We work across both Dorset Council and BCP Council areas and can offer advice and support to:
- children and young people
- schools and colleges
- multi-agency and other professionals
The aim of any specialist support and advice is to improve access and positively influence outcomes for children and young people with vision impairment (VI).
As identified by the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research(VICTAR) mission statement we value:
Through education, through research and through access to appropriate resources, the barriers to learning and participation that may be experienced by people with VI can be better understood and reduced’.
The RNIB say that:
‘Qualified teachers of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVI) play a crucial role in the development and education of blind and partially sighted learners’.
Involvement from a QTVI should begin as early as possible.
For those who have conditions identified from birth or soon after, it is important a specialist teacher is involved from the outset. Home visits are part of the normal working practice of a QTVI for very young children and until the child attends a nursery or school setting, when visits will then take place in the chosen setting.
For those diagnosed later, or with conditions that cause a progressive deterioration in vision, this involvement at an early stage, is just as important.
Equal access to education and developing personal agency
The role of the QTVI is not just about immediate access and support in the present, but equally about preparing the CYP with VI for life after school.
The role and involvement of the QTVI may change over time. Initially, the focus will be on intervention which promotes Access to Learning, but as a child develops and gets older, this focus moves to aiming to increase their independence and teaching them how they themselves can access resources and the wider community (Learning to Access).
When we talk about ‘access’ we need to remember that whilst this includes schooling and education (including training for other professional colleagues), there is a wider reaching element to this. Access and participation in social activities, wider community and support with social and emotional development, form part of the role of the QTVI.
Collaborative work with the Habilitation Specialists, within a team, means that CYP with VI have specialist teaching from professionals trained to deliver specific support and intervention. Whilst the QTVI may have an overview of this support, they will not always be directly involved in the teaching and ongoing assessment. Professionals such as Habilitation Specialists and Keyboarding Tutors, will take the lead in their areas of expertise.
The QTVI as an Agent of Change (McLinden et al)
Compared to other specialist support, which might involve a one off intervention or period of support, the role of the QTVI is different in that involvement can often be from 0 years into adulthood and for some individuals up to the age of 25. This support is ongoing and whilst frequency and intensity may fluctuate according to need at a specific time, the QTVI should remain involved in supporting CYP with VI.
As an Agent of Change, the QTVI is primarily concerned with acting as a bridge between the learner and their learning environments, mediating interactions and identifying next steps. The overall aim remains the same - a CYP with VI reaches their full potential and becomes increasingly independent. They develop self-advocacy skills which allow them to be confident adults, able to access and succeed in the world of work and in their wider community.