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A research on the social attitudes of people dealing with blindness

  • The results demonstrated support for the notion that greater exposure to persons who are blind yields more positive attitudes about blindness, and that blind students themselves hold more positive attitudes about blindness than do sighted students;
  • Participants were given the Attitudes toward Blindness Questionnaire;
  • Responses were gathered from participants at three different times:

Many people have some usable vision, but they may be unable to distinguish faces or the lettering of signs or they may not have central or peripheral vision. Of the estimated 7. The most frequent causes of vision impairment and blindness are diseases and conditions whose prevalence increases with age and are experienced by adults.

In This Article

These causes are diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma CDC, 2004. For a small percentage of persons, visual impairment or blindness is traceable to genetic conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa or retinoblastoma. Injury also accounts for a small percentage of adult onset visual impairment or blindness. The association between aging and visual impairment indicates that the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness is likely to increase with the aging of the large baby boom cohort.

Low vision and blindness are uncommon among children, with most of the few cases occurring before birth or within the first month of life.

  • Department of Justice, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the other federal agencies with enforcement responsibilities under the ADA indicate that discrimination in these areas still occurs links to the different agency reports are on the ADA Home Page, http;
  • The social work with such clients should concentrate on the family's or couple's dynamics, and not assume that blindness is the chief issue or that people with visual disabilities need services from specialists in blindness;
  • Tom non-combat-related visual impairment, 25—34 years:

Such conditions retinopathy of prematurity, albinism, hydrocephalus, congenital cytomegalovirus, and birth asphyxia are the most common causes of visual impairment in children below 10 CDC, 2004. Services and Legislation Affecting People With Visual Impairment People who have visual impairment benefit from the services, agencies, and legislation that are intended for all people with disabilities.

The person whose vision meets this definition can see at 20 feet what someone with perfect vision can see at 200 feet, and the width of vision is substantially narrower than that for someone whose sight is unimpaired.

Some government and private agencies provide vision-related services only to those who meet the definition of legal blindness; others may serve the broader visually impaired population. Although nearly half of the population with visual impairment is above age 65, the service system is still geared primarily to children and working-age adults.

Access to the Printed Word Special services and legislation to ensure access to the printed word have existed since 1879 when federal legislation enabled the expansion of the activities of the American Printing House for the Blind to produce books for people who were blind American Printing House for the Blind, 2004. Federal law also established the Books for the Blind program, now National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped NLSBPHwhich provides Braille and recorded a research on the social attitudes of people dealing with blindness and music materials to anyone unable to read standard print because of a visual, learning, or physical disability National Library Service, 2006.

With computer technology and the Internet now being major vehicles for the dissemination of information, ensuring access to words and graphics in electronic and online media has become important. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that all federal government Web sites and related materials be accessible to persons with visual impairment.

While Section 508 does not apply to the private sector, it has spurred the development of voluntary guidelines for Web and other media access that many organizations have adopted the World Wide Web Consortium developed guidelines described at http: There also has been litigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, challenging organizations that use technologies that rely on screen instructions or touch screens, such as ATMs and cell phones, to assure access for people with visual impairment.

This concern can apply to human service agencies as they implement new technology in providing information and other services to clients through Web sites or through electronic or video media. Under the Rehabilitation Act, states may develop a separate agency to provide services exclusively to persons classified as legally blind.

Just over half the states have established a separate agency. Where there is no specialized agency, services for people who are legally blind are delivered through the broader state rehabilitation agency.

Some states with separate agencies may restrict services to those who meet that state's definition of legal blindness, but others serve anyone with significant visual problems.

Social work clients who need vision-related services should first be referred to a specialized agency; if services are not provided because the individual's vision does not meet the eligibility criteria, services should be requested from the state's general rehabilitation agency.

Department of Veterans Affairs, 2007. The Blind Rehabilitation Service provides services to all veterans who are blind or have low vision, regardless of whether the visual impairment is service-connected. Special Employment Legislation Two laws from the 1930s give people who are legally blind access to sheltered and noncompetitive employment: These laws and their subsequent amendments have helped to provide work for thousands of people who are blind, but the working conditions have not always been compared favorably with the conditions in the general labor force.

Workshop employees are considered workers under federal law, but some agencies have attempted to treat them as clients and have denied them the right to organize for improved wages and working conditions. The National Labor Relations Board has upheld the rights of workshop.

Employees to form unions and to bargain collectively, yet some of these workers still earn less than the Federal Minimum Wage, legal under Section 14C of the Fair Labor Standards Act. While vendors are considered self-employed entrepreneurs, the state agency that serves people who are blind issues their operating licenses and supervises their work and service requirements. The 1971 Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act, an expansion of the original 1938 Wagner-O'Day Act, creates employment opportunities for persons who are blind or who have severe impairments via government purchases of products and services provided by nonprofit agencies employing such individuals.

The National Industries for the Blind, a nonprofit agency, coordinates the implementation of the program for persons who are blind more information is available at http: Income Support The determination of blindness or visual impairment for disability income support is based on a research on the social attitudes of people dealing with blindness set of vision standards used by both the social insurance and the income-tested benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration.

People who are blind or visually impaired and who are no longer able to work but have worked and contributed to the Social Security trust funds for at least 5 years are eligible to receive social security disability insurance SSDI. The benefit calculation formula for these beneficiaries is the one applied to all SSDI beneficiaries. Beneficiaries earning above this standard for more than a trial work period of 9 months will no longer be paid an SSDI benefit, although those who are blind can have their payments resume promptly should their earnings fall below SGA.

Poor adults who are blind or visually impaired and who have no labor force experience or too little for SSDI eligibility may receive support from the income-tested Supplemental Security Income program SSI.

The federal SSI benefits for people who are blind are the same as those for people with other disabilities, although some states supplement the federal SSI grant to provide greater cash assistance for recipients who are blind Social Security Administration, 2006.

Recipients are no longer eligible for SSI when countable earnings and other income exceed the income eligibility standard.

Unlike other SSI recipients, SSI recipients who are blind are allowed to include in deductable work expenses all work-related expenses, whether or not they are directly related to the impairment. Services to Deaf Blind and Others With Multiple Impairments A segment of the population of persons who are visually impaired or blind identified as having unique and sometimes unmet needs is people with hearing impairments as well.

The prevalence of concurrent hearing and visual impairment is estimated at 3. Learning the techniques to function without sight may be more difficult if individuals have manual dexterity problems that prevent them from reading Braille or hearing problems that prevent their use of sound in orientation and travel. Some people with visual impairments and cognitive impairments arising out of mental disabilities or brain injuries will need services from agencies and organizations that specialize in cognitive rehabilitation.

Agencies that serve people with hearing, mobility, or cognitive impairments may fear taking on clients who have visual disabilities as well.

  • In most cases, if personnel suffered a deterioration of their sight whilst in Service, they were medically discharged and as a result had to confront the issue of changing their career;
  • Second, further examination was done to detect the cause of visual loss;
  • Coping was an on-going and dynamic process with ex-Service personnel experiencing good and bad times, even after many years since sustaining their impairment;
  • Location and background The study was carried out in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara state, one of the 36 states in Nigeria located in the North central zone of the country;
  • Location and background The study was carried out in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara state, one of the 36 states in Nigeria located in the North central zone of the country.

In such circumstances, social workers can play a crucial case management and advocacy role to ensure that clients with multiple disabilities receive the services to which they are entitled. Serving Clients With Visual Impairment in General Settings People with visual impairment, like other people, seek social services for marital or family problems, as part of their employment, or on behalf of relatives. In these instances, blindness is incidental or irrelevant to the request for assistance.

The social work with such clients should concentrate on the family's or couple's dynamics, and not assume that blindness is the chief issue or that people with visual disabilities need services from specialists in blindness. However, if blindness comes up repeatedly as a source of friction, the worker may need to explore how the visual impairment is affecting the other issues that are the focus of concern. Civil Rights All people with disabilities, including those who are blind or visually impaired, are protected against discrimination in employment and in utilizing public and private services by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.

The Act mandates that public and private agencies evaluate whether they are physically accessible and accessible in terms of their program rules, regulations, and procedures. What is required for full access is still being contested. For example, the Social Security Administration is being sued for communicating with benefit recipients who are blind or visually impaired in print formats they cannot read, and then suspending their benefits for subsequent failure to comply with its requests American Council of the Blind et al.

Barnhart, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, in her official capacity, and Social Security Administration, complaint available at http: Lifespan Approach to Blindness and Visual Impairment Social workers may come into contact with people who are blind or visually impaired at all stages of development, and may assume a variety of roles in relation to this population.

Information When individuals or family members discover that they or their loved ones are likely to have serious visual problems, they may react with emotions such as distress, sadness, fear, and confusion. Such clients and their families need accurate information about laws, services, and alternative techniques for performing tasks that people customarily imagine cannot be handled without vision.

  1. In what way these findings can be extrapolated to different visually impaired populations such as civilians, elderly, women and people who are not involved in a charity organisation remains uncertain. For the population of individuals who are blind, it is surmised that the world view, beliefs, and stereotypes that these individuals hold about the condition of blindness i.
  2. Blindness and Visual Impairment During the Working Years Many working-age people who develop vision problems fail to learn about available rehabilitation services from ophthalmologists or hospitals and as a result may give up their valued activities.
  3. In what way these findings can be extrapolated to different visually impaired populations such as civilians, elderly, women and people who are not involved in a charity organisation remains uncertain.

Children With Visual Impairments in the Family, at School, and in the Community Social workers dealing with infants and toddlers who are blind or their families can get some valuable suggestions from the advocacy and parent groups discussed here and listed in the references. In his comprehensive review of research on children and youth with visual impairments, Warren 2000b points out that it is dangerous to assume that lack of vision, rather than lack of stimulation, causes delays in development of such activities as crawling, walking, and discovering the world around them.

The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, the American Council of the Blind, journals such as Future Reflections, and state and private service agencies can provide advice to social workers and parents on whether a child should learn Braille, will need assistance in learning to get around safely using the long cane, or even guide them to toys and games that offer stimulation. Blindness and Visual Impairment During the Working Years Many working-age people who develop vision problems fail to learn about available rehabilitation services from ophthalmologists or hospitals and as a result may give up their valued activities.

Blindness and Visual Impairment

Social workers can be advocates for their clients in rehabilitation agencies, can tell clients about guide dog schools, or convince apprehensive families that work, independent travel, and family life are still feasible. Consonant with a strengths approach, they can focus attention on the talents and capacities that remain despite vision loss. Sometimes the person will not be able to fully return to prior employment or activities, but the social worker should refer a client to the tools and skills that will enable him or her to continue in the chosen and valued roles when possible.

Blindness should not be assumed to prevent the safe conduct of other adult roles. In particular, social workers in the field of child-protective services should not presume that an infant or a research on the social attitudes of people dealing with blindness child cannot be safely cared for by a parent or parents with visual impairment.

Child protective workers and parents with visual impairment can contact through the Looking Glass http: As with all child protection cases, decisions to remove a child should be made on a case-by-case basis after a careful and thorough assessment of the parents' parenting skills and supports.

Blindness in Late Life Older persons with impaired vision are generally new at dealing with sight loss, and may be experiencing other health problems as well Ainlay, 1988. They may experience difficulties attributable to lack of training in dealing with blindness or from other health problems, and not from blindness, itself. The Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 provide for increased services for older people with visual impairments, and are intended to keep them active in their homes and communities by providing tools for daily living, travel, and communication.

Professional Issues for Social Workers Training and Working With Colleagues Who Are Blind People with visual impairments have been in the social work profession for decades, and there are many instances of field placements and agency accommodations. However, fieldwork sites and employing agencies sometimes still display stereotypes and fears about blindness Tannenbaum, 2001.

Key Concepts and Practice Principles for Social Workers Regardless of service setting, there are some common principles and concepts in working with individuals or groups where one or all clients have visual impairment or blindness.

The principles and concepts listed below are synthesized from general practice principles for social work with people with disabilities Mackelprang and Salsgiver, 1999 ; Raske, 2005 ; Rothman, 2003and from disability etiquette guidelines for interactions with people with blindness or visual impairment Cohen, 2003 ; Federal Communication Commission, 2003 ; Wayne State University, 2007.

A second practice principle is not to assume that the presence of severe visual impairment or blindness will preclude active engagement in life's usual activities—schooling, employment, intimate relationships, parenting, care and support of others, cooking and housecleaning, travel, sports, and other leisure activities.

Social work with clients who are blind or visually impaired should aim to facilitate engagement in these life activities and the development of environmental accommodations and personal skills that enable full participation and enjoyment. The third principle is to incorporate a strengths perspective, which empowers the client to act in his or her own behalf. Fourth, social workers should be knowledgeable about the range of special services and programs for persons with blindness or visual impairment, even while supporting independence and self-determination.

  1. For example, Max non-combat-related visual impairment, 35—44 years was assaulted when using his cane on public transport after accidently bumping into someone; they did not believe he was visually impaired so from that moment on he decided not to use a cane anymore. They were prioritised in the selection process for phase 2 after which other participants were invited.
  2. Factors identified as risk factors of probable psychological disorder were poor educational background and the presence of another medical disorder.
  3. Therefore, an exploration of the SRBS among a sighted population is the primary purpose of the present study. This will require the joint efforts of medical community, government and nongovernment organizations to provide the framework for delivery of these services directly to the communities.
  4. In general, sighted participants believed typical misconceptions about blindness, such as the inability of a blind person to be happy or to hold a good job and work efficiently. Sampling The blind people were selected consecutively in the communities where they lived or operated based on their willingness and consent to participate.

An important advocacy role for social workers is to be vigilant for discrimination and de facto exclusion in the delivery of services and by other organizations and businesses, and to help the client learn how to advocate against or challenge discrimination or exclusion when they occur. The key elements of etiquette include not making assumptions in interpersonal interactions, but to be guided by the individual regarding whether help is required, and what kind of help.

For example, if there are forms to fill out, clients should be asked what format and process they prefer. Especially for social work encounters, it is important to respect privacy and confidentiality. Two mistakes that agencies sometimes make are to ask family members to fill out a paper form for someone without sight, without first determining that it is acceptable to the client and an appropriate task for a family member, or to have a staff member fill out the paperwork by asking the client for the information in a very public location.

Other elements of etiquette involve identifying oneself and others present at the start of the encounter, and waiting for the client to indicate whether or not assistance navigating the office space is required.

Another point of etiquette is to know how to direct or guide a person with limited or no sight to another location in a manner that does not violate personal space.


Finally, if people with and without sight are part of the social work encounter, social workers need to be alert to any tendency on their part or the part of other staff in the setting to address inquiries to the person with sight that properly should be addressed directly to the person who is blind or visually impaired.

More specific information about disability etiquette for working with people who are blind or visually impaired can be found at the Web sites of the references named at the beginning of this section. A key approach to working with people with blindness or visual impairment is to recognize that it is a social as well as an individual problem.

Contact with active members of organizations of people with blindness or visual impairment, such as the National Federation of the Blind, the Blinded Veterans Association, and the American Council of the Blind, is indispensable in helping people new to visual impairment appreciate that Braille, cane or guide dog, recorded materials, live readers, adapted computers, and new ways of managing a home and work life can be as efficient as the ways that relied on sight.

Other individuals and advocacy organizations in the disability rights movement are also invaluable in providing allies to battle discrimination and exclusion when it occurs. Issues for the Twenty-first Century For people with visual impairment or blindness there are options in the 21st century that did not exist in prior centuries. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in employment and public life.

Twenty-first century technology supports participation in work, family, recreation, cultural activities, and sports with ever greater ease. Portable electronic equipment assists in orientation, travel, and the translation of visual text to accessible media.