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Dr. Jessica Hayton  
Programme Leader, Lecturer/ Supervisor


Visual Impairment, Independent Living Skills, Habilitation, Inclusion

I have always been fascinated by psychology and human behaviour. I grew up in Cumbria, and came to London in 2008 to study Psychology and Philosophy. After completing a research project regarding media effects on women's self-esteem, I entered the world of educational psychology. I became intrigued and subsequently engrossed in the development of independent living skills in children with visual impairment. It was a leap in discipline, but something that I felt passionate about, and believed that I could make a positive contribution to a remarkably understudied field.

My PhD project surrounded the development of independent dressing skills in young children with visual impairment. I designed and created novel interactive resources to support the systematic teaching of dressing strategies (how to fasten and unfasten zips, buttons, poppers and shoelaces) in children with visual impairment, children with Down syndrome and sighted children.

My PhD examined existing habilitation techniques and attempts to provide a novel and suitable contribution to the field regarding independent dressing skills. My Post-Doctoral research investigated sleep and anxiety in adolescents with Williams Syndrome.

I am now the Programme Leader for the Graduate Diploma in Habilitation and Disabilities of Sight at UCL-Institute of Education. In addition to this, I also lecture on Visual Impairment, Habilitation and Cognitive Psychology at Bachelors and Masters Levels, supervise Masters and PhD projects and am designing further projects regarding my specialisms. 

Habilitation and Independent Living Skills


Habilitation is a term used to encapsulate the teaching and developing of independence skills in children as they move towards independence. By using habilitation techniques, it is possible to support independent living skill development in young children with visual impairment. Independent living skills encapsulate all aspects of independent life; dressing, mealtimes, toileting and travel to name a few.  My work is in accordance with the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice: 0-25 years and the Quality Standards: Delivery of Habilitation training (Miller, Wall & Garner, 2011).

Currently, there is a distinct lack of research in relation to the development of independence skills in children, specifically dressing. Much of the focus surrounds the rehabilitation of adults who have suffered an impairment later on in life. 

How can I help you?


In addition to delivering an intervention to children with visual impairment, I am also in the process of developing a training manual which can support key adults (such as parents and carers) in delivering the intervention. The intervention is designed to refine gross and fine motor control in children in relation to dressing and other independent living skills.

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