Yes, technically speaking, floating is the layman’s term for “sensory deprivation.” The term “sensory deprivation” describes a broad area of scientific research that looks at the effects of reduced environmental stimulation therapy (also known as “REST”).
Unfortunately, the term “sensory deprivation” presents the concept of “deprivation,” which isn’t appealing to most people, and doesn’t describe the floating experience very well. To quote Dr. Peter Suedfeld, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia (and one of the leading researchers in REST), “don’t call them ‘sensory deprivation’ tanks. That’s inaccurate – you cannot deprive sensory input unless you cut the nerves. Most people would not volunteer for that.”
It is a common and shared belief in the floating community that “stimulus reduction” is much a better word to describe the tank environment. So, overall: it is true that the floating environment does not and can not “deprive” your senses. Rather, it provides relief from the sensory overload that we have grown accustomed to in our modern world.