We can provide support and advice for 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 2 September 2020
RNIB and numerous professional partners have written an open letter to the VI education sector on meeting the needs of children and young people with VI as schools and colleges re-open. It sets out some key issues to consider to ensure that children and young people with VI continue to receive the specialist support they need, as much as possible. A different version of the letter has been written for schools and colleges in each nation.
RNIB and VIEW, with support and collaboration with NatSIP, have produced some guidance around the implications for this for children and young people with vision impairment. The guidance sets out some possible issues and questions for schools to consider, that we hope will be helpful in any risk assessments that are being carried out. The aim is to ensure that any specialist needs of children with vision impairment continue to be met.
RNIB, VIEW and other partners are collating government guidance and responses from across the sector in a repository of documents so that they are readily available for services and staff round the UK. There will be some Q&As to help guide decisions in local areas. This is available on the VIEW website.
Update to guidance about PPE from DfE Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Division:
The department has been working with colleagues at the Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to introduce an important change to our guidance for education and childcare settings. If education or childcare settings cannot obtain the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need, they should approach their local authority to help.
Local authorities (LAs) should, wherever possible, support them to access local PPE markets and available stock. If the LA is not able to meet the PPE needs of education and childcare providers, the LA should approach their nearest local resilience forum (LRF) which will allocate stock if it is available once the needs of other vital services have been met.
If neither the LA or LRF is able to respond to an education or childcare setting’s unmet urgent need for PPE, the setting will need to make their own judgement in line with their risk assessment as to whether it is safe to continue to operate. If children’s homes, secure children’s homes, residential special schools, or other children’s social care settings have an unmet urgent need for PPE in order to operate safely, they should continue to approach their local resilience forum.
Further information can be found on this gov.uk page.
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.
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, but it is a huge challenge to local authorities given the lockdown restrictions and impact of staffing shortages. 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
For the duration of the coronavirus lockdown, VIEW members can request free access to a single unit of online braille literacy training, giving you structured online learning materials and a blank portfolio to complete and take away at the end of the course.
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.
LOOK are offering a series of regular webinars for families of children with vision impairment, and also online groups for children and young people.
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.
Paths to Literacy are offering tips to make group Zoom lessons more CVI friendly.
This online blog offers tips and advice for teaching students with vision impairment remotely.
Dolphin, the assistive technology company, are offering CPD opportunities in relation to the use of assistive technology.
RNIB and VICTA are working together to support children and young people who are blind or partially sighted to study with greater independence using technology.
VICTA's website has more information about how families can apply for a grant for the Orbit Reader 20.
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: