Calling people with visual impairment studying for a first degree at at university in the UK!

I'm looking for participants to help me with research into the challenges that face undergraduates with visual impairment, and what helps them to keep going and, ultimately, achieve. I'm hoping to get a mix of students from a variety of backgrounds, people who’ve been at RNC, NCW, other special provision, or at a mainstream school Sixth Form or FE college. So if you're reading this and you're interested, please get in touch. Alternatively, please pass the link on to any suitable friends.


[Nobody's actually asked me anything yet, but here's hoping! ]

If I agree to take part, what would I be doing?

I haven't finalised details yet, but there are two main things I'm likely to be asking for:
  • One is to keep a diary of a typical week, perhaps, or a typical “good day”and “bad day” and share it with me, or pass on any suitable diary entries you already have.
  • The other is to do an interview, probably by Skype, which would probably take about an hour, and would need to be recorded.
  • It's likely to be one or the other of these, though if you offer to do both, I might be very glad to accept – that will probably depend on how many participants I get.
  • If I interview you, I may also ask for a follow-up interview – this would probably on the basis that I didn't ask you about something which I later found out other people thought was important. Or maybe because I realise, on going over what you've said, that there's something that perhaps I haven't fully understood.
Of course, if you agree to take part, you can pull out at any time without having to give a reason (though feedback is always appreciated!)

Yeah, I know about psychology research: you say you're doing one thing and then it turns out you're doing something else – is that the deal?

No, straight up – it's actually quite difficult these days to get permission to do research that involves serious deception. It is my honest intention to find out what's going on, what the problems are and how people deal with them. To some extent, the 'angle' will be the interviewee's choice, as I will be asking what you feel has had the biggest impact (positive or negative) on you. As I go along, I will be trying to fit what I hear into some kind of theoretical framework, but at this stage I'm trying to keep an open mind about what the main themes will be, so I'll be trying to avoid angling questions in any particular way. There is no hidden agenda – not one that I'm conscious of, anyway - though obviously we all have deep-rooted ideas and preconceptions which affect the way we perceive what goes on around us. (Can you tell I've been studying Psychology?)

OK – I'm interested, but not ready to commit – what next ?

Well, at the moment, I just want expressions of interest, not a commitment. If you think you might be willing to take part, please email me: If I don't already know you, it woulf be helpful if you could email me through your university's email system as that will help to confirm that you are genuinely who you say you are.

If you like, we can talk informally about what your involvement might be. If you're willing to go ahead, then I will send you a letter of agreement. This will formally explain what I'm doing, and why; it will also give details of the complaints procedures and repeat the point about being able to withdraw. If you're happy with all that and want to go ahead you can then “sign up” by email.

Presumably it will be anonymous?

Yes, it should be. I will need to establish your identity before we start - but, of course, I won't give real names in the dissertation; and other details will also have to be disguised because, obviously, if I say “X is studying Aztec Anthropology at the University of Utopia”, loads of people will be able to work out who X is. If you take part, we will talk about how to anonymise your data. I might – if I'm going to quote you in detail about a particular experience – check whether it's OK to do so. This might include giving you a draft of the relevant section so you get an idea of the context and what I'm planning to say.

So, I'll get a say in what's said about me?

Well, I can't promise editorial control to anyone because, in the end, I have to say what I honestly think I've learned from the data I've gathered and how it links to the theoretical stuff. But the way it should work is that I summarise what people have told me, sometimes using quotations from the interview transcripts, and then I comment more generally – I'm not in the business of passing judgements on individuals. If I ask for a follow-up interview, and you agree, I may at that point share some of my ideas with you and ask for your feedback.

If I pull out, what happens to the material – my diary and/or my interview?

If you pull out, I will assume, unless you tell me otherwise, that I have to cut out all the material relating to you and destroy it. Of course, that becomes impossible once I get past the final draft – which should be by the 31st of July - so your right to withdraw ceases at that point.

How many other people get to read this?

Initially, not more than 2, including my supervisor. Dissertations that are marked at grade A are eventually kept in Bristol's Graduate School of Education library for other students to read, but only in hard copy - access issues there! - they're not available on line and I don't think there are any plans to make them available in that way. However, each year, apparently, some successful students are encouraged to try and get their dissertations published, so you would need to think about whether you would be prepared to give permission for that, should the occasion arise. The actual “raw” data (interview transcripts and any copies of diaries, etc.) will be kept securely for up to three years, and then deleted and detroyed.

When will all this be happening?

I hope I'm going to be ready to do interviews possibly as early as late March and on through April. The process might run into May. I'll start as early as possible, because I'm aware that participants will also have summer deadlines to meet and exams to prepare for. Obviously, if you agree to participate, we will work out a convenient date and time.

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