Are there special schools in Swindon for visually impaired children?
No. Children and young people who have a visual impairment are, wherever possible, educated in their local mainstream school.
Swindon Vision Support Service provides specialist advice and support to all Swindon schools attended by VI children and young people.
What happens when children and young people are referred to Swindon Vision Support Service?
The Advisory Teacher for Visual Impairment will arrange a home visit to talk to parents about their child’s eye condition, to give information that may help them and to discuss the frequency of any future visits. During each visit the Advisory Teacher will carry out an informal assessment of the child or young person’s functional vision and will offer advice on ways in which parents can help their child.
Parents are given verbal advice, which is summarised in regular Records of Visit. A Developmental Journal for Babies and Children with Visual Impairment will be provided which contains useful guidance and activities to promote the use of vision.
As children approach school age, the Advisory Teacher will visit the proposed school to give information and advice to school staff.
School–age children and young people
The Advisory Teacher will arrange, with parents’ permission, to visit the child or young person at school in order to carry out an assessment of their functional vision, including a classroom observation.
This assessment will be summarised in a report, which will be sent to the school and copied to parents.
In both cases the child or young person will then, with parents’ or carers permission, be referred for an assessment of their mobility needs if appropriate.
How is progress monitored?
Members of the team visit the child or young person at school to ensure they have access to the curriculum and in some cases, specialist Teaching Assistants are based within the school to provide braille teaching and resources.
Will my child need to have a Statement of Special Educational Needs?
Children and young people who have a severe visual impairment may need to undergo a full statutory assessment of their needs. This may lead to a Statement.
Many children who have a visual impairment receive the support and equipment they require without the need for a Statement. Their needs will be monitored by the school and SVSS. As the children progress, their needs may change as the curriculum becomes more demanding, and a full statutory assessment may become necessary.
This procedure is set to change in 2014 under new laws being brought in by the Government. A new system of Education & Health Care Plan will be introduced.
What does mobility and independent skills training mean?
It is a one-to-one service provided by professionals who aim to support the child or young person, parents and school to maximise their independence whether that be learning to brush their teeth or to travel independently on a bus.
The team working jointly with the Advisory Teacher to recognise the importance of academic, social and emotional well-being, self-esteem, independence and confidence.
For further details please follow this link: Habilitation.
What if my child needs special equipment?
Small hand-held magnifiers are usually prescribed and supplied by the Low Vision Aid clinic at the Great Western Hospital.
Equipment is for use at school and, if small and transportable, also for home use. Swindon Vision Support Service does not provide large items of equipment for home use.
What if my child or young person is blind and needs to learn braille?
Children and young people who are blind are taught by specialist teaching assistants to read and write using braille. The protocol for the teaching of braille to children and young people can be found by following this link: Braille.
Are there any support groups in Swindon?
There are opportunities for parents and carers, VI children and young people to meet each other and share their experiences. Currently we offer:
- Annual Access Activity Day at the County Ground (the chance to try different sports)
- Annual Access Activity Day at the Link Centre (as above, but indoors)
- Twice to three times yearly Eye Spy Club (a group of children and young people who are visually impaired)
Actionnaires – this is a group for the visually impaired who meet about once every month. The activities on offer are varied and can be local or further afield. For example, the events include a trip to the Ten Pin Bowling at Shaw Ridge and a Drama Workshop at the RNIB offices in Bristol.
The contact for Actionnaires is Vivienne Mills on 07872 197314.