Robert Avery

I entered the field of vision impairment in 1983 and worked in various roles over the following seven years. Alongside this I taught sailing skills to people with a range of physical and/or vision impairments. In 1990 I became one of the first specialist Rehabilitation Workers for people with a vision impairment trained in Scotland and spent a further six years in the field working directly with blind and partially sighted people. During this time I established a creative arts group at a disability work centre in East Kilbride and supported swimming lessons and coached badminton at the Disabled & Able-bodied Sports Club. In 1996 I became a lecturer when Guide Dogs opened a Rehabilitation Worker Training School in Glasgow. I progressed to manage the whole UK Rehab Education service until the organisation decided to withdraw from this activity in 2007. Recognising the need to ensure that the needs of people with impaired vision are identified by health professions, I took the opportunity to move to York St John and now have inputs into the Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy programmes. I am also involved in delivering training to existing professionals in the Health & Social Care sector. As an advocate of digital learning, I am also involved in developing online resources for students within the School of Health Sciences.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In my spare time I play cricket and referee Goalball both domestically and internationally, joining the ranks of the elite international referees group in 2018.

Further information


I teach on both the Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy programmes, and am the mandatory training co-ordinator for both. In addition to inputs on vision impairment, I deliver manual handling training at all levels of the programmes, and have developed online activities for students to enable them to work through the theoretical elements of the mandatory training at their own pace. I also deliver the Support for Learning in Practice module to clinical educators in health and social care, which helps to ensure the quality of placement provision for students.

Professional Activities


  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Member of the YSJU Learning Spaces Project Group.
  • Member of the Yorkshire Universities Spaces Working Group.
  • Member of YSJU Staff Joint Consultative Committee.


  • Faculty Quality Enhancement Committee.
  • Faculty Health & Safety Working Group.
  • Faculty Mitigating Circumstances Committee.
  • York St John University Quality Network.
  • York St John University Teaching Fellows Network.
  • Board of Directors, Goalball UK.
  • External Examiner for Foundation Degree Rehabilitation (Visual Impairment) at The University of South Wales, Newport.
  • External Examiner for Foundation Degree in Health & Social Care at Canterbury Christ Church University October 2005 – September 2009.


Research Interests:

  • Environmental Access
  • Technology Enhanced Learning
  • Inclusive design
  • Inclusive sport


Current Research Activity:

  •  Creating positive learning spaces in the physical and digital environments



‘Scratching the Surface’; reflections from an inclusive and interdisciplinary practice led community project', Design for All, Vol 4, No. 11, November 2009.

'The Future Training of Specialist Staff in Rehabilitation Services in the UK', The Educator, Vol XIX, Issue 1, July 2006.

'Problem Solving', Rehab Today, 1998.

Conference Presentations:

Paper delivered to the Open University H818 online conference

Blended Learning for CPD: A case study on the development & implementation of a blended learning model to enhance study day learning opportunities, 2015.

Paper delivered to York St John Faculty of Arts Learning & Teaching Conference.

'Scratching the Surface’ – diversification of the ‘roots’ & harnessing the branches', 2009.

Paper delivered to the Australasian Orientation & Mobility and the AER Orientation & Mobility Division Conferences.

 ‘Accessibility & the Built Environment’, 2003.

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