Sight loss charities launch new in-depth study – V I Lives

Date posted: 29th September 2022

A major new research report, V I Lives,  from three leading charities has been launched to provide an in-depth and comprehensive picture of the experiences, barriers and gaps in support for blind and partially sighted people in the UK.


Read the full V I Lives report


Produced jointly by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Guide Dogs and Thomas Pocklington Trust, the V I Lives research study provides new insight into the experiences of people living with a vision impairment.


It is based on hundreds of conversations with people who live with a vision impairment and provides one of the richest and most in-depth pictures yet of the factors that can help, or in some cases hinder, their ability to lead independent and fulfilled lives.


Key V I Lives findings

  • Improving public awareness, understanding and empathy is considered by blind and partially sighted people to be a priority for improving their quality of life. It was felt that public understanding of sight loss is poor, and that general ignorance has led to negative encounters.


  • Diagnosis of sight loss is a critical moment for most, but there’s not enough information, guidance and empathy. More practical and emotional support, better signposting and quicker referrals are needed.


  • Better accessibility to transport and public places is the most important factor to improve quality of life. A quarter of people affected by sight loss feel they are not getting out as much as they would like.


  • People affected by sight loss often feel cut off from employment opportunities and that little support is offered to them and nearly a third have difficulty stretching their household budget.


  • ‘Smart technology’ such as smart speakers, smart watches and virtual assistants is a key enabler, helping blind and partially sighted people to access information and digital services. However there are disparities in awareness and access. Many are unaware of the available apps, specialist equipment and technology that can make their lives easier.


Charles Colquhoun, Chief Executive at Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:

“This research helps us to better understand the lives, attitudes, and aspirations of blind and partially sighted people.

“We have worked together with RNIB and Guide Dogs on this significant piece of research to create a shared resource for the whole sector to use and improve services and support for people with vision impairment.

“I believe it will be an invaluable resource for everyone working with blind and partially sighted people and is a real step change in understanding the people we support.”


Matt Stringer, Chief Executive of RNIB, said:

“This report makes a significant contribution to understanding the challenge, barriers and opportunities experienced by people affected by sight loss and I’d like to thank the more than 800 blind and partially sighted people who made it possible.

“There are some important considerations for all of us in the charity and sight loss sectors to reflect on, particularly at a time when the cost of living crisis has made some of the challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people more acute. Whether in these sectors or beyond, we are committed to using this research to help drive change for all organisations and give them the insight they need to help shape services, products and policies that enable people affected by sight loss to participate in society and lead independent lives.”


Tom Wright, Chief Executive of Guide Dogs, said:

“The insight provided by this report gives us a deeper and richer understanding of the lives of the two million people who are blind and partially sighted, and what we need to do as a sector to enable them to live life in the way they choose. Importantly this piece of research has enabled us to include the views of under-serviced and under-represented groups of people living with sight loss.

“The three charities directly involved with the research can align our strategies and maximise our reach based on our new insights. This will also extend throughout the wider sight loss sector and increase our understanding of which organisation is best placed to tackle specific issues.”


The three charities have already used the research to inform their work and shape priorities across a number of different areas, from employment support and campaigning, to delivering training services that help address the issues such as technology and digital disparities that are highlighted in the report.


They have made the report available to give organisations across the charity and sight loss sectors the opportunity to study the findings and consider how their products, policies and services can help to address the issues raised.


Read the full V I Lives report



The insights in this study were collected from a combination of quantitative and qualitative research with over 800 people with a vision impairment. All participants were recruited on the same basis of self-reporting a vision impairment that cannot be corrected by glasses – this was qualified through registration status and levels of difficulties in terms of functional vision (near, distance, peripheral).


For the quantitative study, 769 telephone interviews were conducted with V I people aged 13+ living in the UK using a questionnaire designed to discover and understand their needs. To add emotional depth, nuance, verbatim, and stories, the quantitative research was supplemented with 36 x in-depth qualitative insight interviews and 18 x week-long ethnographic studies.

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