Research & development

Innovating learning through evidence-based research

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 key 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 that was focused on understanding the impact of changes to eye integrity and eye efficiency on access and learning. However, more recently it has been recognised that neurological visual impairment such as cerebral (or cortical) visual impairment is the single largest category of visual impairment in children living in the developed world. This reflects the growing number of children who have visual processing difficulties as a result of complex neurological conditions.

We have collaborated with the University of Lincoln to complete a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, in order 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 are currently engaged in an Erasmus funded research partnership with Trondheim University and ongoing developmental projects involving academics in the US and Europe.

Among our current areas of expertise are:

  • Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI): We use Christine Roman-Lantzy’s CVI Range as one approach for assessing and working on the visual skills of those learners with specific visual processing disorders. We are also developing a curriculum for learners with CVI that addresses their specific learning needs.
  • Gamifying visual field training: We are developing computer games that can be used to help deliver low vision training for young people with visual field loss in a way that is engaging and effective. We also use the Neuro Vision Technology system as one approach for assessing and measuring improvement in visual field loss and spatial neglect.
  • We provide sensory integration therapy as a way of working on a learner’s ability to process sensory information effectively.
  • We provide low vision aids to support learning and life skills. These include magnifiers, task lighting, and reading aids which enhance near and distance vision.

We organise an annual international conference and invite speakers from around the globe to discuss their research findings in the field of visual impairment. We also believe in securing cutting-edge hardware and software for our learners, and training all our staff effectively in new thinking and technologies.

If you want to keep up to date with our current research and development projects you can visit our research and development blog hosted by the University of Lincoln.

The blog is updated with snippets of information about our own projects, and topical research being conducted in the fields of visual neuroscience and visual impairment. Please feel free to comment or subscribe to the RSS feed.

VISION 2014

In March 2014 the WESC Foundation’s Research and Development team spoke at the 11th international conference on Low Vision in Melbourne, Australia and presented some of the early findings from the “Eyelander” research project. The aim of the project was to develop a computer game that could be used in the rehabilitation or habilitation of young people with visual field loss caused by brain injury, and to assess the effectiveness of the therapy.

Please click on the poster below from more details about the project.

Research & Development poster

If you would like to find out more about Vision 2014 please click here.