Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


The purpose of this Major Applied Research Project was the development of a continuing education action plan to address the needs of blind and visually impaired work-aged adults in Alberta to assist the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Alberta - Northwest Territories Division) with planning decisions. The six research questions guiding the study focused on the following: 1. Demographic characteristics of the target group; 2. Current continuing education programs fostering life-career development; 3. Life-career development needs of the target group; 4. Barriers and constraints to participation in learning activities; 5. Educational goals and strategies; 6. Elements for inclusion in the action plan. The conceptual framework of this descriptive study encompassed andragogical assumptions, and adult learner participation theory. Data collection methodology included case study techniques, literature review, document analysis and focus group activities with CNIB field specialists. A sample of thirty-two CNIB members between twenty-five and fifty-nine years of age formed two groups: adults with initial vision loss in adulthood and in childhood. They were interviewed using an Interview Schedule of Questions that included the Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (Guglielmino, 1977/78) and an Adult Participation Questionnaire designed from the literature. Thirty-four Canadian and U.S. organizations were surveyed using an original questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and four models constructed from the literature were used to analyze the data. The most important models were the Adult Life-Career Development Continuum (ALCDC) of needs and the Life-Career Development Continuing Education Planning model. The findings offered insights important to program planning. Vision loss in childhood was proportionately lower than in adulthood. Official statistics did not accurately represent the target group due to denial of the condition, resistance to being identified within this group, and inadequate referral systems. The most common causes of adult vision loss were accidents for males, and health related conditions for women. Multi-disabilities were prevalent amongst persons with adult vision loss. Unemployment was acute, especially for males with adult vision loss. Educational levels were unexpectedly high with high school or trades certificates typically attained, but retraining or vocational redirection was clearly evident. The only Canadian organization providing programming specifically to the target group was the CNIB. Few programs and services offered by other organizations were adapted for them. Most educational activities addressed daily life management, personal (psychological) adjustment and occupationally related needs. Security and primary relationship needs and all needs confining self-worth were essentially unmet through programming. Seven important life-career development needs emerged from the study as: 1. The improvement of self-concept and self-esteem; 2. The improvement of mobility ana orientation skills; 3. the development of skills for workplace re-entry; 4. The reduction of family tension; 5. The reduction of feelings of isolation and depression; 6. The development of self-advocacy skills; 7. The reduction of fear of the future. Most subjects participated in courses or counselling services since their vision loss, but were generally dissatisfied. Daily life management courses and counselling by the CNIB were the exceptions. Interest in participation was high, but was undermined by poor experiences and program and service inadequacies. Persons with childhood vision loss saw themselves as more independent than their counterparts, but self-directedness appeared related to gender with women scoring higher on the Self-Directed Learning Readiness (SDLR) Scale than the men. Dependency on others and discrimination were perceived as hindering life-career development while supportive relationships fostered it. A major desire for social affiliation was noted. The primary general reason given for non participation in learning activities was insufficient information. But, the major causal reason for deciding to rot participate in specific activities or for dropping out was inadequacy of instructional processes. Major current issues as the lack of integrative coordinated planning, of realistic life-career planning and work opportunities, and the increasing demands for programs and services from urban and rural adults were identified. Practical benefits of technological changes to improve employment, and educational options to the target group were reduced by high equipment costs. Increases in the aging population with age related vision loss and in multi-disabled persons of all ages were future trends impacting on programs and services. Seven criteria for a successful adjustment, to vision loss were identified as the following educational goals: 1. To have overcome denial and poor attitudes; 2. To be independent and self-directed; 3. To be self-supporting: 4. To be confident; 5. To have relationships offering friendship and safety: 6. To have developed daily living skills (functional coping skills); 7. To have acquired new and retool previous skills. Strategies to achieve the educational goals and objectives derived from the major life-career development needs and to overcome participation barriers were established. Unexpectedly, the subjects offered a vast number of strategies to improve the instructional process. Relevant input-process-outcome elements were identified for inclusion in the Life-Career Development Continuing Education Planning model. It was concluded that this model provided a suitable framework for the action plan. It was recommended that the Planning Document resulting from this study be submitted to the CNIB (Alberta - Northwest Territories Division) to facilitate the development and implementation of life-career programming for the target group.

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