Guides to social participation (WC2012-057)


Starting date: 01/12/2012

The primary purpose of this project is to improve support for successful social participation of young persons with visual impairments (VI). This will be achieved by enriching professional support with support through client participation in mentoring adolescents on the brink of autonomous social participation. Therefore, this project is aimed to test the effect of a mentoring project with experience experts (successfully participating young adults with visual impairments), as compared to mentoring by young adults without visual impairments, as well as care as usual (without mentoring). The project will lead to:
- A protocol and toolbox for implementing Mentor Support, in order to recruit, train, and supervise young adults to become a mentor.
- The implementation of Mentor Support.
- Evidence for effectiveness of mentoring as a strategy to achieve autonomous social participation.

The secondary purpose is to chart pathways towards participation and identify factors that lead to success or failure. This is done on the basis and continuation of our national longitudinal study of young adults with visual impairments (VI). This will lead to:
- A description of the extent to which young adults with VI in the Netherlands participate in leisure activities, social relations including romantic relationships and families, and employment.
- A description of longitudinal pathways towards social participation from adolescence to adulthood, including factors explaining the course taken at different transition points(e.g., after finishing school, leaving home. Determining factors will be sought among disability characteristics, socioemotional and personal characteristics, and characteristics of received support.

A tertiary purpose is to bring forward the experiences of young adults with VI. While they have wonderful and important lessons to tell, they are often not heard. Reports and comments during previous projects suggest that youngsters with VI often experience overprotection, paternalization and low satisfaction with the content and organization of existing formal support
systems. Yet,they also express their wish to have more information on participating in the sighted society and value their contacts with companions in distress. This project therefore not only has participation as the object of study, but will incorporate participation as an important principle in conducting the research and in efforts to improve and enrich support for adolescents with VI.