Multi–sensory impairment: convenient label or recipe for confusion? A scoping review of research conducted in England (2001‐20)

Leda Kamenopoulou, Aaliya Ali, Adam Ockelford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In England, the term ‘multi‐sensory impairment’ (MSI) has come to overlap with other labels, which is problematic for both research and practice. We undertook a scoping review of empirical studies conducted in England over the past 20 years on MSI and overlapping labels. We designed and used a review protocol and combined multiple searching methods, including repeated database searches, manual searching of journals and expert recommendations. We identified 29 studies that met the criteria for inclusion in the review, and we analysed these according to three themes: (1) terminology used, (2) topic explored, and (3) methodology adopted. We found that terminology was varied and poorly defined, with a lot of overlap between key terms that were used sometimes interchangeably. Moreover, studies varied in the level of transparency provided when methodology was reported. Finally, there was a dearth of research into inclusion in mainstream schools and research gathering learners’ voices. Implications for future research include the need for: (1) identification of factors that have led to overlapping terminology, (2) greater transparency in how the methodologies used in the field are reported, and (3) more evidence, especially from research on strategies in settings that promote inclusion, and research that includes learners’ voices.

© 2021, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). See
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Research in Special Educational Needs (JORSEN)
Early online date18 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Feb 2021

Cite this