Dr Nicola McDowell staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099

Dr Nicola McDowell MSpTching, GradDipT, PGDipRehab, BA, PhD


Institute of Education

Prior to taking up my position at Massey University, I was a Developmental Orientation and Mobility Specialist and a Resource Teacher Vision. I currently teach in the areas of learning support and am the Blind and Low Vision Endorsement and Accessibility Coordinator on the Post Graduate Specialist Teaching Programme. This is the training course for Resource Teachers Vision and Developmental Orientation and Mobility specialists alongside other learning support teachers. In addition, I teach in the Masters in Specialist Teaching Professional Inquiry and supervise students completing master's reserach. I am also a member of the Centre for Equity Through Education at Massey University. https://www.equitythrougheducation.nz/ 

I completed a PhD Thesis by Publication in 2020 which focused on developing a practice framework for supporting children with cerebral visual impairment (CVI). My research has an autoethnography component to it, using my own experiences of living with acquired CVI to make life easier for others with this impairment.

I am also involved in the provision of short courses for Resource Teachers Vision to help them develop skills for supporting orientation and mobility programmes within school and community environments. 


I am a Lecturer in the Institute of Education at Massey University. My area of interest is in the field of education and rehabilitation for learners who are blind or who have low vision and disability rights. This has stemmed from my own experience of living with a vision impairment which I acquired as a teenager. As such, I am passionate about ensuring that students with disabilities have equal access and equal opportunities for success within their educational environment. I also believe children need to be empowered so they are able to become self advocates. 

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  • Masters of Specialist Teaching - Massey University (2016)
  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching - University of Waikato (2012)
  • Post Graduation Diploma in Rehabilitation - Massey University (2006)
  • Bacholer of Arts - University of Otago (2001)
  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey University (2021)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Education and rehabiliation for children who are blind and low vision, cerebral visual impairment, learning support, disability rights, empowerment


21st Century Citizenship, Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Education (130000): Special Education and Disability (130312): Specialist Studies in Education (130300)


inclusive, education, equity, social justice, human rights, learning, teaching, resource teaching, blind and low vision, disability

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 1 1

Research Outputs


McDowell, N. (2021). A review of the literature to inform the development of a practice framework for supporting children with cerebral visual impairment (CVI). International Journal of Inclusive Education.
[Journal article]Authored by: McDowell, N.
McDowell, N. (2021). Power is knowledge: empowering parents of children with cerebral visual impairment. Disability and Society. 36(4), 596-617
[Journal article]Authored by: McDowell, N.
McDowell, N. (2020). A pilot study of the Austin Playing Card Assessment: A tool to detect and find the degree of visual perceptual difficulties related to clutter. British Journal of Visual Impairment. 38(2), 118-136
[Journal article]Authored by: McDowell, N.
McDowell, N., & Dutton, GN. (2019). Hemianopia and Features of Bálint Syndrome following Occipital Lobe Hemorrhage: Identification and Patient Understanding Have Aided Functional Improvement Years after Onset. Case Reports in Ophthalmological Medicine. 2019, Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/criopm/2019/3864572/
[Journal article]Authored by: McDowell, N.
McDowell, N., & Budd, J. (2018). The perspectives of teachers and paraeducators on the relationship between classroom clutter and learning experiences for students with cerebral visual impairment. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. 112(3), 248-260
[Journal article]Authored by: McDowell, N.
McDowell, N., Dutton, G., Chokron, S., & Little, S. (2017). Posterior Parietal Visual Dysfunction: An explanatory review. Vision Development & Rehabilitation. 3(1), 10-22
[Journal article]Authored by: McDowell, N.


McDowell, N. (2021). A personal perspective on CVI. In J. Ravenscroft (Ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Vision Impairment. (pp. 70 - 78). London: Routledge
[Chapter]Authored by: McDowell, N.

Teaching and Supervision

Courses Coordinated

  • 249.700 Braille Proficiency
  • 249.746 Theory and Practice of Blind and Low Vision Education
  • 249.752 Practicum in Blind and Low Vision Education

Media and Links


  • 26 Mar 2019 - Online
    Blog post for Equity through Education
    Blog post titled 'The problem with labels'
  • 25 Jun 2018 - Online
    Blog post for NZARE
    Blog post on master's research titled 'The war against cluttered classrooms: Do our classrooms impact negatively on children's ability to learn
  • 13 Mar 2017 - Online
    Blog series for CVI Scotland
    Blog series for CVI Scotland titled 'Nicola McDowell's blogs