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Natalie Martiniello, Walter Wittich; Exploring predictors of braille reading performance among aging adults with visual impairment. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2020;61(7):1563.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Aging is related to a decrease in tactile acuity, motor dexterity and working-memory, but little is known about the influence of these declines on braille reading performance. This is especially pertinent as the prevalence of age-related sight loss is anticipated to double by 2050, increasing the need for evidence-based practice to better support aging clients who pursue braille training. We explored the relationship between age and tactile perception, motor dexterity and working-memory, and investigated which factors correlate with braille reading performance within a group of legally blind adult braille readers.
To date, 29 participants (age 27-88, M=53, SD=17, 11 male) who began learning braille between the ages of 4 and 63 (M=13, SD=13) completed assessments of passive and active tactile acuity, tactile working memory and fine-motor dexterity. Each read four braille passages from the International Reading Speed Test. Demographic information including age and frequency of braille use was collected. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlations, and a multiple linear regression were computed.
Reading speeds of 34 to 600 characters/min (M=252, SD=156) were achieved. Tactile acuity, working memory, and fine-motor measures were all negatively correlated with age (Table 1). A multiple regression was carried out (Table 2) to investigate whether age of first learning braille, tactile acuity, dexterity or tactile working memory could predict reading speed. Daily use of braille (as compared with less regular use) was entered as a dichotomous variable. Three variables: age when braille was first learned, Legge “Dot” acuity, and daily use of braille were found to explain 64.8% of the variance: F(3,20)=15.1, p < .001.
This study is the first to consolidate prior research by collecting these multiple measures within a single sample of braille readers. Results suggest that though increased age is associated with poorer tactile, motor, and working memory performance, braille reading is a complex task that draws on multiple factors. In particular, braille reading frequency may play a bigger role than previously understood, regardless of when braille is learned.
This is a 2020 ARVO Annual Meeting abstract.
Table 1: Pearson correlations between each factor and age
Table 2: Correlations between predictor variables and reading speed (characters per minute) and results of regression (effect of each predictor on reading speed)
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