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ARU experts focus on dual sensory impairment

Published: 5 May 2022 at 15:00

Woman having an eye test

Partnership with Deafblind UK includes free talks and workshops on 10 May

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is working with Peterborough-based charity Deafblind UK to carry out research into deafblindness, or dual sensory impairment, and improve awareness of the condition amongst hearing and sight professionals, as well as the public.

As part of the link-up, ARU’s Vision and Hearing Sciences Research Group is hosting a free day of talks and workshops – Dual Sensory Impairment – A coordinated approach to research & practice – at ARU’s Cambridge campus on Tuesday, 10 May, and the event is open to everyone.

The morning will feature talks from researchers, clinicians and those with personal experience of hearing and visual impairments, and can be accessed online as well as in person. The afternoon, which will be in-person only, will feature workshops hosted by Deafblind UK on the experience of dual sensory impairment and ways to support people with deafblindness.

It is estimated there are approximately 400,000 people in the UK living with deafblindness, and when hearing and sight loss are combined it can lead to additional problems such as depression, anxiety, and isolation. 

Academics at ARU are carrying out research into some of these associated issues, and a study published last year, led by Professor Shahina Pardhan of ARU, found that people with combined vision and hearing loss are nearly four times more likely to experience depression and more than three times more likely to suffer chronic anxiety.

Because people with dual sensory impairment are usually assisted by separate hearing and vision experts, it is thought the scale of deafblindness is potentially underreported and the impact is poorly understood.  

ARU has match funded a PhD studentship in association with Deafblind UK, and funded by the ScottishPower Foundation, to improve academic and social success for children with dual sensory impairment, and applications for the PhD are now open.

Lead supervisor for the PhD and member of the Vision and Hearing Sciences Research Group at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Dr Saima Rajasingam said:

“Dual sensory impairment has been overlooked for too long, and one of our aims is to develop practical interventions together with people who have dual sensory impairment, or deafblindness, to tackle challenges around education, cognitive and mental health, and social outcomes.

“We will also be working to promote hearing and vision friendly practices in clinical settings. Through our degree courses at ARU, we play an important role in educating the audiologists and optometrists of the future, making the Vision and Hearing Sciences Research Group at ARU ideally placed to address the combined impact of these two conditions and develop a coordinated approach to supporting people with sensory impairment.”


To attend the free event on Tuesday, 10 May, register at https://eventbrite.co.uk/e/302551779517