Older individuals with VI may present with difficulty in spatial memory and navigation, which increases the risk of falling or wayfinding difficulties. A high prevalence (54-85 percent) of VI in the deaf population puts older deaf individuals at risk. In contrast, evidence of high visuo-spatial IQ in American Sign Language (ASL) users suggests that the spatial cognitive functions among deaf ASL users with VI may not be as affected as those among deaf non-ASL users with VI. The purposes of this 3-year project are to:
  • develop and adapt spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools to be administered to the deaf population;
  • characterize the spatial memory and spatial navigation abilities in young adults who are deaf, with and without vestibular impairments (VI); and
  • assess the role of ASL in spatial memory and navigation abilities in older adults.
To address purposes #1 and #2, spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools (virtual reality navigation and memory tasks, sense-of-direction questionnaire) will be normed and adapted to the young, deaf adult population (ages 21-35). To address purpose #3, these spatial memory and navigation tasks are administered to subjects 60 years or older with different experiences in hearing status, ASL use, and VI.

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Spatial Navigation Abilities in Deaf Older Adults With and Without Vestibular Impairment

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