Print edition page number(s) 259-259
It is important that consumers feel their service providers are listening to them and are interested in meeting their needs, which is often easier said than done. I reflect back on the 15 years I spent working in a low vision clinic, where I saw, on average, 6 people with low vision each day. In order to meet clients' needs, our interdisciplinary team used a goal-directed approach to service delivery, meaning that each new patient was interviewed to establish their goals and objectives. Our team's method was to listen, then act based on what we heard in the initial interview. I wonder if there was anything else we could have done to help a dissatisfied consumer to feel that his or her concerns were being heard.
Despite the best efforts of the practitioners in the field, the charge that professionals do not listen periodically rears its head. Most recently, this subject became a topic of discussion on an orientation and mobility (O&M) e-mail discussion list to which I belong. The sponsoring organization recently decided that in the future only organization members could participate in the electronic discussion group. The fact that, as nonprofessionals, consumers would have to become dues-paying members of the organization or no longer be part of the discussion group reinforced the beliefs of some that O&M instructors are not interested in what consumers have to say. The discussion on the list leading up to the rule change was helpful. Any debate about services and how best to offer them can only increase the insight of professionals and improve the services they provide.
The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is pleased to be able to contribute to the discussion by offering a series of studies that were specifically designed to listen to consumers. In the lead article, Sacks, Hannan, and Erin, seeking to improve their consumers' experiences with literacy (in this case, the consumers were students), use data gathered by the ABC Braille Study to offer a qualitative and quantitative overview of children's perceptions of learning braille. The authors also look for differences between the high- and low-achievement groups.
Another set of researchers--Guerette, Lewis, and Mattingly--were interested in understanding what students know about their visual impairments. The authors elicited responses from 51 students with low vision, asking them to describe their visual impairments and visual functioning, a strategy designed to learn something from and about the consumer.
For those who have been around for a while you may recall the battles of the 1970s between the users of wheelchairs and the blindness community regarding curb ramps, which made it more difficult for blind pedestrians walking on curb ramps to be able to detect the edge of the street. An article by Lee presents the effects of truncated dome detectable warnings on travelers negotiating curb ramps in wheelchairs. If the findings of this study are implemented in cities and towns across the United States, the result will be curb ramps that are both detectable by consumers who are blind and easily traversed by those in wheelchairs.
This month's issue also includes another in our Practice Perspectives series. Associate Editor for Practice Jane Erin introduces the work of Jake Feinberg, a teacher of students who are visually impaired at the Arizona State School For the Deaf and Blind, who details his experiences in teaching his students with visual and other impairments to become commuters by traveling to work using public transportation, rather than relying on rides from the school van.
Whether you are a teacher or student, consumer or service provider, this month's issue of JVIB holds something that will enlighten your work and influence your practice.
Editor in Chief
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