, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 287-291
Date: 26 Jul 2006

Enabling people with sensory impairments to participate effectively in research

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to identify and discuss some of the effects that a person’s sensory impairment has on the ways in which they can participate in research. Sensory impairment will result in a person receiving less sensory information. This reduction may be uniform across a particular type of sensory information (like having the volume on the radio turned down or watching things through a haze) or, more likely, it will have different effects on different parts of the available information. The result of this information loss will not be that the person has a partial experience of a situation compared to a person without a sensory impairment or with a different sensory impairment. Instead, they will have a full experience based on a different combination of information, and it is likely that more of the information that they are using will come from their memory or previous experience. This paper describes ways of working that acknowledge the different experiences of people with a hearing or visual impairment with respect to both the object of the research and the research process. It describes how to design questionnaire, use interviews and focus groups and carry out evaluations of objects and situations in a way that acknowledges the effect of the different amounts and types of information available have on the experiences of people with sensory impairments.