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Vision Impairment Team

Staffordshire County Council services

The Vision Impairment Team is part of the Specialist Support Service and we support children and young people aged 0-25 with a diagnosed vision impairment at home, in early years settings, mainstream and special schools. This support can continue into Further Education. (Please refer to Post 16 section below for FE - Further Education Offer criteria.)

Qualified and experienced Specialist Teachers of the Vision Impaired, Mobility Officers, Intervenors (who work with children and young people with sensory impairments with additional needs) and Communication Support Workers (Specialist Teaching Assistants) work in partnership with parents/carers, teachers and other professionals to provide support to each individual. 

The video below gives an overview of living with sightloss.

Who we are

Teacher of the Vision Impaired

These are qualified teachers who have undertaken specialist training to obtain the mandatory qualification for teachers of children and young people with a vision impairment MEd/Postgraduate Diploma.

They are responsible for the management of a caseload of children and young people with vision impairment across the age range 0-25 in both mainstream and special schools.

Communication Support Worker

These are specialist teaching assistants who have undertaken specialist training in visual impairment. They work for the service for the vision impaired but are based in school with the children and young people. We also have Communication Support Workers that teach ICT- general skills, keyboard shortcuts, speech and magnification software.

Intervenor

These are specialist Communication Support Workers who work in homes and in special schools, they work with children and young people with vision and multi sensory impairments.

Mobility Officer

We have two mobility practitioners offering support and training who deliver mobility and life skills for independent living. They work as part of a team delivering a high quality mobility service including environment assessments, orientation and mobility.

Talk Time Co-ordinator

The Talk Time Co-ordinator provides an opportunity to explore emotional worries and concerns with an experienced Specialist Teacher of the Visually Impaired who also has counselling skills training.

Resource and IT Technician

We have an ICT Technician trained in the use of assistive technology. Our ICT technician also maintains our service laptops and computers.

VI Role Model

We employ an adult with vision implairment who visits pupils in school and gives advice and training on assistive technology. He promotes a positive Blind identity.

What we do

Our aim is to provide appropriate support for inclusion.  Input is designed to ensure that the specific needs of each individual are met.  Careful assessment is made and the level and type of support is reviewed regularly.

Support may include:

  • visiting homes, pre-school groups, nurseries, schools and colleges.
  • providing advice, information and support to parents/carers and professionals.
  • offering training to the setting.
  • assessing and monitoring functional vision.
  • providing advice for teachers on access to the curriculum in mainstream and special schools.
  • teaching of specialist skills: e.g. Braille or Moon.
  • assessing the need for specialist equipment and training in its use.
  • mobility assessment and life skill training.
  • ICT advice and touch typing training.
  • training in the use of low vision aids.
  • specialist advice to Local Authority as part of any assessment process such as Education Health and Care Plans.
  • providing opportunities for sensory impaired students to access activities and to meet together. 

How can I access the service?

We accept referrals primarily from health agencies but also from parents/carers, schools and other agencies but always with reference to medical advice regarding vision loss.

What happens when I become an adult? / Post 16 Support

Specialist Support Service (SSS) Further Education (FE) Offer

(SSS comprises the following teams: Hearing Impairment, Vision Impairment, Autism Outreach and ASSIST)

This offer is for learners moving into FE colleges / apprenticeships at 16+.

Requests should be made directly into the Specialist Support Service office or via ASSIST (Autism and Sensory Support in Staffordshire).

Provision varies according to whether a young person has an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) or is receiving support as part of the Graduated Response.

Learners who have an EHCP which is maintained by Staffordshire County Council.

Learners who have an EHCP that identifies specific Hearing Impairment / Vision Impairment / Autism provision, will be eligible to access specialist teacher advice for transition and for statutory reviews.  This support is centrally commissioned by Staffordshire County Council [SCC].

Specialist Teacher statutory support may include:

  • Assessment of need as part of an Education, Health and Care Plan Needs Assessment [EHCNA] where agreed by SCC.
  • Report writing to inform EHCNA.
  • Review, attendance and advice at EHCP Annual Review meetings.  This will include the annual review prior to transition into post-16 provision. 
  • Where there is a significant change to the planned post-16 course programme, timetable or setting, further specialist teacher advice will be offered by the Service to the SEND Assessment and Planning Team in relation to appropriate support / provision and this may include one visit to the student or education provider post transfer.

Where the FE provider does not currently employ specialist staff to provide the support identified within a student’s EHCP, the Specialist Support Service and/or ASSIST may be able to provide this upon request. This support will be charged to the education provider, so the provider will need to apply for the appropriate FE funding to cover this.

Support may include:

  • Awareness training.
  • Specialist teaching support e.g. tutorials, language support, ICT access and specialist mentoring.
  • Specialist Mobility and Orientation Officers.
  • Communication Support Workers.
  • British Sign Language Interpreters.
  • Lip-speakers.
  • Note-takers.
  • Translation and transcription, including braille, moon, audio description.

Other than for statutory transition support and reviews, assessors and course providers need to check availability before naming members of the SSS teams in documentation. 

Learners who have identified needs at the Graduated Response Level

Where learners require assessment or support as part of the graduated response, this may be purchased from the Specialist Support Service or ASSIST if there is capacity. 

Support may include:

  • Awareness training.
  • Guidance on Assess, Plan, Do, Review.
  • Specialist teaching support e.g. tutorials, language support, ICT access and specialist mentoring.
  • Specialist Mobility and Orientation Officers.
  • Communication Support Workers.
  • British Sign Language Interpreters.
  • Lip-speakers.
  • Note-takers.
  • Translation and transcription, including braille, moon, audio description.

Assessors and course providers need to check availability before naming any of the SSS teams for support. 

Specialist Access Technology

Specialist access technology; e.g. radio aids, braillers, embossers can be provided, and the Specialist Support Service has a loan agreement for the education provider. There is a cost to this Service and the agreement will include advice, set up and routine maintenance. 

Parental Feedback

Below are just a few positive comments from parents about the service that we provide.

  • My child has been previously in a different VI service catchment area and the services that we have received from Staffordshire County Council VI are far more superior at all levels.

  • Always supportive, act on any issues, efficiently and promptly and feedback always given. Training school staff was excellent.

  • Regular support in place with an excellent understanding of my sons’ needs.

  • Child has made progress in terms of learning new things and becoming independent.

  • Child’s VI Teachers have always been excellent. I know exactly how to get hold of them and always feel confident in their support to us and our family. We value their input greatly.

Useful Links

Action for Blind People                                                                                              

Action for Blind People is a national charity that provides free and confidential support for blind and partially sighted people in all aspects of their lives. One call to Action ensures that visually impaired people receive help with anything from finding a job, applying for benefits, housing issues, aids and adaptations, holiday breaks or information on local services. We can also offer advice to people who have a visually impaired friend or family member. Whatever the need, Action can help: Action for Blind People

Blind Children UK (formerly National Blind Children’s Society)

Blind Children UK helps children and their families tackle the challenges of young sight loss so that they can enjoy their childhood and realise their potential as adults: Brent Council - Blind Children UK (formerly National Blind Children’s Society)

Clear Vision Project

ClearVision is a postal lending library of children's books designed to be shared by visually impaired and sighted children and adults: Clearvision Project

Guide Dogs UK Charity for the Blind and Partially Sighted

Guide Dogs provides a wide range of services for children and young people, including mobility and life skills, large print books and grants for specialist technology. And we're here for the whole family, providing support and advice on a range of issues, including education: Guide Dogs UK Charity For The Blind And Partially Sighted

National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP)

NatSIP, the National Sensory Impairment Partnership is a partnership of organisations working together to improve outcomes for children and young people with sensory impairment: NatSIP - Home

RNIB Bookshare

RNIB Bookshare opens up the world of reading in education for learners with a print-disability, including those with dyslexia or who are blind or partially sighted: UK education collection | RNIB Bookshare, accessible books for print disabled learners.

    RNIB Library

    The RNIB Library is the largest of its kind in the UK.  It's completely free with over 60,000 items in the collection. This website is your gateway to the entire collection in one place: Audio, Braille, Music – there is so much to access, borrow and enjoy: RNIB Library > Home

    Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

    The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is one of the UK’s leading sight loss charities and the largest community of blind and partially sighted people: RNIB - See differently -

    SENSE

    For everyone living with complex disabilities. For everyone who is deafblind. Sense is here to help people communicate and experience the world. We believe that no one, no matter how complex their disabilities, should be isolated, left out, or unable to fulfil their potential: Home | Sense, for people with complex disabilities

    VICTA

    If you are the parent of a child who is blind or partially sighted, or a young adult aged 29 or under who is visually impaired, VICTA is here to help: VICTA – Empowering Children and Young Adults who are Blind or Partially Sighted

    Further Information

    Please see below a list of our Information Leaflets which are available on request:

    V01 - Families - Support and Advice

    V02 - Vision Loss - Teacher Guidelines 

    V03 - Visual Perception - Teacher Guidelines

    V04 - Primary - Teacher Guidelines

    V05 - Secondary - Teacher Guidelines

    V06 - Mobility - Tips for Parents

    V07 - Mobility - School Environment

    V08 - Mobility - Teacher Guidelines

    V09 - Teacher Guidelines - Cerebral Palsy

    V10 - Teacher Guidelines - Down Syndrome

    V11 - Teacher Guidelines - Monocular Vision

    V12 - Teacher Guidelines - Squint

    V13 - Teacher Guidelines - Colour Blindness

    V14 - Talk Time - Listening Service

    V14A - Talk Time - Listening Service Where Next

    V15 - Referral and Permission Form

    V16 - Multi-Sensory Impairment

    V17 - Specialist Support Service - Visual Impairment Team

    If you, or someone you know, would like a copy of these leaflets either in large print, braille, an audio tape or in languages other than English, please contact the Vision Impairment Team by phone on 01785 356830 or by email: sss.service@staffordshire.gov.uk

    Who to contact

    Contact Name
    Samantha Turnbull
    Contact Position
    Head Of Sensory and Autism Outreach Teams
    Telephone
    01785 356830
    E-mail
    sss.service@staffordshire.gov.uk
    Notes

    Donna McNaughton 

    Deputy Head of Sensory (Lead VI)

    01785 356830

    sss.service@staffordshire.gov.uk

    Where to go

    Name
    Specialist Support Service - Vision Impairment Team
    Address
    2 Staffordshire Place
    Tipping Street
    Stafford
    Staffordshire
    Postcode
    ST16 2DH Get Directions (This link opens in a new tab)

    Other Details

    Availability

    Referral required
    Yes
    Last updated: 09 Jun 2021
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