Research in progress

Here you can find out about some of the research projects RNIB are currently involved in.

My Voice reports for Cymru, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Following the successful launch of RNIB’s recent My Voice UK wide report we are producing a series of summary reports specifically geared towards the needs and experiences of registered blind and partially sighted people living within Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These reports will combine the findings of My Voice with other relevant research and policy developments to create a picture of what life is like for blind and partially sighted people living within each country.

Reaching seldom heard groups of people with sight loss

RNIB’s recent My Voice study was one of the largest ever surveys of registered blind and partially sighted people in the UK. However, this survey could not represent all registered blind and partially sighted people. As the survey interview was carried out over the telephone some people were not able to take part, such as people with dual sensory loss, people who do not speak English fluently or people living within care homes. We also wanted to capture the views of carers who care for people with sight loss and other complex, multiple disabilities. We are carrying out a series of in-depth interviews to better understand the views and experiences of these groups, and how RNIB can best support their needs.

Secondary analysis of the Millennium Cohort Survey (MCS)

The Millennium Cohort Survey (MCS) is a longitudinal survey of 19,000 children born in 2000. It covers a variety of topics including the children's health, wellbeing, behaviour, education and social experiences. In 2014 RNIB in partnership with the Royal London Society for the Blind (RLSB) commissioned the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to carry out statistical analysis of the MCS with the aim of identifying children at the age of eleven with a sight impairment and comparing their experiences with those of the other children in the survey who did not have a sight impairment. This follows an analysis of the MCS carried out in 2012 by NatCen for RNIB and RLSB to compare the experiences of children with a sight impairment at the age of seven with other children. Questions were asked of the children, their parents and teachers. The final report is available from the education research page of the RNIB website. The findings provide important information about the experiences and wellbeing of children with VI at ages seven and 11.

Transitions study: longitudinal study from age 14 of blind and partially sighted young people in the UK

The Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) at the University of Birmingham is undertaking a 5-year longitudinal study. The current phase of the project which runs from 2012-2015 is funded by the Nuffield Foundation and is looking at the transition of blind and partially sighted young people from the age of 14 years of age through to employment or further education.

The key objectives of the project are:

  • To track the process of transition for blind and partially sighted young people from age 14 for the next five years.
  • To identify the roles of professionals involved in the transition from education to employment.
  • To identify the factors that affect a young person's chances of gaining employment.

The project involves a longitudinal survey of two groups of blind and partially sighted young people in school starting in Years 9 and 11. It is following them as they make the transition from school into further and higher education, training and employment. This project is planned to run from 2010 to 2015. For the next phase of the project, starting in 2015, we plan to work directly with the young people who are participating in the research to develop bespoke advice and information materials for young people and professionals, on transition to further and higher education, training and employment. We will also continue to follow the young people for a further three years as they move from education into employment and independent living.

More information about the Transitions study is available on the University of Birmingham's website.

Also see this article on the Media Access website on ‘Inclusive design and improving access for people with visual impairments', written by one of the Research Fellows working on the project.

Stories of blind and partially sighted people

RNIB is currently conducting a number of in-depth interviews with blind and partially sighted people to better understand the challenges and achievements of living with sight loss. These interviews will explore a number of different topic areas and will be used to support RNIB’s campaigning, fundraising and service development. The key themes arising from the interviews will also be analysed and published in a report due in mid 2016.

Understanding the impact of Personal Independence Payment

In April 2013 the government introduced major changes to the benefit system in the UK. As part of this, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64.

RNIB, working with Sense and Thomas Pocklington Trust have commissioned a joint team from Birmingham University and NatCen Social Research to investigate the impact of PIP (and potentially wider changes in welfare benefits) on people with sensory impairment. The research involves undertaking in-depth qualitative interviews with a range of people who have sensory loss.

The University of Birmingham have completed the first phase of the research which included fourteen semi-structured interviews which explored people’s experiences of applying for PIP. The first phase of the research is due to be published at the end of the March 2015.

The next stage of the research, delivered by NatCen, is due to begin in the spring. This stage of the research will involve those who are having their DLA reassessed and being moved to PIP.

The project is expected to finish in January 2016.

Further information

For further information about any of these projects please contact

Invitations for proposals

RNIB frequently commissions and carries out research studies about people with sight loss and about issues which affect their lives.

Please visit our procurement section for tender information and where invitations for proposals will be advertised.

If we are not making invitations at present, the following organisations may be worth looking into:

Fight for Sight

  • Fight for Sight has been funding research into blindness and eye disease for more than 40 years.

Research Councils UK

Wellcome Trust

  • Wellcome Trust are a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving improvements in human and animal health.

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