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Professional Resources

Vision support service

Children and young people with sight loss and eye sight problems might benefit from educational advice and support from the Vision Support Team.

What is meant by visual impairment

Eyesight problems that can’t be fully corrected by wearing glasses or contact lenses or by having an operation are called ‘visual impairments’.

Children and young people with vision impairment have varying levels and types of vision loss which might affect near and distance vision (visual acuity), peripheral vision (visual field), making sense of information taken by the eyes (visual processing) and or eye movements.

A visual impairment can affect a child or young person’s optimal development, learning and achievements unless adaptations are made in the methods of presenting learning experiences, materials and the learning environment.

Children and young people with a visual impairment may be certified and registered by a medic as either Sight impaired (also known as partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (formally referred to as blind) depending on the degree and type of impairment.

Some children become Sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind) following an illness or accident, while others may have been born blind or with a partial or severe sight loss.

Aims of the Vision Support Team

  • To provide teaching and advisory support to children and young people in Leicestershire who have a visual impairment, their families, schools and other relevant professionals.
  • To raise awareness of the barriers to learning and inclusion experienced by children with a visual impairment in order that they can achieve their full potential. 
  • To empower and enable educational settings to meet the desired outcomes for children with a visual impairment. 

Partnership with Parents/Carers

  • The Vision Support Team works closely with the families of  visually impaired  children and welcomes opportunities for them to influence and contribute to their child's development and education.
  • Parents/carers have an expert knowledge of their child and their insight and understanding is valued. The teacher of the visually impaired aims to work in partnership with parents and carer's  to help to reduce the effect of the child's visual difficulties on his/her development and education.
  • Parents are invited to contribute to the assessment process and copies of initial assessment reports, statutory advice and annual review reports will be sent to parents/carers who will have the opportunity to discuss these documents with the specialist teacher.

Referrals

The Vision Support Team supports children and young people with a range of sight conditions from birth to the end of education, depending on the level and type of support needed. Children and young people can be referred or re-referred to us at any time by parents, schools or medical staff. 

The criteria applied when considering acceptance of referrals are that the child has or is suspected to have a visual impairment resulting in a significant near or distance visual acuity loss, a reduction of visual fields or other functional visual disabilities which affect or are likely to affect his/her general development educational performance and rate of progress.

Assessment

A specialist teacher of the visually impaired will assess your child’s functional level of vision and establish how they cope with day-to-day activities at school and nursery.

Families of babies and toddlers who have a significant vision loss are also supported at home to help encourage good vision use.

After the initial assessment, the specialist teacher of the visually impaired will recommend ways that your child can make the most of the vision they have and discuss these with you and your child’s nursery or school.

The specialist teacher of the visually impaired might also refer your child to a ‘habilitation’ specialist to help them develop their skills in getting around on their own and other life skills.

The type of provision offered by the Vision Support Team:

  • Assessment of children and young people’s functional vision to determine how their visual impairment affects their performance and abilities.
  • Interpretation of ophthalmic information and its educational implications for pupils.
  • Direct teaching and non-teaching support for children in their homes, and/or educational establishments.
  • Assessment for specialised materials, equipment and strategies to enhance learning opportunities.
  • Specialist advice and training for parents, teachers and other professionals.
  • Recommendations for the provision of specialist technology to aid access to the curriculum.
  • Where appropriate, tuition to develop touch typing/keyboarding skills to enable children and young people to record their work efficiently
  • Referral to a habilitation officer to provide appropriate mobility, orientation and independent living skills programmes.

Early years

  • Support for families of children with a visual impairment including home visits to offer advice and direct support in maximising opportunities for the use of vision and development.
  • Pre-school support from an Early Years Practitioner depending on the child’s level and type of need.
  • Pre-school families may attend a stay and play offered by the Vision Support Team where they are able to meet other families who have a child with a vision loss
  • Transition into school advice and support

School leavers

Support and advice to families, young people, further education settings and employers to aid transition and access to learning. 

The Vision Support Team works in partnership with other members of the STS as well as with other professionals from education, health and social care where appropriate, to provide coordinated and effective support and advice for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Leicestershire.

In particular, its work is supported and enhanced by the Assistive Technology for Education Support Team (ATfest) who amongst other services, play a key role in developing specialist resource materials, working with pupils to develop keyboard skills and providing advice about assistive technology.  

Support groups and activities

Family Information Directory has local support groups and activities for your child and your family.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has information for parents and carers of blind and partially sighted children. 

Vista services for children and young people

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