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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Strategies for Recruiting Research Participants

One problem continually facing blindness researchers is access to a large enough, representative sample of blind or visually impaired individuals. Traditional strategies have been to use "snowball" sampling, or to embed questions into larger, more comprehensive surveys (i.e., into the Census). However, innovative approaches are also sometimes necessary. It is always advisable to know what the limitations inherent in one's research design are, in order to minimize their impact, if possible, and to know how they may shape the extent and quality of the data gathered. Consequently, researchers may also wish to consider the following limitations to certain recruitment sources.

One limitation is the heavy reliance on a single strategy or source for recruitment (e.g., via electronic advertisements to listservs, or through a rehabilitation provider). While online sources or known computer user groups are valuable resources to achieve relatively well-targeted recruitment in a short period of time, this design will not result in representativeness, and is biased toward people skilled in using computers with assistive technology.

Similarly, recruiting through rehabilitation agencies limits the respondents to those who have received rehabilitation services. The use of prior research subjects has the advantage that one already knows about many of an individual's relevant characteristics, but has the disadvantage that those persons may become "professional respondents" and therefore less representative of other users.

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