Qualitative Study on blind and visually impaired individuals - Norway

Research aims

The overarching aim is to achieve knowledge than can be helpful in developing measures that can help people with visual impairments during and after disasters. We want to collect examples of how blind and visually impaired people experience safety and risk, disaster situations and how they cope with post-traumatic stress after accidents, violence, and disasters. The project will expand the established knowledge of a vulnerable population. Such knowledge will be beneficial to national, regional and local authorities in planning and organizing emergencies, for response personnel, for disability organizations and may lead to better care for disabled people during and after serious incidents.


We want to conduct a qualitative study among blind and visually impaired individuals. This will be achieved through personal interviews with 8 - 10 people. We have initiated contact with the Norwegian Association of the Blind by General Secretary Gunnar Haugsveen, who have confirmed that the association will be able to assist in recruiting people to interview. We will include blind and visually impaired people with experience of potentially traumatic events. The selection will be done with variation in relation to age (minimum of 18 years), gender and types of trauma. We are planning to spend 2 - 4 hours per individual for the completion of the interviews. Conversations will be recorded on tape. As researchers we have access to large databases on populations exposed to disasters, some of them representative for the general population. They may serve as a comparison basis for the strategic sample of visually impaired.

Expected results

  1. Blind and visually impaired may experience a high risk for being victims of accidents, crimes, and violence.
  2. Blind and visually impaired may need extensive and tailored information about security and evacuation procedures.
  3. Blind and visually impaired may perceive a strong need for safety precautions such as alarms and early warning systems for detecting impending dangers.
  4. Blind and visually impaired may feel more helpless, powerless, and dependent on others during and after a potentially threatening Event.
  5. Dependence and inability to help others may reinforce feeling of failure, guilt and sense of being a burden.
  6. People born with blindness are likely to have other re-experiences of traumatic events than visual, such as acoustic, olfactory, and bodily.
  7. Another profile of posttraumatic stress symptoms could have implications for early intervention and treatment of after effects such as PTSD and other anxiety disorders, depression and somatoform disorders.


In-depth interviews with a small number of subjects call for caution when it comes to generalization of the findings. In addition, differences in type and severity of trauma may lead to slightly different reactions. This must be taken into account when comparing findings to what is usual in trauma populations.

The poster-presentation of the research you can find here.

A population study on traumatic experiences, coping and mental health, in blind and visually impaired individuals - Norway

Research Aims

The aim of the present study is to examine what kind of potential traumatic events is experienced by visually impaired individuals, how reactions to traumatic events is manifested and coped with, and how they deal with potential threats. We plan to publish more papers from this study, all in international peer reviewed journals.

  1. Traumatic experiences among blind and visually impaired individuals. Are blind and visually impaired at higher risk for being victims of accidents, crimes and violence? Are they at risk for bullying?
  2. Posttraumatic stress, depression, and social withdrawal among blind and visual impaired individuals. Associations with former experiences and coping strategies.
  3. How blind and visually impaired individuals deal with potential threats. Use of visibility, security measures, and help-seeking. Associations with social withdrawal, life quality and mental health.


In this study, 800 blind and visually impaired individuals will be interviewed. The data collection is done in collaboration with The Norwegian association for blind and visually impaired, as they provide participants from their member organization. A reference group has been established (representing user organizations, the rehabilitation profession, and the field of research on disabled). The interview guide has been quality assured in close collaboration with this group, including through a workshop that was conducted in June 2016. 

Mid-February 2017, programming and piloting interview guide is finished and approximately 300 interviews have been carried out. The data collection will be finished during March 2017.

Literatur study blind/ visual impairment - Czech Republic

In a special task, our Czech partners conducted a literature study on the field of psychosocial crisis management for assisting people with visual impairment. The list refers to the following topics:

  • Theory/ Research
  • Guides/ Manuals/ Drill
  • Recommendations/ Policy
  • Technical Solutions

Theory/ Research

Au-Yong, A., & Firth, W. (2006)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in a blind patient.
Retrieved from http://www.priory.com/psych/ptsdblind.htm

Duyan, V. (2005)
Effects of the 1999 earthquake on the completely blind living in and outside Marmara, Turkey.
International Social Work, 48(5), 609–619

Gracer, B. (2008)
Emergency Management Research and People With Disabilities (p. 80).
Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/Pubs

Kailes, J. I. (2005)
Disaster Services and “Special Needs”: Term of Art or Meaningless Term? (p. 13).
Pomona: Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions.

Kailes, J. I. & Enders, A. (2007)
Moving Beyond “Special Needs”: A Function-Based Framework for Emergency Management and Planning.
Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 17(4), 230-237.
doi: 10.1177/10442073070170040601

McFarlane, A. C. (1988)
Posttraumatic stress disorder and blindness. Comprehensive Psychiatry. 29/6, pp. 558-560.
doi: 10.1016/0010-440X(88)90075-2.

Guides/ Manuals/ Drill

Enders, A., & Brandt, Z. (2007b)
To Improve Emergency Management and Disaster Response for People With Disabilities GIS : Dynamic Tools, 223–230.

Jones, R., Sisson, L., Van Hasselt, V. (1984)
Emergency fire-safety skills for blind children and adolescents: Group training and generalization. Behavior Modification, 8(2), pp. 267-286.

Jones, R., Van Hasselt, V., Sisson, L. (1984)
Emergency fire-safety skills: A study with blind adolescents. Behavior Modification, 8(1), pp. 59-78.

Markenson, D., Fuller, E., & Redlener, I. (2007)
Emergency Preparedness: Addressing the Needs of Persons with Disabilities.
Retrieved from PDF

MHA of San Francisco. (n.d.)
Tips for Assisting People with Disabilities in Disaster Shelters (p. 9). San Francisco.

Miyamoto, S. (2013)
Brief manual for the care of disabled children after disasters. Brain & development, 35(3), 195–200.

Ssue, I., Lozynsky, W., Reese, S., Road, M., & Hill, L. (1970)
CEPIN Emergency Preparedness Training (pp. 2–3).

Sullivan, M. T., & Häkkinen, H. T. (2006)
Disaster preparedness for vulnerable populations: Determining effective strategies for communicating risk, warning, and response.
In Third Annual Magrann Research Conference at Rutgers University (Vol. 4, pp. 1–36).
Research Inst. of NRCPD.
Retrieved from PDF

Tanaka, S. (2013)
Issues in the support disaster preparedness of severely disabled children in affected areas. Brain & development, 35(3), 209–13.

Ulmasova, Irina; Silcock, Nathalie; Schranz, B. (2009)
Mainstreaming Disability into Disaster Risk Reduction: A Training Manual (pp. 1–87).

United States Fire Administration. (2002)
Orientation manual for first responders on the evacuation of people with disabilities (p. 31). FEMA.
Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1h05O18

Recommendations/ Policy

Disability.gov. (n.d.)
Office of Disability Employment Policy.
Retrieved from https://www.disability.gov/emergency_preparedness#map

Gerber, E. (2009)
Describing Tragedy: The Information Access Needs of Blind People in Emergency-Related Circumstances.
Human organisation
, 68(1).
Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1g3O1pJ

Jones, N. L. (2010)
The Americans with Disabilities Act and Emergency Preparedness and Response.
Congressional Research Service.
Retrieved from http://1.usa.gov/1dxJH7H

Technical Solutions

Elsold, D., & Perkins, B. (2008)
Disaster alert device, system and method. WO Patent
Retrieved from http://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/WO2008051303

Enders, A., & Brandt, Z. (2007a)
Using Geographic Information System Technology to Improve Emergency Management and Disaster Response for People with Disabilities.
Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 17(4), 223–229.

Finucan, T. (1998)
Combination flashlight, smoke detector and emergency alarm.
US Patent 5,731,759.
Retrieved from http://www.google.com/patents?hl=en&lr=&vid=USPAT5731759&id=_RYgAAAAEBAJ&oi=fnd&dq=Combination+flashlight,+smoke+detector+and+emergency+alarm&printsec=abstract 

Hosono, N., Inoue, H., Miki, H., Suzuki, M., Nagashima, Y., & Tomita, Y. (2010)
Universal communication service for inclusive use. Proceedings of SICE Annual Conference 2010

Malizia, A., Onorati, T., Astorga-paliza, F., Díaz, P., & Aedo, I. (2008)
Emergency Alerts for all : an ontology based approach to improve accessibility in emergency alerting systems. Comparative and General Pharmacology, 1(May 2008), 197–207.
Retrieved from ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/18390845/reload=0

Spence, P. R., Lachlan, K., Burke, J. M., & Seeger, M. W. (2007)
Media use and information needs of the disabled during a natural disaster.
Journal of health care for the poor and underserved, 18(2), 394–404.


European Guidelines for Target-Group Orientated Psychosocial Aftercare in Case of Disaster

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European Guideline for Targetgroup Oriented Psychosocial Aftercare - Implementation -
2009 - 2011

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