Some functions of audition potential goals for sensory substitution

- access to signals and alarms (e.g., ringing phone, fire alarm)

- access to natural sounds of the environment

- access to denotative content of speech

- access to expressive content of speech

- aesthetic response to music

An analytic approach to using one sensory modality (henceforth, the "receiving modality") to take over a function normally performed by another is to (1) identify what optical, acoustic, or other information (henceforth, the "source information") is most effective in enabling that function and (2) to determine how to transform the source information into sensory signals that are effectively coupled to the receiving modality.

The first step requires research to identify what source information is necessary to perform a function or range of functions. Take, for example, the function of obstacle avoidance. A person walking through a cluttered environment is able to avoid bumping into obstacles, usually by using vision under sufficient lighting. Precisely what visual information or other form of information (e.g., ultrasonic, radar) best affords obstacle avoidance? Once one has identified the best information to use, one is then in a position to address the second step.

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