Unit for Visually Impaired People

Unit for Visually Impaired People

Early onset of blindness adversely affects psychomotor, emotional and social development, that mostly depend on spatial cognition.

The main aim of the unit is to early identify spatial impairments that impact life of visually disabled people and build innovative solutions to prevent the risk of developmental delays.

In particular the focus of the group is to:

  • Investigate how integration between sensory and motor signals develops during childhood.
  • Investigate how the absence of one sensory modality impacts on the development of other sensory and motor signals.
  • Identify solutions (technologies and rehabilitation procedures) to enhance the sensorimotor abilities necessary to orient and move in space, to communicate, to access everyday information and, therefore, to interact in social contexts.
  • Test and validate with human-centered techniques the devices (friendly and ergonomic) developed by considering both real-life and clinical settings.
  • Understand the brain functions and develop neural models to implement sensory and cognitive functions in artificial systems.

We think that early intervention is necessary in visually impaired children to improve navigation, communication, mobility and social skills. The creation of science-driven new rehabilitation devices to be used early in life will provide clear scientific advancements and will drastically improve the quality of life of individuals with visual disability and their social inclusion.



The Unit has state-of-the-art facilities to perform human behavioral studies in children and adults with or without disabilities. We currently have several computer-controlled set-ups to perform psychophysical tests, an eye-tracker, a virtual reality device, a  vestibular evaluation set-up,  and two robots for supporting the navigation of the disabled people.

The Unit has also access to the labs of the Center for Human Technologies, that comprise multiple motion capture system, EEG and TMS equipment, force plates, surface EMG recording.




  • RBCS: Prof. Giulio Sandini, Prof. Gabriel Baud-Bovy, Dr. Luca Brayda and Dr. Alessandra Sciutti.
  • CTNSC@UniFe: Dr. Alessandro D’Ausilio, Dr. Leonardo Badino.
  • C’MON: Prof. Cristina Becchio.


  • David Burr, Multisensory integration and perception, University of Florence.
  • Concetta Morrone, Temporal and multisensory processing, University of Pisa.
  • Gualtiero Volpe, Artistic research and creation, University of Genova.
  • Prof. Francesco Pavani, Spatial cognition in deaf people, University of Trento.


  • Prof. Melvin Goodale, Echolocators and perception, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
  • Dr. Andrew Kolarik, Auditory localization, Cambridge University, UK.
  • Dr. Lorenzo Picinali, Audio experience design, Imperial College, UK.
  • Prof. Fiona Newell, Multisensory Integration across the lifespan, Trinity College, Ireland.
  • Prof. Nadia Berthouze, Affective computing and interaction, University College London, UK.
  • Prof. Sara Price, Digital technologies for learning and teaching, University College London, UK.
  • Anderson Oliveira, Sport for blind people, Aalborg University, Denmark.
  • Emily Cooper, Multisensory integration and computational modeling, Dartmouth College, USA.
  • Andrea Serino, Peripersonal Space, Ecole Politecnique Federale Lausanne, Switzerland.
  • Andrew King, Basic research on blindness, University of Oxford, UK.
  • Prof. Paul R. MacNeilage, Human spatial orientation, University of Nevada, USA.
  • Prof. Brigitte Roeder, Visual disability, University of Hamburg, Germany.
  • Prof. Charlotte Magnusson, User studies in children, University of Lund, Sweden.
  • Prof. Steven Brewster, Interaction design, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
  • Prof. Juergen Konczak, Sensory-motor integration and rehabilitation, University of Minnesota, USA.
  • Prof. Martin Banks, Multisensory integration, University of Berkeley, USA.


  • Istituto David Chiossone, Genova: Dr. Elena Cocchi, Dr. Elisabetta Capris.
  • IRCCS Stella Maris, Pisa: Dr. Anna Chilosi, Dr. Francesca Tinelli, Dr. Giovanni Cioni.
  • IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Bosisio Parini Lecco: Dr. Giuseppina Giammari, Dr. Renato Borgatti.
  • IRIFOR Trentino, Trento: Dr. Roberta Zumiani.
  • Fondazione Robert Hollman, Padova: Dr. Eleonora Reffo, Dr. Vittorina Shoch.

IIT People