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Videophone Technology and Students with Deaf-Blindness: A Method for Increasing Access and Communication
Abstract: Structured abstract: Introduction: Seeing the Possibilities with Videophone Technology began as research project funded by the National Center for Technology Innovation. The project implemented a face-to-face social networking program for students with deaf-blindness to investigate the potential for increasing access and communication using videophone technology. Methods: Ten students with deaf-blindness aged 16 to 20 in four southeastern states were recruited through the network of Deaf-Blind Project offices throughout the United States. Criteria for selection to participate in the study were that the participants needed to have enough functional visual acuity to access a 22-inch videophone monitor and use manual sign language as a mode of communication. After a videophone was installed in each participant's home and school, data were collected over six months, using three primary methods of collection. The data were analyzed through a qualitative design method. Results: The primary outcomes were increased accessibility for interpersonal communication among the students with deaf-blindness, seen notably in subscales of the Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) and through the development of themes involving the cultivation and maintenance of friendships with peers through interaction using videophone technology. Discussion: With the role of interactive technologies in our ever-increasing digital landscapes, timing is ripe for research that aids the advancement of accessibility to information and social interaction, particularly among populations that have historically been marginalized in traditional educational systems. Implications for practitioners: Dissemination of the results of the project through the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness and the American Association of the Deaf-Blind will encourage practitioners in the field to replicate the project's activities with videophone technology to benefit youths who are deaf-blind.
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