The Lighting Project


In 2016, I got a small grant from the Participatory Science Platform to teach the science of lighting to older people with low vision. As part of this project, I drew on the expertise key people in the US who have been working in this area. For example, Dr Perlmutter who recently developed the first OT lighting assessment; the Pocklington Trust in the UK, who have developed a lighting assessment to be used by lay people; and the developers of the LuxIQ, which is a way of assessing the lighting needs of the individual.

I used the opportunity provided by the lighting project to train my students about how to do lighting assessment. An innovative teaching method I used was to get the third year students to teach the first years how to do their first home lighting assessment. This provided powerful learning for both sets of students. The third years realised how much they knew; while the first years were exposed to home assessments at a particularly early stage in their learning. I continue to provide training for OTs in doing home lighting assessments, through a fieldwork placement in low vision that I run twice a year.

My writing companions for this project have been master’s student and research assistant, Keri McMullan, and Professor Susan Ryan, from Cork University in Ireland. This writing team has now been effective across several projects and it looks as though it will continue into the future.

The impact of this small research project has been managed far beyond the writing of a couple of papers. I have given numerous talks to local groups, and have presented at a number of expos. I have presented at national OT conferences and international low vision conferences. I have also used it as a focus for awareness raising at World Sight Day in 2016, when my students ran a whole day event at the octagon.

I was also invited (and paid) to speak at a national lighting symposium in 2017 to key players in the lighting industry. From that symposium, I have been given other invitations: a) to develop the lighting assessment as a public service across the country; b) to speak to an international conference of lighting engineers in Australia in 2020.

My next task in advancing this project will be to publish a critique of the lighting assessments we used, with a recommendation about the best one to proceed with for maximum impact for clients. I will then obtain the copyright for this assessment to be published by a low vision group in NZ with excellent publication values (Retina).

References for lighting project


Butler, M., Mcmullan, K. and Ryan, S. E. (2019) ‘Lighting Prescriptions for Low Vision Lighting Prescriptions for Low Vision’, Journal of Housing For the Elderly. Routledge, 33(2), pp. 189–203. doi: 10.1080/02763893.2018.1534175.

Butler, M. (2017) Light and the health of Older Adults with Low Vision: A narrative Review. Scope Contemporary Research Topics, Health and Wellbeing, Activity, 1. 45-54.

Butler, M (2017) Integrating Lighting into the everyday practice of home assessments, Committing to Social Change/Nga tahitanga o te Tangata, Occupational Therapy Biennial conference, 12-15 September, Nelson

Butler, M (2017) The visual and non-visual effects of light on health of the older adult with low vision, Healthy Lighting Symposium: Using light to promote health and wellbeing, Massey University, Friday Sept 2017

Butler, M (2017) Learning about the light revolution: adult education for people with low vision, Vision 2017 Congress, The Hague, The Netherlands, 25-29 June.

Butler, M (2017) The development of lighting workshops for older adults with low vision: an action research project, Committing to Social Change/Nga tahitanga o te Tangata, Occupational Therapy Biennial conference, 12-15 September, Nelson

Curious Minds Stories, (2016), A light for sore eyes, accessed 22/10/18


World Sight Day 2016 – awareness raising

Photo: the team of first year OTs who volunteered to work on the lighting project and learned about home lighting assessments

Photo: teaching students to do a lighting assessment