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Meet Dr Hazel McFarlane: Research Officer

Dr Hazel McFarlane, Research Officer

Dr Hazel McFarlane MBE recently joined Visibility Scotland as a Research Officer. Hazel has a long and storied career in disability activism. We asked Hazel to pen a blog post about her role in Visibility Scotland and some interesting facts about her journey and life to date.


A little bit about me

I was awarded an MBE for services to people with sight loss in the King’s Honours List in June 2023. I like to run in my spare time, and I am a member of Troon Tortoises. I have completed several marathons and ultra-marathons. I was also the first blind person to run the River Ayr Way, a 43-mile ultra marathon, and the Glasgow to Edinburgh 56-mile ultra Marathon in 2013.


Joining Visibility Scotland

I joined Visibility Scotland in November 2023 and have had a lovely, warm welcome from the friendly team.


My activist journey

While preparing to write this, I realised I had been involved in disability activism for 30 years. I became involved in the campaign for Disability Rights in February 1994. It was so empowering to resort to civil disobedience to raise awareness of physical, institutional and attitudinal societal barriers. Referred to at the time as the last civil rights movement, we attained disability rights in the legal statute.


I have worked in disability-related roles throughout my career. I was motivated to embark on PhD research based on my experience of being a Mum and simply wanted to explore other blind women’s experiences of having children. This ignited my passion for research!


Being a Research Officer

My research role involves children, young people and their families. A recently launched Pilot Project will test new ways of delivering services and support in a person-led way. The Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire areas are early adopters . The findings of the research and evaluation of the project will inform and influence development and delivery of services in the future.


You can find out more at the link below:

Children, Young People and their Families – Visibility Scotland


If you would like to participate in the pilot, please contact Visibility Scotland: 0141 332 4632. I will share progress on the pilot and progress with the research in my next blog.


Final thoughts

My research role with Visibility Scotland brings together all the elements I love: research, rights and involvement in initiatives that have the potential to effect positive change.


My drive and determination to work alongside vision-impaired people of all ages and to make a difference has not waned.


Thirty years on, my motivation to do nothing less than change the world remains the same!

Image of Paul Hanlon
Written by: Paul Hanlon

Posted on the: January 12, 2024
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