Making learning accessible - information for teachers and teaching assistants
Learn more about how best to support your children and young people with vision impairment (VI) to access education.
In the classroom
The majority of children and young people with VI are taught in mainstream settings. For an introduction to the support available, please see Getting the right support – SEN and inclusion.
Whole School SEND has advice for making your classroom vision-friendly and for making learning inclusive in its free to download Teacher Handbook: SEND
The National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP) offers a free, downloadable checklist that will guide you through some key factors to consider when working with children and young people with VI or multi-sensory impairment (MSI), entitled A place to start – working with a child or young person with sensory impairment, in its NatSIP - Mainstream Training Pack.
To learn more about the nature of vision impairment and how its impact on learning can be minimised, take a look at the detailed guidance in RNIB Access to Education.
Accessing print is vital for learning. This Australian video summarises some options and the universal principles: Supporting Students to Access Print: A Classroom Teacher's Guide
Whole School SEND has a recording of a webinar that looks at the effective use of assistive technology, as well as covering low incidence needs more generally: Supporting Learners with Low-Incidence SEND
Working in partnership
Each child and young person is unique. A Qualified Teacher of Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (QTVI) from the local authority VI team will carry out an individual assessment and provide advice on how best to support a learner to access the curriculum and participate fully in the life of the school/college. Find out What is a...QTVI?
The NatSIP QTVI Factsheet will go into greater detail about the role and support on offer: NatSIP - QTVI Factsheet final
Specialist qualified practitioners, including QTVIs and habilitation specialists, will lead on teaching essential specialist skills that children and young people with VI need to develop in order to access learning with as much independence as possible and prepare for adulthood, such as use of assistive technology. These skills are identified in the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI). This is an important document to be aware of as it facilitates partnership working to develop provision for equitable access to education and planning for life beyond education.
The CFVI Resource Hub has a host of resources to support the teaching of the 11 specialist skills areas: CFVI Resource Hub,
Area 8 of the CFVI is technology. Some examples of different technology solutions for children and young people with VI are shown in this series of short videos: Technology and independent learning.
Areas 5 and 6 in the CFVI are led by habilitation specialists. Visit Habilitation VI UK to find out What is Habilitation?
Download our factsheet to see what might be included in a habilitation programme: RNIB Mobility and independence school age.
RNIB Bookshare offers more than a million free textbooks and educational materials in accessible formats to download. Teachers, students, and parents can access Bookshare; books can be read electronically or adapted further by trained staff. Some books for leisure reading are also available: UK education collection | RNIB Bookshare.
CALL Scotland’s Books for All is free for educators in Scotland who are supporting learners with a print disability and includes set texts in a variety of formats: Books For All.
Teaching STEM subjects can be particularly challenging, especially when conducting practical work. Specialist equipment which is appropriate for children and young people with VI to use in STEM subjects is available from the RNIB shop: STEM.
Schools, organisations, and councils may receive a discount on many items by requesting them from us at [email protected]
Exams and tests
Guidance and resources for teachers and students, including information on modified papers, exam access arrangements and reasonable adjustments: Access to exams and tests.
Further and higher education
To ensure a successful transition to Further Education, it’s important for everyone involved to begin planning early so that provision is in place from day one. Both RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust provide guidance and resources to help:
The Bridging the Gap guide and Moving On workshop resources support students to look forward and prepare mentally for the coming changes: Transition guide: Bridging the gap | RNIB.
For students with complex needs, the Natspec website has information on specialist post-16 provision: Home Page - Natspec.
The support system for Higher Education can be difficult to navigate so the information and advice available from Thomas Pocklington Trust is invaluable: University (pocklington-trust.org.uk).
Emotional support and wellbeing
Pastoral support and emotional wellbeing is just as important as the learning process. Information and advice on support for wellbeing, including peer support groups, that are specifically aimed at children and young people with vision impairment can be requested by emailing [email protected].
Our Children, Young People, Families and Education team is here to help. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or you’d like to talk further about any of the above, please email us at [email protected] or call us on 0303 123 9999.