Changing what it means to be "normal": a grounded theory study of the mobility choices of people who are blind or visually impaired
journal contributionposted on 12.03.2015 by Elizabeth Ball, Colette Nicolle
Any type of content formally published in an academic journal, usually following a peer-review process.
Introduction: The ability to get out and about is important to social inclusion and quality of life and it is one of the most significant challenges for people who are blind or visually impaired. There has been little research into the underlying concerns of people who are blind or visually impaired when making decisions about mobility. Method: This grounded theory study explored the main mobility-related concerns of people who are blind or visually impaired. It uses qualitative data, drawn from a combination of online discussions, face-to-face, telephone and email interviews, and focus groups with people who are blind or visually impaired and rehabilitation practitioners. Results: The primary concern of people who are blind or visually impaired when making choices about where to go, and when and how to do so, was a desire to see oneself and to be seen by others as “normal”. Self-identity and perceived “normality” are subjective and changeable and are continually internally co-reconstructed to achieve congruence between them. The mobility strategies used are those that are perceived as most “normal”. Discussion: Perceived “normality” has a powerful influence on behaviour. By harnessing this, rehabilitation services may be better able to promote autonomy and self-reliance. Implications for Practitioners: To promote independence, rehabilitation services must change people’s perception of what is “normal”. People must be supported to come to perceive fulfilment of valued social roles, autonomy and self-reliance as “normal”.