May 2003
Volume 44, Issue 13
Free
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2003
Testing the Ability of Seniors to Learn and Read Tactile Alphabets
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A.J. Chepaitis
    SUNY College of Optometry / ELIA Life Technology, New York, NY, United States
  • A.F. Griffiths
    SUNY College of Optometry, New York, NY, United States
  • H.J. Wyatt
    SUNY College of Optometry, New York, NY, United States
  • W.F. O'Connell
    SUNY College of Optometry, New York, NY, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  A.J. Chepaitis, ELIA Life Technology, Inc. F, I, E, P, R; A.F. Griffiths, None; H.J. Wyatt, None; W.F. O'Connell, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  Langeloth Foundation
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2003, Vol.44, 1290. doi:
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      A.J. Chepaitis, A.F. Griffiths, H.J. Wyatt, W.F. O'Connell; Testing the Ability of Seniors to Learn and Read Tactile Alphabets . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(13):1290.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Abstract: : Purpose: To study the learning and reading of tactile alphabets by seniors. Methods: One hundred sighted subjects age 65 and older were blindfolded and taught one of three tactile alphabets: a new alphabet named ELIA, the standard Braille alphabet or a raised Roman alphabet. ELIA and Roman texts were presented at letter heights of 1.0 cm, 1.1 cm, 1.2 cm and 1.3 cm while Braille texts were presented at the standard size (0.7 cm). Total training time was 30 hours, which took place in 1½ hour sessions over 5 weeks. Subjects studying the ELIA and Roman alphabets were tested after 11.5, 17.5, 23.5, 25, and 30 hours. Subjects studying the Braille alphabet were tested after 15.5, 23.5 and 29.5 hours. Training and testing included both single letters and words in sentences. Results: ELIA alphabet texts were read with greater speed and letter recognition accuracy than Roman alphabet texts. Both the ELIA and the Roman alphabets were read with greater speed and letter recognition accuracy than the Braille alphabet. The performance differences between the alphabets were greatest when the letters were closely spaced and in the context of words. Subjects reading ELIA and Roman texts scored higher in word reading tests with closely spaced letters than in reading tests with widely spaced letters in random order. Performance with the Braille alphabet was better for individual letters than for words. The performance differences between the ELIA and Roman subject groups were most pronounced at the smallest font size and both font size and training time had significant effects on the performances of the two groups. Conclusions: Seniors are capable of reading tactile alphabets, which could be utilized to achieve greater independence and an improved quality of life. In cases of adventitious blindness in older individuals, Braille may be very difficult to learn. In such cases, ELIA or Roman tactile alphabets may offer alternatives.

Keywords: reading • aging • quality of life 
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