Insight Wellbeing: Call for people who are blind or vision impaired to participate in major new health and wellbeing research project

Submitted on Thursday, 22/09/2022

Researchers are calling for people who have a vision impairment on the island of Ireland to participate in a survey that launches today. The survey is part of an ambitious new research project aims to carry out a first of its kind investigation of the health, physical activity and sports participation, and wellbeing of children and adults who are blind or vision impaired across Ireland.

The research is a collaboration between Vision Sports Ireland, NCBI, DCU’s School of Human Health and Performance and Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics and the survey aims to learn more about the barriers and challenges to physical activity and exercise. There are two surveys available, one aimed at adults available here, and one aimed at parents and children, available here.

Prof. Noel O’Connor, CEO, Insight SFI Research Centre of Data Analytics, said: “This project will allow us to measure and understand the extent of the challenge for people with a vision impairment when it comes to participation in sport. Under the expert guidance of our partners, Insight researchers will apply state of the art data collection and analysis techniques. The learnings we elicit from this first of a kind study will allow all partners to work together to affect positive change.”

Ireland’s 2016 Census data revealed stark challenges faced by people who are blind or vision impaired participating in leisure and other activities, with two in every five declaring difficulty in participating. This survey aims to provide a clearer picture of the current baselines of physical activity and wellbeing of the 55,000 people in Ireland who are blind or vision impaired.

Aaron Mullaniff on behalf of NCBI and Vision Sports Ireland said, “The absence of research in this space has been a major stumbling block to understanding the barriers to and participation levels of blind and visually impaired people in physical activity. This research will help leverage new opportunities to promote higher levels of meaningful participation in physical activity and in turn improved overall health and well-being of blind and vision impaired people”.

By identifying sport and leisure barriers across the lifecycle, the researchers believe that the level of sports participation can be greatly increased. The project also aligns with Sport Ireland’s Research Strategy 2021-2027.

Dr Sarahjane Belton, from the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU said: “Physical inactivity is one of the greatest health crises facing us in Ireland, but our national physical activity surveillance studies in Ireland to date have not included blind and vision impaired children and adults. Findings in terms of health inequality across the world would suggest that this cohort are at even greater risk of low levels of activity. This first of its kind research will allow us to investigate the level of the challenges faced, and take the first steps to addressing barriers and increasing opportunities”.