Comparing the effect of different living environments on the development of independent living skills in children living with visual impairment

Ntsakiseni Mashele, Neeltje Smit


The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises visual impairments in children as deserving priority treatment and intervention. All possible attempts should therefore be made to research every area that may influence the development and independence of children with visual impairments to aid in the management of this problem. Previous research indicated that caregivers play an important role in the independent development of children with visual impairments.  This study compared the self-care, mobility and social function skills of learners with visual impairments who resided in a school residence designed for learners with visual impairments to those who lived at home.

 Study methods: A descriptive study was conducted, comprising both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection. A saturation sample including caregivers of learners in the school residence and caregivers of learners living at home was used for data collection. Data collection was done using the Paediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (PEDI) and semi-structured interviews.

Study results: The PEDI indicated no statistically significant difference on all the measured scales in the living environments of the two groups of learners. Seven caregivers reported the importance of familiarising and orientating learners with visual impairments to the layout of an environment, objects and people within their living environment to enhance independence. Caregivers indicated that they used different methods of adaptations to the PEDI to enhance independence in learners.

Conclusion: The study indicated the influence of the living environment on the development of independence. The results can be used to expand the knowledge base on the topic of children with visual impairments.

Key words:  ADL (activities of daily living); children/learners; functional capabilities; Independent living skills; living environment; visual impairments.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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