Spatial Inference ~~ The Detective Skill of The Blind

From my blind friends’ description of the experience of taking transportation vehicles, I got some patterns about their situational spatiality.

When traveling to the destination, their habituated body recognizes the familiar settings to help them complete the journey.

One description is typical; I transcribed it as follows:

If there is no one in the bus station that I can seek help, I will use hearing perception to identify the engine sound of the bus I want to take on. (Because different companies have different types of buses with different engine sounds.)

After getting on the bus, I remember the terrain the bus goes through. I can get clues from the bus passing through special terrain such as passing a bridge. When the bus goes climbing up, the engine sound of the bus I take will increase, and I can also sense that the other side of the traffic flow is gliding down.

These engine sounds and terrain fluctuations are easily overlooked by sighted people. My friends’ descriptions of this kind of multi-sensory experience trigger me to ponder. I think the sighted person also needs the diversified sensory stimulus to improve multi-intelligent performance.

For someone who has the heart to help blind people, he/she should first understand the true needs of a blind person.

Some of my friends pointed out that when they asked for location inquiry from pedestrians, the answers they got sometimes puzzled them. This is because most of the time the pedestrians would enthusiastically give the directions to the destination for the blind.

But what the blind people really want to know is the present location. Blind people are different from sighted persons. So, when a sighted person wants to help a blind person, he/she can’t use the thinking pattern of a sighted person.

What the blind people really need is that they want to know where is the present location of their positions, and then they can establish a mental map using the clues from other people’s instructions. If sighted people just give directions, the blind people will get confused.

Another point is that blind people show a common pattern when they face a spacious area. They feel that a spacious, smooth space is dangerous for them. Such an environment lacks any clues for positioning. They cannot measure such space due to the lack of any cross-reference system.

Originally published at on August 9, 2020.

slow down my brain, breathe deeply, foster present-moment awareness, keep an open and friendly mind to appreciate what is going on in and around me.