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Visual Impairment :
Special Educational Needs

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Many VI pupils will be provided with additional support in lessons. The purpose of the support is to ensure that the child has the appropriately modified resources and is able to access the work, so the support is different to that given to other special needs children. The level of support depends on the level of need. The VI child does not need help with understanding or completing work so it is important that the LSA understands what his/her role is. Inappropriate support can affect the development of the child’s independence.

Schools usually work hard to ensure that VI children are included and fully integrated with their peer group. We do come across incidents of isolation and low self-esteem and intervention to improve this can be put in place. VI pupils can be vulnerable and are occasionally the victims of teasing and abuse. Some do need counselling and Blatchington Court Trust employs a specialist counsellor.

John MacBeath, Professor of Education at Cambridge University stated in his report for the NUT in 2006 : Physically sitting in a classroom is not inclusion. Children can be excluded by sitting in a classroom that's not meeting their needs. You might call it a form of abuse, in a sense, that those children are in a situation that's totally inappropriate for them.

Levels of support for visually impaired pupils

It is our experience that the support given to VI pupils in schools is usually appropriate and many VI children make good progress. The majority of staff working with special needs children are caring and experienced, and committed to ensuring that the VI child can access the curriculum and participate as fully as possible in the life of the school. The level of help given is determined by a number of methods. Early identification of need is essential. The school will use

  • Information provided by parents, particularly medical records
  • teachers’ observations and assessments
  • The child’s progress in literacy and numeracy
  • Performance in end of key stage tests
  • Standardised screening and assessments tools

All pupils with special educational need will receive support and help at school. Those needing significantly greater support or provision will have a statement of special educational need (SSEN) or an education, health and care plane (EHCP)

Statement of Special Educational Need/EHCP

Until September 2014 the Local Authority issued a statement of special educational need to pupils with special educational after carrying out an assessment of the child’s special educational needs. From September 2014, SSENs have be replaced by EHCPs.  The SEN Code of Practice states :

The legal test of when a child or young person requires an EHC plan remains the same as that for a statement under the Education Act 1996. Therefore, it is expected that all those who have a statement and who would have continued to have one under the current system, will be transferred to an EHC plan – no-one should lose their statement and not have it replaced with an EHC plan simply because the system is changing.

The SSEN/EHCP specifies the support and provision the child needs, often additional support, (specialist staff, time to modify and prepare resources, individual support in class, equipment and specific training, e.g. Braille training or touch typing) which can not be provided from within the school’s resources. SSENs/EHCPs are legal documents so the school must provide all the support identified.


A wide variety of specialist staff may be involved with VI children. They can include

The SENCO (SEN co-ordinator)

Teaching assistant (TA) or learning support/individual needs assistant (LSA/INA)

Qualified teacher of visually impaired pupils (QTVI)


Braille or touchtyping trainers

Mobility or habilitation officers


Educational psychologists