VI Mobilities logo consist of the shape of the Underground logo colored out in dark blue, with the letters V, I, M, in braille displayed inside in yellow.

Research Project Summary


The VI Everyday Mobilities project began as a pilot study, funded by the University of Oxford’s John Fell Fund and Returning Carer’s Fund (2014 – 2018). The project is led by Dr Jennie Middleton.

The research examines the relationship between urban transport and the everyday lives of visually impaired (VI) young people in London. It responds to a lack of qualitative research about how VI young people negotiate their journeys between different transport modes. We examine how these experiences relate to other aspects of VI young people’s everyday lives, for instance; moving towards adulthood, achieving ‘independence’, speed/ time, access to services and employment, family relationships, mental health, and much more.


Research Team

· Dr Jennie Middleton – Principal Investigator

· Hari Byles – Researcher

Website and Filmmaking Team

· Santiago Rivas Sola – Participatory filmmaker and website designer

· Imran Janjua – Music and film production

· Justin Cunningham – Music and film production

· Mahir Topal – Co-producer

· Katerina Rodriguez – Audio-description


vi-mobilities-research project-workshop RSBC.JPG

Research Questions

Some key questions we asked were:

· What are the different meanings of ‘independent mobility’ for VI young people, and how are these meanings mediated?

· What kind of methods can be used to understand varied experiences of accessibility in the city?

· How does mobility intersect with time of life, in this instance – young people in their transition to adulthood?

· How does VI mobility relate to different temporal regimes in the city? For instance London’s infamous rush hour.

· What are the social infrastructures (e.g. people, the public, and transport staff) which make up or pose barriers to accessibility?


What we found

· Many of the young people who participated in this project preferred the term ‘interdependence’ to describe their everyday mobilities. Interdependence acknowledges that nobody can be truly ‘independent’ and that we all require the help of different networks, technologies, humans, non-humans, care, and assistance to get around. Whilst ‘independent mobility’ was an important concept for many participants, it should not obscure the ongoing need for support and care in the city.

· Video methods can be an important way for young VI people to record, share, and talk about their experiences. Video methods are multisensory and so can be used by people with different / no levels of vision. However, during this pilot we also found that the GoPro cameras were not as accessible for all participants as we had hoped, and needed to be adapted in different ways. Some participants did not use the cameras at all but found other ways to share their journeys. Ensuring that research methods are as accessible as possible needs to be a fundamental consideration when carrying out any research project.

· The design of transport systems, cities, and associated research, often assumes an adult, non-disabled, sighted pedestrian – this creates spatial and temporal regimes which exclude young VI people in a multiplicity of ways.