Visual Impairment

During 2020, I established a radio show as a response to the year of covid – “Sight Unseen Aotearoa”. This was intended as a way of keeping our local low vision community together. It is still running 18 months later – though I am now doing it from Australia. The unexpected outcome was a show that enabled us to build connections with low vision communities both nationally and internationally. We found people connecting to the show from as far afield as Canada and the United Kingdom. There have been several phases to the program where we explored specific issues. However, the area with most ongoing fascination has been the issue of how we ensure that we maintain connections for people who are not digitally active. This issue of including people from a landline is one that is continues to exercise me, and one that I think is important in terms of inclusivity. 

For ten years, I was the leader and driver for OT education and service in low vision in New Zealand. A survey about vision rehabilitation practice (Butler & Hollestielle, 2017) indicated that OTs need more education in this area, so I developed a postgraduate qualification in low vision (Butler, Kale, Thompson, 2014). I use research to evaluate my education practice, including the development of innovative fieldwork placements both in NZ and overseas (Butler & Jones, 2017).

My research in low vision practice focuses on developing low-cost sustainable solutions. For example, I received a grant to integrate lighting solutions into home assessments(Butler, 2016, 2017), identified as a research priority in the OT profession (U.S OT Association, 2014). I underpin the pragmatism of my approach with literature reviews to ensure best practice (Butler, 2017). 

In 2019 and 2020 I ran a program where we co-designed participatory vision screening for children.  I love this work for a number of reasons, not least because the original concept came from my students. I also love it because it trusts children with doing science. This project has led to a number of publications and the materials associated with it can be found on our website: