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AFB JOURNAL OVISUAL
IMPAIRMENT& BLINDNESS
  
Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss  
 

December 2011 • Volume 105 Number 11

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Editor's Page

Print edition page number(s) 739-739

I tend to use the December Editor's Page to reflect on the year, seeing if there was a theme to highlight that captures the essence of all the material that was published in the journal over the past 11 months. This year I did not need to do much reflection, because I knew the theme would be "an abundance of riches," in terms of the quality and quantity of research submitted to the journal this year. In fact, two important articles are competing lead manuscript in this issue. The two topics covered by these articles--orientation and mobility (O&M) and braille--are two the most frequently published topics in the journal. It is impossible to select either O&M or braille as the major topic for this issue, so in my mind they are sharing equal billing. In addition to peer reviewed articles, each topic is accompanied by a featured commentary. In the area of O&M, Franck, Haneline, and Farrugia, representatives of three dog guide schools in the United States, comment on the current state of affairs of the level of basic O&M skills of new candidates for dog guides. The authors suggest that short-term regional dog guide training programs, rather than the more traditional center-based approach, may be a more cost-effective and efficient way to meet the needs of the many clients who want dog guides. The commentary on braille is addressed by Judith M. Dixon, a lifelong braille reader and chair of the Braille Authority of North America, who offers her recommendations on how to improve the braille code and, thus, preserve it for generations to come.

As I mentioned in my introduction, this month's articles feature the research of leading authorities in the areas of O&M and braille. Wall, Kim, and colleagues have studied a topic of heightened concern to clients and O&M instructors: the growing number of quiet cars and the challenges they present for safe and independent travel. The purpose of their study was to examine two pedestrian tasks that are likely to be affected by quiet cars: distinguishing between vehicles continuing straight or turning right and making crossing decisions in traffic gaps. The findings indicate that adding sounds to quiet vehicles can lead to better performance on O&M tasks. However, the performance of the various artificially-generated sounds appears to strongly depend upon what task is being performed. The authors acknowledge that one sound may be a simple, but incomplete, solution to the problems that quiet cars pose for visually impaired pedestrians.

Wormsley, Wall, and Erin reflect on their experiences with the well-known ABC Braille study, describing the importance and value of collaborative research and suggesting the study was stronger and more cost effective that others because of the level of cooperation between everyone involved. According to the authors "If we have any advice for others taking part in multi-site, longitudinal studies, [success] has partly to do with mechanics and partly with social dynamics." They acknowledge the challenges of multi-site studies and the reality of trying to maintain consistency of data collection and the importance of having reliable data. They also describe the value of working with collaborators toward a common goal that is driven by the need to do what is best for the study rather than what is needed by individual members, essentially describing the value of a team approach. Their reflections will be valuable through the years for any group of researchers who are implementing a large trial.

In this season of reflection, giving, and receiving, I must acknowledge that I have been blessed to work with such a stellar group of professionals. My heartfelt thanks goes to the associate editors (Maureen Duffy, Jane Erin, Carol Farrenkopf, and Ellen Trief); my primary contacts at AFB Press (Natalie Hilzen, Rebecca Burrichter, and Jenese Croasdale); the chair of our editorial advisory board (Stuart Wittenstein); the members of the board; and the person who keeps it all so organized and running on time, my assistant, Kyoko Fujiwara. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such capable and caring individuals.

Happy holidays!

Duane R. Geruschat, Ph.D.
Editor in Chief


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