University of Edinburgh

Scottish Sensory Centre: 10 Years On


Over the years the staff of the SSC have collaborated with and worked in partnership with schools and services for sensory impairment. Academic staff of SSC have formed strong and active links with a range of groups including voluntary and charitable organisations. Staff may operate within these organisations, eg, as member of the Management Committee of the Scottish Council on Deafness, to help develop policy and improve services.

The Forum of Heads of Schools and Services which meets three times a year and is serviced by the SSC has enabled these managers of large or small organisations to keep up with and be proactive about developments which affect the services they provide.

Working collaboratively over a period of several years with a group of experts from the area of deafblind education resulted in the publication of “Teaching Children who are Deafblind: contact, communication and learning” (Aitken, S, Buultjens, M, Clark, C, Eyre, J T, Pease, L, 2000).

A new Cerebral Palsy/Visual Impairment (CPVI) group has been established as a result of an SSC course in 2000-01. It is developing guidelines and textual material to enable parents and multidisciplinary groups to understand each other and provide the best services for children with these impairments.

Partnerships with other groups have resulted in joint conferences (eg, with the National Deaf Children’s Society: Current Issues in Paediatric Audiology) or courses (eg, Tuning into BSL with Edinburgh and East of Scotland Deaf Society). They may also result in joint initiatives, for example in relation to removing barriers to deaf persons entering the teaching profession.

The Deaf Studies Working Party, which again developed from an SSC course, is made up of deaf and hearing professionals from within education. The Working Party, which is supported by the SSC, has developed a draft 5-14 Curriculum in relation to Deaf Studies and is liaising with Learning and Teaching Scotland on further developments.

International Links, Contributions and Visitors

Membership of the following groups has enabled SSC academic staff to contribute internationally.

  • The Comenius group on Low Vision in Early Intervention for children with multiple disability and visual impairment circulated and analysed a questionnaire on Low Vision in Early Intervention to 30 European countries; ran a course on the Core Curriculum for those working in early intervention with young multiply disabled blind children; has produced a CD-ROM with the structure and content and additional materials for a Core Curriculum for professionals working with this group of children.
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind Association Leonardo Project Advisory Group. This project was preparing distance learning material for Low Vision training which is now available in mixed-mode format internationally.
  • The European Community SMILE project involves a collaboration amongst several different European countries, the Scottish Interactive Technology Centre (SITC) based in the Faculty of Education, University of Edinburgh and SSC. This has focused on the development of multi-media resources, using both sign languages and the written form of spoken languages to facilitate the development of literacy in deaf children and adults. Deaf young people in Scotland and teachers of deaf children have been involved in evaluating the materials and have found them very helpful.
  • The European Science Foundation Intersign Seminar series which focus on the grammar of sign languages.

Swedish visitors

Swedish visitors to the Centre

japanese visitors

Japanese visitors to the Centre

Papers given at International Conferences

SSC academic staff have been invited to give papers at conferences in the following countries: Thailand, Brazil, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, The Netherlands, and USA.