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

May 2012 • Volume 106 Number 5

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Editor's Page

Print edition page number(s) 259-259

One of the features in this month's issue inspired me to imagine this May 2012 issue through the lens of the year 2042. Why have I picked a year 30 years into the future? Because many of the authors who have been recruited to select and write about a JVIB article for the "This Mattered to Me" feature tend to recommend an article from the archives that they read early in their career. How is it that an article read 30 years ago still stands out in an individual's mind? The answer to that question came to me as I was reading this month's "This Mattered To Me," written by Sharon Zell Sacks: I think those who are new to our professions tend to look for some way to better understand and organize their new knowledge and filter it into the context of their role as providers of direct services. Dr. Sacks chose to recommend an article from 1977, and she discloses in her essay that she began her career in the 1970s. She does a lovely job of framing her experiences, needs, and hopes of reading JVIB to find clarity of thought, and describes how the information she found affirmed that she was headed in the proper direction as a new teacher. Dr. Sacks also describes how JVIB influenced her own research agenda and the significant impact this JVIB article had on her early in her career.

As I sit here reading the lineup for the May 2012 issue, I am imaging recent graduates of university training programs who are readers of JVIB, and I am wondering which one of the articles in this month's issue might one day be acknowledged as having had a major impact on their thinking as they look back from the year 2042.

It is easy to imagine the Practice Perspectives piece as having an impact on new graduates. In it, Tellefson describes a project in which she and colleagues introduced very young children and their parents to early harness travel with dog guides. Introducing a term that is new to me, children's visual companion dog, the author presents a fascinating approach to increasing early mobility for children who are blind. A marvelous piece, it seeks to expand our thinking about early childhood mobility while also acknowledging that early harness travel is not best for every child, but that it could and should be considered as part of early orientation and mobility instruction. As an orientation and mobility instructor myself, Tellefson's piece influenced my thinking, and I have a whole series of questions that I would love to ask her. Without question, the use of a dog guide can enhance motor skills and provide a sense of newly found mobility (in terms of affording the handler the ability to walk quickly and freely), but I wonder how using a children's visual companion dog might impact the development of the child's orientation skills? Does walking with the dog provide new opportunities for teaching orientation? If I were a young orientation and mobility instructor today, what impact might this Practice Perspectives have on my career over the next 30 years?

If you are a young administrator of a low vision clinic, a researcher of social policy, or someone who is especially interested in qualitative research, the lead article, by Southland and Wittich, may have an impact on your career. The authors describe a study in which they explored the barriers to low vision rehabilitation and identify three main themes. I wonder if some newly minted doctoral candidate, ready to take on the world, will use this information to challenge the status quo and set up an entirely new approach to increase access to such services.

With distance learning increasing at a phenomenal rate, and still in its infancy, especially when viewed through the lens of 2042, Kim, Lee, and Skellinger sought to understand students' level of satisfaction with personnel preparation programs that use a distance education model versus those that are based on a campus. Although the findings of these authors may stimulate a current reader to become more involved in the area of distance learning, my guess is that looking back at this article 30 years from now, the methods for distance education described by the authors will be as antiquated as the horse and buggy is today.

Finally, the Research Report, by Smith and Amato, looks at the accommodations that are available for students with visual impairments who are taking standardized tests. The list of accommodations includes typewriters and word processors, audiocassette recorders and electronic notetakers, to name a few. I wonder if these devices will even be around in 2042?

I hope our younger professionals are as interested in reading JVIB as Dr. Sacks was back in the 1970s. If so, then the field of the future will be in good hands.

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


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