University of Edinburgh
 

VIScotland Parent Guide to Mainstream Visual Impairment Education

What preparations should be made for my child?

Whether your visually impaired child is starting Nursery, Primary or Secondary school, there are a number of issues to be considered which may assist with his transition to the new environment. We have attempted to start you off with some important questions to ask your chosen school. These are intended as a tool for parents to work together with teaching professionals in the interests of the visually impaired learner. Please remember that each child has his own very specific needs and therefore, this list should only be used as a guide! Once again we have broken them into 3 sections so that you can access the information that is most relevant to you and your child.

i) Pre-school stage

My child and the curriculum

  1. Will my child manage with the mainstream Nursery/Playgroup curriculum or should an Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) be used to teach him at a more suitable pace?
  2. Will a specialist Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) be providing additional support to my child and the Nursery/ Playgroup?
  3. What specialist visual impairment awareness training will be given to the Nursery/Playgroup staff?
  4. Will a classroom assistant/SEN auxiliary be necessary while my child attends the Nursery/Playgroup?
  5. What additional teaching resources can be used to help my child within the Nursery/Playgroup? - Brightly coloured toys; soft play; scented pens, etc.

The Nursery/Playgroup environment

  1. Is the classroom layout a safe environment for my visually impaired child? Is the room uncluttered, with no square-edge surfaces, etc?
  2. Where will my child sit in the classroom? - At the front, side, with his back to the window? Will demonstrations, blackboard work, videos, live performances, be made accessible to my child?
  3. How will inadequate or bright lighting affect my child in the Nursery/Playgroup classroom? Perhaps angle-poise lamps could improve poor lighting or maybe blinds could be fitted in bright rooms?

Other issues to consider

  1. Will special transport arrangements be necessary to gel my child to and from the Nursery/Playgroup?
  2. Will my child be able to obtain physical access to the school? Will it be necessary to have adaptations such as ramps, lifts, stair-lifts fitted?
  3. Does the Nursery/Playgroup have access to a safe and evenly surfaced play area? Will assistance be required to allow my child freedom to play and to prevent accidents?
  4. What preparations have been made in the event of a fire and at break-times?
  5. Will my child be fully involved in Nursery/Playgroup trips, sporting events, activities etc?
  6. Will the Nursery/Playgroup make a special effort to help my visually impaired child make friends?
  7. What additional preparations will be made to ease my child's transition to Primary school?

ii) Primary school stage

As with Nursery provision, your child should progress easily with an appropriate level of support as and when required. You may wish to explore the following issues.

My child and the curriculum

  1. Will my child manage with the mainstream 5-14 curriculum or should an Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) be used to teach him at a more suitable pace, with necessary adaptations to the course?
  2. Will a specialist Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) be providing additional support to my child and the Primary school?
  3. Will specialist visual impairment awareness training be given to the Primary school staff, in particular my child's classroom teacher?
  4. How will my child access the 5-14 Curriculum? Will he learn to read with ordinary text, use Large Print, or learn through an alternative medium such as Braille, audio-tape or Moon? Will he be provided with specialist technology such as a computer, video magnifier?
  5. Will a classroom assistant/SEN auxiliary be necessary within class time to assist my child with class work?
  6. What additional teaching resources can be used to help my child within the classroom? - talking calculators, large print books, dictionaries, etc.

The classroom environment

  1. Is the classroom layout a safe environment for my visually impaired child? Is it easy to move around? Should the other children be made aware of my child's visual impairment so that they show consideration; keep the class tidy, etc?
  2. Where should my child sit in class? - At the front, side, with back to the window? Will demonstrations, blackboard work, videos, live performances, be made accessible to my child?
  3. How will inadequate or bright lighting affect my child in the classroom? Perhaps angle-poise lamps could improve poor lighting or maybe blinds could be fitted in bright rooms?
  4. Will special transport arrangements be necessary to get my child to and from school?
  5. Will my child be able to obtain physical access to the whole school? Will it be necessary to have adaptations such as ramps, lifts, stair-lifts fitted?
  6. Does the school have access to a safe and evenly surfaced play area?
  7. Could improved signage be of benefit to my child's mobility in and around the school environs?
  8. What route-finding strategies have been implemented to enable my child to find his way around the school?
  9. What consideration has been given to colour contras in corridors, stairwells and doorways in the Primary school? Can improvements in lighting and blinds help?

Other relevant questions

  1. Should additional support be provided at Intervals and lunchtimes for my visually impaired child? Will an SEN auxiliary be necessary at these times?
  2. How fully will my child be involved in school trips, extra-curricular activities, school clubs and organisations?
  3. What social inclusion strategies will be in place to help my child make friends?

ii) Secondary school stage

When a visually impaired child reaches secondary school age, the requirement for considerable forward planning is extremelyimportant. Secondary education brings not only greater academic demands, but also the need for preparation for adulthood. The school is larger; the number of pupils may be far greater and the children will have to move from class to class. This challenge will be even more problematic for the visually impaired adolescent. To ensure that your child will receive an appropriate level of support you may wish to consider the following areas.

My child and the curriculum

  1. Will my child manage with the mainstream secondary school curriculum or should an Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) be used to teach him at a more suitable pace, with necessary adaptations to the course?
  2. Will a specialist Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) be providing regular, additional support to my child and the Secondary school?
  3. What specialist visual impairment awareness training will be given to the whole school staff, in particular my child's subject teachers? Will disability/visual impairment awareness training be extended to the school pupils as part of their Personal and Social Development (PSD) programme?
  4. How will my child achieve access to the Secondary school curriculum? - Will he learn through the use of ordinary text, Large Print, Braille, Audio-tape or Moon? If my child uses an alternative format, how will subject teachers access his class work?
  5. Will my child be provided with specialist technology such as a lap-top computer, video magnifier, Braille note-taker, for use in class?
  6. Will a classroom assistant/SEN auxiliary be necessary to assist my child with class work during class time?
  7. What additional teaching resources can be used to help my child within the classroom? Low Vision Aids (LV A's) such as telescopes, magnifiers; talking calculators; large print books, talking dictionaries, etc?
  8. How will my visually impaired child access more difficult areas of the curriculum, such as; PE, Technical Studies and Home Economics?

The classroom environment

  1. Is the classroom layout a safe environment for my visually impaired child? Is it easy to move around the school? Should the other children be made aware of my child's visual impairment so that they show consideration; keep the class tidy, etc?
  2. Where should my child sit in class? - At the front, side, with back to the window? Will demonstrations, blackboard work, videos, live performances, be made accessible to my child?
  3. How will inadequate or bright lighting affect my child in the classroom? Perhaps angle-poise lamps could improve poor lighting or maybe blinds could be fitted in bright rooms?

Accessibility throughout the whole school?

  1. Will special transport arrangements be necessary to get my child to and from school?
  2. Will my child be able to obtain physical access to the whole school? Will it be necessary to have adaptations such as ramps, lifts, stair-lifts fitted?
  3. Does the school have access to a safe and even play area?
  4. What route-finding strategies have been implemented to enable my child to find his way around the school? Should mobility education be given in the weeks/months prior to my child starting Secondary school?
  5. Could improved signage be of benefit to my child's mobility in and around the school environs?
  6. What consideration has been given to colour contrast in corridors, stairwells and doorways in the Secondary school? Can improvements in lighting and blinds help?

Other relevant Questions

  1. Will special exam arrangements be available for my child? Will this consider the provision of extra-time, adapted papers, readers, scribes?
  2. Should additional support be provided at Intervals and lunchtime for my child? - Will an SEN auxiliary be necessary at these times?
  3. How fully will my child be involved in extra-curricular activities? Will he be able to attend excursions, discos, school shows, clubs and organisations?
  4. What social inclusion strategies will be in place to help my child make friends at Secondary school?