Coronavirus: How we can help you

What’s new

We can provide support and advice for professionals working with children and young people with vision impairment (VI) during the coronavirus lockdown.

We will update this page regularly with the latest advice from RNIB and our partners.

If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us via the Helpline at 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected].


Update 21 May 2020

Latest Department for Education guidance

Following proposals for the wider opening of schools from 1 June, the Department for Education has published new sets of guidance:

For guidance about preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE in education, childcare and children’s social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak, visit this gov.uk page. This guidance reflects advice from Public Health England, and builds on the Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, sets out the overarching aims and principles of the next phase, and sets out the next steps for education and childcare providers.

Opening schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June: guidance for parents and carers, sets out, in the form of a Q&A, the government’s position on more pupils returning to school from 1 June.

The Department for Education’s guidance on risk assessments for SEND pupils is due to be reviewed before 1 June 2020. View the current guidance here.

Habilitation VI UK risk assessment support

Habilitation VI UK have published their guidance for completing risk assessments for Habilitation Specialists around the UK. Other professionals may find the information useful.  The information can be currently found in the members area of the Habilitation VI UK website.

Call out for contributions

RNIB is working with VIEW and other partners on developing a repository for guidance for professionals and settings in preparation for the proposed wider opening of schools from June 1. If you have developed policies, procedures or  information that you are willing to share and would give permission to be housed or signposted to, please do get in touch [email protected].



Ofqual confirm need for specialist advice in awarding grades

Ofqual has published updated guidance for centres and awarding bodies in relation to the awarding of grades to candidates who are unable to take their GCSEs or A levels this summer. This states that centres need to take note of specialist advice from eg QTVIs, QtoDs and QTMSIs in determining the grades. Read the full guidance here.

Sight Advice FAQ

Regular online guidance, resources and ideas for parents and carers of children with VI is being updated regularly on Sight Advice FAQ, the website which answers questions about VI, eye health or being newly diagnosed with a sight condition. The website now includes a section of questions and answers on topics linked to coronavirus.



Temporary changes to the law on Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessments and plans

The Government announced temporary changes to the law on EHC needs assessments and plans. View the guidance here.

Specialist support and service provision

We are being asked about service delivery, policy and standards in relation to coronavirus. Children with VI should continue to have access to specialist support as far as possible, but it is a huge challenge to local authorities given the lockdown restrictions and impact of staffing shortages. If you have service information that might help other services to adapt their provision, please let us know so that we can share it.

Visit the RNIB policy and reports hub for our education policy position statements.

The National Education Union has published advice for teachers on different aspects of working practice.


Training, development and resources

Braille literacy training from VIEW

For the duration of the coronavirus lockdown, VIEW members can request free access to a single unit of online braille literacy training, giving you structured online learning materials and a blank portfolio to complete and take away at the end of the course.

Online training: Understanding visual impairment in children and young people (online course) – begin anytime

This course is studied online over around 50 hours at your own pace. It is designed to support the training needs of education support staff, teaching assistants and parents in order to improve the quality of learning opportunities available to children and young people with visual impairment. You will receive "light touch" tutorial support, and do not need to be working with blind or partially sighted learners to complete the course.

More details can be found on VIEW

LOOK webinars

LOOK are offering a series of regular webinars for families of children with vision impairment, and also online groups for children and young people.

We are being asked about service delivery, policy and standards in relation to coronavirus. Children with VI should continue to have access to specialist support as far as possible, but it is a huge challenge to local authorities given the lockdown restrictions and impact of staffing shortages. If you have service information that might help other services to adapt their provision, please let us know so that we can share it.

RNIB Bookshare

RNIB Bookshare is a free online service that provides accessible textbooks and resources for learners with sight loss, dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and qualifying physical impairments.

During this time where so many children are learning from home, it’s even more important that teachers and school staff add their learners to their school’s RNIB Bookshare membership. This will allow learners to be independent in their home learning and able to access the resources they need. Please make sure you add your learners.

Support for children at home

Some of our existing resources may be of interest to professionals and families as children are being taught and entertained at home:

  • Let’s Play: A guide with toy and play ideas for children with VI.
  • Messy and Muddy: Activities to encourage outdoor play and mobility skills.
  • Parties and Playdates: A resource for encouraging social interaction but contains ideas for activities that can be carried out within households. NB: please only use this resource for the activity suggestions, and continue to follow social distancing rules.
  • Advice and links for parents learning braille to support their child as a tactile learner.
  • The Insight archive for articles about supporting different aspects of teaching and learning for children with VI.

Technology

Paths to Literacy are offering tips to make group Zoom lessons more CVI friendly.

This online blog offers tips and advice for teaching students with vision impairment remotely.

Dolphin, the assistive technology company, are offering CPD opportunities in relation to the use of assistive technology.

VICTA/RNIB Grant – Orbit Reader refreshable braille display

RNIB and VICTA are working together to support children and young people who are blind or partially sighted to study with greater independence using technology.

VICTA's website has more information about how families can apply for a grant for the Orbit Reader 20.


Support from partners and other organisations

We are working with different sensory impairment charities to ensure the most up to date information is available to you. For further guidance, please visit: