Visual Rehabilitation of Children with Visual Impairments

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ABSTRACT.Visual rehabilitation, consisting of visual stimulation and visual training, is a common practice in the education of children with visual impairments. Ferrell and Muir have stated that scientific research into the effects of visual stimulation and training is ambiguous and that therefore stimulation and training should be abandoned. The support for this statement is reviewed by describing the scientific relevance and plausibility of the aims and presuppositions of visual stimulation and training programs as well as the results of 10 empirical intervention studies. The review results are in strong agreement with the claim of Ferrell and Muir to abandon noncontingent visual stimulation. It is hypothesized that it is possibly counterproductive for the adaptive functioning of the brain to show strong visual stimuli in artificial surroundings, which are noncontingent on the behavior of the child. Training of visual functions seems fruitful whenever skills that are ecologically valid and adapted to the individual needs and task demands of the child are trained. However, the empirical evidence is still too sparse to draw convincing conclusions. There is an urgent need for good randomized controlled trials with dependent variables that are relevant to everyday life.

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