Effects of Handedness and Blindness on Braille Reading Accuracy
Filippos M. Vlachos
Vassilios S. Argyropoulos
Vassilios D. Papadimitriou
Published online: 9 May 2017
Springer International Publishing 2017
Abstract Research results with regard to handedness and
braille reading performance are contradictory. The pres-
ent study investigated (a) the effects of handedness on
braille reading performance in people with blindness (or
severe visual impairment) and (b) the potential effects of
vision loss (or type) of blindness on braille reading.
Forty-nine (27 males and 22 females) aged 8 to 27
years participated in three braille reading accuracy tasks
with a subset of a standardized instrument, which evalu-
ated reading accuracy in Greek language. Handedness
was defined through a modified version of the
Edinburgh Handedness Inventory. The analysis showed
that handedness was not significantly related to any task
of braille reading accuracy. Level of vision loss was
found to play an important role in reading accuracy, fa-
voring the participants with blindness regardless of hand
preference. The results may add to the literature by pro-
viding evidence that it is possible for braille-reading stu-
dents to incorporate both hands in reading, regardless of
Handedness refers to the phenomenon that most humans use
either the right or left hand for unimanual actions (Vlachos
2011). It constitutes a significant feature of ontogenetic devel-
opment, providing evidence for brain hemispheric specializa-
tion (Vlachos et al. 2013). The study of handedness has been
of interest for many years because it may be the case of pos-
sible indirect measure of cerebral lateralization as well as an
alternative measure to define subtle cognitive and behavioral
differences (Johnston et al. 2013).
Handedness is often seen as a by-product of cerebral later-
alization in human beings. That is because in most humans,
the neural representation of verbal and spatial ability is
lateralized to either of the two cerebral hemispheres.
Nevertheless, some researchers hold the view that the correla-
tion between cerebral lateralization and hand preference is not
considered to be a strong association (Szaflarski et al. 2006).
According to a functional MRI study, 96% of right-handed
people display left cerebral dominance for language functions,
whereas 4% showed a bilateral activation pattern (Pujol et al.
1999). In the same study, left hemisphere lateralization oc-
curred in 76% of the participants; right hemisphere lateraliza-
tion occurred in 10%, whereas the remaining 14% showed a
bilateral pattern of language lateralization. Knecht et al.
(2000), using functional transcranial Doppler sonography,
found that the apparent incidence of right hemisphere speech
processing increased linearly from 4% in strong right-handers
to 27% in strong left-handers with 15% right hemisphere
speech processing in ambilaterals.
A review of relevant hemispheric specialization neuroim-
aging studies revealed that individuals whose handedness is
towards the sinistral end of the continuum are more likely to
have an atypical hemispheric specialization for language than
those on the dextral side (Josse and Tzourio-Mazoyer 2004).
* Vassilios S. Argyropoulos
Department of Special Education, Argonafton & Filellinon,
University of Thessaly, 38221 Volos, Greece
Adv Neurodev Disord (2017) 1:141–148