Vision Support Service
Warwickshire Local Authority has commissioned Exhall Grange to lead and manage their specialist teaching service for pupils with a visual impairment. The overarching aim of the Vision Support Service is to enable children and young people with visual impairments ‘the opportunity to be equal and the right to be different.’
The Vision Support Service provides support for children and young people with a visual impairment from birth to 19 years of age in a variety of educational settings. We provide support for babies within the home and work in nurseries and pre-school settings, mainstream and special schools. We support the Local Authority in carrying out its statutory functions and responsibilities in relation to children and young people with a visual impairment.
The Vision Support Service is staffed by Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired (QTVI). We currently employ 2.9 FTE Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired:-
• Faye Commander is the Lead Consultant Teacher and manages the service, and works 3 days a week (in addition, she works for Exhall Grange Specialist School one day a week as their lead VI teacher)
• Luci Geapin – full time • Helen Newman – 4 days per week • Marie Smith – 1 day per week • Dawn Vickerstaff – 2 days per week • Jane Sanderson – Strategic Lead
We also have a teaching assistant on secondment from Exhall Grange School for 2 days per week. Once your child has been assessed and placed on the VSS caseload you will be allocated a named QTVI.
For enquires about a referral contact:- email@example.com or telephone 024 76 364200 to speak to someone.
There are a variety of ways to make a referral.
• Referrals are taken from parents/carers, health, or education
• Telephone IDS (Kings House) 024 76 368811 or IDS (Saltisford) on 01926 413737 and provide as much detail as you can. These are entered onto the central IDS record system and shared with VSS team. Please make sure that you have parents’ permission before making a referral
• A hospital referral form is also in place so that consultants can refer to us directly
• OR contact Faye Commander, Lead Consultant Teacher firstname.lastname@example.org
Following on from referral and assessment pupils are taken onto the VSS caseload if…
• They have a diagnosed visual impairment
• Distance vision of 6/18 or worse
• Near vision requiring font size 18 or worse
• Reduced visual field
• A degenerative eye condition
• A clinical diagnosis of nystagmus
NATSIP criteria is used to help inform support levels from an allocated QTVI. Support in schools takes a variety of forms such as:-
• Completing functional vision assessments
• Providing reports for school and parents
• Statutory advice for statements and EHCP
• Training of Teaching Assistants
• VI Awareness training for pupils and staff
• Supporting the use of low vision aids
• Supporting with specialist equipment and ICT
• Environmental audits and advice
• Advising on curriculum access
• Examination/SATs access
• Resources to support learning
• Advising on the best way to prepare materials to suit pupil need
• Braille teaching
• Mobility and Independence skills
Mobility support for pupils with a visual impairment is purchased by VSS from the mobility team at Exhall Grange Specialist School.
Pupils are referred for mobility by the QTVI working with your child, if they feel that your child needs additional support with moving about safely. A decision about mobility input will be based upon the severity of your child’s vision loss and their ability to manage the environment. A short block of mobility skills training may include:
• Learning safe routes around school • Sighted guide techniques • Cane skills • Road safety • Use of public transport • Transition to a new setting • Parent mobility skills workshops
Support for Parents
We believe strongly in supporting parents to maximise their child’s full potential. Support can take many forms from a phone call, a visit, a report, to sign posting you to other agencies and charities.
• Provide home visits, especially to support babies and Early Years
• Support families with a new diagnosis
• Attend Early Support meetings
• Facilitate Parent Groups such as Stay and Play at EGS
• Support at some hospital visits and clinics
• Provide a variety of written reports and details on child’s vision, curriculum access, progress etc.
• Attend annual reviews and other educational support meetings
• Provide feedback from a school visit or assessment
• Signpost parents to activities or support from other agencies or charities
Specialist Equipment & LVAs
The Vision Support Service has established good links with hospitals within Warwickshire. A low vision aid clinic has been established at UCHW and at Stratford Hospital. Referrals are made to the clinic through your child’s QTVI. The clinic provides a range of low vision aids, such as handheld magnifiers or monocular telescopes to improve independent learning.
Some pupils with a severe visual impairment benefit greatly from using specialist equipment in school to support their learning. This can range from equipment to support the learning of braille, to more specialist magnifiers, such as the Prodigi. Applications can be made by your QTVI to the Disability Access Fund to purchase such items where appropriate.
Recommendations for ensuring access to the curriculum are also given to schools. Details of how to provide adaptations such as large print materials, sloping desk tops, adapted exercise books, specialist measuring equipment etc. are provided alongside a child’s functional vision assessment.
This is a list of useful resources and links to websites which you may find useful
Guide Dogs – grant application for VI to access Technology for use at home – here
Throughout the year various events are organised to support families of children with visual impairment. Details will be posted here as they arise.
RNIB events and family activities – link here.