Visually impaired licensed therapists must have the ability to perceive stiffness through their fingertips in the school for the blind. The teachers strive to provide careful introductory education based on a quantitative assessment of new students' basic stiffness perception. However, assessment materials to help teachers understand new students' stiffness perception are lacking. This study aimed to develop suitable fundamental assessment materials that visually impaired licensed teachers could use to quantitatively assess the difference in the stiffness perception ability of beginning learners in the early stages of learning. They were asked to discriminate the presented materials one at a time, which consisted of thermoplastic elastomers with different degrees of stiffness. We used these materials to compare the beginning learners' ability to perceive stiffness with that of teachers and found that teachers answered correctly at an overall significantly higher rate. Specifically, the teachers' correct response rate (78.8%) for the stiffness perception of all presented stimuli was approximately 15% higher than the beginning learners' correct response rate (64.2%). These results revealed areas of stiffness that are difficult for beginning learners to identify.
Keywords: acupressure massage; assessment material; beginning learner; stiffness perception; visual impairment.