VISION SUPPORT TEAM

The Vision Support Team (VST) provides specialist teaching and support to Children and Young Persons, from birth to age 25, who have an identified vision impairment.  The team work with families, in schools and settings across the Birmingham Authority area to remove barriers to pupil’s learning, social interaction and developing independence.

The team comprises: –

Qualified Teachers of Children and Young People with a Visual Impairment (QTVI) – trained teachers who hold an additional mandatory qualification which enables them to be involved in providing specialist teaching and support to pupils with visual impairment.

Specialist TAs – with extensive knowledge and experience in supporting pupils with low vision and pupils who access their learning through a tactile curriculum.

Reprographics Specialist –support schools with modifying learning resources and work closely with schools to support them to access modified learning resources and equipment.

IT Technicians –who provide support to IT technicians in schools and settings with setting up and maintaining assistive technologies, specialist software and equipment to enable pupils to access their learning.

Habilitation Specialists – have a Habilitation qualification and are involved in working with pupils and families to develop pupil’s strategies to independently and safely navigate their environments.

To find out more about the support provided by the VST please click on the link below:

Specialist Teaching and Support provided by VST:

Which children and young people can be referred for support?

The Vision Support Team takes referrals for Children and Young People aged 0-25 who:

  • have a vision impairment diagnosed by an Ophthalmologist which cannot be corrected through the wearing of glasses or contact lenses
  • display visual difficulties with accessing their learning and are under assessment by an Ophthalmologist and awaiting a diagnosis

Who can refer for support?

Referrals can be made to the Vision Support Team by Ophthalmologists and Orthoptists, other medical professionals, schools, pre-school settings, colleges, other professionals and families.

How do you make a referral?

To refer to the Vision Support Team you will need to:

  • Gain a copy of a medical letter that states the ophthalmic diagnosis or demonstrates that the child/young person is being investigated by a hospital Ophthalmology department for a vision impairment. (This might not be from an Ophthalmologist, but could be a medical letter written by another medical professional, such as a paediatrician. )
  • Send these two forms, along with the copy of the medical letter via secure email (EGRESSED) for the attention of the Lead Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (who is an Assistant Lead with Sensory Support). Please send the email to A2EGeneral@birmingham.gov.uk .

Please be aware that in order for VST to make a prompt response to any referrals, it is essential that we have the following information correct:-

  • Spelling of the child’s full name
  • date of birth
  • address
  • parental phone number
  • name and phone number of the setting/ school.

Click here for more information on the Referral Pathway: Referral Pathway – Follow up

Click here for more information on the Referral Policies: Policy Referrals-Vision Support Team- June 2021

 

 

 

The Vision Support Team (VST) support the needs of pupils with an identified vision impairment from birth to 25 in schools and settings across the Birmingham Authority area.

The team comprises: –

Qualified Teachers of Children and Young People with a Visual Impairment (QTVI) – trained teachers who hold an additional mandatory qualification which enables them to be involved in providing specialist teaching and support to pupils with visual impairment.

Specialist TAs – with extensive knowledge and experience in supporting pupils with low vision and pupils accessing their learning through a tactile curriculum.

Reprographics Specialist – who supports schools with modifying learning resources and works with schools to support their access to learning resources for pupils with visual impairment.

IT Technicians – provide support to IT technicians in schools and settings with setting up and maintaining assistive technologies, specialist software and equipment to enable pupils with visual impairment to access their curriculum learning.

Habilitation Specialists – who hold a Habilitation qualification and are involved in working with pupils and families to develop pupil’s strategies to independently and safely navigating their environments.

The VST team are very aware that during the life of a child/young person with a vision impairment, their specialist needs will change in relation to their visual condition, age, stage of educational development, the demands of the curriculum and their learning, social environment.  The support aims to accommodate these.

Click here for:

Specialist Teaching and Support provided by VST

EARLY YEARS

The Vision Support Team is a team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants who are involved with supporting the needs babies and children with a diagnosed vision impairment from birth onwards.  The team work with children, their families, nurseries and playgroups and provide specialist interventions, teaching and support to minimise the impact of a child’s visual impairment on their development and progress in their pre-school years.

The VST team provide a range of specialist interventions and support to children in their pre-school years including:-

  • Delivery of specialist programmes of visual assessment and development.
  • Monitoring progress of vision skills and development using VI Development Journal and Early Support Plans.
  • Advice to families and settings on strategies to use to support a child’s vision development skills.
  • Delivering training to nursery and other pre-school settings to raise awareness and understanding of a child’s vision impairment and ways to support them.
  • Multi-agency and Key- Working to support the holistic development of a child.
  • Provision of statutory reports and documentation.
  • Signposting families to other agencies who can support the child and family such as Early Support Team, Royal Society for Blind Children (RSBC) and Habilitation (Mobility) Team
  • Support through the Education, Health and Care Plan assessment process, should the child require one.
  • Advice and support with transition to nursery and/or school.

For more information, click the link below

P:SENSORY SUPPORTVSTEarly YearsBookmark VST.pdf

PRIMARY

The Vision Support Team (VST) are a team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants who  work City Wide to support the needs of children  with an identified vision impairment who have been referred to the service. The team work collaboratively with SENCos, teachers and parents to remove barriers and minimise the impact of a child’s vision impairment on their access to learning, social and emotional development and developing independence in order that pupils achieve to their potential.

VST provide a range of support services to primary age pupils including:

  • Assessment of a child’s visual functioning
  • Provision of a Vision Management Plans
  • Statutory reports and documentation and involvement at statutory review meetings
  • Delivering specialist teaching programmes to develop pupil’s independent access to curriculum learning, social interaction and learning and social environments.
  • Teaching of specialist skills in use of low vision aids and assistive technologies
  • INSET training and raising awareness workshops.
  • Environmental Audits

Click here for more information: Specialist Teaching and Support provided by VST

SECONDARY

The Vision Support Team (VST) are a team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants  working City Wide to support the needs of pupils with an identified vision impairment in secondary settings. The team work collaboratively with SENCos, teachers and parents to minimise the impact of a young person’s vision impairment on their access to learning, social interaction and developing independence.

VST provide a range of specialist teaching support services to secondary age pupils including:-

  • assessment of a pupil’s visual functioning
  • provision of a Vision Management Plans
  • statutory reports and documentation and support at review meetings
  • working with pupils to develop understanding of their visual functioning, ongoing needs and developing self- advocacy
  • delivering specialist teaching packages to develop pupil’s independent access to curriculum learning, social interaction and communication skills
  • teaching of specialist skills in use of low vision aids and assistive technologies
  • INSET training and raising awareness workshops.
  • environmental Audits
  • advice and support with exam access arrangements, ordering and arranging modified and adapted exam papers
  • support for work experience opportunities – scaffolding additional support pupils may need to request from their placement to maximise the benefits of the experience.
  • developing pupil’s understanding of the learning which can be achieved on placement as well as the benefits to their CV
  • supporting use of assistive technology to support their visual access to daily lessons, homework and exam revision. Advising on the availability of funding options to enable the student to purchase equipment, such as DLA or School Funds
  • arranging events where the student will experience new activities, such as sporting events or holidays, as well as meeting others within the World of Visual Impairment. There are also similar events organised for Parents to attend where they can meet professionals who share visual impairment
  • arranging the introduction of other Professionals and specialists who can work with the Pupil to support them in developing their independent living skills and knowledge of how to independently travel to school and later on to college or sixth form
  • Transition planning and support – please click here for more information on support for pupils transitioning to Post 16 provision

All support interventions are developed and agreed with each pupil to develop pupils understanding of their support needs and self-advocacy skills.

POST 16

The Vision Support Team (VST) is a team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants working City Wide to support the needs of students with an identified vision impairment in Post 16 settings.

Support for post 16 students is provided through VST Traded Services.

On entering a post 16 provision an initial assessment of a student’s needs is carried out by a Qualified Teacher of the vision Impaired (QTVI), following which a package of support for the student  will be set up in liaison with the college.

Click here to find out more information on the assessment process and packages of support: Specialist Assessments, Teaching and Support provided by VST

SPECIAL SCHOOLS

Special Schools:

The Vision Support Team (VST) is a team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants who work City Wide to support the needs of children in Special Schools with an identified vision impairment.  The team work collaboratively with SENCos, teachers and parents to minimise the impact of a child’s vision impairment on their learning opportunities.

VST provide a range of specialist teaching and support interventions to pupils in Special Schools

  • Assessment of a child’s visual functioning
  • Provision of a Vision Management Plans
  • Statutory reports and documentation and involvement at statutory review meetings
  • Delivering specialist teaching programmes and interventions to minimise the impact of a pupil’s visual impairment on their learning opportunities.
  • Teaching of specialist skills in use of low vision aids and assistive technologies
  • INSET training and raising awareness on the impact of low vision workshops.

Deafblindness

Children and young people with multi-sensory impairments (MSI) have hearing and visual impairments, often with other disabilities, which affect their learning and communication.

When both sight and hearing are damaged, children are hugely disadvantaged in exploring, interacting with and understanding their world.

Additional disabilities often accompany MSI such as further sensory impairments (for example of touch, balance and/or smell), physical disabilities, complex medical needs, emotional difficulties and/or learning difficulties.

MSI affects development in all areas, and especially

  • communication and the development of relationships
  • mobility and interaction with the physical environment
  • the processing and integration of information from residual hearing, vision and other senses
  • the perception of time and space
  • the generalisation of skills and concepts

Specialist services

Related links

Pre-school pupils and those in other educational settings in Birmingham, including other special schools, are supported by the Birmingham Sensory Support Service.

Support may include specialist assessment, teaching, advice and support, staff training, social activities and the Deafblindness

Children and young people with multi-sensory impairments (MSI) have hearing and visual impairments, often with other disabilities, which affect their learning and communication.

When both sight and hearing are damaged, children are hugely disadvantaged in exploring, interacting with and understanding their world.

Additional disabilities often accompany MSI such as further sensory impairments (for example of touch, balance and/or smell), physical disabilities, complex medical needs, emotional difficulties and/or learning difficulties.

MSI affects development in all areas, and especially

  • communication and the development of relationships
  • mobility and interaction with the physical environment
  • the processing and integration of information from residual hearing, vision and other senses
  • the perception of time and space
  • the generalisation of skills and concepts

Specialist services

TRANSITION

Transition

The Vision Support Team team fully understand the challenges which a change in setting can bring to a pupil with a vision impairment. VST work with children and young people, their family and settings as they move through each phase of their education to facilitate a smooth, positive transition.

VST provide a range of specialist support including:-

  • Supporting families to make informed choices about appropriate educational provision for their child
  • Providing a range of information to professionals in the new educational setting, so that they are fully informed about the pupil’s individual needs and views.
  • Leading and attending transition meetings with the pupil, family, current staff and staff from the new setting as well as their new QTVI where applicable, to ensure continuity and a successful individualised transition for the pupil.
  • Organising Transition Days and events so that pupils can meet other pupils with a Vision Impairment, discuss strategies for a smooth transition into the next phase of school life and help to make links for pupils who will attend a new setting together.
  • Collecting pupil and parent views via questionnaires after transition to new settings. Evaluating and using this information to inform future transition events as well as evaluate the support which we offer.

Please click here for further information:

Transition arrangements for children who do not have an EHC Plan

Transition arrangements for children who do have an EHC Plan

Information to collect during a school visit 2019

Transition Support – Preparation for Post 16

Transition to Post 16 – support and advice

KS4 – Pathways Targets

HLTA/TAs

Higher level teaching assistant and teaching assistants

Our Higher Level Teaching Assistants work in partnership with students, parents and schools to support the children and young people in a variety of settings from birth to 25.

We demonstrate good practice and the required support for teachers and school/nursery staff that are working with our children, providing resources or support with modified materials to ensure full access to the school curriculum.

We assist with the use of specialist equipment such as iPad’s, BrailleNote, speech software in order to prepare our children for their future.  The teaching of Touch Typing is also adopted for use with some specialist equipment.

To provide opportunities for the children and young people to meet with their peers in order to develop social skills and take part in organised events.

VI FRIENDLY REMOTE LEARNING

Content coming soon!

To remove barriers and minimise the impact of a child or young person’s vision impairment on their learning, VST work closely with pupils and provide a range of specialist assessment, teaching and skills development programmes to enable them  to become increasingly independent in accessing their curriculum learning, confident in using a range of assistive technologies, able to  navigate their environments with confidence, be socially resilient and have good knowledge, skills  and understanding to be independent and empowered in making life choices.

Click here for more information on the range of specialist assessments, teaching and skills development programmes VST for pupils.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology refers to low vision aides, adapted equipment technologies and specialist software applications which support pupils with a vision impairment to be increasingly independent in accessing their learning and to be included in class and wider school activities.

With developments in technology, many pupils can now access their work with mainstream equipment such as iPads/tablets or laptops. Accessibility features are being increasingly built in as standard specification.

Pupils require a programme of skills development to ensure they have the skills to use assistive technologies to maximise their inclusion in classroom learning.

The VST provide a range of support to pupils, skills and families to ensure assistive technologies are used to provide maximum impact including:-

  • Providing an assessment of pupil assistive technology needs
  • Advising schools in the purchase of technologies to support pupil’s access
  • Advising families on the purchase of technologies to support pupil’s access to learning in the home environment – including grants and equipment from charities
  • Delivering specialist teaching programmes to support pupil skills development in using assistive technology
  • Providing specialist technical support to schools in linking technologies to school networks

Click here to find out more information on the assistive technologies available to support pupil’s access.

Print modification

Bookshare allows you to access books that require further modification to create large print paper copies. You can do this yourself, and guidelines are provided by Bookshare regarding modification (click here). And if the book you require is not available in the collection, or requires further modification that you are unable to do yourself, you can make a request to the Vision Support Team to do the additional modifications for you. Please do this via your QTVI who will make the request on your behalf.

We look forward to working with you to support your pupils to access their reading material with the use of the technology at their finger- tips.

Click here to view:

Access to RNIB Bookshare

Bookshare consists of a library of 225,000 books including fiction and non fiction, reading schemes and text books. Books can be downloaded in a range of accessible formats that can be read electronically or adapted to suit the personal reading needs of learners.

The accessible formats enables a pupil to:-

  • Listen to books with high quality text-to-speech voices
  • Hear and see highlighted words on screen
  • Read with digital braille or enlarged fonts
  • Create physical braille or large print
  • Read directly from your Internet browser

Getting started

Bookshare have produced a guide to support users in accessing their website. Click here for a copy of their “Getting started” guide. Further information is available (click here). Additionally, from the RNIB Bookshare homepage select the Help Centre tab to access a number of training videos to support users to familiarise themselves with the service and access the materials contained on the site.

Vision Support Team – Tutorial support

A member of our Team can assist you in using Bookshare at any stage in the process, whether it be working out how to create an account, familiarising yourself with Bookshare, or if you would like us to work with your pupil, or their parents, to support them in their independent use of Bookshare.

Please email Karen.Barguss@birmingham.gov.uk

Skills Development Programmes for Using Assistive Technology:

The Vision Support Team deliver a range of skills development programmes to support pupils in using assistive technologies.

Skills development programmes include:

Touch Typing/Key Strokes – a programme which supports pupils to access using a desk-top computer/Lap-top or Tablet through non-visual methods.

The Vision Support Team work to support the developing confidence of all children and young people with a vision impairment.  The Team actively promote the well-being, engagement and inclusion of children and young people with a vision impairment to ensure that:

  • Educational settings are aware of a child’s vision impairment and its implications so as to reduce barriers to learning
  •  Social inclusion is encouraged and promoted.
  • Pupils are motivated with high expectations
  • Pupils are independent and confident

VST provide a range of specialist teaching interventions to develop pupil’s social interaction skills and confidence in social communication.

The team also organise a variety of activity days throughout the year to enable children and young people from all age groups to participate in new experiences and activities and meet others with a vision impairment.

For pupils requiring specialist counselling support VST offer referrals to other organisations e.g. Focus Birmingham who have their own Counselling Service.  For further information on the service provided at Focus click on the following link:

Focus Birmingham | Charity for sight loss and disability

The Vision Support Team team fully understand the challenges which a change in setting can bring to a pupil with a vision impairment. VST work with children and young people, their family and settings as they move through each phase of their education to facilitate a smooth, positive transition.

VST provide a range of specialist support including:-

  • Supporting families to make informed choices about appropriate educational provision for their child
  • Providing a range of information to professionals in the new educational setting, so that they are fully informed about the pupil’s individual needs and views.
  • Leading and attending transition meetings with the pupil, family, current staff and staff from the new setting as well as their new QTVI where applicable, to ensure continuity and a successful individualised transition for the pupil.
  • Organising Transition Days and events so that pupils can meet other pupils with a Vision Impairment, discuss strategies for a smooth transition into the next phase of school life and help to make links for pupils who will attend a new setting together.
  • Collecting pupil and parent views via questionnaires after transition to new settings. Evaluating and using this information to inform future transition events as well as evaluate the support which we offer.

Please click here for further information:

Transition arrangements for pupils without an EHCP moving to Secondary Provision

Transition arrangements for pupils with an EHCP moving to Secondary Provision

Information to collect during a school visit – Which school for my child?

Transition Support – Preparation for Post 16

Transition to Post 16 – Support and Advice

KS4 Pathways Targets

The Vision Support Team (VST) is committed to ensuring that pupils with a vision loss are prepared for adulthood.

VST are developing policies to ensure that the work carried out with visited pupils covers the 8 Gatsby benchmarks. The SEND Gatsby Benchmark Toolkit

  1. A stable careers programme
  2. Learning from career and labour market information
  3. Addressing the needs of each pupil
  4. Linking curriculum learning to careers
  5. Encounters with employers and employees
  6. Experiences of workplaces
  7. Encounters with further and higher education
  8. Personal guidance

For students in mainstream settings, your specialist visiting teacher will help advise you on careers options, but please refer to the Birmingham Careers Service to explore your Post 16 options, including links to local Further Education colleges.

For students that have an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) please see our Local Offer website for more information on what you need to do.

For students who need wider support including the transition from children’s to adult services and long term support, please click on this link for more information on our team who can help with this.

Please use the following training video, ‘Do You See What I See?’ (inspired by Birmingham students), for all teaching and non-teaching staff working with children and young people with a visual impairment:

 

Please direct parents to the Local Offer website with the use of the following video:

Link to the Local Offer Website

The Vision Support Team (VST) provide a range of information and documentation which you can download from the SENCo Zone.  Please go to the link below:

SENCO Zone

Please register if you are unable to get into the ‘Birmingham SENCo Zone’ area (VST Service Documents).

For the latest VST newsletter, please click on the image below;

We are often asked at the Vision Support Team – how do we know we have had an impact? Here we have included the feedback we have received from some of our courses.

Feedback coming soon.

Feedback coming soon.

Feedback coming soon.