Professor Graeme Douglas

Dr Graeme Douglas

School of Education
Head of the Department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs
Co-director VICTAR

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Graeme is the head of the Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) department (with a particular lead on research).  DISN is the largest department of its kind in the UK and comprises over 30 academics researching and studying in the field of inclusion, SEN and disability.

Graeme is the co-director of the Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR), Department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN), School of Education. In that role he co-ordinates the research within the centre.


  • PhD
  • BSc.(Hons)


Graeme joined the School of Education as a researcher in 1993 having completed his PhD in the area of individual differences in learning and computer-based presentation (also at Birmingham). Before that he completed a degree in human psychology and computer science at Aston University. Graeme has been principle investigator and manager on many high-profile externally funded research projects in the area of visual impairment and SEN. He teaches research methods and supervises research students.


Graeme’s main teaching activities are in the area of research methods training for research students.  He is the director of the College of Social Science (CoSS) Postgraduate Research Training, and coordinates the research methods training for doctoral and MA Social Research students across the four schools in CoSS (Business School, Education, Government and Society, and Social Policy). His teaching particularly focuses upon methods of data collection and analysis and research design. He also supervises doctoral research students working in the area of visual impairment in particular and disability and SEN in general.

Postgraduate supervision

Graeme supervises and co-supervises ten research students. This includes Önder İslek who is investigating the balance of the school curriculum content for pupils with visual impairment in Turkey and Jesvir Mahil who is researching the role and influence of Ofsted, in promoting the development of creativity skills in vocational business studies courses for young learners aged 16 to 19 in Further Education Colleges 

For more information on research degrees, visit the Postgraduate Research pages.

Graeme has the following research interests

  • Visual impairment;
  • Educational outcomes and SEN;
  • Transitions from school; Curriculum balance;
  • WHO ICF model of disability;
  • The views of disabled people;
  • Technology and SEN / disability


He has broad research interests around the social and educational inclusion of visually impaired people, as well as educational outcomes and SEN generally. More specifically his research includes: visually impaired people's views and circumstances, education and visual impairment, various aspects of reading / information access and visual impairment, curriculum balance and VI/SEN, research methods.  Central to Graeme’s work is a commitment to representing disabled people’s views and opinions.

Recent and current research grants include:

Accessibility of public examination systems for blind and partially sight pupils (RNIB).  Role: PI.

  • Measuring Educational Engagement, Progress and Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs: A Review (National Council for Special Education, Ireland).  Role: PI
  • ENABLER: employment needs amongst blind and partially sighted job seekers (BLF, RNIB).  Role: PI.
  • Review of best practice in the education of visually impaired children and young people, and implications for Irish policy (National Council for Special Education, Ireland).  Role: PI
  • Braille in the 21st Century – opportunities, benefits, and challenges for adults with acquired sight loss (RNIB).  Role: PI.
  • Network 1000 Phase 1 and Phase 2 – the circumstances and opinions of visually impaired people in Britain (Vision 2020 UK, BLF).  Role: PI.
  • Post-14 transitions: longitudinal study of from age 14 of blind and partially young people in the UK (RNIB, Nuffield). Role: PI
  • The needs of people with acquired hearing and sight loss (Thomas Pocklington Trust).  Role: Joint-PI.
  • Steps to Independence – the mobility and independence needs of visually impaired children and young people (DfES, RNIB, Opsis, GDBA).  Role: PI.
  • Braille and pharmaceutical packaging (consortium through RNIB and European Standards Organisation).  Role: PI.
  • Non-medical eye clinic support services (Thomas Pocklington Trust).  Role: PI.
  • Educational inclusion of children with visual impairment in developing countries (Sightsavers International).  Role: advisor.


Selected Publications

McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Cobb, R., Hewett, R. and Ravenscroft, J. (2016) Access to learning’ and ‘learning to access’: Analysing the distinctive role of specialist teachers of children and young people with vision impairments in facilitating curriculum access through an ecological systems theory. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 34, pp 177-195, DOI:10.1177/0264619616643180 

Hewett, R., and Douglas, G. (2015) Inclusive Design: It’s impact on young people with vision impairment. Journal on Technology& Persons with Disabilities. Vol 3. pp 277-290.

Douglas, G., Pavey, S. Corcoran, C. and 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, 30(1) 6–21 DOI: 10.1177/0264619611428932

Douglas, G., Travers, J., McLinden, M., Robertson, C., Smith, E., Macnab, N., Powers, S., Guldberg, K., McGough, A., O’Donnell, M. and Lacey, P. (2012). Measuring Educational Engagement, Progress and Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs: A Review. National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Trim, Ireland. (PDF)

Clements, B., Douglas, G. And Pavey, S. (2011). Which factors affect the chances of paid employment for individuals with visual impairment in Britain? WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, 39, 1, 21-30. DOI: 10.3233/WOR-2011-1147 

Douglas, G., McLinden, M., McCall, S., Pavey, S., Ware, J., and Farrell, A. (2011). Access to print literacy for children and young people with visual impairment: findings from a review of literature. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26, 1, 25-38. DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2011.543543

Douglas, G., McLinden, M., Farrell, A., Ware, J., McCall, S., and Pavey, S., (2011). Access to print literacy for children and young people with visual impairment: implications for policy and practice. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 26, 1, 39-46. DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2011.543544

Douglas, G., Pavey, S., Corcoran, C. and Eperjesi, F. (2010). Individuals' recollections of the experiences in eye clinics and understanding of their eye condition: results from a survey of visually impaired people in Britain. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 30, 6, 748-757

Douglas, G., McCall, S., McLinden, M., Pavey, S. Ware, J. and Farrell, A. (2010) International review of the literature of evidence of best practice models and outcomes in the education of blind and visually impaired children.  National Council for Special Education, Ireland. 192pp.

Douglas, G. Weston, A., Whittaker, J., Morley-Wilkins, S. and Robinson, D. (2009) An investigation of embossed Braille dot height for labelling on pharmaceutical products, Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 103, 10, 662-667.

Many research reports are available on the VICTAR website ( Graeme was also the co-author of some specialist software including “Centre Touch Typing Tutor”, a software programme which was designed to assist teaching touch typing skills to visually impaired children.  It was first designed and written in the 1990s within VICTAR at the University of Birmingham.  Still popular, it is now available as freeware.

Full publication list for Dr Graeme Douglas