Five minutes with Claire Manford, PhD researcher


As a charity, we think it’s crucial not just to help and support our members day-to-day but to aim for bigger goals. That’s why we’re committed to putting effort and resources into research. We want to discover new things about deafblindness that haven’t been explored yet. Our goal is to make an impact, pushing for changes in how society works, making places more accessible, and improving technologies and communication for everyone.

Recently, we had the opportunity to delve into the ongoing efforts of one of our dedicated PhD researchers, Claire Manford. Drawing from a background in psychology and teaching, Claire progressed to work in special needs for the local authority, conducting assessments for children with additional needs. This experience provided her with a deep understanding of the environmental, equipment, and communication needs of those with additional needs and visual and hearing impairments.

Claire’s journey didn’t stop there. She fine-tuned her skills by dedicating her experience to children who were deafblind. Now, as part of our education project, her current research aims to “co-create an intervention with deafblind children and young people. The objective is to raise awareness of deafblindness among teachers and peers”. Claire has completed a literature review, identifying current terminology, rates, and evidence regarding barriers and things which make it easier to academic and social success for deafblind learners.

 This research is being supported by professionals in the field, and importantly parents and teenagers to discover first-hand experiences, and understand the barriers they face day to day. Gaining this invaluable insight helps us understand the obstacles deafblind people face in accessing academia and social success.


Working with a wide range of diverse people, Claire can make sound assessments on how deafblind people may face exclusion from society, digital poverty, educational barriers and what measures are needed to overcome these gaps. The messages from her findings are now being relayed at several conferences and networking events to highlight the true importance of these issues. 


One issue Claire has faced is finding enough teenagers to participate in the research. This obstacle itself highlights the importance of breaking stigmas and assumptions, by spreading awareness and making deafblindness a topic not to shy away from in the general population and governing bodies. The only way to a completely inclusive society is through knowledge and awareness, something this research will empower.

When we asked Claire what her hopes and dreams are for people who are deafblind she said “I’d like deafblind people to feel part of the community and able to access education, work and social provisions where other people understand their needs and strive to include them, seeing the value deafblind people can add from their unique perspective. I’d like deafblind children to thrive in our education system by receiving the support they need to be independent successful learners who can achieve academic and social success”.

 We couldn’t agree more, and look forward to the completion of Claire’s success and implementing her findings to take the next step in making a change for people who are deafblind.

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