Spatial Navigation Abilities in Deaf Older Adults: With and Without Vestibular Impairment
The purposes of this 3-year project are to: 1. develop and adapt spatial memory and spatial navigation assessment tools to be administered to the deaf/Deaf population; 2. characterize the spatial memory and spatial navigation abilities in young adults who are deaf, with and without vestibular impairments (VI); and 3. assess the role of ASL in spatial memory and navigation abilities in older adults. Older individuals with VI may present with difficulty in spatial memory and navigation, which increases the risk of falling or wayfinding difficulties. High prevalence (54-85%) of VI in the deaf population puts older deaf individuals at risk, while evidence of high visuo-spatial IQ in 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. 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.