Theekshana Suraweera, Samanthi Bandara, Colinie Wickramarachchi, Navodya Dewage, Tharushi Gunawardana, Nilupuli Nanayakkara, Erandi Yapa, Samantha Thelijjagoda, Ruwan Jayathilaka


Ensuring universal access to education is an effective and sustainable means of empowering people with visual impairment and blindness. Literature confirms that blindness of a person is not a barrier for learning, yet past research brings about a range of diverse obstacles for productive engagement in education due to universities being designed for the sighted persons. Given that the persons with impairment are looked after comparatively better in the western world than in the developing nations for realising their challenging academic goals. Purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a comprehensive study on the academic work of persons with visual impairment and blindness in the tertiary sector. This population included recent undergraduates and those who have completed a university degree. The two distinct outcomes presented are; (first phase) the critical factors influencing the academic performance of persons with visually impairment and blindness and, (second phase) an explanatory model that characterizes the construct ‘the academic performance’. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, purposely selected eleven key informant interviews were utilized for the first phase for the qualitative investigation. Thematic analysis was used as the main method of data analysis. The Second phase employed a sample survey. Fifty respondents who had studied in universities during the 5-year period from 2015-2020 were selected through snow-ball sampling. Exploratory factor analysis was used as the main data analysis technique. The key findings of phase one revealed that external support, physical environment, motivation to learn, instructional strategies, ICT and English literacy are major contributory factors to academic performance. The second phase of the quantitative analysis derived five composite factors. Of these, the factor labeled “Motivating influences” appears to be mostly contributing to the academic performance of persons with visual impairment and blindness. While education is a lifelong endeavor of a person, these findings can contribute to make a substantial change in the quality of life of this community in the long run.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter


education, academic, persons with visual impairment and blindness

Full Text:



th Amendment: Constitution 2020. The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Parliament Secretariat

Abate T, 2020. Determinants of Students Tertiary Level Academic Performance in Ethiopia: A Case in University of Gondar. Journal of Education and Practice doi:10.7176/jep/11-22-04

AHEAD 2021. Sri Lanka Council of Visually Handicapped Graduates: Basic Data Collection. Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology

Alberta, l. 2002. Health and Life Skills: Instructional Strategies. Accessed 12 September 2021

Anne G, Danielsen, Oddrun S, Hetland J, Wold B, 2009. School-Related Social Support and Students' Perceived Life Satisfaction. The Journal of Educational Research 102: 303-320. doi: 10.3200/JOER.102.4.303-320

Bernard B, 1991. Fostering Resiliency in Kids: Protective Factors in the Family, School, and Community. Accessed 14 October 2021

Bloom A, 1987. The Closing of the American Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster

Bodaghi N, Cheong L, Zainab A, 2016a. Librarians Empathy: Visually Impaired Students' Experiences Towards Inclusion and Sense of Belonging in an Academic Library. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 42: 87-96. doi:10.1016/j.acalib.2015.11.003

Bodaghi N, Cheong L, Zainab A, Riahikia M, 2016b. Friendly Librarians. Information Development 33: 229-242. doi:10.1177/0266666916641178

Kannangara C, 1943. Sri Lanka Education Forum: Special Policy

Wickramaarachchi C, Suraweera T, Thelijjagoda S, Jayathilaka R 2021. An Operational Model of Managing Vocational Training for Persons with Visual Impairment and Blindness. 14th International Research Conference. General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Ratmalana, Sri Lanka

Carter E, Moss C, Asmus J, Fesperman E, Cooney M, Brock M, Lyons G, Huber H, Vincent B, 2015. Promoting Inclusion, Social Connections, and Learning Through Peer Support Arrangements. Teaching Exceptional Children, 48: 9-18. doi:10.1177/0040059915594784

Celeste M, Grum D, 2010. Social Integration of Children with Visual Impairment: A Developmental Model. Elementary Education 9

Central Bank of Sri Lanka 2020. Sri Lanka Socio Economic Data: Statistics Department

Datta P, Palmer C, 2015. Insights Into the Support Services for Students with Vision Impairment. Australasian Journal of Special Education 39: 143-158. doi: 10.1017/jse.2015.8

Davis B, 2021. What is the meaning of family background? MV Organizing. Accessed 7 November 2021

Deci E, Ryan R, 2000. The "What" and "Why" of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and the Self-Determination of Behavior. Psychological Inquiry 11: 227-268. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli1104_01

Edgerton J, Roberts L, Von Below S, 2012. Education and Quality of Life. Handbook of Social Indicators and Quality of Life Research

Fredricks J, Blumenfeld P, Paris A, 2004. School Engagement: Potential of the Concept, State of the Evidence. Home Health Care Management & Practice 74: 79-85. doi: 10.1177/1084822315599954

Ghenghesh P, 2014. The Relationship Between English Language Proficiency and Academic Performance of University Students – Should Academic Institutions Really be Concerned? International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature 4 doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.4n.2p.91

Haakma I, Janssen M, Minnaert A, 2018. Need Support in Students with Visual Impairments: Comparing Teacher and Student Perspectives. Frontiers in Education 2 doi:10.3389/feduc.2017.00071

Hadidi M, Khateeb A, 2014. A Comparison of Social Support among Adolescents with and without Visual Impairments in Jordan: A Case Study from the Arab Region. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness 108: 414-427. doi:10.1177/0145482x1410800506

Hijazi S, Naqvi S, 2006. Factors Affecting Students' Performance: A Case of Private College. Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology 3: 1-10

Judge S, 2005. The Impact of Computer Technology on Academic Achievement of Young African American Children 20: 91-101

Kain V, 2016. Study Habits of Children with Visual Impairment. 1: 36-38

Kamal S, Asrar M, Younes M, Chishti A, 2014. Factors Affecting Academic Performance of Special Students: A Case of Peshawar District. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2755144

Lindsay S, McPherson A, 2012. Strategies for improving disability awareness and social inclusion of children and young people with cerebral palsy. Child Care Health Development 38: 809-816. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01308

Luthar S, Cicchetti D, Becker B, 2000. The construct of resilience: a critical evaluation and guidelines for future work. Child Development 71: 543-562. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00164

Maingi-Lore M, 2016. Factors Influencing Academic Performance of Students with Special Needs in Institutions of Higher Learning: the Case of Middle Level Colleges in Machakos Country. Kenya Mary Maingi-Lore a Research Project Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Research

Manitsa I, Doikou M, 2020. Social Support for Students with Visual Impairments in Educational Institutions: An Integrative Literature Review. British Journal of Visual Impairment doi:10.1177/0264619620941885

Masten A, 2001. Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist 56: 227-238. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.56.3.227

Mishra P, Pandey C, Singh U, Gupta A, Sahu C, Keshri A, 2019. Descriptive Statistics and Normality Tests for Statistical Data. Ann Card Anaesth 22: 67-72. doi:10.4103/aca.ACA_157_18

Morelle M, Tabane R, 2019. Challenges experienced by learners with visual impairments in South African township mainstream primary schools. South African Journal of Education 39: 1-6. doi:10.15700/saje.v39n3a1615

Nees M, Berry L, 2013. Audio Assistive Technology and Accommodations for Students with Visual Impairments: Potentials and Problems for Delivering Curricula and Educational Assessments. Performance Enhancement & Health 2: 101-109. doi:10.1016/j.peh.2013.08.016

Nishanthi R, 2018. The Importance of Learning English in Today World. International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development 3: 871-874. doi:10.31142/ijtsrd19061

Otyola W, Kibanja G, Mugagga A, 2017. Challenges Faced by Visually Impaired Students at Makerere and Kyambogo Universities. Makerere Journal of Higher Education 9: 75-75. doi:10.4314/majohe.v9i1.6

Pathrose A, Ramaa P, 2020. Relation of Academic Stress on Academic Achievement of Visually Impaired Students. 8. doi:10.25215/0802.119

Pavri S, Monda-Amaya L, 2001. Social Support in Inclusive Schools: Student and Teacher Perspectives. Exceptional Childre. 67: 391-411. doi: 10.1177/001440290106700307

Santos G, Ramos E, 2019. ICT Literacy and School Performance. 18: 19-39

Senjam S, 2019a. Assistive Technology for People with Visual Loss. Delhi Journal of Ophthalmology. 30 doi:10.7869/djo.496

Senjam S, 2019b. Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Disability: Classification Matters. Kerala Journal of Ophthalmology. 31: 86-86. doi:10.4103/kjo.kjo_36_19

Shahzadi E, Ahmad Z, 2011. A Study on Academic Performance of University Students. 8th International Conference on Recent Advances in Statistics. 255-268. doi:10.13140/2.1.3949.3126

Spiel C, Schwartzman S, Busemeyer M, Cloete N, Drori G, Lassnigg L, Schober B, Schweisfurth M, Verma S, 2018. The Contribution of Education to Social Progress. International Panel on Social Progress 753-778. doi:10.1017/9781108399661.006

Spinath B, 2012. Academic Achievement, Elsevier Inc

Suraweera T, Wickramarachchi C, Dewage N, Gunawardana M, Nanayakkara T, Yapa N, Handapangoda R, Factors Affecting Academic Performance of People with Visual Disabilities in the Tertiary Sector. Proceedings of Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology International Conference on Advancements in Sciences and Humanities. 261-266

Suraweera T, Dunuwila V, 2019. Challenges of Social Inclusion of the Visually Impaired and Blind Persons in the Sri Lankan Workplace. 7th Peradeniya International Economics Research, Department of Economics and Statistics, Faculty of Arts University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Suraweera T, Jayathilaka R, Thelijjagoda S, 2021. A Nightmare in a ‘Darker’ World: Persons with Blindness under the Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 Shutdown. Disability & Society doi:10.1080/09687599.2021.1927671

UGC, 2020. Sri Lanka University Statistics: Educational Indicators 1990-2020. Graduate Output: University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka

UN General Assembly 2007. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly. A/RES/61/106

UNESCO, 2000. The Dakar Framework for Action.

UNESCO, 2019. Education transforms lives [Online]. United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Accessed 23 August 2021

United Nations, 2006. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Article 9 – Accessibility. Accessed 29 November 2021

United Nations, 2015. Envision2030: 17 Goals to Transform the World for Persons with Disabilities United Nations. Accessed 12th November 2021

West J, Houghton S, Taylor M, Ling P, 2004. The Perspectives of Singapore Secondary School Students with Vision Impairments towards their Inclusion in Mainstream Education. Australian Journal of Special Education 28: 18-27. doi: 10.1017/S1030011200025100

Yihun S, Belay M, 2020. The Challenges and Opportunities of Visually Impaired Students in Inclusive Education: The Case of Bedlu. Journal of Pedagogical Research 4: 112-124. doi:10.33902/jpr.2020060437


Copyright © 2015 - 2023. European Journal of Special Education Research (ISSN 2501 - 2428) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing GroupAll rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms.

All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).