People experiencing vision loss and blindness vary widely in the degree to which they emotionally accept their vision loss, effectively master compensatory skills, and ultimately return to their former professional and social lives. Integrating previous work, a model is proposed linking successful adjustment outcomes to high self-integrity, or the sense that one remains competent, effective, and whole despite vision loss. According to the proposed model, one's self-integrity is in turn influenced by the extent to which one is viewed as competent and effective by significant others, such as family members and rehabilitation professionals, during the adjustment process. Self-affirmation exercises, in which people reflect upon their commitments to core values, have been shown to boost self-integrity and facilitate positive responses to stress and threat, both in the short term and in the long term It is proposed that self- affirmation activities can aid the adjustment and rehabilitation of newly blind adults by increasing their willingness and motivation to master compensatory skills. It is further proposed that significant others can best support the newly blind individual's adjustment by providing values-affirming feedback;that is, feedback which recognizes the individual's commitment to important life domains not impacted by vision loss. This program of research will test the efficacy of two intervention strategies, one at the level of the blind individual (specifi aim 1) and the other involving social support given by others (specific aim 2). In a population of newly blind adults undergoing comprehensive adjustment-to-blindness training, Study 1 will test the efficacy of a self-affirmation intervention in bolstering participants'self-integrity and, thu, their training and adjustment outcomes. Study 2 will examine the impact of an interpersonally delivered values-affirmation on these same adjustment outcomes. This project is relevant to public health because it will be useful in generating a clearer understanding of the psychological factors underlying successful adjustment to blindness and in crafting targeted interventions that will maximize the productivity and quality of life of individuals with vision loss.
Approximately 25 million Americans reported having some degree of vision loss in 2008, and approximately 1.3 million of these are legally blind. The incidence of adult-onset vision loss and blindness is projected to increase substantially in the coming decades (American Foundation for the Blind, 2010). While rehabilitation training in the use of compensatory skills such as Braille and cane travel can enable people to lead productive, happy lives despite vision loss, many newly blind Americans still suffer economic and social disadvantages that detract from their quality of life. The proposed project is intended to identify intervention strategies that can improve the quality of lie and social integration of individuals with visual impairments.
|Silverman, Arielle M; Cohen, Geoffrey L (2014) Stereotypes as stumbling-blocks: how coping with stereotype threat affects life outcomes for people with physical disabilities. Pers Soc Psychol Bull 40:1330-40|