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Summary: If children with sight loss are consulted about their needs and requirements, very simple solutions can make a real difference to their success. As well as working with the pupil and their parents on the best adaptations that can be made in the classroom, you can also seek advice and support from a range of different services and service providers.
Every pupil will have individual needs. Only the pupil with sight loss can really say what they can or cannot see. Find out more about eye conditions here.
Support services available
Visiting teacher service
The Department of Education and Science provides a regionalised visiting teacher service. This service is available from birth and follows through to third level. A visiting teacher visits children with sight loss in their own home, pre-school or classroom. The visiting teacher will carry out an assessment of a child’s needs and provide guidance on the implications of sight loss on teaching and learning, advice on appropriate technology and equipment, arrange for text books to be converted into large print, audio tape or Braille and direct teaching of Braille, where appropriate. Emphasis is placed on working as a partner with families, enabling them to make informed choices in the education of their children. Referral of a child for assessment by a visiting teacher can be requested by parents, schools, eye clinics, NCBI and the Health Service Executive.
For more information call the visiting teacher service at the Department of Education and Science on Tel: 090 647 4621.
Resource teacher service
In school, children with sight loss can avail of additional teaching support from a resource teacher, or from a visiting teacher and a resource teacher combined. A resource teacher aims to assess a child’s needs and progress and will set specific learning goals for the child. Parents, resource teachers, visiting teachers and class teachers can also arrange to meet to discuss the needs of the pupil. The resource teacher then provides direct teaching to the pupil, advice to class teachers on appropriate adaptations to the national curriculum and adaptations to teaching and learning strategies.
Special needs assistant
A primary or second level school with a pupil with sight loss can appoint a special needs assistant. A special needs assistant can:
- Assist the pupil to board and alight from school buses.
- Assist the pupil, as required, with typing or writing, setting up assistive technology, moving around safely, and with everyday tasks such as changing into PE clothes.
- Assist the class teacher with supervision of pupils with sight loss during assembly, recreation, walks, out-of-school visits and other dispersal periods.
- Accompany the pupil who may have to be withdrawn temporarily from the classroom for direct teaching.
Not all pupils with sight loss will require the support of a special needs assistant. The pupil’s level of vision and their own managing skills and abilities will determine whether the assistance of a special needs assistant is needed. A professional who has assessed the child’s needs is in the best position to advise on whether a special needs assistant is required and on the amount of support needed (full-time or for a specific number of hours). The appointment of a special needs assistant should also be discussed with the school’s board of management.
To apply to the Special Needs Assistants section of the Department of Education and Science, Tel: 090 647 4621 or 01 873 4700.
National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)
NEPS provides a regionalised educational psychological service to pupils in primary and post-primary school throughout Ireland. This service is supported by the Department of Education and Science.
For more information contact NEPS office on Tel: 01 889 2700.
Community Resource Workers
NCBI community resource workers are a resource for a child with sight loss and his or her family and also to other services and professionals working with the child. A community resource worker can visit a pupil in school to offer support and practical advice and to provide awareness training for staff working with the child.
Family Resource Centre
The Family Resource Centre in ChildVision offers an extensive calender of events for families of children with sight loss.
National Centre for Technology in Education
The National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) has developed a course which introduces teachers to information communication technology (ICT) and issues relating to vision impairment. This course aims to support teachers in exploring how ICT can enable pupils with vision impairments to access the curriculum while concurrently advancing teachers’ ICT skills.