Some see a busy picture. We see sounds to help blind people.

“We use our eyes to see but it’s the brain that translates the information to make an image. My research looks at how we can use that same information and translate it into an image in the brain through a different sense.”

Dr Michael Proulx, Department of Psychology

According to the World Health Organization, around 40 million people in the world are blind, while another 250 million have some form of visual impairment. And age-related disorders, such glaucoma and diabetes mean these numbers are on the rise in the ageing populations of the UK, Europe and other countries.

Here at Bath, Michael Proulx in our Department of Psychology is pioneering research that could make all the difference for blind people.

His work uses a revolutionary device known as the vOICe. It is made up of a camera, a headset and clever software that turns an image into a soundscape. Using the vOICe, Michael and colleagues in the Department are giving blind and visually-impaired people an opportunity to ‘see’ the world through sound.

What’s more, latest tests into the vOICe have found that, even without training, the visual performance and general experiences of blind people using the device exceed results from invasive techniques such as stem cell implants and retinal prostheses.

The software behind the vOICe can be downloaded as an app for free and as research develops Michael and colleagues hope that more and more people around the world can benefit from their findings, overcoming the significant challenges and limitations that come with visual impairments.

Related links

Find out more about Michael Proulx

How blind people see the world