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Step by step to a more independent everyday life: expanding horizons and shared experience

Conference contribution
Authors Inger Berndtsson
Published in Keynote presentation 1st Rehabilitation Conference of ICEVI-Europe in Budapest, 31 May - 1 June 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Language en
Keywords vision rehabilitation, visual impairment, peer support, lifeworld phenomenology
Subject categories Pedagogy


When becoming visually impaired or blind as an adult, most people often experience some kind of disruption in life, where the new situation or life is so different from the earlier habitual daily life. The new life situation is unbearable for many and a challenge to handle, and sometimes they get stuck, while it is difficult to know how to change this unfamiliar situation. At its core this changed situation deals with existential matters. Two empirical studies have been performed into how people learn to handle the new life when becoming blind or visually impaired, where eight people participated in an earlier study, and six people in a more recent one. The main category for leading a new life was found to be activities of learning, but in an intermingling manner incorporating existential, perceptual and social aspects of everyday life. This was found through extensive qualitative interviews regarding life changes and learning, and participant observations of individual orientation and mobility training, as well as participating in a group rehabilitation course programme. The studies were guided by a lifeword approach and phenomenological philosophy; and hermeneutics were used in order to understand what is important for people to lead an independent life. To start with, it seemed important to first of all handle the existential or psychological situation where time is experienced as getting stuck. The “horizon of time” needs to be widened again. Two other horizons have also been identified, named the “horizon of possibilities” and the “horizon of activity”. Both these needed also to be widened where there were needs for believing in new possibilities and trust for the new life situation, but also a need for performing activities anew. This presentation will particularly deal with how the group rehabilitation programme inspired the participants to encourage each other to take further steps to independence. A core category of success was related to the participants sharing of similar lived body experiences, in accordance with the theory of Merleau-Ponty. Having a solid theoretical ground makes it also possible to develop theoretical statements regarding the intertwining of existential, perceptual and social lifeworld dimensions within group rehabilitation. In both studies, rehabilitation stood out to a great deal as a social activity, something people formed together.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-08-07