What support is available in schools for students with a vision impairment?

Both mainstream and specialist schools have a SENCO (Special Needs CoOrdinator) who will work with you and a QTVI to look at how your child's needs can be best met at school. The Sensory Team Visual Impairment services should also be involved in helping the school to put appropriate resources and support in place. Ensuring your child has full access to the curriculum and broader school life.

They may also be using The Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) which identifies 11 key areas of learning that can enable your child to access education more easily. Key areas include facilitating an inclusive world, independent living skills, mobility, accessing information, sport, social communication and preparing for adulthood.

For information on SENCOs and QTVIs see My child has VI, what are SENCOs and QTVIs and how can they help with my child’s education?

The type of support that visually impaired children can receive includes:

  • a teaching assistant
  • a Habilitation/Mobility Officer
  • help with low-tech and high-tech equipment such as task lighting, magnifiers etc
  • accessible equipment such as tactile/large print rulers, black pens, talking science equipment and braille equipment.
  • computers, laptops or iPads with accessibility software.

If needed, special arrangements should be made regarding playtime safety, movement around the school and extra-curricular activities such as school trips.

Some children can be supported using the resources and expertise from within the school and its staff. However, in some cases external services, resources and expertise may be brought in. In England this support is called SEN (Special Educational Needs) support. This was formerly referred to as School Action and School Action Plus, SEN support has replaced both.

An ECHP (Education, Health and Care Plan) may also be drawn up for children with more complex needs, see What is a EHCP (Education Heath and Care Plan) and what can I expect from it?

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the terminology is different, but the principles of assessment and support are the same. Further information about getting the right support and the education rights of children with a visual impairment can be found on RNIB's Getting the right support - SEN and inclusion and Guide Dogs education support webpages.

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