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Spatial cognition

Abstract

The rationale of this special issue of Disability and Rehabilitation takes its rightful place at the intersection (on both the theoretical and the applicative side) of the neuropsychological research on space with the multidisciplinary research on disability.
INTRODUCTION
Spatial cognition
The rationale of this special issue of Disability and
Rehabilitation takes its rightful place at the intersec-
tion (on both the theoretical and the applicative side)
of the neuropsychological research on space with the
multidisciplinary research on disability.
The scientific investigation of Spatial Cognition
develops along a multiplicity of directions mainly
related to: (1) the processing of space information
according to the capabilities of the processors; (2) the
labelling, representing and communicating spatial
information and relations; (3) the differential analysis
of virtual spaces cognition. All these research lines are
investigated by means of different methodologies (in
behavioural research so as in neuroscience investiga-
tions, and in modelling and simulations), not only at
the purpose of science advancement but also in
consideration of manifold possible applications.
As regards the capabilities of the cognitive agent
processing spatial information these are displayed in
different modalities according to the features of the
individual sensory input system so as of the subject’s
cognitive and affective status. Therefore peculiarities
and needs of the processing agent, deeply influencing
its representation of space, have to be taken into
consideration in every possible application. In this
sense the investigation of spatial information proces-
sing by persons with different abilities is not only
providing relevant data for designing usable and
accessible assistive technologies, but moreover is
progressively supplying evidence that the multiform
modalities of spatial cognition in people with
disabilities, although different, can be more powerful
and adaptive than the so-called normal ones.
From these considerations arose the decision of
pinpointing in a monographic issue the most relevant
researches related to the general theme of spatial
information processing by persons with different
abilities originally presented at the second ‘Interna-
tional Conference on Spatial Cognition (ICSC
2003)’ specifically dedicated to Space and Disability
(Rome, 24 – 26 November 2003).
Starting with Scherer’s general demonstration that
the key to successful use of assistive technologies
requires a comprehensive assessment of user’s
cognitive and affective characteristics; analyzing
some of these characteristics in aging (Iachini et
al.), in early-blind humans (Despre`s et al.), in
situations of visual impairments (Olivetti Belardinelli
& Santangelo); and finally presenting a ‘relative
access’ model to measure functional barriers to
transit by visually impaired people (Marston &
Church), and a combined objective-oriented and
subjective-oriented method for evaluating accessibility
and usability of web pages for disabled people
(Federici et al.); the selection of papers presented
in this issue is a welcome contribution to the
expansion of knowledge about the topics outlined
above.
Marta Olivetti Belardinelli & Stefano Federici
Guest Editors, University of Rome ‘‘La Sapienza’’,
Rome, Italy
Disability and Rehabilitation, July 2005; 27(13): 729
ISSN 0963-8288 print/ISSN 1464-5165 online #2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd
DOI: 10.1080/09638280400014758
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