University of Birmingham: New framework to boost education of children with vision impairment

The University of Birmingham along with major Vision impairment organisations have launched a new single unifying framework to underpin the specialist education of children and young people with VI.

The Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment (CFVI) has been developed by VICTAR – University of Birmingham, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), , Professional Association for the Vision Impairment Education Workforce (VIEW) and Thomas Pocklington Trust to support children and young people with vision impairment aged from 0 – 25 access an appropriate and equitable education.

Children and young people with vision impairment need to be actively taught a range of independent learning, mobility, everyday living, and social communication skills. Currently access to those learning areas and specialists who teach them can vary from region to region meaning many young people are missing out.

The organisations plan to engage with Government education departments to ensure the framework reaches every child and young person with VI in the UK, through measures such as being referred to in official guidance or receiving statutory status.

The CFVI presents outcomes within 11 teaching areas and its main aim is to clarify and define the elements of specialist skill development, interventions and best practice support that are considered to be essential for children and young people with vision impairment.

Dr Rachel Hewett, Co-Director of VICTAR said: “We are honoured to have had the opportunity to lead on this important work. Our previous research has highlighted just how vital it is that children and young people with vision impairment receive specialist training, support and guidance to enable them to maximise their independence.

“Central to positive outcomes are partnerships between educators, specialist services, parents and families, and of course the young person themselves, and we hope that this framework will help facilitate this.”

RNIB Head of Education, Caireen Sutherland said: “We are delighted to have been part of this vital project which has resulted in the launch of the Curriculum Framework for Children and Young People with Vision Impairment. It has been a fantastic cross-sector collaboration and development.

“Having the CFVI in place will provide a structure and best practice reference for families, young people and professionals alike to refer to in order to advocate for the input a child or young person with vision impairment needs and deserves.

“We hope the framework will address the jigsaw provision and ensure children and young people with vision impairment get access to the specialists and opportunities to develop skills they need and that this in turn will improve their life outcomes.”

Joanne Lomas from Wrexham in Wales is mother to a 13-year-old boy who has a severe vision impairment says: “Joanne, who also has sight loss, has had to fight for her son since he was born from getting an accurate diagnosis in his early years through to the ongoing work to ensure he has the right support in school. She gave up work to apply herself full-time to ensuring her son gets what he needs at the right time.

Joanne said: “I know how complex the education support system is and how much potential there is for things to be missed and for my son to fall behind. I feel that the CFVI highlights the importance of early intervention and had this been in place for my son would have helped him to get the right support earlier.

“This framework provides a clear structure and language which will be incredibly helpful for parents when advocating for their children and navigating the system and knowing what to expect or ask for.”

The eleven teaching areas of the CFVI are: 1. Facilitating an Inclusive World, 2. Sensory Development, 3. Communication, 4. Literacy, 5. Habilitation: Orientation and Mobility, 6. Habilitation: Independent Living Skills, 7. Accessing Information, 8. Technology, 9. Health: Social, Emotional, Mental & Physical Wellbeing, 10. Social, Sports and Leisure, 11. Preparing for Adulthood

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