Visual impairment

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By Dr Hannah MortimerEducational Psychologist

Advice for including children with impaired vision in the EYFS

Visually impaired child at a playground

A unique child

Very few children are completely blind and each child who has severe visual impairment will have a unique package of needs. Because their condition will have been identified early on, there will already be outside professionals involved in their care, including a specialist teacher for visual impairment whom your SENCO will probably know about.

Children can amaze you with what they manage to accomplish despite their visual impairment and it is up to you to make sure that any barriers to their progress are minimised. A successful transition plan will help the child settle in quickly and confidently as they begin to socialise and play in a group, perhaps for the first time. If you try to see your spaces and activities from the child’s point of view, you will soon be able to assess any safety risks and plan how you can include the child.

Positive relationships

Parents and carers can provide you with all the information you need about a child’s strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes, providing that you ask the right questions. The relationship that you form with them at this early stage will be crucial for working in a successful partnership in the future. When supporting the child’s learning, think of ways of bringing the experiences to the child rather than expecting them to spot what is going on around them. New experiences may need introduction, reassurance and talking through, allowing time for children to explore them fully (such as feeling the sand tray, locating the tools and finding out what they can do with them). While the child’s Key Person or Support Assistant should not ‘stick like glue’ to them, it is helpful for them to maintain a watchful eye. They are then able to provide a running commentary on who else is joining in an activity, mediate mixing with other children and ensure safety. Encourage everyone to use their names as they approach or leave the group.


Online-only resources

Cross-curricular links for visual impairment

Use this handy cross-curricular links chart to discover more ideas and ways in which children with visual impairment can be involved in your setting.


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Enabling environments

Think about your physical space and the layout, removing clutter where possible. Consider introducing different floor surfaces and sounds to help children ‘map’ their space; the bubble of the fish tank, the quiet music in the nurture corner, the echo of the wet play area, the buzz of the home corner. Decide on what equipment lives where and make sure that this remains predictable, returning equipment regularly and encouraging the children to tidy up. Working with the specialist advisory teacher should give you all the information you need to know about selecting the best method of observing and monitoring the child’s progress. At the end of the day, this is very much up to your common sense and your knowledge of how all children learn and develop. Allow plenty of time to ‘watch, wait and wonder’, tune in to the child as an individual and the rest should follow.

Learning and development

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