Children and young people with vision impairment deserve high quality teaching to become independent learners and to reach their full potential.

This series of guides takes you through the key issues, strategies and resources you need to know about to help you in your work. 

The early years

The early years are crucial for every child's development and learning. Here you can find ideas, resources and information to help young blind and partially sighted children to make the best start in life. 

For advice on very young children please look at the resources on our Family, friends and carers pages.

The Developmental Journal for babies and children with vision impairment

The Developmental Journal for babies and young children with vision impairment (DJVI) is an early childhood intervention programme for babies and young children with severe vision impairment. It was developed by clinicians and clinical researchers from the Developmental Vision Programme at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust and UCL Great Ormond Street Institute for Child Health (main authors Dr Alison Salt and Dr Naomi Dale). In 2005 it was commissioned by the English central government to be disseminated as the national early intervention framework for children with vision impairment and their families.

The DJVI is a systematic framework tracking developmental and vision progress from birth to three years of age (or equivalent developmental age). It aims to:

  • help parents and practitioners track and understand the child’s achievements, progress and development;
  • support goal setting and guidance to promote vision and general development;
  • support interdisciplinary and interagency working;
  • support information sharing between parents and the practitioners they meet;
  • identify areas of difficulty early where more help would be useful.

Who is this for?

The DJVI is designed to be used, in partnership with parents, by qualified clinicians and specialist professionals working in services providing support to babies and young children with vision impairment and their parents.

Recent research (Optimum VI) commissioned by RNIB, Fight for Sight and Great Ormond Street’s Children’s Charity published in 2018 has demonstrated that children being supported using the DJVI secure better outcomes on a range of cognitive, social and behavioural measures than children receiving other forms of support.

Our policy statement on early years has been updated to reflect these findings and to promote use of the DJVI as best practice.

Free online training entitled Developmental Journal Visual Impairment Part 1 and 2  is available through the Health Education England/ Royal College of Paediatric Child Health Healthy Child Programme - Early Developmental Support training course.

The DJVI is available on professional licence from UCL.

Learning through play in the early years

This guide is about supporting play for young children with a vision impairment. It covers early play, exploration and developing play. It also recommends ways of creating play environments as well as choosing toys and making treasure baskets and sensory development boxes.

Focus on foundation: including children who are blind or partially sighted in early years settings (Third edition)

Focus on foundation offers practical ideas for including children with vision impairment in early years settings, including reception classes.

Social inclusion and social bonding in the early years

This guide is based around a case study of a young blind child and provides useful tips on social inclusion in a nursery setting.

Access to education

This guide focuses on access to mainstream education for learners with vision impairment. It looks at ways in which professionals can help reduce barriers to learning by focusing on individual needs, providing accessible resources, enhancing communication skills, and making adjustments to the physical and sensory environment. It also considers the implications of vision impairment for social development and suggests key strategies for addressing these.

    Mobility and independence at school

    In this guide we focus on how to encourage children and young people to become independent in their learning and play.

    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.

    Two resources are available from NatSIP regarding the support of young people in Further and Higher Education:

    Transition on to further and higher education can seem daunting for young people. 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.

    Use our Moving On: preparing young people with vision impairment for transitions workshop materials to deliver sessions for young people on transition to adulthood.

    Emotional support

    We have a range of support services and resources providing emotional support to children and young people with vision impairment, and their families. 

    Emotional support podcast series

    Our series of 6 podcasts address a range of issues that commonly arise for children and young people with vision impairment. Our Family Support Officers discuss advice and strategies with Dr Ian McCubbin, a paediatric clinical psychologist who provides specialist NHS services as part of the team funded by Fight Against Blindness

    Advice, support and counselling

    Our Family Support Officers (FSOs) are available for information, advice and support of any child or young person aged 0-25, their families and the professionals who work with them. Find your regional FSO at 

    RNIB’s Sight Loss Counselling Service is also available to provide more in depth counselling support to young people with vision impairment aged 11 and over. You can refer your child directly using the online form (please note that a person over the age of 18 needs to complete the form) or contact your local FSO who can make the referral for you.

    Tough Talks

    Parents tell us that one of the most difficult parts of finding out that their child has a vision impairment (VI) is knowing how to talk about it with their child.

    This can be even more of a challenge if the eye condition is progressive and means that vision will get worse over time. 

    Our Tough Talks guide supports parents and professionals as they think about this issue.