Navigating a sighted world: visually impaired runners’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic

Jessica L. Macbeth, Ben Powis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During lockdown in March 2020, daily outdoor exercise was encouraged but little consideration was given to the feasibility of this for visually impaired (VI) people, for whom social distancing measures presented significant challenges. Drawing upon the concepts of ableism and ocularcentrism, this article explores VI peoples’ lived experiences of outdoor running (or not) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight VI runners participated in two semi-structured interviews during the pandemic. This longitudinal approach captured the impact of changing restrictions, personal circumstances, and seasons. Their running practices were shaped in complex and varied ways depending on impairment and impairment effects, local running environment, and support networks. Despite some commonalities, each personal story during this time was unique. Participants described empowering moments, juxtaposed with marginalising and oppressive situations. The UK Government’s encouragement of outdoor exercise was laden with ableist assumptions, and VI runners were significantly affected by the ocularcentric world they inhabit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalDisability and Society
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2023

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