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What next? – Understanding your child’s vision impairment

Find out about the resources, advice and information we have created that can help you to understand your child's needs, what they can see, and how to start supporting them.

Image: A child running while holding a bunch of balloons.

Children and young people with a vision impairment have different needs and face unique challenges to learning compared to their peers. Understanding your child's vision and needs is the first step to ensuring they are supported and thriving in what they choose to do.

Adjusting can be overwhelming in the early stages, especially with all of the extra appointments and meetings. Take your time and give yourself space to process everything, it's normal for it to take up to a year before things feel like they’re coming into place.

This page outlines smaller resources that you can start with from your first specialist medical appointment. They will be easier to use while you build your understanding and can be used in the future alongside our wider Information for Parents Guide. The guide covers how the eye works, details medical conditions that cause vision impairment, and gives more in-depth guidance about supporting your child’s growth and development: Information for parents of children with vision impairment | RNIB

You may want to look over one of the below sections each day or week and consider your options before moving on to the next.

Understanding your child's vision

Over time, you and your child will build up an understanding of your child's vision impairment. Your child’s vision may change over time, especially if they’re young, so it this may take some time. With contributions from various specialist professionals, you can figure out how to make best use of the vision that they have and decide what, if any, adjustments need to be made.

It can be difficult to find out the cause of avision impairment, but it is important to know as much about your child's sight as you can: Find out about your child's eye condition

Parent Pathways

Our online Parent Pathways course ties in with our other resources, helping you understand what you need to know in weekly 90-minute sessions. They're also a safe space to talk with a small group of other parents and carers and start to build a support network. You’ll have time to reflect between each session, and the course follows the same format as the sections on this webpage so you can get an idea of what we’ll be talking about each week before you start the course by reading below:

Find out more about Parent Pathways.

Eye Health and supporting services

The support systems are usually separated into Health, Social and Education services:

  • Health is the GP and hospitals.
  • Social is the local authority’s Children’s Sensory Services.
  • Education is a nursery, school, college or university, and the local authority’s Special Education Needs (SEN) Services.

The Health services will put you in touch with support from the other two services, and all three services should be supporting your family as needed from diagnosis. You and your child decide whether or not to take the support that is being offered to you.

In hospital, you may see a number of eye care professionals, particularly when diagnosing an eye condition. Our “Who does what in eye care? A guide for parents” page provides a glossary of the professionals who are there to support you and your child. We also have an Eye Clinic Appointment Guide for Parents.

If you have any specific questions or want to know more about eye conditions, certification and registration, and good eye health practice, you can use our wider Eye Health information.

Emotional support

The diagnosis of an eye condition can cause a number of emotions for the child and the family around them. Our Tough Talks resource will help you to talk with others about your child’s vision impairment, and our Emotional Wellbeing podcasts are based around subjects that parents of children with vision impairments frequently ask us about:

Visit our emotional support resources for children and young people with vision impairment

Your hospital may also have an emotional support or counselling service that may be able to work with your family if needed. RNIB’s counselling service supports those with vision impairments and their families from 11 years old: Sight loss counselling - professional support | RNIB

Social services

Your local authority provides a Children’s Sensory Support Service that will come to see you at home to support your family with child development and teaching or learning new skills. They’ll cover:

  • Play and skill development.
  • Mobility around the house and local area.
  • Specialist equipment and adaptations at home.
  • Accessing benefits and specialist provision.

You’ll be able to find your local authority contact details along with other supportive organisations using the Sightline Directory.

Education services

All children and young people with vision impairment aged 0-25 years old must receive specialist support from a Qualified Teacher of children and young people with Vision Impairment (QTVI).QTVIs work for the local authority and hold the mandatory qualification in vision impairment as well as qualified teacher status. They'll come into school occasionally to support your child's teachers in making education accessible and you should see them at least once a year.

Find out more about Getting the right support in education.

Meeting other families

We run Shape and Share activities for those aged 0-25 years old with vision impairments and their families. It’s a great way to meet other families and make some friends both online and in-person. Find out what we’ve got planned: Family Support and Events

We also have a Parents’ and Carers’ Facebook group where parents can ask others for advice and guidance, share stories and learn about any opportunities. We also have RNIB Connect Facebook groups for those aged over 18 who would like to connect with others in their area. Find out more about our social networks.

Further support

Our team of regionally based Children, Young People and Family Support Officers are here to help. If you can't find what you're looking for, or if you'd like to talk further about any of the above, please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling 0303 123 9999.