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'Pity the blind'? An analysis of vision impairment, disability and education

Room G15 in the Muirhead Tower (Building R21 on the campus map)
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Social Sciences
Friday 13th April 2018 (17:00-18:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

For more information, please contact Joy Taft by email or by phone on +44 (0)121 414 4857.

Register for this event
blind girl
The Blind Girl, 1856, John Everett Millais

As part of the College of Social Sciences inaugural lecture series, Professor Graeme Douglas considers vision impairment and education.

The blind girl’ is an 1856 painting by John Everett Millais, which hangs in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. It portrays a young woman seated within a vivid English countryside scene beneath a double rainbow. Around her neck hangs a small sign reading ‘Pity the blind’. It was likely Millais was raising more complex themes than might first be assumed, such as challenging the viewer’s understanding of sensory experience, and raising issues of employment, poverty and social justice.

Drawing upon a variety of research findings, the lecture will consider the multi-layered experiences of vision impairment and the implications this has for the current education system. Graeme argues how education must be inclusive by addressing the many physical and social barriers to learning faced by those with vision impairment. He will also argue that education must seek to develop young people’s agency so that they can learn, and are able to navigate their physical and social world with confidence and independence. Graeme considers how a truly inclusive education system must find the balance between these two approaches.

 Open to all University staff, School of Education students and alumni, (drinks and canapés from 18.00 onwards)


Professor Graeme DouglasAbout Professor Graeme Douglas

Graeme Douglas graduated from Aston University with a degree in human psychology and computer science.
Prior to joining the University of Birmingham as a researcher, Graeme completed his PhD in the area of individual differences in learning and computer based presentation also at Birmingham. He is the head of the department of Disability Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN) and co-director of the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research. Graeme has been the principal investigator and manager on many high-profile externally funded research projects in the area of vision impairment and special educational needs.


Photo credit: The Blind Girl, 1856, John Everett Millais © Birmingham Museums Trust

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