Guidance on teaching and learning
We want to raise standards and improve the quality of teaching and learning to children and young people with a vision impairment across the education sector
Special Educational Needs (SEN)
New legislation brought about by the Children and Families Act 2014 means that statements for special educational needs will be replaced by Education, Health and Care Plans. The principle of setting out what an individual child needs remains the same. The changes only affect families living in England and nothing will change until September 2014.
Content on this page refers to the current system of assessment and the statement process, which you can still apply for until September 2014. We will be updating our content to reflect the new changes as they are gradually rolled out.
For more details regarding the Children and Families Act 2014 and the new Code of Practice visit:
- Contact a Family - Education is changing.
- Council for Disabled Children - Resources on the children and families bill.
This guide looks at the processes around ensuring a child with special educational needs gets all the support that they need.
NASEN, the UK’s leading professional association for special educational needs and disabilities, is working with the government to establish an online "one-stop-shop" portal offering all education professionals free, high quality information, resources and training for meeting the needs of children and young people aged 0-25 with SEND. RNIB will be sharing its resources via the gateway which we see as an important way to promote effective practice in the teaching and support of children and young people with vision impairment. For more information go to the Send Gateway website.
The early years
The early years (from birth to five) are crucial for a child's development. Here you can find ideas, resources and information to support your work. From choosing the right early years setting, to encouraging learning through play and supporting early social and independence skills, you will find something to help.
Early years settings
What to look for in an early years setting
This guide gives advice on choosing an early years setting for a child with a vision impairment.
Focus on foundation: including children who are blind or partially sighted in early years settings (Third edition)
Focus on foundation offers practical ideas for the successful inclusion of children with sight loss in early years settings, including reception classes.
- Focus on foundation (PDF 603 KB)
- Social inclusion and mobility independence in the early years (Word, 209.5 KB)
- The Early Years Foundation Stage (Word. 177 KB)
Learning through play in the early years
This document is about supporting play for young children with a vision impairment. It covers early play and exploration and developing play using Tina Bruce's 12 features of play. It also recommends ways of creating play environments as well as choosing toys and making treasure baskets and sensory development boxes.
RNIB and BTHA "Toys and Play" Information Leaflet
This leaflet provides information on choosing the right toys, creating a play environment, growing through different types of play and top tips for extending your child's play environment.
- Toys and Play - Large Print (PDF, 1.86 MB)
- Toys and Play - Small Print (PDF, 2.75 MB)
- Toys and Play - Text Only (Word, 238 KB)
Social and independence skills
This guide explores the impact that vision impairment has on social development in the early years as well as looking at ideas to encourage blind and partially sighted young children to socialise and make friends. It includes advice on infant massage, social bonding and social inclusion in the nursery. This guide also has information on movement in the early years and ideas to help you with teaching daily living skills for this age group.
Here you can find information and resources on supporting blind and partially sighted children in mainstream primary and secondary schools, including advice on teaching specific subjects.
Qualified Teacher of learners with Vision Impairment (QTVI)
QTVIs carry out a central role in the education of children and young people with vision impairment from birth, working in homes, early years settings, schools and post 16 settings. The factsheet below contains further information.
Access to education
This guide focuses on education in mainstream primary and secondary schools. It looks at ways in which we as professionals can help reduce the barriers to learning by providing accessible resources, enhancing communication skills, and making adjustments to the physical and sensory environment.
Teaching National Curriculum subjects
This is a guide to the key considerations when teaching specific National Curriculum subjects to a child who is blind or partially sighted. It includes a guide for 13 different subjects.
This guide explores the issue of social inclusion and bonding. It covers the impact that vision impairment has on social development, and contains some ideas to encourage blind and partially sighted young children to learn to socialise and make friends. It also explores some methods and tips for dealing with bullying.
Information about our Emotional Support Service, and details of useful resources and information for teachers, teaching assistants and other professionals working in education in relation to supporting the social and emotional needs of young people.
- Emotional support overview (Word, 181 KB)
- RNIB Emotional Support Service Referall Form (Word, 37 KB)
- Emotional Support Service for Children and Young People (Word, 135 KB)
- Different Horizons - Information and resouces for counsellors working with clients who are blind or partially sighted (Word, 266 KB)
Mobility and independence at school
Mobility and independence: school age
In this guide we focus on the development of specialist skills for visually impaired children and young people in relation to mobility, orientation and independence.
Steps to Independence
The Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) undertook this project to investigate the mobility and independence needs of children with a visual impairment and how best to support their learning. The project report outlines recommendations for services responsible for mobility and independence education.
Aimed at professionals working with children and young people with complex needs, here you can find information on classroom activities, including lesson ideas and resources; communication, including communication technology, touch and objects of reference; mobility and movement; vision and hearing assessments and more.
This guide explores how to assess vision and hearing in children with complex needs.
This guide covers developing skills in communicating with children with complex needs, including the use of communication technology, touch and objects of reference.
In the classroom
This guide looks at developing play, information and communications technology (ICT), multi-sensory environments, creative and musical sessions, and sensory stories. It includes ideas and suggestions for lesson activities, considering your classroom environment and sourcing and producing resources.
The staff team
This guide aims to help different practitioners understand the purpose, method and outcomes of each other's interventions with the children they support.
Understanding complex needs
This guide looks at children and young people themselves, the nature of their sensory, physical, learning or medical needs, and how these affect growth and development. We look at attachment issues and sensory integration difficulties.
Further and higher education
Here we offer guidance for professionals on accessible admissions, funding, and the legal responsibilities of institutions to meet the support needs of young people in further and higher education.
- Working with students with a Vision Impairment in Further Education (Word, 194.5 KB)
- Working with students with a Vision Impairment in Higher Education (Word, 193.5 KB)
Transition on to further and higher education can seem daunting for young people. This is why RNIB have developed Transition guidance specifically for young people who are blind or partially sighted to help support them through this process. "Your future, your choice: Bridging the gap" outlines the support and services available to assist young people through their journey from school, through further and higher education, and into employment.
Right now we can only reach one in three of the people who need our help most. Please make a donation and help us support more blind and partially sighted people.Donate now