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Barnsley Education Inclusion Services - Vision Support Team

The VisionSuport Team includes Qualified Teachers of Visual Impairment and a Habilitation Officer.

We offer training, advice, support, guidance and challenge to educational settings to help them remove the barriers to learning for children and young people with a visual impairment.

Our service is based in Barnsley and covers the whole of the borough.  This includes: home settings, early years settings, mainstream schools, and the Local Authority special schools within the borough.

We work closely with other professionals such as health, other advisory teams, social services and voluntary organisations.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Toni Harvey
Contact Position
Specilaist Support Manager - Sensory Team

Where to go

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council,
Gateway Plaza
Sackville Street
S70 2RD

Other Details


Other notes



Local Offer


Accessing our service

If your child is diagnosed with a visual impairment, they would normally be referred to our service by the ophthalmologist; this referral will contain medical information about your child’s eye condition and the extent of their visual impairment. In some cases, where visual difficulties are suspected in a child or young person at a school or setting, referrals are received from educational staff.


An initial referral visit will encompass observation of access to the curriculum and physical environment, as well as assessment of functional vision and daily living skills.  Information gathering will include seeking the child and parent’s voice, and might involve a home visit.


If a parent or carer suspects that their child might require visual support, then the normal route would be to take your child to the GP, who may then decide to refer to an ophthalmologist or the low vision clinic. If your child already has a diagnosis, but you feel that they might require further support, then speak to their school about possibly referring to our service.


How we support learning and overall well-being


When a need has been identified, the support we are able to provide includes giving advice to schools on providing optimum learning conditions, and also ensuring that children and young people with visual difficulties, are able to access the curriculum on equal terms as their peers. Such advice might include the use of modified or alternative learning resources, or on how to make every aspect of the child’s or young person’s learning, including the school environment, fully accessible to them.


Further to this, we provide an additional curriculum, tailored to meet individual needs; this might include tuition in supplementary learning skills, such as Braille, the use of assistive technology, or support with habilitation, independence, mobility and self-care.  We also recognise that visual difficulties have the potential to affect self-image and in turn self-esteem.  As a lack of self-confidence can affect a child’s ability to aspire and take risks, it is of paramount importance that a positive self-perception is encouraged and facilitated from an early age.


Our teachers support schools during term time and normally within school hours. However, a  child or young person can access habilitation training throughout the year, including out of school term time. Whilst the majority of habilitation training takes place within school hours night travel skills can take place after school hours. Habilitation training can be delivered in the child/ young person’s home, school and local community and is always delivered by a qualified Habilitation Specialist.


Eligibility for support


We use the NatSIP eligibility framework to determine the level of support that we can offer to your child. This is a set of criteria devised nationally by a group of specialist organisations and enables us to identify support needs and promote individual learner progress.


Support with transition


Moving from one class to another, or from school to school, can require careful planning and preparation, in order for a child or young person to make a smooth and successful transition .  We work in partnership with schools and Early Years settings to ensure that information and advice on good practice is shared and understood before the next phase of education is started. After transition has taken place, we can provide a follow-up visit in order to establish whether there are any further emerging needs.


For young people leaving school, we work with further education providers and the adult adaptations team, to ensure that all aspects of transition, including travel and access to grants and adaptations, are carefully prepared for.


Working with parents and families


Barnsley Education Specialist Support Team recognises the importance of parental involvement  and the views of the child or young person, in identifying, defining, and supporting each individual’s needs. Depending on the nature of your child’s needs, we might work with your family in the following ways:


  • Listen to your views, wishes, and feelings and also to those of your child.


  • Enable your child and you, as a parent, to participate fully in discussions and decisions about individual support and local provision.


  • Provide your family with the necessary information and support to enable full participation in decision-making.


  • Work with you on strategies for developing skills and facilitating progress in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for your child, preparing them for adulthood.


  • For Early Years children, we use a range a tools and resources, including the Oregon Project, and the Developmental Journal for children with Visual Impairment. This working document will help you to identify areas in your child’s development and assist us in working together to enable progress.

  • Provide you with information and advice on all areas of visual development, tactile methods of learning, and guidance on developing age appropriate daily living skills.

  • Ensure that information is shared with you and other professionals through written reports, meetings, and annual reviews where appropriate. Communication might also involve telephone contact, and home visits. The information shared in these situations, will keep you informed of any progress your child is making and whether any additional support/intervention is required.

  • Signpost your family to local services such as Barnsley Blind and Partially Sighted Association, The Vision Foundation, Sheffield Royal Blind Society, and the local SENSE service.

  • Introduce your family to national services such as RNIB, VICTA, and Guide Dogs.

The range of specialist training/qualifications within the team are:

  • Mandatory qualification in Visual Impairment
  • Graduate Diploma, Specialist Qualification in Habilitation and Disabilities of Sight (Children and Young People)
  • University of Birmingham Grade 2 Braille
  • Scottish Sensory Centre Grade 2 Braille
  • Up to date training in Unified English Braille Grade 2
  • Training in the use of low vision aids and assistive technology
  • Access to the curriculum through Braille
Contact Email

Non educational providers Local Offer Response

What outcomes does your service aim to achieve for children and young people with special educational needs and disability and their families?

The aim is to help educational settings to improve outcomes for children and young people with significant visual impairments by removing barriers to learning in order that they can achieve their full potential and make a successful transition to adulthood.

How accessible is the service and facilities for those with a disability

Involvement with children and young people and their families usually takes place in education and/or health settings.

Future developments

We will be responding to and implementing the national SEND Reforms

Last updated on 19/02/2020
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