Question time – answering professional enquiries

14 May 2015

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Julie Jennings, Manager of the Children, Young People and Families team at RNIB, discusses the type of queries the team gets, and how these help to shape the resources we produce.

‘I am a teaching assistant currently working with a blind student at a mainstream school. We are trying to locate 3D cells for science. Ideally a plant cell, an animal cell, a sperm cell and an egg cell (human).’

Each week, RNIB gets thousands of enquiries through its Helpline. The Advice Service respond to the majority and some come through to the Children, young people and families mailbox for a response from the Children’s team.

Our small team has expertise in a range of areas so we always try to answer professional enquiries when we can. And where we can’t, we use our knowledge of other sections of RNIB and other voluntary organisations or local authority services to signpost enquiries to, if that is more appropriate.

We never quite know what questions will come through – or indeed what the answer is! Some are very individual and may take time to research; other questions are asked more frequently and we can use these to populate our online search facility, Ask RNIB.

We use some of the questions professionals ask to consider whether it would be helpful to produce an online resource, such as effective practice guidance on early years, children with complex needs and access to curriculum subjects.

We have also developed position statements with our Campaigns team covering a range of topics prompted by enquiries, including specialist support, accessible formats for exams and literacy entitlement.

This is just a small selection of the range of enquiries that we receive each week:

‘I am supporting a Korean 15 year old boy who is having trouble accepting his sight will not return. We are looking for someone (from a Korean background) to speak to him.’

‘I am a case manager working with a child with vision impairment in London. The nanny has left unexpectedly and we are seeking a replacement nanny or worker who can use Braille.’

‘I work for a charity who provide education in film making. I would be interested in talking to someone with a view to understanding how we might try to be more accessible for young people with sight impairments.’

‘I am looking for any information which can be given about Braille: if it is still taught in schools in the UK and how many people are able to read Braille in the UK.’

‘I am hosting a children’s party with a child with vision impairment and would like some advice on games.’

Now wouldn’t you like to know the answers??

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