp. 297-327). London, New York: Routledge.

  • Mikołajczak-Matyja, N. (2008). Hierarchiczna struktura leksykonu umysłowego. Relacje semantyczne w leksykonie widzących i niewidomych uzytkowników języka [The hierarchical structure of the mental lexicon. Semantic relations in the lexicon of sighted and blind language users]. Poznań: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM.

  • Millar, S. (1994). Understanding and representing space. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Miller, D. (1985). Reading comes naturally: A mother and her blind child's experiences. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 79, 1-4.

  • Miller, G. A. (1991). The science of words. New York: Scientific American Library.

  • Mulford, R. (1988). First words of the blind child. In M. D. Smith (Ed.), The emerging lexicon. The child's development of a linguistic vocabulary (pp. 293-338). London: Academic Press.

  • Murphy, M. (2003). Semantic relations and the lexicon: antonyms, synonyms and other semantic paradigms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

  • Nolan, C. Y. (1960). On the unreality of words on the blind. New Outlook for the Blind, 54, 100-102.

  • Norris, M., Spaulding, P. J., & Brodie, F. H. (1957). Blindness in children. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Perez-Pereira, M. & Conti-Ramsden, G. (1999). Language development and social interaction in blind children. Hove and New York: Psychology Press.

  • Pinker, S. (1997). Words and rules in the human brain. Nature, 387, 547-548.

  • Piskorska, A. (2008). Concepts reflecting aesthetic judgments in blind children. In E. Mioduszewska & A. Piskorska (Eds.), Relevance Round Table (pp. 97-108). Warszawa: Warsaw University Press.

  • Preisler, G. M. (1995). The development of communication in blind and in deaf infants-similarities and differences. Child: Care, Health and Development, 21, 79-110.

  • Rosel, J., Caballer, A., Jara, P., & Oliver, J. (2005). Verbalism in the narrative language of children who are blind and sighted. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 99 (7), 1-22.

  • Rosh, E. (1978). Principles of categorization. In E. Rosh & B. Lloyd (Eds.), Cognition and categorization (pp. 27-48). New York: Hillsdale.

  • Rowland, Ch. (1983). Patterns of interactions between three blind infants and their mothers. In A. E. Mills (Ed.), Language acquisition in the blind child. Normal and deficient (pp. 114-132). London: College-Hill Press.

  • Scholl, G. (1986). Growth and development. In G. Scholl (Ed), Foundations of education for blind and visually handicapped children and youth (pp. 65-82). USA: American Foundation for the Blind.

  • Sękowska, Z. (1974). Kształcenie dzieci niewidomych [Education of blind children]. Warszawa: PWN.

  • Sękowska, Z. (1984). Tyflopedagogika [Pedagogy for the blind]. Warszawa: PWN.

  • Sparks, R. (1995). Examining the linguistic coding differences hypothesis to explain individual differences in foreign language learning. Annals of Dyslexia, 45, 187-214.

  • Sperber, D. & Wilson D. (1986). Relevance. London: Basil Blackwell.

  • Stephens, B. & Grube, C. (1982). Development of Piagetian reasoning in congenitally blind children. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 76, 133-143.

  • Tobin, M. (2008). Information: a new paradigm for research into our understanding of blindness? British Journal of Visual Impairment, 26 (2), 119-127.

  • Urwin, C. (1978). The development of communication between blind infants and their parents. In A. Lock (Ed.), Action, gesture and symbol. The emergence of language (pp. 79-108). London: Academic Press.

  • Urwin, C. (1983). Dialogue and cognitive functioning in the early language development of three blind children. In A. E. Mills (Ed.), Language acquisition in the blind child. Normal and deficient (pp. 142-161). London: College-Hill Press.

  • Walthes, R. (2007). Tyflopedagogika [orig. Einführung in die Blinden- und Sehbehindertenpädagogik]. Gdańsk: Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne.

  • Warren, D. (1994). Blindness and children. An individual difference approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Więckowska, E. (2004). O pełnowartościową metodykę nauczania rysunku w szkole dla niewidomych [For the high value methodology of teaching drawing in school for the blind]. Laski, 3/4, 40-50.

  • Wilson, R. (1998). Special educational needs in the early years. London: Routledge.

  • Vygotsky, L. (1934). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.


Journal + Issues