Deaf adults ’see better’ than hearing people

Thursday, November 11, 2010

WASHINGTON - A new research at the University of Sheffield has revealed that deaf adults can react more quickly to visual cues than those who can hear well.

Dr Charlotte Codina, from the University’s Academic Unit of Ophthalmology and Orthoptics found that children born deaf are slower to react to objects in their peripheral vision compared to hearing children.

However, deaf adolescents and adults who have been without hearing since birth can react to objects in their peripheral vision more quickly.

The study tested profoundly deaf children (aged five to 15 years) using a self-designed visual field test, and compared this to age-matched hearing controls as well as to deaf and hearing adult data.

“We found that deaf children see less peripherally than hearing children, but, typically, go on to develop better than normal peripheral vision by adulthood. Important vision changes are occurring as deaf children grow-up and one current theory is that they have not yet learnt to focus their attention on stimuli in the periphery until their vision matures at the age of 11 or 12,” said Codina.

“As research in this area continues, it will be interesting to identify factors which can help deaf children to make this visual improvement earlier.”

Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) Research Programme Manager, Dr Joanna Robinson, said, “This research shows that adults who have been deaf since birth may have advantages over hearing people in terms of their range of vision.

“For example, deaf people could be more proficient in jobs which depend on the ability to see a wide area of activities and respond quickly to situations, such as sports referees, teachers or CCTV operators.”

“On the other hand, the findings suggest that parents of deaf children need to be aware that their child’s initially delayed reaction to peripheral movements may mean they are slower to spot and avoid potential dangers such as approaching traffic.”

The findings were published in Development Science today (Thursday 11 November 2010). (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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