Method: Participants were 17 visually impaired individuals who had experienced some kind of potentially traumatic event. Two focus groups and 13 individual interviews were conducted.
Results: The participants experienced a variety of hazards and potential threats in their daily life. Fear of daily accidents was more pronounced than fear of disasters. Some participants reported avoiding help-seeking in unsafe situations due to shame at not being able to cope. The ability to be independent was highlighted. Traumatic events were re-experienced through a variety of sense modalities. Fear of labelling and avoidance of potential risks were recurring topics, and the risks of social withdrawal and isolation were addressed.
Conclusions: Visual impairment causes a need for predictability and adequate information to increase and prepare for coping and self-efficacy. The results from this study call for greater emphasis on universal design in order to ensure safety and predictability. Fear of being labelled may inhibit people from using assistive devices and adequate coping strategies and seeking professional help in the aftermath of a trauma.
Implications for Rehabilitation
Visual impairment entails a greater susceptibility to a variety of hazards and potential threats in daily life. This calls for a greater emphasis on universal design in public spaces to ensure confidence and safety.
Visual impairment implies a need for predictability and adequate information to prepare for coping and self-efficacy.
Rehabilitation professionals should be aware of the need for independence and self-reliance, the possible fear of labelling, avoidance of help-seeking or reluctance to use assistive devices.
In rehabilitation after accidents or potential traumatizing events, professionals’ knowledge about the needs for information, training and predictability is crucial. The possibility of social withdrawal or isolation should be considered.