I’ve been off sick from work all week with tonsillitis which has given me a chance to keep working on transcribing my interviews. As expected, as soon as I got back to work, finding the time to do this became pretty difficult. I’m nearly half way through now. As a process it takes AGES, but I still think it’s the only way to really become immersed in your data.
The exciting thing for me is seeing themes and ideas coming through the different interviews. My research questions explore how teachers, parents and children perceive and experience the early introduction of the long cane. Words coming through from teacher interviews so far are ‘independence’, ‘excitement’ at seeing the early use of the long cane, and ‘normal’. Now ‘normal’ is a word that one needs to be careful of using in the disability context but for many of the people I interviewed that was the only word that they could find to describe the impact that early O&M training had on these young children. In the words of one parent “she’s just so….so normal, I know that’s a terrible word to use, but there’s no difference when we go to the shops with her or (other sighted child)”. Having the skills of independent mobility from such an early age really has made a dramatic difference to this family.
The other reaction I’m feeling whilst transcribing is frustration and even anger that so many children with low vision or blindness are still not getting early O&M services, despite the fact that it obviously has so many benefits. My study is based on a select group of people, from a particular time and location, and therefore my results are not ‘generalisable’. But the more I transcribe and hear what my participants are saying, the more it reinforces to me the need to get my research out there.
Just this week I received an email from the UK asking for some advice on this topic. The email reads in part:
“In the UK there is a resistance to taking up this option and children are frequently waiting until they are 6-7-8 years of age to begin training with a long cane. I find that this does not fit with my understanding and experience of early childhood development and learning and wondered if you could point me in the direction of research of the value of early introduction.”
Sometimes I feel it’s a long road ahead, but I also feel that I’m researching a topic that desperately needs research and I hope that if nothing else, I can inspire people like the writer of this email to keep pushing for these children to get the services that I feel they need.