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Creators/Authors contains: "Sutharson, Sam Jotham"

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  1. People can visualize their spontaneous and voluntary emotions via facial expressions, which play a critical role in social interactions. However, less is known about mechanisms of spontaneous emotion expressions, especially in adults with visual impairment and blindness. Nineteen adults with visual impairment and blindness participated in interviews where the spontaneous facial expressions were observed and analyzed via the Facial Action Coding System (FACS). We found a set of Action Units, primarily engaged in expressing the spontaneous emotions, which were likely to be affected by participants’ different characteristics. The results of this study could serve as evidence to suggest that adults with visual impairment and blindness show individual differences in spontaneous facial expressions of emotions.
  2. Despite significant vision loss, humans can still recognize various emotional stimuli via a sense of hearing and express diverse emotional responses, which can be sorted into two dimensions, arousal and valence. Yet, many research studies have been focusing on sighted people, leading to lack of knowledge about emotion perception mechanisms of people with visual impairment. This study aims at advancing knowledge of the degree to which people with visual impairment perceive various emotions – high/low arousal and positive/negative emotions. A total of 30 individuals with visual impairment participated in interviews where they listened to stories of people who became visually impaired, encountered and overcame various challenges, and they were instructed to share their emotions. Participants perceived different kinds and intensities of emotions, depending on their demographic variables such as living alone, loneliness, onset of visual impairment, visual acuity, race/ethnicity, and employment status. The advanced knowledge of emotion perceptions in people with visual impairment is anticipated to contribute toward better designing social supports that can adequately accommodate those with visual impairment.
  3. In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, public health interventions such as social distancing and stay-at-home orders have widely been implemented, which is anticipated to contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19. On the contrary, there is a concern that the public health interventions may increase the level of loneliness. Loneliness and social isolation are public health risks, closely associated with serious medical conditions. As COVID-19 is new to us today, little is known about emotional well-being among people with visual impairment during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address the knowledge gap, this study conducted phone interviews with a convenience sample of 31 people with visual impairment. The interview incorporated the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale (version 3) and the trait meta-mood scale (TMMS) to measure loneliness and emotional intelligence skills, respectively. This study found that people with visual impairment were vulnerable to the feeling of loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic and showed individual differences in emotional intelligence skills by different degrees of loneliness. Researchers and health professionals should consider offering adequate coping strategies to those with visual impairment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.