International Journal of Qualitative Methods
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Research with older adults aging with vision loss has typically been informed by a biomedical theoretical framework. With a growing focus, however, on critical disability perspectives, which locates disability within the environment, new methods of data collection, such as participant observation, are needed. This article, which reports on the findings from a critical ethnographic study conducted with older adults with age-related vision loss (ARVL), aims to share those insights gained through participant observation and to demonstrate the utility of this method. Three insights were gained including the adaptive strategies tacitly employed to navigate the physical environment, a grounded understanding of social interactions that transpire in everyday contexts, and negating the presence of older adults with ARVL when accompanied by a perceived caregiver. The study findings unpack how participant observation can be used to understand social constructions of disability and gain a holistic understanding of environmental influences on the disability experience of older adults with ARVL.
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