University of Edinburgh

Supporting VI children and young people in a mainstream school

Presented on Wednesday 16 September 2009

Case study: Introducing a blind child in mainstream

Sandra Murdoch
South Ayrshire Children & Community
Visul Impairment Service

Central Peripatetic Support Services

  • English as an Additional Language
  • Visual Impairment
  • Early Years Home Visiting
  • Language & Communication Disorder
  • Gypsy/Travellers

Visual Impairment Service

  • Who offers this service?
  • Who are the clients?
  • Where is the service provided?

Referral System

Referrals to the Service can be made by:

  • NHS staff
  • Psychological Services
  • Schools
  • Parents

To whom should the referral be made?

Senior Manager for Additional Support Needs,
Children & Community, County Buildings, Ayr KA7 1DR

The Main Aims of the Service

To provide support and guidance to all visually impaired children and young people, their parents and teachers in order to minimise the effects of the pupil's impairment on their development.

To maximise access to the learning environment and school curriculum to allow pupils to achieve equality of educational opportunity.

Inclusion of a blind child in a mainstream primary


  • The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
    Places a duty on the authority to identify and address the needs of all children.

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
    States that all children and young people hae the right of access to the curriculum and school environment.

  • Curriculum for Excellence
    Enable teachers to tailor their teaching to meet the particular needs of their own pupils and to focus on enriching the learning experience for all pupils making them
    • successful learners
    • effective contributors
    • responsible citizens
    • confident individuals

Integration or inclusion?

  • Integration -
    physically locating pupils, who have experienced barriers to learning in a school and expecting them to adapt to their surroundings - the child has to fit the establishment.

  • Inclusion -
    focuses on the establishment and the identification of any necessary changes which will help to minimise the barriers to learning.

What is inclusion?

  • An ongoing process of embedding the principles of social justice, equality and fairness within the culture of a school.

  • Removal or minimising of barriers to learning so that every child or young person can become a
    • successful learner
    • confident individual
    • responsible citizen and
    • effective contributor

Definition of an Inclusive School

A school where:

  • All pupils are valued.
  • Educators normalist difference through differentiated instruction.
  • The school culture reflects an ethic of caring and community.

Good practice - Initial Planning

Holistic Assessment of the child/young person

  • Mobility skills
  • Self-help skills
  • Social skills
  • Listening skills
  • Pre-reading skills - medium

Leads to:

  • Appropriate placement
  • An appropriate Individual Educational Programme and Support Plan

Risk Assessment of the school environment -

  • Access to the building - steps, stairs, corridors etc.
  • Adaptations to the building and the practicality of such - lighting, handrails, blinds, lifts, level surfaces etc.
  • Classroom layout.

Sharing of child's needs -

Whole school - general needs of the child

Class teacher - more specific

  • implications of the eye condition
  • coping strategies for the child
  • manage the child in the class and wider school
  • how the child can access the curriculum
  • how to adapt teaching methods to include child

Frequent visits to school during pre-school year.

Resources -

  • School/visual impairment service
  • Curricular materials - early identification
  • Staffing - Class teacher / Visual Impairment Staff / ASN support

Clear roles and responsibilities.

Braille reading and writing choices

  • Braille Grade 1/Grade 2
  • StoryWorld readers versus Braille for Infants

Good Practice - ongoing planning

Plans should be prepared and shared between class and VI teahcers, support assistants and pupil / young person

  • Coordinated Support Plan
  • Individual Education Plan
  • Support Plan - VI Service
  • Class teacher weekly / termly planners

Evaluation of all of the above.

Visual Impairment Teacher


  • IT Training - Touch typing, computer skills, text/screen readers, audio files (MP3)
  • Braille tuition - Grade 1 and Grade 2
  • Tactile diagram training
  • Early orientation and mobility skills

Preparation of adapted class materials: braille, tactile materials and audio resources.

Good Practice

  • CPD
    • Staff awareness raising - whole school
    • Braille training - Pupil Support Assistant, School staff
  • Pupil Awareness Raising - whole school
    • Assembly
    • Health Week
  • Mobility / Orientation

Awareness raising - Pupils

Can include activities with blindfold: toys, different textures, different objects, art materials, sighted guide leading round the classroom.

Requisite for a successful inclusion of a blind child

  • Commitment from all those involved in the experience
  • Collaborative working and planning
  • Staff and pupil awareness raising
  • Early identification of resources for adaptation
  • Regular reviewing and evaluation of the whole process

Inclusive activities: using a Perkins Brailler, music making activities, class phonics, fun in the gym, sportsability.

Breaktimes: hoops, spacehoppers


A successful inclusion of a blind child or young person into a mainstream school must be a collaborative process, shared by the authority, the school, the family and the blind child with the support of a good visual impairment service.

South Ayrshire Visually Impaired Children


  • To provide a support network for parents of visually impaired children.
  • To allow visually impaired children the opportunity to meet others with a visual impairment.
  • To provide opportunities for this group of children to socialise and have fun.