Where can I get life skills and mobility help for my child with a vision impairment?

Habilitation specialists teach children and young people with a vision impairment to move around as safely, efficiently and independently as possible.

They can also help children to take charge of their own personal care – washing, dressing, choosing appropriate clothes, organising their belongings and taking a full part in family life, for example by helping at meal times.

They may also be called mobility officers, mobility specialists, O&M (orientation and mobility) teachers, rehabilitation workers and specialist workers for visually impaired people. However, ideally habilitation should be delivered by a Registered Qualified Habilitation Specialist (RQHS) who is trained to the National Standards for Habilitation Training.

Habilitation may be provided differently depending on where you live. In some areas it's provided directly by the local authority and in other areas it's contracted to a partner organisation.

Your Local Authority Visual Impairment service should be able to advise you on how to access the support of a Habilitation Specialist. Their provision should be considered part of the overall assessment of your child's needs, alongside the support that the Qualified Teacher of vision impairment (QTVI) is providing. It should also be written into your child's EHCP, see What is a EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) and what can I expect from it?

The professional organisation of Habilitation Specialists (HabVIUK) have a register of qualified professionals on their website.

Habilitation training provided by Guide Dogs includes orientation, mobility and life skills. Further information can be found on Guide Dogs website.

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