There are around 34,500 children and young people living with a vision impairment in England. These children and young people have high needs and require specialist support to ensure they reach their full potential. At present, children and young people can receive support from Qualified Teachers of Visual Impairment (QTVIs) and Qualified Habilitation Specialists (QHSs). QTVIs perform the integral function of helping with development in early years, including teaching Braille and teaching the skills needed to access information independently. QHSs focus more on mobility and independent living skills. This includes looking at getting to, from and around school, travelling around their local community, dressing, washing and developing social skills that help children with vision impairments take part in social and leisure activities.
However, in some parts of the country, access to and availability of these services has declined considerably. Last year, one in three authorities had cut their spending on services for children and young people with a vision impairment. Furthermore, 700 children and young people living with a vision impairment had witnessed a reduction in their level of support.
These cuts to services are forcing parents of children and young people with vision impairment to battle these authorities, sometimes for years, for their child or young person to receive their right to an education. The emotional, financial and psychological costs of these battles have wrought devastation on many families. One parent told us:
We’ve had to really fight to get our visually impaired daughter the support and equipment she needs to participate fully in school. Simple things like training for her teachers, an iPad and training to get around the school independently. And now we constantly fear it will be removed because of budget cuts. It’s exhausting and a constant struggle. Clare
On Thursday 30 May there are marches taking place all over England, calling for better support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Find out where there is a march near you:
We will be joining many of these local marches with children and young people with vision impairment and their families calling on the government to increase funding for education support services for children and young people with vision impairment.