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

July 2012 • Volume 106 Number 7

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Editor's Page

Print edition page number(s) 387-387

Employment, in so many respects, defines who we are. Sadly, for people who are blind or have low vision, decades of research show that students with visual impairments are among the best performers in school, yet their academic successes do not always result in successful employment opportunities. Adding to the problem, when employment is found, graduates with visual impairments tend to remain at entry-level positions for longer periods of time than their sighted peers.

The first two articles in this month's issue look at issues related to the transition to employment of students with visual impairments, and the third article examines the college experiences of such students. Crudden, using a focus group strategy, found a few new elements that should be considered when transition programs for students with visual impairments are being developed. Specifically, providing transition services before age 16 and securing parental involvement, were identified as positive factors in effective transition and career planning. Cavenaugh and Giesen offer a systematic review of the research on transition interventions for students with visual impairments. The authors identify 15 studies on the topic, and their analysis found the most efficacious interventions to improve career awareness and job-seeking skills included those that promoted good social skills, participation in career-development activities, involvement of parents or guardians, and work experiences.

It is interesting to note that high-quality education did not make the top of the list in the Crudden or Cavenaugh studies, since most of us in the field of visual impairment remain convinced that quality education makes an important contribution to the successful employment of students with visual impairments.

The third article, by Reed and Curtis, examines a different kind of transition for students with visual impairments: the transition to college or university. The authors explore the higher education experiences of students with visual impairments, finding that barriers (such as those that prevented the subjects from participating fully in all activities) continue to exist. The good news, however, is that students with visual impairments do earn undergraduate degrees, although it often takes them longer than four years to complete their studies.

A Research Report from France shifts gears from the dominant theme of transition in this month's issue to provide a review of the literature on raised-line drawings. Picard and Lebaz offer a summary of data from 16 studies using a raised-line picture-naming task, and conclude that the success of the participants in identifying the tactile images had to do with, among other things, the complexity of the drawings and the subjects' exploratory procedures.

Related to the topic of perception is the Book Review included in this month's issue. Reviewers Rieser and Guth provide a concise and insightful exploration of the book, Blind Vision: The Neuroscience of Visual Impairment, by Cattaneo and Vecchi, which provides an overview of a topic that is among the hottest areas in vision research today: cognitive neuroscience. Rieser and Guth explain how the book synthesizes "basic research from the cognitive and brain sciences that relates to how daily living and academic tasks are accomplished by people who are blind." Although readers who are practitioners may not tend to be interested in reading an entire book on neuroscience, I strongly encourage such individuals to read this review, which is written in a thought-provoking and easy-to-digest style that will capture readers' imaginations. Rarely does the journal offer a review on an admittedly complex topic that is written in such inspiring and accessible prose. I promise that this review will enlighten you and inform your work.

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


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