My research interests center on the national and international implications of listening to people with visual impairments and other disabilities in order to study the extent to which policies, programs, and services actually lead to meaningful improvements in their lives.
These interests have led me to study and consider how efforts to measure the impact or effectiveness of public policies, systems, and interventions often fail to ask “impact on whom?” or “effectiveness at what?” I advocate for policy and research communities to include person-centered measures of impact and effectiveness, particularly when studying minority and disadvantaged populations.
During my Ph.D. program, I became involved in advocacy around the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and began to question what outcome measures could and would be used by the Committee providing feedback on countries’ implementation of the UNCRPD. After studying tools that have been developed for measuring quality of life at various levels (individual, family, community, etc.), I found that of the tools and frameworks available for studying and measuring quality of life, none had been validated for use by people who are blind or visually impaired. For my dissertation, I chose to investigate and propose a preliminary theoretical framework for quality of life as experienced by young adults who are blind. Although replication is needed, findings from my dissertation inform the fields of blindness and visual impairment and quality of life research so that future investigations and measures of quality of life can be fully inclusive of people with and without blindness/visual impairment.