We can provide support and advice for parents and professionals working with children and young people with vision impairment (VI) during the coronavirus pandemic as lockdown eases.
If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us via the Helpline at 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected]. You can also connect through an Alexa-enabled device by saying “Alexa, call RNIB Helpline”.
RNIB, VIEW and NatSIP have updated their open letters for schools and colleges on coronavirus and education support for children with vision impairment. As before, these set out some specific issues for schools and colleges to consider on meeting the needs of children with vision impairment. The latest version focuses on face coverings and recent changes to government guidance, whilst also acknowledging concerns around new variants of coronavirus. It also covers peripatetic specialist support, exam arrangements and catch-up support.
These open letters are available to you to share with schools and colleges in your area as appropriate.
The open letter for Scotland will be available shortly.
As schools and colleges across the UK have welcomed pupils back, we continue to ask for the specific needs of pupils with VI to be carefully considered, especially while restrictions and coronavirus-related systems, protocols and working arrangements continue.
With effect from 17 May, DfE guidance on face coverings in schools has changed. Please refer to NatSIP's "Guidance on face coverings in education 10 May 2021" for the latest update. We've updated guidance that we produced jointly with NatSIP and VIEW about the return to school and how specialist support for children with VI can be provided in the context of government requirements and regulations. Download our guidance: Meeting the needs of children and young people with VI March 2021 (Word).
We're continuing to support families affected by the pandemic as lockdown eases.
We continue to call on government to ensure that children with VI are able to access learning, either in school or online remotely. Also that alternative arrangements for awarding grades take account of the specific needs of pupils with VI. We're aware that remote learning, digital access and the impact of individual isolations, collapsing of bubbles and school closures raise specific issues for children and young people with VI.
We've been working with our partners in the sensory impairment sector and Ofqual to secure the necessary considerations for candidates with vision impairment in assessments and grading for summer 2021 qualifications.
Advice and recommendations from NDCS, VIEW, RNIB and BATOD have been considered and included in the guidance that specialists should be providing advice regarding access arrangements and reasonable adjustments in place for any evidence used for gradings.
The Information for heads of centre on the submission of teacher assessed grades: Summer 2021 guidance document published by Ofqual specifically calls for the involvement of specialist VI teachers in decisions about assessment and grading.
There is also guidance about reasonable adjustments and access arrangements.
“Reasonable adjustments for disabled students and access arrangements should have been in place when evidence was generated. Where they were not, centres should take that into account when coming to their judgement.”
The Head of Centre declaration also includes statements to confirm involvement of specialist teachers and consideration of access arrangements.
Our recent Home schooling and technology advice session gave parents the chance to ask questions about access to education during the pandemic and use of access features and access technology. A Q&A document is available in our parents’ coronavirus advice section for follow-up information.
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 includes a section of questions and answers on topics linked to coronavirus.
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.
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.
LOOK are offering a series of regular webinars for families of children with vision impairment, parallel sessions for professionals and also online groups for children and young people.
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 may need to learn 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.
Some of our existing resources may be of interest to professionals and families as children are spending time at home:
Paths to Literacy offer tips to make group Zoom lessons more CVI friendly.
Dolphin, the assistive technology company, are offering CPD opportunities in relation to the use of assistive technology.
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:
Advice from NEU may be of interest.
The Council for Disabled Children have gathered a list of resources and guidance about coronavirus to share with parent carers, children and young people and practitioners.
The Mental Health Foundation has produced an online factsheet on maintaining mental wellbeing during coronavirus. It addresses quite a few issues such as maintaining contact with friends and family, coping with self-isolation.
Childhood Bereavement Network has advice and resources for services supporting grieving children and families.