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Post-school transitions of blind and partially sighted young people

Project overview

It is estimated that 40% of visually impaired people aged 18-29 are not in education, employment or training. This study aims to better understand and challenge this very low statistic, by following around 80 visually impaired young people for three years as they move through different education settings and seek to gain employment.

The study forms the second phase of a five-year longitudinal research project. The young people involved joined the project in 2009 when they were in Year 9 (aged 13-14) and Year 11 (aged 15-16). In the first phase of the study (lasting two years), they were interviewed several times about their circumstances, progress, plans and support received. The second phase will now follow both cohorts for a further three years.

Research questions:

  • What are visually impaired young people’s experiences of transition from school into further and higher education, training and employment? What choices do they make and what are the outcomes?
  • What levels of independence do they have as they move through different phases of their life? How helpful are their independence skills during these transitions?
  • What services are available to them to support their transition? How will changes in the area of transitions and special educational needs (SEN) policy be implemented by different services?
  • How will these policy changes affect visually impaired young people as they move from school to the next stage of their education, training or employment?

In a follow-on strand of the project, the researchers will explore the experiences of those young people who went into higher education.

Due to the longitudinal nature of this project, these research questions are likely to evolve over time, as the researchers learn more about the experiences of the participants.



  • Dr Graeme Douglas
    University of Birmingham

  • Cheryl Lloyd
    Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.