Sports students at Hope University attend VI session

Last week, sports students at Hope University, Liverpool, attended a vision awareness session held by Merseyside Sight Loss Council (SLC).

Merseyside SLC has been working with universities across the region to improve accessibility for blind and partially sighted (BPS) students. Part of this work has involved ensuring BPS students have access to social activities at university.

The session enabled first, second and third year sports students to learn more about living with sight loss. It also aimed to highlight and remove some of the barriers many BPS students face.

The session started with members of Merseyside SLC talking about their personal sight loss journeys. They then shared their lived experience of participating in sports, such as running, baseball and tennis.

Students had the opportunity to wear sim-specs, special glasses which simulate some of the sight conditions many BPS people have, and learned sighted guiding techniques.

Following the vision awareness session, students took part in two VI sports sessions. Wearing sim-specs, students did VI running, VI tennis, and practised throwing and catching.


Image of two sports students on the indoor tennis court. Both are wearing sim specs and holding a tennis racket.

Students from Hope University, Liverpool, playing VI Tennis in sim-specs


Feedback from the event

David Parfett, Merseyside SLC member, said:

“To be given the opportunity to develop other people’s knowledge and understanding of sight loss, through utilising my lived experience, was a massive privilege.”


Ethan, who is studying sports psychology, said:

“It was a really interesting session. It’s made me think about how sports can be adapted, and I am now going to look into guide running opportunities.”


Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager for the north west, talking to two students during the VI "catch" session.

Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager for the North West, with sports students during the VI sports session


Ellen, who is hoping to be a secondary school teacher, added:

“Doing this session has really increased my awareness. I have taken a lot from it that I will be able to use in my future career.”

Martin Symcox, Head of Leisure and Sport, Thomas Pocklington Trust, said:

“Delivering a session to Liverpool Hope University students, across three different year groups, practically and in the classroom was a really engaging experience. Using simulation spectacles to highlight the challenges that blind and partially sighted people face with accessing physically activity provided the students with a completely different perspective.

From throwing a ball to each other, to running independently and playing VI tennis, all served to highlight how important it is to have good quality adapted venues and activities. Equally the students understood how crucial it is to have knowledge within the workforce to ensure organisations and instructors are providing high quality experiences for all. We encourage other universities to get in contact and discuss how we can support their sports and leisure students in increasing their awareness.”

Merseyside Sight Loss Council is looking forward to continuing its work with Hope University to increase accessibility.


Image looks across the indoor tennis courts. Sports students are shown during a VI tennis session. Some are wearing sim specs whilst they play tennis.

Sports students from Hope University, Liverpool in the sports hall, playing VI tennis


About Sight Loss Councils

Sight Loss Councils are led by blind and partially sighted members and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. We advocate the needs of visually impaired people in our communities and work to improve access to goods and services at a local and national level.

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Publication date: 28 March 2023

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