This Research Discussion Paper, commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust and written by James Austin and Lynn Watson, summarises the various ideas, concepts and views that inform different perspectives on disability, and promotes thinking and discussion about how these perspectives relate to and affect the various activities carried out by organisations and groups in the UK sight loss sector.

The review examines four perspectives or models of disability – the individual or medical model, the social model, the cultural model and the interactional model – which highlight different ways in which disability and visual impairment can be defined, explained and acted on.

How can this research help?

The various activities and areas of work by sight loss sector organisations are informed by the perspectives on disability and visual impairment discussed in this review. Identifying these influences can be useful as a means of revealing whether the organisation is grounded in a particular approach, or mix of approaches, and if this is reflected consistently in all areas of its work, including strategy and communications, services and facilities, research and policy, advocacy and engagement and governance.

Research Discussion Paper: Changing Ideas: Perspectives on disability and visual impairment – Word version and PDF version