Family Insight project – Northern Ireland
We want families to feel fully equipped to understand their children’s eye condition and how it affects their sight. We also want to make sure they can access support both at home and in school to help their children reach their full potential.
Through the Family Insight project (2016-2021), generously funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, we supported families of children with a visual impairment aged under 12 in living and learning. Working in partnership with Angel Eyes NI, we have identified four key recommendations to improve services and support for families of children aged 12 and under with a visual impairment in Northern Ireland.
Specialist mental health support for families of children with sight loss
Visual impairment presents unique challenges to anyone with sight loss, and their families. From our work with families here in Northern Ireland, we are calling for a specialist sight loss support service to be made available through statutory healthcare provision to ensure parents, children and young people, have the support they need when they most need it.
Understanding of music therapy and recognition as a key allied health profession
The role and practice of music therapy can be misunderstood and undervalued in its potential to facilitate development, particularly for children with sight loss and complex needs.
Through our work with families who have been able to avail of funded music therapy through the Family Insight project, we have seen the remarkable progress children have made through this intervention.
We are now calling for greater recognition of music therapy as an allied health profession in Northern Ireland, for the intervention to be made available on Statements of Special Education and adequately funded.
Reform in the education of children with sight loss in NI
If your child has been born with or developed a visual impairment, it can be hard to know what support is available to help with their learning and development, both in and outside of school.
We want to ensure children’s needs are met in their learning environment through the best use of technology, an effective statementing process, and an increased understanding of the impact of conditions affecting sight amongst professionals.
Effective continuous collaboration amongst the health, education and voluntary sectors
No one support sits in isolation. It is only when all of us work together that we see the best outcomes for our children.
We are calling for those in healthcare, education, voluntary and private sectors to consider how they can best work with others to better support children with sight loss in NI – through being creative, pooling resources, and gaining better awareness of support available from other organisations and referring appropriately so family gets the right support at the right time.