Our research activities include studies of policy, practice and provision to meet a diversity of learner needs as well as research which focuses on specific aspects of disability. We also have two dedicated Research centres - Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) and the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching And Research (VICTAR).
Our research focuses on:
Policy and theoretical analyses of schools, systems and support structures
Developing methods and methodologies, particularly participatory research and the use of innovative technologies
Language and literacy
Cognitive and developmental needs
Professional development, particularly with reference to e-learning
The circumstances and needs of particular special educational needs and disability groups
Recent research includes:
The experiences of diagnosis for people with Usher syndrome
In this research, the team will be examining the lives of people with Usher syndrome which affects people who are deaf and then lose their vision later in life. This obviously has a significant effect on their experience of life and a need for a different outlook on opportunities and experiences. It is one of the most significant causes of deafblindness in the UK. More details...
The aim of this project is to develop an adventurous technology-enhanced-learning
environment in which both typically developing children and children with Asperger Syndrome can explore and improve skills needed for social interaction and collaboration with others. Find out more...
Mencap – Future Education of Pupils with SLD/PMLD.
Mencap have commissioned the University of Birmingham to help develop their vision for the education of SLD/PMLD pupils, involving around 100 case studies of special and mainstream schools throughout the UK. More details...
The Changing nature of 'connectivity' within and between communities
The purpose of this review conducted by Professor Gary Thomas, together Professor Ian Grosvenor with is to look at communities locally, nationally and internationally to collate research about the ways in which communities work and how they include or exclude others. The researchers will be looking at - for example - how far alienation from a majority community may find its origins less in views borne of religion or ethnicity and more in simply-forged identity among members of particular kinds of minority community.
Contact: Gary Thomas
The educational inclusion of children with visual impairment in developing countries
Literacy for all: developing literacy through touch in the classroom is a study promoting and tracking over one year the development of braille literacy skills of a group of primary school children who are blind in Malawi. More information
RNIB transitions: longitudinal study from age 14 of blind and partially sighted young people in the UK
The Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research is undertaking a 5-year longitudinal study. The project is funded by the RNIB and is looking at the transition of blind and partially sighted young people from the age of 14 years of age through to employment or further education. More information on the RNIB Transitions project.
The ENABLER Project: experimental new action-based beneficiary led employment research
This three year research project aims to improve the employment prospects for thousands of the UK's blind and partially sighted population. Using a Big Lottery Fund grant, the RNIB, Action for Blind People and the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research, aim to ascertain key employment needs amongst blind and partially sighted job seekers. Throughout the three year project, we will work with blind and partially sighted individuals to develop a standard assessment model and best practice guide, to ensure all blind and partially sighted job seekers receive the right services. Find out more...
Examples of Publications
Douglas GGA, Pavey S, Corcoran CE, Clements B. 2012. Evaluating the use of the ICF as a framework for interviewing people with a visual impairment about their mobility and travel, British Journal of Visual Impairment. ISSN: 0264-6196.
Macnab, N., Thomas, G. and Grosvenor, I. (2011) The changing nature of ‘connectivity’ within and between communities. Report to AHRC as part of the Connected Communities cross-Council Programme.
McLinden, M and Edwards, C. (2011) Developing a culture of enquiry-based, independent learning in a research-led institution: Findings from a survey of pedagogic practice International Journal for Academic Development., 16, 2, pp 147-162 DOI:
Thomas, G. (2011) A typology for the case study in social science following a review of definition, discourse and structure. Qualitative Inquiry, 17, 6, 511 – 521. DOI 10.1177/1077800411409884
Thomas, G. (2012) Stanley Fish and theory. In: G. Biesta, J. Allan and R. Edwards (eds) Making a difference in theory: The theory question in education and the education question in theory. London: Routledge (in press).