Developing our understanding of an impairment much misunderstood: Researching the experiences of deafblind people

Peter Simcock

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Deafblindness, sometimes termed dual sensory loss, is a complex impairment, and deafblind people have been described as some of the most vulnerable in society. Yet, the condition is also a much misunderstood impairment, and despite both its known psychosocial impact and the substantial diversity of the deafblind population, work with deafblind people has been largely marginalised by the social work profession. In this chapter, I describe the provenance of my long-standing practice and research interest in deafblindness, before exploring some of the challenges that can result in the exclusion of deafblind people from social work research. I then outline the ways in which funding from the BASW Social Workers? Educational Trust helped me to respond to these challenges during my doctoral studies (2012-2020) involving older deafblind people. Recognising that research on vulnerability has principally concentrated on policy analysis and theoretical debate, my study explored the lived experience of the phenomenon amongst adults ageing with deafblindness. The chapter presents the core findings of the study, paying particular attention to the ways in which misunderstanding contributes to deafblind older people?s felt vulnerability, and then highlights the implications of these findings for social work practice in the field. The chapter concludes with some suggested further reading and helpful resources.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Advancement of Social Work. Studies in Social Work to Mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Social Workers' Educational Trust. 1972-2022.
    EditorsDavid Pitcher, Beverley Burke
    Place of PublicationBirmingham
    PublisherBritish Association of Social Work
    Number of pages12
    ISBN (Print)9781861780911
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 6 Dec 2022


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