Research & development

Innovating learning through research and evidence-based practice

WESC learner focussing on his functional vision assessment
WESC learner focusing on his functional vision assessment

“Our work is informed and supported by academic research, and we collaborate with universities in the UK and overseas in pioneering research projects. These investigations help us to understand the barriers that need to be overcome to make learning for visually impaired young people more accessible.”

Traditionally, education for visually impaired young people has been based on a medical model of ocular impairment. The focus was on understanding the impact of differences in eye integrity and eye efficiency on access and learning. Over the last two decades we recognise that cerebral visual impairment has become the single commonest cause of visual impairment for children living in the UK. Cerebral visual impairment is caused by medical conditions that affect how the brain processes and interprets visual information. It creates complex challenges for those with the diagnosis and for the education, health, and care professionals working with them.

We have collaborated with academic and other specialist institutions to generate a greater understanding of visual neuroscience at the WESC Foundation and establish ourselves as a specialist centre for visual impairment. Central to our philosophy of education is a commitment to keeping our knowledge in line with the latest international research and development. We collaborated with the University of Lincoln to design gamified therapy for children and young people with visual field loss caused by brain injury. We have also collaborated with Statped Heimdal and other specialist education providers in the UK, Finland, Germany, and Norway to compose an educational booklet about Batten disease. More detailed information about these projects, our most current projects, and their outcomes can be found in the Research & Development submenu.

We share practice with other international specialist providers of education (e.g. Bartiméus, Netherlands) and rehabilitation (e.g. Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, US), as well as with renowned contributors to the field such as Christine Roman-Lantzy, Amanda Lueck and Gordon Dutton. We continue to present our own research findings at the International Conferences organised by the International Society for Low Vision Research and Rehabilitation. We also continue to collaborate regionally with clinicians at the West of England Eye Unit, Bristol Eye Hospital, and Southmead Hospital on clinical research involving visual impairment caused by brain injury.

We organise an annual conference at the WESC Foundation and invite speakers from around the globe to discuss their research findings in the field of visual impairment. The themes of our conferences address challenges in education, health, social care, technology, and policy that affect people with visual impairment and their families. More detailed information about our Visual Impairment Conference can be found in the Events menu.