University of Edinburgh

Promoting social inclusion of pupils with visual impairment in
mainstream schools in Scotland

Appendix IV Draft Guidelines for Practitioners to promote social inclusion of visually impaired pupils in mainstream schools

These guidelines have been compiled from a number of sources including the interviews with pupils, parents and staff, literature and development/awareness training materials. These guidelines concentrate on issues of social inclusion and are based on the assumption that access to the curriculum has been realised. The aim of the guidelines is to equip practitioners, pupils with a visual impairment and their peers, with strategies to promote positive social interactions. These guidelines will be further developed during a seminar organised by the Scottish Sensory Centre in June 2002.

These guidelines have worked for particular people in particular circumstances – there is no ‘blueprint’ for social inclusion which will be suitable, appropriate or successful in every situation, so we encourage councils, staff of schools and sensory services to adapt and innovate in order to:


  1. Provide specific social skills training for pupils with visual impairment; including analysis and discussion of social situations and use of role-play.
  2. Provide opportunities for awareness raising and discussion of social inclusion issues for sighted peers.
  3. Provide regular training and updates for class and subject teachers.
  4. Provide playground space/structures that are easily identifiable and accessible.
  5. Organise area clubs/workshops for pupils with a visual impairment to meet each other (eg; Kids Together Club).


  1. Provide opportunities to develop mobility and independent living skills in and around the school.
  2. Ensure that pupils with a visual impairment get the opportunity to meet with others who have a visual impairment (via clubs, RNIB weekends and internet access)
  3. Provide opportunities from an early age for pupils with a visual impairment to develop body awareness and suppleness through appropriate physical activities.
  4. Encourage the inclusion of pupils with a visual impairment in playground games and activities.
  5. Support social ‘transition’ between primary and secondary schools using strategies such as ensuring that pupils meet up with future peers before the summer holidays and using or introducing a ‘buddy’ system.
  6. Help create ‘circles of friends’ for particular pupils to provide support for attending school disco’s, dances, etc. (see Newton & Wilson 1999).
  7. Use seating arrangements and group activities in class proactively to enhance social experiences.
  8. Encourage and support pupils with a visual impairment to describe/explain what can and can’t be seen and the implications of this.
  9. Facilitate discussions about appropriate behaviour and language in different circumstances – not just about what teachers and parents think should be said and done!!
  10. Ensure that anti-bullying policies are in place with strategies to support pupils who are bullied (eg: Anti bullying network, FAB - Friends against bullying, etc).
  11. Facilitate the participation of pupils with a visual impairment in, for example, buddy schemes (as buddies themselves and as those to be buddied), school councils, and lunch clubs.