The Quilt of Valor Foundation has asked for tactile quilts to give to blind or sight-impaired soldiers. The tactile sense training seems to help them train the brain to "see" in other ways. The reason is not fully understood, but is known as sensory substitution. This refers to the capacity of the brain to replace the functions of a lost sense by another sensory modality. The most commonly used form of sensory substitution is Braille reading which allows the blind to read by touch (somatosensory system).
The Occipital Cortex in the Blind, Lessons About Plasticity and Vision by Amir Amedi, Lotfi B. Merabet, Felix Bermpohl and Alvaro Pascual-Leone; 1Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center