Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Ralph Brockett

Committee Members

S. Wayne Mulkey, Sandra P. Thomas, Mary F. Ziegler


Vision and hearing loss are senescent changes that occur during the aging process. Assistive technology is available that can assist individuals with adapting to this new life world. Technology can be expensive and research has indicated a 24% abandonment rate. Studies have indicated successful implementation of devices have occurred when individuals have a choice in device selection and training.

The purpose of this existential phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of adults with age-related vision loss who learned to use assistive technology. A purposive sample was recruited from a Blinded Veterans Association located in Kentucky. The sample was comprised of seven male veterans with age-related vision loss, who were between the ages of 58-89. Each of these individuals participated in a phenomenological interview, which allowed me to understand the essence of the lived experience of these men.

Four figural themes emerged that characterized the learning experience against a contextual ground of others, body, and time. The themes: “They take you by the hand and take you through it”; “learning to do it in a different way”; “I found I can be self-sufficient”; and “encourage other veterans” described the process of learning to use assistive technology that began with the instructor at the center and concluded with the veteran returning to his home and sharing his acquired knowledge. Findings from the study indicate the instructors were the guides into the new life-world of a person with a visual impairment. Learning to use assistive technology resulted in maintaining self-sufficiency and independence.

Recommendations for practice for rehabilitation teachers, adult educators, and assistive technology practitioners indicates providing a learning environment consistent with Knowles (1980) assumptions of andragogy may result in successful use of assistive technology, which may in turn reduce abandonment rate. Recommendations for research include phenomenological studies with individuals who elected not to use assistive technology to determine if choice and training were reasons they elected not to use. Finally, instructors who provide rehabilitation training need to be interviewed about the phenomenon of teaching to establish best practices for recipients of assistive technology.

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