Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum

Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum joined AFB in 2020 to lend her decades of expertise to help conduct and analyze research related to vision loss.

With the COVID-19 pandemic taking a front seat in all our lives, Dr. Rosenblum quickly took leading roles in the development, deployment, and analysis of three national collaborative surveys to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of those with vision loss. The Flatten Inaccessibility report highlights the experiences of 1,921 adults with visual impairments early in the pandemic. The report provides a window into both systemic and COVID-19-related challenges experience by U.S. adults and contains recommendations for mitigating these challenges. The first Access & Engagement study sought to examine how COVID-19 was impacting the education of children with visual impairments, their families, teachers of students with visual impairments, and orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists as the 2019-2020 school year was ending. The 1,432 participants from the U.S. and Canada provided insight to the successes and challenges students with visual impairments were experiencing early in the pandemic. Recognizing that the pandemic continues to impact education, Dr. Rosenblum and her team conducted a second Access and Engagement study in November 2020. These data are currently being analyzed.

Dr. Rosenblum and her team have started recruitment for the Workplace Technology Study to learn how employees use technology in their workplace, the training they undergo, and any accessibility barriers they experience. Using data from the focus groups and a literature review, a survey is being designed that will open in February 2021. Data gathered through the survey will assist AFB staff in making recommendations to technology companies, employers, vocational rehabilitation professionals, and those with vision loss.

AFB is pleased to be working with Guide Dogs for the Blind on a research study to examine guide dog use in the U.S. and Canada. As first steps in this study, Dr. Rosenblum and consultant Dr. Carlie Rhoads completed a literature review and collected responses from over 500 individuals who completed an online survey about their attitudes toward guide dog use. In 2021 we will be conducting observations, interviews, and a more in-depth survey.

Prior to joining AFB, Dr. Rosenblum was a Research Professor in the Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies at the University of Arizona, where she had worked since 1999. She was the Project Director for an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Goal 2 project, Animal Watch Vi: Building Graphics Literacy. She led the project team in developing an intervention to support pre-algebra students with visual impairments to build their skills to gather information from graphs and maps accurately and efficiently.

Also, during her time at the University of Arizona, Dr. Rosenblum prepared teachers to work with students with visual impairments (TVIs). She coordinated teacher preparation programs in Arizona and Nevada.

Dr. Rosenblum brings to AFB both her professional expertise and her own experience as a woman who has low vision. She has been published in journals, written book chapters, produced a video for older adults who were becoming nondrivers, and designed curricula. With colleague Dr. Anne Corn, she recently published the book Finding Wheels for travelers in their teens and early 20s.She regularly presents workshops at conferences throughout the United States. In June 2020 she was the lead presenter on AFB’s Virtual Leadership Conference titled, Flatten Inaccessibility: Using Data to Ensure COVID-19 Responses Are Inclusive of Adults with Vision Loss.

Dr. Rosenblum holds a bachelor’s degree from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania; a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee; and a doctorate from the University of Arizona, where her dissertation examined the best friendships of 40 adolescents with visual impairments.

She lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband Dennis. She enjoys bicycling, swimming, and time with friends.