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

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


Update January 2021

On 4 January 2021 the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown in England and there are similar restrictions in the rest of the UK. We will continue to update this page with relevant statutory guidance as it is released. 

Following this announcement and subsequent school closures, we are continuing to support families affected. In addition to our usual provision, we have some new activities to help families during the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdown. 

During the period of national lockdown, schools, alternative provision, special schools and colleges will remain open to vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers only. All other children and students will learn remotely until February half term.

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 are aware that remote learning, digital access and the impact of school closures raise specific issues for children and young people with VI.

Cancellation of exams

The Department of Education and Ofqual will begin to consult on arrangements for the 2021 exams from next week, according to the statement made by the Secretary of State to the House of Commons on 6 January 2021. We continue to liaise directly with both departments. 

Ofqual guidance for the 2020 series of exams recommended that a Qualified Teacher of children with Vision Impairment (QTVI) should be involved in the arrangements and decision making for centre/teacher-assessed grades. 

While we are still waiting for details of how grades will be decided in 2021, we will be advocating strongly that QTVIs have a key role to play in helping to ensure that any assessments fairly reflect the abilities of children with VI and that necessary access arrangements are in place if previous assessments are to be used. We encourage QTVIs to liaise closely with exam centres for pupils on caseload who are affected. 


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.


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. 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

Online training: understanding vision 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, parallel sessions for professionals and also online groups for children and young people.

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 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.


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: