Travel efficiency among route travelers with multiple disabilities



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Texas Tech University


To learn any information, h is important for a student to focus a large amount of concentration on the task at hand. This is no more evident than when a student with a visual impairment is learning or practicing skills related to orientation and mobility. Due to behavior issues or to the presence of additional disabilities, these skills might be hampered during the course of a lesson. The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of different interventions on travel times and unnecessary verbalizations. The interventions were developed with the expectation of placing more attention on a specific travel route. The study used a single subject, changing conditions design.

The participants were four middle school students between the ages of 12 and 14 who were visually impaired, used either a walker or wheelchair, and had a cognitive impairment. These students were able to travel independently, although the level of independence was hampered by a tendency to oververbalize while traveling. The tendency to oververbalize changed the focus of the route from safe and effective travel to a desire to interact with others in the environment.

Throughout the study, participants traveled a familiar route either inside or outside of their schools. In the baseline phase, the participants had to travel the selected route at their own pace and without any feedback. The first intervention phase incorporated the use of constructive feedback and verbal praise given at set intervals. The second intervention combined the constructive feedback and verbal praise with a tangible reinforcer (graphing game). The maintenance phase removed all intervention procedures used during the study. Travel time and supplemental data (unnecessary verbalizations) were collected via live observation, plotted on line charts, and analyzed visually.

The study found that the use of the tangible reinforcer paired with the constructive feedback and verbal praise was more effective in decreasing travel times for two of the students. Travel times for the third participant decreased from the first to the second intervention, but the travel time at the end of the study was almost equal to the results in the baseline phase. The fourth participant expressed disinterest in the graphing game, thus necessitating the removal of the intervention. Constructive feedback and verbal praise alone had little effects on travel times for any participant.

Results from the supplemental measure found that all participants decreased the number of unnecessary verbalizations from one phase of the study to the next. The only exception to an overall decrease was identified in the third participant. Unnecessary verbalizations increased from the baseline phase to the first intervention phase. Following this increase, results equal to the other participants was observed in the third participant.