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Vision Support Team

The Vision Support team are a team of specialist staff, comprising of Qualified Teachers for Vision Impairment (QTVIs) and Specialist Sensory Teaching Assistants (SITAs) and a Habilitation Specialist. We work to promote the educational inclusion and achievement of children and young people who have a diagnosed vision impairment.

What do we do?

We support children who have a diagnosed vision impairment from the time of diagnosis until they leave full time education.

The team works closely with the child, their family and any educational professionals to help them to understand the diagnosis and offer advice and support as the child develops. We visit children in their home, early years' setting, opportunity group, school or college. Working closely with families, teachers, and medical professionals means we can offer tailored and targeted support aimed at helping children and young people achieve their potential. In conjunction with the setting, specialist equipment and training can also be provided by our service.

The level of support offered to each child and family is based on the child's needs, their stage of development and the knowledge and support that they have around them.

It can include:

  • Support for and liaison with parents
  • Training and advice for school staff
  • Signposting parents, carers and staff to other appropriate agencies
  • Contributing to the assessment, monitoring and reporting of needs both formally and informally
  • Providing advice on access to the curriculum, target setting and record keeping
  • Providing programmes of support including help to promote the use of functional vision and social and emotional interventions.
  • Attending annual reviews and other multi agency meetings as appropriate
  • Representing the needs of children and young people to officers in the LA and help the child/young person express his/her views
  • Providing direct teaching to children working on specific skills (e.g. Braille) as appropriate
  • In conjunction with the school, providing equipment/ICT to support pupils' needs within the setting if their visual impairment hinders/prevents curriculum access and recording
  • Providing training on the use and maintenance of equipment
  • Advising on access arrangements for national examinations and internal assessments
  • Providing advice on adaptations to the environment
  • Programmes of habilitation skills when necessary, including early movement skills, spatial and body awareness, cane training and route planning.
  • Programmes of independent living skills when required.
  • Observing children/young people within their settings and provide feedback for staff

Who is the service for?

We work with babies, children and young people with a diagnosed vision impairment. This includes children with additional special educational needs and disabilities. For a more detailed description of our referral criteria visit the teams Right Choice (opens new window) page.

We are not able to support children and young people with a visual perception difficulty which is not accompanied by other concerns identified by the eye clinic. We are also unable to offer support to children/young people with Dyslexia or Irlens Syndrome. Please refer to the SEND Cognition and Learning Team via DART (opens new window)for support with these conditions.

How can I start using the service?

We require a referral from an ophthalmic service or eye clinic, ideally at the time of diagnosis. If you have concerns regarding your child's vision your first port of call should be your GP or your local optician. If necessary, they can refer your child to the specialist ophthalmic services within your area. The ophthalmic service can provide a diagnosis of your child's eye condition or vision impairment and if appropriate, will refer your child to our service and you will be asked to complete a Parental Permission form with your contact details. The Referral form and Parental Permission form are sent to the Lead Professionals for Sensory Impairment Physical and Medical Services and your child will be allocated to a Qualified Teacher of the Vision Impaired (QTVI). The QTVI from the Vision Support Service will make contact as soon as possible with you, your child and any educational setting they attend. An initial visit will be arranged within a half term (excluding school holidays).

The QTVI will provide information about what the diagnosis means and offer advice on how best to support your child. We work closely with the ophthalmology department and parents in providing ongoing support to settings. The frequency of our visits will be agreed dependent upon the degree of visual need and the level of support needed by your child, yourselves and/or their educational setting.

Assessment of vision

The eye clinic will gather a more detailed picture of your child's vision during follow up appointments and should share with you a clinical report. Glasses, if prescribed, will be specifically made for your child.

The QTVI will carry out functional visual assessments to inform you and your child's educational setting about how your child is managing to access activities and the environment around them.

Our team can:

  • Liaise closely with the ophthalmologists
  • Help you and your child's setting to understand reports from the eye clinic
  • Provide functional vision assessment results and observations to the eye clinic staff as required

School Support

As a parent or carer you will need to decide on which school you would like your child to attend. This is most likely to be a local mainstream school in Wiltshire. The placement will involve planning with yourselves, the school and the Vision Support Service in plenty of time to ensure your child's needs can be met. Additional support will be put in place depending on the degree and implications of your child's visual needs. If your child has complex needs, then you may decide that a Wiltshire special school may be more appropriate to meet their needs. You will need an Education and Health Care Needs Assessment for your child, if you would like to apply for a special school place.

Please visit EHC assessments for further information: 

In a mainstream school, our service can:

  • Provide training to the staff in your child's setting if required.
  • Provide support throughout full-time education. The level of support will depend on the degree and implications of your child's visual needs and will be assessed at least once a year, using the National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NATSIP) Eligibility Criteria.
  • Monitor your child's progress and give advice on areas where he/she may need additional support to access learning opportunities
  • Ensure that any low vision aid equipment is in good order and being used appropriately.
  • Work with the class teacher/SENCo to ensure full access to the curriculum.
  • Discuss any social issues which you or your child may be concerned about. We can provide vision awareness training to your child's peer group, if appropriate.
  • Provide Guided Walking training, via our Habilitation Specialist, if appropriate.
  • Encourage your child to become competent in caring for his/her glasses and equipment and to be an independent learner.
  • Provide and maintain any other specialist equipment required.
  • Contribute to the preparation of My Support Plans and where appropriate provide advice for the preparation of Education and Health Care Plans.

For further information visit the teams Right Choice page.

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