Community perspectives on increasing social participation of persons with visual impairments

Friday, November 1, 2013
First author:
Kef S.

VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Clinical Child and Family Studies, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

All authors:

Sabina Kef, Karen Sleurink

Social participation; stigmatization; visual impairment; societal perspective


Hopes of successful participation of young people with Visual Impairments (VI) are often dampened by difficulties they encounter in society. In order to improve chances for participation, this study explores community perspectives on VI in general and common attitudes towards the chances for social participation of individuals with VI in the Netherlands. Furthermore, we are interested in differences between subgroups in our society. 


Data of a national longitudinal study on young adults with VI (N=300) were used to examine their feelings of stigmatization. Community perspectives on visual impairment  and attitudes towards social participation of young persons with VI were measured with closed and open ended questionnaires. Data are being collected this spring in schools, university campus and public places.


Results are not complete yet, because data from the second wave have to be compared with our current study on community perspectives and attitudes. Data from the second wave showed gender differences in perceived stigmatization of young persons with VI. Furthermore, they experienced participation problems, which were negatively related to psychosocial characteristics like self-esteem, acceptance of impairment and loneliness. Data will be presented on community perspectives on participation of persons with VI, to be able to compare them with perceived feelings of stigmatization.


Data from the second wave suggested differences in perceived and actual stigmatization. The results of this current study can be used to clarify this issue and to refine environmental interventions to promote social participation and acceptation of impairments in society. This is especially relevant given the transition of types of care/support to local authorities.