Which rehabilitation initiatives can effectively improve participation in an educational setting for visually impaired and blind adolescents? A systematic review

Nina Milde*, Diana Chabané Schmidt, Anders Larsen, Line Kessel

*Corresponding author for this work

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Visually impaired and blind adolescents fare poorly in educational attainment compared to adolescents without vision impairment. Rehabilitation holds the potential to compensate for the hindrances that the impairment causes. Many rehabilitation initiatives exist. However, the efficacy of these initiatives remains uncertain. This systematic review assessed which rehabilitation initiatives improve participation in an educational setting for visually impaired and blind adolescents.

METHODS: PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Cinahl, and Cochrane library databases were searched. Only primary studies as randomized controlled trial (parallel group or crossover), cohort studies, case-control studies, qualitative studies, and case-studies were included. Data on the study characteristics, visual impairment, type of intervention, research question, main findings, and implications for practice were extracted from the papers. Critical appraisal was performed using the Critical Appraisal Checklist for Qualitative Research and the Checklist for Quasi-Experimental Studies both from the Joanna Briggs Institute. The data extraction and the critical appraisal were performed independently by two reviewers.

RESULTS: A total of 10 studies with visually impaired and blind adolescents were considered eligible, from an original search result of 3210 studies. In the thematic analysis we identified a heightened focus on different means for studying by making the curriculum content more accessible by applying different audio, tactile, or electronic devices (n = 8). A minor focus in the identified studies (n = 2) was placed on the impact of support from the environment on the development of literacy, for example the support from teachers or parents. Outcome parameters representing more diverse rehabilitation initiatives have not been adequately investigated in the literature. The scientific evidence that we identified was based on few publications with contradictory results and some studies were of questionable quality, limiting the applicability of their findings.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the review identified a gap in the evidence regarding rehabilitation initiatives for visually impaired and blind adolescents that enables participation in an educational setting. The overall quality assessment of the 10 studies identified several risks of bias, for which reason the current scientific evidence does not qualify as a basis for decision making, leaving the adolescents in a heightened risk to fall even further behind in the educational system. Further high quality randomized controlled trials are required to establish high-quality evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10
JournalBMC Ophthalmology
Volume24
Issue number1
ISSN1471-2415
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Blindness
  • Education
  • Improved participation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Visual impairment

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