Difficulties with vision take many forms with widely differing implications for a pupil's education. They range from relatively minor and remediable conditions to total blindness. Some children are born blind or vision impaired whilst others lose their sight as a result of accident or illness. In some cases vision impairment is one aspect of a complex combination of needs.
The identification of the impact on access to education will relate to the degree of functional vision and the pupil's ability to adapt socially and psychologically.
When considering the level of vision impairment the SEND-Teaching Support Team makes an assessment of functional vision, which includes measuring visual acuity. This assessment does not replace a clinical assessment. It provides information with regard to access to education at a specific time in a child's life. The level of visual acuity given for a child does not necessarily indicate that a child requires statutory assessment.
Distance vision is measured and expressed as a fraction denoting the size of print on a Snellen chart seen at distance, with corrected vision, using both eyes. Other assessments can also be used to determine visual acuity.
- 6/6 the child sees at 6 metres that which is normal to see at that distance (normal vision)
- 6/12 the child sees at 6 metres that which is normal to see at 12 metres (vision required for driving)
- 6/18 the child sees at 6 metres that which is normal to see at 18 metres (impaired vision)
The Functional Vision Assessment will determine the level of required intervention to enable them access to the curriculum and includes assessments on:
- distance vision
- near vision
- contrast sensitivity
- peripheral vision
- facial recognition distances
- colour sensitivity assessments
Other available support which could address the educational impact of some types of vision impairment includes:
- mobility and Independence Assessments
Support regarding classroom access, including:
- advice and support on classroom equipment
- advice on changes to the classroom environment
- vision perception
- vision stimulation programmes
- touch typing
- access technology including software and eBooks
The SEND Teaching Support Team could also provide:
- Access to a Qualified Teacher of the Vision Impaired, a Specialist Independence and Mobility/Rehabilitation Officer and a Qualified Sensory Higher Level Teaching Assistant
- Pre-school, home based programmes and qualified Early Support personnel
- Advice and support to families, settings and schools, including residential settings where necessary, and Inspira at transition with regard to access to teaching and learning
- INSET to settings regarding a variety of strategies including changes to the classroom environment, curriculum advice, equipment discussions and provide appropriate monitoring advice. A fee may be charged for this service.
- The expectation is that placement for all children and young people with a vision impairment will be in their local school, including those registered blind. Many children with Severe Learning Difficulties will also have a vision impairment
If parents or a setting have any concerns please contact the SEND-Teaching Support Team for advice.