Theory of tactile pictures argues that untrained blind subjects can recognize raised, outline pictures. It contends the blind person's knowledge of the shapes of common objects is like that of the sighted, and the blind person's pictorial abilities use the same principles as the sighted person's. To test this theory, blind children (aged 8-13) and blindfolded age-matched sighted children were asked to identify raised-line drawings of common objects. Their performances were correlated. In addition, the blind children identified more than sighted children exploring the pictures actively, but the same number of pictures as sighted children who were given passive, guided exploration. We argue blind and sighted children use the same principles to identify the pictures, but the blind have superior exploration skills. The differences in the effects of exploration skills on recognition scores are minimized when the sighted children are given guidance, since the sighted children then have efficient contact with the displays, and the performance of the sighted and the blind is then governed by the same principles, without one group benefitting from advantages in exploration skills.
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