Recently I showed a scene from the film The Miracle Worker to a large class of general education students at my university. I chose the clip where Helen Keller first realized that the fingerspelled word water meant the liquid that flowed from a pump into her hands. Predictably, there were several tearful faces in the class when the lights went up. While I secretly hoped that their reactions would translate into a future interest in a profession of visual impairment, I also felt a little guilty for using this moving scene to arouse their emotions. While most professionals in visual impairment want to make a difference in someone's life, they recognize that real change cannot be measured only by peak moments like the water pump scene in the film.
Effective professionals know that determining the extent and direction of change is far more complex than recognizing visible points of change or even hearing appreciative words from clients and students. Measurement of true change involves effort, discipline, and accurate tracking of results over time. This month's journal contains several articles that reinforce the importance of accuracy and validity in measuring outcomes.
De l'Aune, Williams, Watson, Schuckers, and Ventimiglia offer a comprehensive example of a measure of functional outcomes of service to clients of the blind rehabilitation systems in the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Through the use of a self-reporting interview, the VA-13, and a related database, researchers and rehabilitative teams can accurately document the changes that result from services. Professionals who have limited experience with the development and application of outcomes instruments will appreciate the clear detail about the importance of validity, reliability, and clinical applications of the instrument.
A second article examines outcomes related to environmental variations, an aspect of change that is often taken for granted. Watson, Ramsey, De l'Aune, and Elk measured the effects of ergonomic workstations on the reading rate and self-reported visual analog scales that reflected the amount of discomfort students experienced on 10 physical factors. The authors acknowledge the limitations of the small sample size, but the advantages of the adapted workstation provide evidence that environmental outcomes merit future analysis.
Another feature article, "Innovation in One State Rehabilitation System's Approach to Transition," by Jorgensen-Smith and Lewis, also addresses the process of effecting change, but it presents a model for program change that was developed and applied with adolescent students in three communities in Florida. It describes the intensive planning, data collection approach, and process of evaluation that were essential in the pilot stage to develop a stable model that can be generalized beyond the pilot phase. The authors provide recommendations from the pilot study that will enable the creation of a higher-quality program at the state level. The effort and planning needed to achieve the best results are very apparent from this article.
An intriguing Research Report completes the issue. Goddard, Isaak, Slawinski, and Brown respond to a novel question of whether there are differences in rate of auditory attention shift between blind and sighted individuals, as measured by the auditory blink that is typical when target sounds are presented close together. The results suggest some differences for blind participants that may be due to enhanced attention.
This month's JVIB features a wide array of topics, with an emphasis on the importance of effecting change through accurate and well-planned approaches. The use of appropriate instruments that measure the desired factors and the use of approaches that can be used with large groups create opportunities for professionals to have an impact on learning. Although all professionals enjoy occasional peak moments of success in our profession, the real miracles of our profession depend on careful planning, intensive work, and the accurate application of knowledge.
Jane N. Erin, Ph.D.
JVIB Guidelines for Contributors
The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) is the international, interdisciplinary journal of record on blindness and visual impairment that publishes scholarship and information and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas, airing of controversies, and discussion of issues.
JVIB invites submissions in the following categories
Article: Full-length manuscripts on research, theory, reviews of the literature, or practice-based activities. The topics may have far-reaching and broad impact. Articles are peer reviewed. Length: 2,500–5,000 words
Research Report: A shorter format for presenting research results. The main difference between articles and Research Reports is length. In addition, Research Reports may have a more focused or narrower impact than articles and may report pilot studies, research in progress, or studies with a small number of subjects. Research Reports are peer reviewed. Length: 1,000–2,500 words
Practice Report: An opportunity for teachers, rehabilitation specialists, and other practitioners to share information about innovative techniques, strategies, and service delivery. Practice Reports are shorter in length than practice-based articles and may provide more focused information and a less comprehensive discussion of the implications. Practice Reports are peer reviewed. Length: 1,000–2,500 words
Around the World: A forum for reporting on research on programs that are specific to one culture or part of the world and that may not have broader relevance. Around the Worlds are peer reviewed. Length: 500–2,500 words
Comment: A discussion of a timely topic, based on the author's experience or opinions. Comments are not peer reviewed. Length: 500–1,000 words
Letter to the Editor: A direct response to a paper that was recently published in JVIB. The authors of the paper referred to are given a chance to respond to the letter in the same issue in which the letter appears. Note that letters may be edited for length and style. Letters are not peer reviewed. Length: Varies
Authors should send four paper copies and one disk copy (preferably in ASCII or Microsoft Word). Authors are required to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement that gives AFB copyright to the paper once it is published. JVIB does not consider manuscripts that are simultaneously submitted elsewhere or previously published elsewhere.
The full version of the JVIB Guidelines for Contributors can be found online, <www.afb.org/jvib_guidelines.asp>, or by contacting AFB Press, 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, NY 10001; phone 212-502-7651; fax: 212-502-7774; e-mail: <email@example.com>.
Manuscripts should be sent to:
Alan Koenig, Ed.D., Editor in Chief, Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, College of Education, Texas Tech University, Box 41071, Lubbock, TX 79409; e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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