SENSE - Examining the experiences of older adults with later life acquired dual-sensory impairment


Dual-sensory impairment (DSI) and deafblindness are terms used interchangeably to refer to concurrent vision and hearing loss (Diehl, 1988). The experience of those born with DSI differs from those with acquired DSI, which is most likely to occur in later life and is therefore associated with ageing.
The national charity organisation SENSE commissioned research to assess the impact of DSI on everyday competence. There is a dearth of research examining DSI, but what is available suggests the experience of those with DSI differs from those with single sensory in that a “a gradient of increasing difficulty” can be observed whereby those with DSI experience more barriers than those with single-sensory impairment (Tiwana, Benbow, & Kingston, 2016, p.7). 
148 interviews were undertaken with people with DSI. A ‘grand tour’ question was used, which gave participants the opportunity to talk about their sensory loss. The project aims to:
  • Examine the impact of DSI on everyday competence 
  • Examine the impact of DSI on independence 
  • Explore coping strategies employed by people with DSI
Initial reading suggests the following emergent themes: practical difficulties, problem-solving and strategies used to cope, acceptance of limitations, concerns regarding control and independence, and social resilience.
Diehl, M. (1988). Everyday Competence in Later Life: Current Status and Future Directions. Gerontologist, 38(4), 422-433. 
Tiwana, R., Benbow, S. M., & Kingston, P. (2016). Late life acquired dual-sensory impairment: A systematic review of its impact on everyday competence. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 1-11. 

For further information please contact Professor Paul Kingston at