Perceptions of older veterans with visual impairments regarding computer access training and quality of life
Richard Stanborough DuBosque, Mississippi State University, United States
Mississippi State University . Awarded
The widespread integration of the computer into the mainstream of daily life presents a challenge to various sectors of society, and the incorporation of this technology into the realm of the older individual with visual impairments is a relatively uncharted field of study. This study was undertaken to acquire the perceptions of the impact of the training and issuance of the access of technology upon participants' quality of life.
The study adopted a qualitative research approach employing phenomenological, descriptive, and cross-case components in order to understand the experience of older (over 40) veterans who were legally blind, had completed Computer Access Technology (CATS) training, and had been issued assistive technology. The 9 respondents were selected from veterans who had been through the CATS program and were known to the researcher in an attempt to maximize the range of ages, military experience, and origin of vision loss. This study employed semi-structured interviews that were recorded and later transcribed verbatim. Through content analysis, the participants' responses, originally in 20 categories, were consolidated into 3 categories, which correlated to the questions of this study. During this process, an emergent category, "Background and History of the Participants," evolved, resulting in a total of 4 categories.
The categories reflected the background and history of participants, the impact of blind rehabilitation, current computer usage in daily tasks, and participants' comments and recommendations. The results demonstrated that the CATS training had a profound impact on the participants upon their return to their homes. The impact included the restored ability to communicate with family and friends, the development of new interests and abilities, the re-establishment of self-worth, a sense of independence, and the feeling of being normal and not a "freak." 7 of the 9 participants had already returned for additional CATS training during the research process. Of the remaining 2, 1 received on-the-job training, and the final participant would consider returning if his vision deteriorated. Various participants had returned or remained in the workforce, and others performed volunteer work. 6 envision further study through correspondence courses, more CATS training or on their own.
Key words: visually impaired, blind, veteran, computer access training, access technology, and blind rehabilitation.
DuBosque, R.S. Perceptions of older veterans with visual impairments regarding computer access training and quality of life. Ph.D. thesis, Mississippi State University.
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