A Research Agenda for Assistive Technology Used by Students with Visual Impairments

Assistive technology for individuals with visual impairments has long provided the equalizing effect for which it was intended. Due to federal mandates for the use of scientifically-based interventions for students with disabilities, the question of whether specific assistive technologies are effective in learning has surfaced. The purpose of this research synthesis was to determine the status of scientifically-based interventions related to assistive technology for students with visual impairments. Using a rigorous methodology to locate and analyze the research literature, the synthesis found 397 articles between 1965 and May 2013 that focused on assistive technology within the educational framework. These articles were organized into nine distinct categories. Three categories focus on "research" considered rigorous by the What Works Clearinghouse and the CEC Division for Research standards. Further analysis found that 98 articles fell into these three categories with the majority being descriptive, correlational, and quasi-experimental (N=66, 67%). A subset of articles included single-subject (N=4) and qualitative studies (N=24, 25%). Four articles that met the "golden standard" of experimental research as determined by the What Works Clearinghouse standards. There was evidence that the literature on AT for students with visual impairments is growing with many of these newer articles using stronger methodologies.

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