Improving Communication: Part 2

Continuing on with the review from the Thomas Pocklington Trust, I discovered once again we, as the visually impaired, have not been given a lot of attention or press by the social sciences. It was remarked research on visual impairment and social isolation is rare and good research on the subject is even rarer. [If you’ve not read the page before this, click here.]

One of the articles reviewed and praised was Heine and Browning’s (H&B) research on communication breakdowns. The Heine and Browning research was one of the few that did not just agree that social isolation happens but actually proved it scientifically. They also made some suggestions about fixing the problem.

Because of not reading all sorts of (now inaccessible) visual cues, people who have low vision tend to misunderstand and commit faux pas. If uncorrected, these mistakes can lead to serious, social problems. H&B suggested the visually impaired be taught repair strategies for communications.

OK. Unfortunately, when I went online most of what I found was aimed at the hearing impaired. Strategies to Assess and Improve Communication Repair Skills was an informative piece…for someone working with hearing impaired children. The suggestions were repetition, revision, addition and nonverbal with a note saying hearing impaired children put more emphasis on the nonverbal cues as they get older. Great. Not that much help.

Anyway, communication repair strategies might be a good thing to learn if you are really putting your foot in your mouth in conversations. There might be a speech and language therapist you could speak with to get some pointers. You can find speech and language therapists at most rehabilitation facilities.

H&B (above) also suggested support groups. There people who can no longer read nonverbal cues can get pointers from others and sharpen their skills.

One of the problems pointed out by the Pocklington Trust review is everyone else sees the communication problems of the visually impaired as OUR problem! They want us to focus on ‘our’ problem and get some sort of remediation to ‘fix’ ourselves!

The fact of the matter is: there is no fixing our sight problems. Communication has a very LARGE nonverbal component and it is very hard for the visually impaired to pick up on those messages.

It is important that sighted people help to smooth out rough communications and help the visually impaired integrate better into general society.

Are they going to do this? Not without requests and reminders they are not.

So back to the review, which is from the UK, by the way. Supposedly, the UK has something called the adult UK sight loss pathway as part of the UK Vision Strategy. Again supposedly (the article says only about half of their eye clinics provide early intervention support) part of this plan is to have available Eye Clinic Liaison Officers to provide direction and emotional support. It is supposed to be a way to give people early intervention.

As usual, it seems if you want something done right, do it yourself. If you have a support group in operation, you might enter into agreements with your ophthalmologists. Ask them to give your name out to all new cases. Be your own eye clinic liaison officers.

So no, this page does not answer the question asked. I cannot seem to find a good answer. I will keep looking, though.

next: Improving Communications: Part 3

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