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How we helped parents and children tackle remote learning difficulties during lockdown

Since England entered its third national lockdown, RNIB has been working hard to ensure children with vision impairment, and their parents, have access to the vital support they need.

A young girl wearing glasses uses a tablet computer

RNIB worked incredibly hard during the Coronavirus lockdowns to ensure children with vision impairment, and their parents, have access to the vital support they need.

We launched resources for everyone affected and put pressure on the government to make sure support was available. Children with vision impairment are at more risk of falling behind during remote learning. Qualified Teachers of Vision Impairment (QTVIs), who rely on close contact, and support children to learn through touch, were limited to remote working. Many teaching assistants within schools have been redeployed. On top of this, a lack of consistent access to essential assistive technology and alternative learning materials meant that children, parents and teachers struggled alike.

“We couldn’t manage it at all. [My son] does have an iPad but couldn’t even manage with the accessibility features. We gave up as he was getting so frustrated and upset.“

A parent

Another said:

"We have problems with having my blind son’s specialist equipment sent home for remote learning. Without his embosser (braille printer) he cannot print any of his work and neither can he choose to print work out in hard copy for his lessons. Specialist equipment needs to be in place at home to enable children with send to learn just as it is in school."

What RNIB Services is doing

During the pandemic, RNIB put together a new programme of resources. These include online weekly advice sessions for parents, writing workshops, online and telephone support - and even Disney sing-alongs! We’ve also released new podcasts and extra content on our RNIB Connect Radio station.

What RNIB is doing with Parliament

We’ve also been working to raise awareness of the challenges of this period for children with vision impairment with Parliamentarians. We sent summaries of the key issues to MPs and the Secretary of State for Education, drawing on real-life experiences from our online forums, as well as statistics from the VIEW survey of QTVIs.

Additionally, we have asked the Government to adopt key recommendations to ensure children with vision impairment are not left behind. These include issues around access to assistive technology and alternative learning formats, access to specialist support, and ensuring schools seek help from specialist advisory teachers when deciding grades.

We have also worked with MPs to place questions for the Government in Parliament, asking for clarification on issues like how the Government will increase the provision of accessible learning materials and clarification on what will be done to ensure QTVIs can provide the support children need.