Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Editor's Page

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Editor's Page

Article excerpt

I still recall reading, almost 20 years ago, the findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Education, which revealed that students who were blind or visually impaired scored high on academic achievement and appropriate behavior yet low on employment opportunities while living in social isolation. My own research at the Maryland School for the Blind affirms that the school's graduates are provided with skills that allow them to obtain employment, but they do not tend to experience promotions in the workplace (the majority remain in entry-level positions five years after graduation), and they usually live with their parents, isolated from the community in which they live. Unfortunately, the saying, "Do well in school, listen to your teachers, and you will do well in life" may not always apply to students with visual impairments.

The mass media tends to give the impression that those of us who live in developed countries are experiencing a change in lifestyle due to technology. From one perspective, we are all becoming more isolated as a result of technology, at least when it comes to face-to-face interactions. Conversely, with e-mail and the Internet, we now have immediate access to a world community with which we can interact by computer. As access experts have struggled to keep technology fully accessible, there has been hope that an increase in the kinds of social interaction that most young people enjoy online would be available to the students we serve. Regrettably, the studies we present this month do not support this hope and find that students with visual impairments remain socially isolated.

The topics of social interaction and communication are examined by Kelly and Smith, who explore the ways in which students with visual impairments utilize digital technology for social interactions. The authors compare the use of computers and telephones by preadolescent and adolescent students with visual impairments and those with other disabilities using data from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study and the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2. …

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