Support for Schools

  1. Training

  2. Exam Access Arrangements

  3. Subject Specific Advice

  4. Technology for Vision Impairment access

  5. Transitions

  6. Raising Awareness of Vision Impairment in Schools

  7. School Trips and VI Access


We provide lots of different types of bespoke training packages both within Southwark and in other boroughs. We offer training on all aspects of Visual impairment to both teaching staff and other professionals. We have also provided training for speech therapists and optometrists. We can tailor our training packages to suit small groups or whole school teams. We can do after school or whole day Inset training events.

The topics we cover include;

  • general VI awareness,
  • subject specific guidance,
  • aspects of visual impairments such as cortical visual impairment or complex needs with VI,
  • emotional aspects of a VI,
  • adapting resources for VI,
  • doing an environmental audit of your school,
  • assessing VI in children with complex needs,
  • working with other professionals including speech therapists.
  • We have a set of SIM specs which enable the participants to experience for a short while what it might be like to have a visual impairment.

Please get in touch if you would like anymore information or advice on training.

Exam Access Arrangements

We can advise on exam access arrangements (see link below) for students of any age. These include SATs, GCSEs, A Levels for all subjects. We will liaise with the schools SENCO or exams office to arrange the necessary adaptations. It is important that the adaptations and access arrangements mirror what the student already regularly uses. Deadlines for exam access arrangements are several months in advance of the exams.
If the students visual impairment impacts on their ability to access standard print (font 12) comfortably or to read at an appropriate speed, we can advise on the use of

  • Modified large print papers
  • 25% extra time in exams
  • Papers in Braille (up to 100% extra time)
  • Use of specialist equipment such as Braillenotes, low visual aids etc.
  • Electronic papers (where this is the usual mode of working)

See the link below for more information.

Subject Specific Advice

The following has some useful links for subject specific guidance for teaching students who have a visual impairment. See the National Curriculum Guidance section for subject specific adaptations. This includes advice for all primary and secondary subject area’s.

Technology for VI access

In Southwark we aim to develop our students independence as much as possible and technology plays a large part in this. We advise schools on the use of technology such as iPads, laptops, CCTVs, Braillenote’s and speech software such as Jaws, Dragon, Dolphin and Narrator.
We encourage as many of our partially sighted students as possible to use iPads in the classroom from as young as reception to University. These are used to connect to the interactive white board to show the student what is on the board. They can also be used to instantly enlarge a worksheet, map, piece of text as well as to type their own work if they prefer this to writing. We encourage the iPad to be brought on school trips and the camera to be used to zoom in on objects of interest in the distance eg. animals at the farm or zoo.
We teach the students and staff the inbuilt accessibility features for both iPads and PCs. We provide training and trouble shooting for the students, schools and parents. We can also assess a child’s functional vision in a fun way using the iPad.
You can watch some RNIB videos of technology being used in the classroom here

We can advise parents on where to go to get grants or funding for using technology at home, this can help them to access their homework;
Blind Children UK;


We support children all the way through their education and begin the transitioning process well in advance of their start date. This can include the transition into nursery/primary and onto secondary, college, university or employment. Some of the support we provide can include;

  • Raising awareness of visual impairment in the staff through training. This can include the teaching of Braille.
  • Preparation visits to the new setting for the student.
  • Environmental audits of the new setting including recommendations for adaptations if needed.
  • Recommending specialist equipment and technology and helping the school to set this up.
  • Mobility support for the new route or familiarisation with the new environment.
  • TAC meetings, team around the child meetings with all professionals and the parents planning together.
  • Annual Reviews and EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) meetings with professionals and parents.
  • Providing and supporting the parents with information to enable them to make an informed decision on the next phase of their child’s education.
  • Signposting parents and students to additional support eg. Charitable Trusts or employment support.

Raising Awareness of Visual Impairment in Schools

Raising awareness of visual impairments for all children can help towards successful inclusion for the child or young person who has a VI. We can facilitate this awareness raising through fun events and activities, including;

  • Visits and talks from Guide Dog owners and their dogs.
  • Annual World Sight Days with lots of learning about visual impairments, famous people with a VI, vision and the eye, Braille activities etc.
  • Fundraising Days/Ideas for a Sight Charity
  • SIM specs activities allow fully sighted students experience what it might be like to have a visual impairment.
  • Learning how to guide a blind person properly.

Raising awareness of visual impairments can also be done through the use of story. The following is a list of some books we recommend for doing this.

  • Dan and Diesel; Charlotte Hudson, (EYRs and KS1)
  • Moles Sunrise; Jeanne Wills (EYRs and KS1)
  • The Patch; Justina Chen Headley and Mitch Vane, (KS1)
  • Lucy’s Picture; Nicola Moon, (KS1 & 2)
  • The Black Book of Colours; Menena Cotton (KS1 & 2)
  • Rainbow Joe and Me; Maria Diaz Stron (KS1 & 2)
  • See the Ocean; Estelle Condra (KS2)
  • Through Grandpa’s Eyes; Patricia MacLachlan (KS2)
  • The Seeing Stick; Jane Yolen (KS2)
  • A Picture Book of Helen keller; David A Adler (KS2)
  • A Picture Book of Louis Braille; David A Adler (KS2)
  • The Sound of Colours; Jimmy Liao, (KS2)
  • Looking Out for Sarah; Glenna Lang (KS2)
  • more books with reviews that raise awareness of visual impairment for children.

Raising awareness for adults is also part of our regular training. Some of the books we recommend for adults who would like to understand visual impairment more include;

  • Victoria Nolan; Beyond Vision (Rowing)
  • Marla Runyan; My Life as I See It. (Running)
  • Rachel Scdoris; No end in sight (Sled Dog Racing)
  • Peter White; See it My Way (BBC Radio Presenter)
  • David Blunkett; On A Clear Day (Politician)
  • Erik Weihenmayer; Touch the Top of the World. (Mountaineering)

School Trips and VI Access


When planning a trip for a class with a child/ren with a visual impairment, it will be worth asking in advance about VI access at museums and theatres. This may already be in place through large print, audio description or apps for phone or tablet. Many venues now have downloadable information such as audio guides, apps, large print PDFs etc so it is worth checking this out in advance.
Also, always bring your iPad or tablet on school trips and encourage the student to bring their monocular, magnifiers or other Low Vision Aids. The iPad can be used to take pictures of things in the distance that the student may not be able to see eg. animals at the zoo/farm. The student can then zoom in or view this on the large screen of the iPad.
The following are some educational and access links to the main museums in London but many smaller museums will also offer accessibility options for visually impaired children.

British Museum access (the bottom of the link has information about touch tours, audio guides and events).

Natural history museum access

Science museum

Most museums will now have lots of accessibility features for people with visual impairments. Here is a sample of what some of Londons top attractions offer;

Victoria & Albert (scroll down)

  • Audio guides – the V&A does not have any audio guides which can be collected, however we do have audio descriptions on our web site at;

Europe Gallery

Furniture Gallery

  • Large print descriptions – large print books are available in all galleries. In a selection of galleries, Medieval and Renaissance, Stained Glass, Jameel Islamic Art and Photography, we have tactile image books available.
  • Touch – Touch objects are available in many of our galleries.
  • Set dates – We do have a monthly touch tour planned as part of the museums learning programme. However, if visitors are unable to attend the programmed events, we can provide assistance at the time of choosing of the visitor.
    Accessibility contact for educational visits to the V&A:

Tower of London Access

Summary of access for VI:

  • Large print maps
  • Basic tactile map
  • Large print children’s trails for the Crown Jewels
  • Free audio guides available on request with VI tour and tactile map
  • Tactile book for Crown Jewels to borrow
  • Tactile models of some crown jewels in the exhibition
  • Descriptive tours available for White Tower and CJs – subject to availability (pre-booked)
  • A little braille signage in the White Tower and on the Wall Walk – a general information book in Braille available to borrow from the Welcome Centre
  • Handling station in basement of White Tower with tactile objects
  • A new exhibition called Armoury in Action has tactile elements - a mini tactile model of the Tower, a block of stone with stone mason’s tools, some arrow heads, a helmet from a suit of armour, some chain mail, a model musket, a cavalryman’s sword (that can be lifted to feel the weight), a bow (that can be fired)- with a sound effect of whether or not the target has been hit. Some large print guides (containing all the gallery text) (currently in production)
  • Also – if a child needs a carer, then they can get a free carer ticket on the day at the Welcome Centre (the child pays standard child rate).

Westminster Abbey Access
We do not charge for those with visual impairments to visit the Abbey. We do offer touch tours and large print guides.
Please see the following sections for more information;

Theatre Trips

Most theatres now have many accessibility options for people with a visual impairment.
Many theatres organise:

  • Touch Tours; usually annual or bi-annual events at the larger shows, will need to ask about these dates at time of booking through the access line.
  • Audio described shows; specific dates where the show is audio described live through headphones.
  • 2 for 1 on tickets per visually impaired person or a carer gets in free, these must be booked through their accessibility lines.
  • updated lists of audio described and touch tours.
  • follow the theatre links for their access information.
    A small number of theatres may require pre registration and proof of visual impairment to avail of their access rates of 2 for 1 and other special arrangments.