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Visual Impairment :
Special Educational Needs

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The special educational provision required by the child or the young person

If section B represents the diagnosis then section F is the treatment, i.e. the measures, support and provision that will be put in place to ensure that the pupil's special educational needs are met in full, that the outcomes will be achieved and the pupil will achieve his/her full potential.

The SEN Code of Practice gives clear and unambiguous guidance about the statutory guidance for drafting provision, though it is our experience that the guidance is often ignored. On page 166 of the SEN Code of Practice it states :

  • Provision must be detailed and specific and should normally be quantified, for example, in terms of the type, hours and frequency of support and level of expertise, including where this support is secured through a Personal Budget.

  • Provision must be specified for each and every need specified in section B. It should be clear how the provision will support achievement of the outcomes.

  • Where health or social care provision educates or trains a child or young person, it must appear in this section.

  • There should be clarity as to how advice and information gathered has informed the provision specified. Where the local authority has departed from that advice, they should say so and give reasons for it.

  • In some cases, flexibility will be required to meet the changing needs of the child or young person including flexibility in the use of a Personal Budget.

    The plan should specify

  • any appropriate facilities and equipment, staffing arrangements and curriculum

  • any appropriate modifications to the application of the National Curriculum, where relevant

  • any appropriate exclusions from the application of the National Curriculum or the course being studied in a post-16 setting, in detail, and the provision which it is proposed to substitute for any such exclusions in order to maintain a balanced and broadly based curriculum

  • where residential accommodation is appropriate, that fact

  • where there is a Personal Budget, the outcomes to which it is intended to contribute (detail of the arrangements for a Personal Budget, including any direct payment, must be included in the plan and these should be set out in section J).

The key paragraph is the first, which states that the provision must have specificity and quantification. Vague sentences which lack specific detail are unacceptable. The provision can be described in general terms using unspecific terms which do not commit the LA to very much at all. Poorly specified and quantified descriptions of provision are ambiguous and can result in disputes about how support should be made. Clear, detailed and unambiguous provision is needed so that everyone involved with the pupil understands exactly what provision will be made. Provision which includes phrases such as "opportunities to ..." or "access to ..." are too vague and unacceptable. All provision must be specific and quantified.

There are various reasons for issuing an EHCP with vague statements of provision; the LA may lack appropriate staff, have budgetary constraints, lack expertise in writing EHCPs or be uncertain about the provision that is required. It is essential that the statement is very specific about the provision that is required to address the child’s needs and difficulties. It is unacceptable for an LA or a school to use funding issues as a reason for denying the support or resources that a VI pupil needs.

The provision in this section should relate directly to the outcomes in section E, and answer the questions what, who, how, where, when, how long ? Provision must have specificity and quantification. Statements of provision such as “Barney will receive mobility and independence training as appropriate” are unacceptable as no indication is given of the nature, frequency or length of training to be given.

To be clear about the amount and the nature of the help that a child will receive, we need answer the following questions : What type of help does the child actually need to achieve the outcomes and how will it be provided ?

You can use the questions in the blue sections and the examples to analyse the provision in Section F and prepare amendments to the EHCP, adding them to the electronic version.

Differentiation of the curriculum

The curriculum will need to be modified in either its organisation, content or method of delivery for a visually impaired child to access it and achieve his/her full potential. For normally sighted pupils the majority of the information picked up, consciously or sub-consciously, is done so visually. Incidents of concepts, information and work being presented in a thoughtlessly inaccessible manner are common, and visually impaired pupils usually have to acquire difficult additional skills, brailling and touch typing, and, as a consequence, will usually take longer to complete tasks than there sighted peers. Good differentiation can be time-consuming and needs effective planning.


Is the whole National Curriculum appropriate or will there need to be modifications to its application ?

Is the curriculum/subject content going to be differentiated in an appropriate way, e.g. using multi-sensory resources ?

Is adequate time allowed for planning and production of appropriate resources ?

Who will be responsible for differentiation and for producing all of the additional resources needed ?

How will the additional resources be funded ? Is a personal budget appropriate ?

Does the child have access to extra-curricular activities and opportunities ?


An example of a general statement of provision for a severely visually impaired child could read :

Barney will have full access to the curriculum, including the National Curriculum, on a par with his sighted peers. The work will be differentiated so that it is all accessible and meaningful to him. This will require careful planning of topics and work to ensure that the content is relevant and meaningful and all work will be modified using tactile codes, tactile diagrams and graphs and audio resources, prepared in advance of lessons,  so that it is both accessible and achievable.

This recognizes that the modification of the curriculum needs to include content and the overall organization of work as well enlargement or brailling of work. All work must be accessible and meaningful.

Additional support

Most visually impaired pupils will need additional support from a qualified teacher for the visually impaired (QTVI), mobility officers, specialist teachers or learning support assistants. This supports access to the curriculum that should be on a par with other pupils and helps to overcome the impact of visual impairment on the child’s attainment. The learning support assistant should be helping the child become intellectually autonomous while giving support. Often the LSA will give the VI child prompts to complete work to help him/her complete tasks on time, and so can, unwittingly, create a type of intellectual dependence. Remember that the support must be clearly specified and quantified.

LAs can not state that provision will be quantified in the future following an assessment. The example below is from a recent draft EHCP and is unacceptable. The LA should complete assessments before issuing the EHCP. Such statements remove the parent's opportunity to challenge the provision or lodge an appeal as the assessment and provision will probably be completed after the two month limit for appeals. :

Orientation, mobility and independent living skills will be assessed and a program developed as appropriate by the Rehabilitation and Mobility Officer at the Sensory Support Team.

Additionally it can not specify support through a type of school unit as this could predetermine the placement in Section I, for example :

A small group teaching situation, in specialist VI unit attached to a mainstream secondary school, with staff experienced in meeting the needs of pupils with severe visual impairment.


Will specialist teachers/specialists be needed, e.g. QTVI, mobility, occupational therapist, speech and language specialist? How often ? How long will sessions be ? Will he/she work directly with the child or just advise the school ?

Are learning support staff allocated ?

Are specialist teaching programmes, Braille and touch typing, necessary ?

Is this help being offered ?

Who will give the help ?

Do the staff giving additional help need particular training, experience or qualifications ?

Do other classroom teachers and support workers such as LSAs understand the child’s medical condition and special educational needs ?

Will they be given additional training ? If so by who, when, how often ?

How many hours of extra help are there and are they clearly quantified ?

Is the extra help sufficient ?

Does this cover non-teaching times ?

How often will the additional help be made available ?

What teaching strategies will staff use ?

Who will co-ordinate and monitor the strategies that teachers use ?

Will teaching be individual, 1:1, or in small groups ?

If in groups, how big will they be, and what needs will other members of the group have, and is the support for the individual child or for the whole group ?

How is the effectiveness of the help being monitored ?

How often will progress be monitored ?

How are parents involved ? Is there a formal consultative process ?


There is an overlap here with sections G, H1 and H2, if provision is needed during the school day, so details of health provision can also be stated in G. Children with complex conditions may have medical needs that require treatment during the school day, or which have an impact on their attendance or participation in school activities. In some cases a health care plan is needed which sets out details of the child's condition and the support/provision needed. A statement such as the one below can be added. This allows the healthcare plane to be altered as medical treatment/condition changes without having to amend the EHCP.

Barney will have a healthcare plan completed by the school in accordance with the DfES document “Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions” (2014). All staff will be made fully aware of his healthcare plan and procedures to follow.

Barney's school will write a risk assessment to address health and safety needs.

Examples of specified and quantified provision :

A named member of staff will be responsible for coordinating the preparation and production of all the modified resources that Barney requires.

His teaching will include individual 1:1 support in all lessons from specifically trained Learning Support Assistants who are experienced in working with pupils with profound visual impairment throughout the curriculum and proficient in reading and writing grade 2 Braille.

Barney will receive 3 hours each week of direct teaching from a QTVI to learn and consolidate his use of Braille, including the specialist codes for maths, science and languages

All staff and teachers who work with Barney will be given training by a QTVI so they have a full understanding of his visual impairment, and of the differentiation and modification of resources and methods of delivery of the curriculum that are required for him to learn and engage in school activities successfully. They all need to be aware of the adaptations to the environment that are required

Additional/specialist resources

Technology has developed rapidly in recent years and a considerable range of hardware and software is now available to visually impaired pupils, helping to support them in the classroom. There are problems with additional equipment, particularly in secondary, mainstream schools where pupils go to different classrooms for their various lessons.


Is specialist equipment required, e.g. laptop, brailler, CCTV ?

Does the child need individual resources, e.g. work with enlarged type faces, tactile diagrams, 3D models etc. ?

Will additional resources be related to age, level and interests of the child ?

Who will provide the additional equipment ?

Will the child have to carry the equipment from class to class ?

Where will the equipment be kept when not required ?

Who will decide what additional equipment is needed ?

Are parents consulted or involved in these decisions ?


This is an example from an EHCP of a pupil with no functional vision, specifying in detail the equipment needed for him to access the curriculum :

Barney will have the use of all specialised equipment in class adapted for severely visually impaired children including a Braille Note (electronic note taker) and laptop computer, speech recording device, talking calculator, talking thermometer,  light probe, tactile periodic table, talking dictionary, talking thesaurus, audible or tactile measuring equipment for weight, volume, length and time for science and geography lessons and field trips; audible balls and other specialised equipment for PE.  In addition use in class of specialised cooking equipment such as talking scales, talking jug, talking microwave, specialised cutting and chopping devices and other specialised or adapted items as appropriate for safe cooking/kitchen skills.

Additional training for independence and autonomy

Many visually impaired pupils have restricted mobility and are dependent on others for many aspects of their lives, while their sighted peers, particularly at secondary level, have much greater freedom, autonomy and independence. In addition, many life skills, from feeding to dressing, take longer to acquire. Additional training for mobility and basic life skills may be needed, and included in the school curriculum.

This is an area that many LAs try to exclude as being non-educational, but if it is essential to the child’s education, independence training should be incorporated into the educational provision.

In the case of many visually impaired pupils, mobility and life skills training are essential if they are to access the full range of curricular and extra-curricular opportunities that the school can offer and become socially and physically autonomous, able to interact fully with their peers. Most visually impaired young people want to be fully accepted by their peer group and not to be seen as being different. Failing to develop independent living skills can hinder the young person's social integration leading to social isolation and low self esteem.


Is speech therapy necessary ?

Is mobility training required ?

Is additional medical support, e.g. physiotherapy, needed at school ?

Is a health care plan needed ?

Will any life skills training be needed ?

Will this training be in school time or outside school hours ?

How much and how often is this type of support given ?

What training do the staff involved need ?

Is a “waking day curriculum” necessary ?


The Waking Day Curriculum

The waking day curriculum refers to an extended curriculum that goes beyond the normal school day and requires a residential placement. It is also referred to as a 24 hour curriculum. There are many aspects of the 24 hour curriculum that go far beyond what a maintained school would be expected to provided. For severely visually impaired children full access to the curriculum is also accompanied by Braille training and independent living skills (including orientation and mobility).

In a Tribunal hearing for one of our clients it was established that the young person should have full access to the curriculum on a par with his sighted peers, but also needed 1 hour per day Braille training together with sessions for mobility, cane training and independent living skills training. This would total 8 hours per week (out of 25 hours per week of timetabled lessons), so nearly 1/3rd of the week. This was to be delivered by withdrawal from lessons and could not be delivered after school hours. The specialist teaching required meant that this could not be delivered at home by the parents. The school admitted that none of the specialist provision could deliver any of the normal curriculum. There was a clear contradiction between the two aspects of the statement. It was impossible to deliver both within the normal school day.

The Tribunal Judge ruled that the child’s special educational needs could not be met at the LA’s preferred school and agreed to the parents’ request that he should attend a specialist, residential school for severely visually impaired pupils.

Much of the case for a waking day curriculum and a residential placement hinges on establishing that the provision is a need and not a parental preference. In most of the cases we have handled involving residential placements the parents have requested the placement at a specialist, residential school for VI children, such as New College Worcester or West of England School, Exeter, and the LA have opposed the request. In most cases we have had to lodge appeals to SEND. In some cases the LA have eventually agreed to the placement but in most the issue is decided by the judge after a lengthy hearing. LAs resist the request on the basis of unreasonable use of public resources as the costs of residential placements can be higher than local provision, though, with VI children, this is not always the case. An example of a statement supporting a waking day curriculum could be :

Barney needs to learn and develop a wide range of self-help and independent living skills that extend beyond the normal school curriculum and school day. He will receive a progressive and structured program from a qualified habilitation officer to develop independent mobility and orientation skills both in school and in the home area and to teach age appropriate daily living skills in school and at home. His extended curriculum will include sensory awareness, spatial concepts, searching skills, independent movement involving cane skills and protective techniques, and independent living skills that involve self-catering, personal hygiene and care and organization. Some of these skills will be taught in separate sessions at school or at home but some will be incorporated into appropriate aspects of the curriculum as part of the in-class support. The programme will need to be delivered and consolidated throughout his waking day.

This could be amended in the light of further advice to be more specific and for the inputs to be quantified.

Behaviour and social skills support and training

VI pupils do not receive the visual signals and body language that their sighted peers do, and frequently have social interaction and communication problems. This can lead to difficulties in making and maintaining friends. Restricted mobility and being unable to participate in the full range of activities can result in feelings of being different, isolation, low self-esteem and depression.


Does the child have any social interaction and/or communication problems ?

How well is the child integrated with his/her peers ?

Does the child feel isolated or have low self-esteem ?

Is a social interaction programme needed ?

Does the child need behaviour support ?

How much and how often is this type of support given ?

What training do the staff involved need ?

Environmental factors

The environment needs to be adapted to enhance the mobility of visually impaired pupils. This may be ensuring clutter-free navigation routes around a site, marking stairs and doors etc. with contrasting colours, modifying lighting or making provision for specialist equipment. An appropriately adapted environment can have a significant impact on the child’s experience and learning.


Has the school carried out an accessibility study, in accordance with its accessibility policy (it is a legal requirement for schools to have one) ?

Does the school or classroom environment require modification, e.g. seating position, lighting levels, obstruction-free rooms, floor markers, use of contrasting colours etc. ?

Does the room arrangement get changed about, or is it stable?

Are classrooms visually cluttered?

For the wheelchair-bound or those with walking difficulties, are there lots of steps and stairs, or uneven ground outside?


This is from a recently agreed EHCP :

An environmental audit of the school will be undertaken by a qualified Habilitation officer for visually Impaired in order to highlight the areas which could be improved to cater more appropriately for Barney with particular regard to hazards.

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