Visual Needs Team

The Visual Needs Team facilitates the inclusion and academic progress of children and young people with a clinical diagnosis of visual impairment. This is achieved through direct teaching and support to schools, settings and parents.

The team receives referrals from the Ophthalmology departments at Alder Hey and Southport Hospitals, schools, parents and carers and other agencies. Consent is then sought from parent/carer before support can commence.

1. What support is provided by the Visual Needs Team?

The needs of each child or young person with a visual impairment are different, therefore and we offer a personalised level of support and advice to ensure the child or young person thrives in their setting. All children and young people, following referral and appropriate consents, undergo a Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) carried out by a Qualified Teacher for Visual Impairment (QTVI). This assessment will document how the child or young person uses their vision and the conditions required, for example adaptations to materials or the environment, in order that their visual access to materials and activities is maximised. The outcome of this assessment may be reported through a Vision Support Plan.

The work of the visual needs team involves:

  • Capacity building with schools and Early Years Settings, including the delivery of appropriate training and curriculum advice and environmental audits.
  • Functional Visual Assessments, with advice, strategies and resources and/or adaptations required for the setting and young person.         
  • Direct teaching including Braille and tactile curriculum.
  • Monitoring of children and young people over time to ensure best use of functional vision.
  • Work in the home and in sensory settings where appropriate with young babies and their families to stimulate vision.
  • Liaison and advise for parents including signposting to other services where appropriate.
  • Liaison with the Ophthalmology at Alder Hey and Southport hospitals and hospitals out of the authority as necessary.
  • Multi-agency working with appropriate professionals.     
  • Mobility and orientation training is currently commissioned in from an external provider for children and young people who require it.
  • Advice for settings regarding access arrangements for external examinations.
2. What other support and information is available for my child?

Habilitation training

Habilitation involves training children and young people with visual impairment to help them develop their mobility and independence skills. Habilitation training can cover a range of different topics including:

  • Use of senses – how to optimise the use of all senses, including residual vision
  • Body concepts  - to support understanding of body parts and movement
  • Spatial concepts – to develop understanding about the shapes, dimensions and positions of objects and distance
  • Environmental concepts – to develop knowledge and understanding of landscapes  and buildings
  • Orientation and independent travel training – this could include basic road safety, learning specific routes such as those between home and school or college and cane skills if needed
  • Self-help skills – to develop skills required to carry out activities needed for everyday independent living, such as dressing
  •  Social and communication skills

Consideration will be given to any application for habilitation training for a child or young person with vision impairment. Decisions about whether an individual would benefit from and should be offered habilitation training are made following discussions between children and young people/ their families, a qualified teacher for visual impairment and the habilitation provider, usually following an assessment of the individual’s needs. Pupils do not need an education, health and care plan in order to access this training.

Habilitation training is carried out by a mobility officer who is qualified in teaching children and young people in habilitation.

This training is available throughout the year, including school holidays when appropriate.

More information is available by contacting a member of the Sefton SEN and Inclusion Service on 0151 934 2347 or


3. How will I know what level of support to expect for my child?

The Visual Impairment team use eligibility criteria developed by the National Sensory Impaired Partnership (NatSIP) to allocate the appropriate level of support to each child or young person with a visual impairment. 

Link to Natsip Form

4. How can I access your service?

Referrals can be made using the referral form below. Before any involvement or support from the service parental consent will be sought using the form below.

Link to Referral and Consent Form.  

For more information you can contact Sefton SEN and Inclusion Service on 0151 934 2347 or by emailing SEN & Inclusion Team:

You can find the Sefton SEN and Inclusion Service at:

Sefton SEN and Inclusion Service

Professional Development Centre

225 Park Road



L37 6EW

You can find further support and information from the following organisations:

Royal National Institute for the Blind


Royal Society for Blind Children     

Blind Children UK                           


Please see Emily's Story and Nystagmus The Way We See It videos, for further information click here


Last Updated

Last updated: 31/03/2022

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