Date & Time

Monday, 14 Jan

14:45 - 15:45


Optical Academy


Approximately 253 million people worldwide are estimated to live with sight impairment. Ageing populations and a rising incidence of underlying causes of sight loss mean that these numbers are set to increase. Studies examining the experiences and emotional transitions encountered following the onset of visual impairment often convey feelings of loss, including loss of independence, confidence, personal and social identities as individuals adjust to new ways of sensing a negotiating the world; a world that is largely structured, managed and designed by and for people who are fully sighted. In this presentation, we draw on the findings of a two-year in-depth qualitative study, Sensing Nature, conducted by Dr Sarah Bell at the University of Exeter, to examine how people with varying forms and severities of sight impairment describe their experiences of health and wellbeing with diverse types of ‘nature’ during the life course. Specifically, we highlight opportunities to promote more inclusive, enabling multisensory nature experiences – characterised variously by comfort, connection, adventure, and exploration – while also signposting people to useful resources for supporting such encounters amongst people whose lives have been touched by sight impairment in some way.

Complementing these findings, Julian Jackson of VisionBridge will share his own sensory experiences from a recent 55-day, 1,089 mile (and over 2.5 million steps) walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats which he completed on 22nd June. 

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