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The year 2011 is shaping up to be a very special and active year for the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB). The journal continues to receive an incredible number of manuscripts from hopeful authors--2010 was one of the most active years in terms of submissions received. What this means for readers is that we are publishing better-quality research and practice, because we have more to choose from. Speaking for all the editors who work on the journal, we could not be more pleased. From our point of view, the better our product, the more people will want to subscribe and read. Since the special issue for 2011 will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first university training program in orientation and mobility (O&M), I expect an especially large response to our call for papers and a wonderful issue to be published in October 2011. If you had intended to submit your work for this special issue, it is not too late. Some time remains before the January 31st deadline. Now is the time to develop your idea and write a paper. For information on how to submit your work to JVIB, go to JVIB.org and follow the "For JVIB Authors" link to view the Guidelines for Contributors.
As last year came to a close, I observed the lack of helpful activity of governments around the world as they cut funding for human services. As a result, 2011 will most likely be a very challenging year for programs that receive external support from local or federal governments. I live in a small state, and we have a projected one billion dollar shortfall for 2011. This follows two years of cuts that have already occurred. People are being furloughed, offered inducements to take early retirement, and programs are being totally shut down. Sadly it seems the brunt of the funding cuts seem to occur for those with the least political power. Although my fingers are crossed, I fear a continued erosion of the professional services that many of us have worked so hard to offer people with visual impairments. The only possible good news is that I am especially weak as a prognosticator, so let's all hope I am wrong.
The first manuscript of the new year comes from Brennan and colleagues, who explore the impact of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and the ways in which people with AMD use social support. The authors draw from a large sample of 384 adults with AMD, and the results of this study are important for everyone who works with those who have the leading cause of legal blindness in the developed world.
Echolocation is an important and useful skill that is often taught by O&M specialists. Teng and Whitney provide a comparison of a blind expert with a sighted group of subjects who were taught echolocation. They find that the fully sighted subjects could quickly learn to discriminate the size and position of objects through echolocation. This study has serious implications for those who teach this skill.
Adolescence is a challenging time of life. Pfeiffer and Pinquart compare the achievement of visually impaired and sighted students in the attainment of developmental tasks. They find differences in only 2 of 11 task areas.
Finally, two Research Reports focus on technology and scotomas. Technological advances in the areas of prosthetic vision and tactile-vision sensory substitution are increasingly finding their way into the literature. Williams and colleagues from the Department of Veterans Affairs report on the use of a tongue stimulator that offers a tactile representation of vision. Williams and colleagues make a compelling argument as to why this system could have potential for those who are totally blind. In another report, Wittich and colleagues administer a questionnaire that seeks information on the awareness of scotomas by individuals with retinitis pigmentosa.
In spite of my dire reading of the tea leaves, I do wish all of you a happy new year.
Editor in Chief
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