Transition to Adulthood: Launch of End of Phase 2 report for the Longitudinal Transitions Study

Transition to Adulthood

We have just launched a new summary report to mark the end of phase 2 of the Longitudinal Transitions Study. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this research study, the project was first instigated by RNIB (Phase 1 2010-2012) due to concerns about the low percentages of young people with visual impairment (VI) in employment in the UK. Phase 2 of the study was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, and took place between 2012 and 2015.

The study has now been running for over 7 years and during this time we have been following the experiences of a group of 80 young people with VI through various pathways such as further education, higher education, gap years, apprenticeships and employment. As a research team we are really grateful to all of the participants who give up their time to talk with us and speak so honestly about their experiences.

You can get a full overview of our findings from the summary report (including an alternative version in MS Word), but here’s a brief overview:

Experience of transitions

  • Young people with visual impairment follow similar transition pathways to their peers, although for several of the participants it took them longer to reach their intended destination than expected.
  • The transition into higher education in particular proved extremely challenging for some, leading to us working with RNIB to develop some guidance resources.
  • Young people with visual impairment are leaving school with limited knowledge of important services such as Access to Work, and a limited understanding of the Equality Act and the reasonable adjustments which they can expect from employers.

Preparation for independence

  • As the participants have got older we found that many of them did not feel prepared to live independently
  • Some of the participants have a limited understanding of their visual impairment as well as a limited understanding of the process of registration of sight impairment and the associated benefits.
  • Whilst in education young people are not making use of low vision aids, often having previously had negative experiences.
  • In contrast, braille is highly valued by those young people who have learned it, as is accessible mainstream technology.

Support available to young people

  • The research identified mixed levels of support available to the young people when they prepared to make transitions. A Freedom of Information Request by RNIB identified a ‘postcode’ lottery of services available for children and young people with visual impairment from local authorities in England. We will continue to observe the evolution of transition services as local authorities respond to the 2014 SEND reforms.


Thinking more broadly, as a research team we have been focusing lately on the importance of young people with visual impairment being equipped with the resources they require to make successful transitions from one setting to another. This is something which we explored further in a recent journal article. As the Longitudinal Transitions Study progresses we will be investigating how well the young people have been prepared for the new environments they are in.

If you would like to read out more about the Longitudinal Transitions Study and our plans for Phase 3 of the study, you can find our project website here. In the meantime we would love to hear your thoughts about our Phase 2 findings.

Rachel Hewett


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