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Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss  

January 2012 • Volume 106 Number 1

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Editor's Page

Print edition page number(s) 3-3

That familiar saying "out with the old, in with the new" holds true for the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) this year. With this January 2012 issue, we are pleased to introduce a new format for the abstracts that accompany full research manuscripts. Historically of 50 words in length, JVIB abstracts are now much longer (up to 350 words) and appear in a structured format. Structured abstracts were adopted to provide readers with useful tools for obtaining information about articles. For example, such abstracts provide a substantial amount of information on the problem being studied: the method used to study the problem, a summary of the major results, and the highlights of the discussion featured in a given article.

This format is not unique to JVIB alone; in fact, structured abstracts were developed in the late 1980s to assist professionals in selecting journal articles relevant to their research. "Structured abstracts have several advantages for authors and readers," according to the United States Library of Medicine; "They guide authors in summarizing the content of their manuscripts precisely, facilitate the peer-review process … , and enhance computerized literature searching."

JVIB readers, as a rule, desire practice-based materials. Although I would argue that almost every article published in JVIB has practice implications, I also acknowledge that methodology and statistics can be daunting for practitioners with limited experience with research methods. Although most of the manuscripts in this issue do have statistics, the topics are so incredibly relevant to practitioners, and the writing of the authors is so accessible, that I believe the practitioners who read JVIB will find a great deal of information in this issue's pages that can influence their practice.

The lead article discusses leisure activities for elderly individuals with low vision. The author interviewed visually impaired adults over age 70 who were in good health and found that challenging physical environments, struggling to "get there," feelings of vulnerability, having decreased energy, and lacking assertiveness were all important factors that influence participation in leisure activities by seniors.

All teachers who test children as part of their job will benefit from a careful reading of the next article, an important study on the Pennsylvania Alternate Assessment. The authors investigate a number of aspects of the assessment situation, including whether or not there were significant differences, based on the students' level of visual functioning, in the scores of students with visual impairments and what accommodations teachers made to adapt the test to these students. The authors found significant differences in the total scores for both math and reading, and the most frequent accommodations were layout and setup changes.

Three reports follow, which do not include structured abstracts because of their shorter length. One of the many important contributions to the literature by Kim and Wall Emerson on orientation and mobility, this month's first Research Report examines the effect of cane length on drop-off detection. In addition, two reports from Canada examine French braille and telephone accessibility for individuals with dual sensory impairments, respectively.

The January issue concludes with a review by Sharon Sacks on the book Borderlands of Blindness, by Beth Omansky. Both the author of the book and the JVIB book reviewer describe themselves as having low vision, so the analysis provided by Dr. Sacks offers a unique, first-hand insight on the text.

Happy New Year and happy reading.

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

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The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB)--the international, interdisciplinary journal of record on blindness and visual impairment that publishes research and practice
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