Hope and negotiating life after a residential post-secondary program : perspectives of blind adults
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This study investigates the individual outcomes of blind adults after completing residential post-secondary training. Their reflections on life before during and after the program provide understanding into complex personal issues. The narrative data revealed program factors that had an influence on individual outcomes. This study uses Snyder's hope theory as a conceptual framework to aid in the understanding and interpretation of these individual outcomes. Hope has been found to have significant positive impact on rehabilitation issues; it is a mediating factor in the adjustment to blindness (Snyder, Lehman, Kluck & Monsson, 2006). This study extends the work of Jackson, Taylor, Palmatier, Elliott & Elliott (1998) who investigated the relation of hope to visual impairment. Therefore, the purpose of this study was two-fold. First, the investigation seeks knowledge about how blind adults negotiated life after completing a residential post-secondary program. The second purpose was describing and understanding the role of hope in this negotiation of life. This systematic inquiry relies on a qualitative design in which case study methods are incorporated. Interviews and follow-up interviews were conducted with 7 participants over a period of 18 months. Recurring themes and sub-themes were identified through use of the constant comparative method of coding. Further reduction across the cases highlighted thematic concepts through the use of multi-case displays. The findings resulted in 4 main themes with 2 sub-themes each. Major themes include how participants establish housing and post-secondary activities such as work or training after the program, how they respond to expectations, whether or not they continue using the skills learned during their residential training and what they have done to establish goals and vocational pursuits. There is evidence of differences among the individual outcomes though each participant experienced equivalent training. Results highlight the influences on motivation such as family, blind mentors, vocational development and reliance on alternative techniques. Results indicate there are differences among participants regarding the hope construct specifically in pathway and agency thinking. Individual and programmatic recommendations and implications for future research are addressed; strategies for incorporating the emerging issues of this study into early education of blind children are presented.