The Environmental Production of Disability for Seniors with Age-Related Vision Loss

TitleThe Environmental Production of Disability for Seniors with Age-Related Vision Loss
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsMcGrath, C., D. Rudman, M. Spafford, B. Trentham, and J. Polgar
JournalCanadian Journal on Aging
Keywords80 and over, Activities of Daily Living, activity restriction, age-related vision loss (ARVL), aged, Aging, critical ethnography, daily life activity, disability, environmental barriers, female, human, Humans, Low, low vision, male, physiology, psychology, qualitative research, quality of life, very elderly, Vision, visually impaired person, Visually Impaired Persons

To date, attention to the environmental production of disability among older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL) has been limited. This critical ethnographic study aimed to reveal the ways in which environmental barriers produced and perpetuated disability for 10 older adults with ARVL. A modified version of Carspecken's five-stage approach for critical ethnography was adopted with three methods of data collection used, including a narrative interview, a participant observation session, and a semi-structured, in-depth interview. Findings revealed how disability is shaped for older adults with ARVL when they encounter environmental features that are embedded within an ageist and disablist society. These findings are illustrated via presenting analysis of three commonly discussed activities: shopping, eating, and community mobility. Our discussion suggests that addressing the environmental production of disability requires inclusive social policy, advocacy, and a focus on education in order to develop and sustain age and low-vision-friendly environments.