U-VIP: 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 identify spatial impairments possibly conditioning the life of children and adults with visual disability.

In particular the focus of the group is to:

  • 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 
  • 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 (e.g. absence of vision on auditory skills)
  • Testing and validating with human-centered techniques the devices (friendly and ergonomic) developed by considering social and clinical contexts.
  • 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.

Projects

  • ICT-2013.5.3 ICT for smart and personalised inclusion (2014-2017) Role: Coordinator. AIM: development and test of a new devices called “ABBI “ for rehabilitation of spatial and social skills of visually impaired children (www.abbiproject.eu)
  • H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014, PACE project (2015-2019). Role: project partner. AIM: The PACE project is an ITN project that propose to study action and perception in individuals with and without disability (http://www.int.univ-amu.fr/-ITN-Marie-Curie-network-PACE).

Collaborations

IIT

  • RBCS: study of multisensory integration (Gabriel Baud-Bovy, Luca Brayda and Alessandra Sciutti).
  • iCub Facility: artifical systems (Francesco Nori, Matej Hoffmann)

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL

  • Prof. Martin Banks, Multisensory integration, University of Berkeley, USA, 2008
  • Melvin Goodale, Echolocators and perception, University of Western Ontario, Canada 2013-2015
  • Prof. Brigitte Roeder, Visual disability, University of Hamburg, Germany, 2014-2015
  • Prof. Juergen Konczak, sensory-motor integration University of Minnesota, USA, 2008-2013
  • Prof. Charlotte Magnusson, User studies in blind children, University of Lund, Sweden 2014-2015
  • Prof. Steven Brewster, Devices development, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK 2014-2015
  • Prof. Concetta Morrone, Temporal and multisensory processing, University of Pisa, Italy 2006-2015
  • Dr. Anna Chilosi, Dr. Francesca Tinelli, Dr. Giovanni Cioni, Development and disability, Istituto Stella Maris, Pisa, Italy, 2008-2015
  • Dr. Elena Cocchi, Dr. Elisabetta Capris, Dr. Cristima Martinoli Istituto David Chiossone, Visual disability, Genoa, Italy, 2008-2015
  • Prof. Giovanni Abbruzzese,  Dr. Laura  Avanzino,  Haptic perception and parkinson, University of Genova, Italy, 2009-2012
  • Prof. Teresa Farroni, Intersensory stimulation in infancy, University of Padua