Families and vision impairment organisations across England have united to fight Government cuts that could affect the futures of children with vision impairment.
The Young Vision Alliance is made up of parents, young people with vision impairment, and supporting organisations, aiming to ensure all children receive an equal standard of education – regardless of their sight.
A combination of the lack of specific government policy and sweeping cuts to local authority provision means that children and young people with vision impairment are being failed and are not receiving the specialist support they need
See our Potential
The Alliance asked local authorities what support they have in place for children and young people with vision impairment, using a Freedom of Information request. The findings set out in a report ‘See Our Potential’ are worrying. The Alliance has found that hundreds of children with vision impairment are missing the services and support they desperately require.
Key findings are:
• 1 in 3 local authorities cut their spending on services for children and young people with vision impairment over a 12-month period from 2016/17 to 2017/18*
• At least 700 pupils with vision impairment had their level of support reduced during the same 12 months
• Over a third of local authorities who had provided comparable data for 2017 to 2018 saw a decrease in the number of qualified teachers of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVIs)
• There was a 15% decrease in the number of teaching assistants employed to support children and young people with vision impairment between 2017 and 2018, among local authorities who provided the data.
Without specialist support, it is less likely children with vision impairment will be able to reach their full potential. We know that around 38% of young people with a seeing difficulty aged 16-25 are not in employment, education or training (NEET), which is almost double the amount (20%) of 16-25 year olds in the general population . Without urgent action by the Government, the Alliance is concerned that outcomes for children with vision impairment will not improve.
The full results of the research conducted by the YVA have been published in a report entitled ‘See our Potential’.
Romilly is nine years old and lives with her mum Clare, dad Adrian and sister Astrid in London. Diagnosed as severely visually impaired from birth, Romilly initially got excellent support for her education.
When Romilly reached school age, the support she received dropped dramatically. It was down to her parents to fight for the support she needed.
Romilly now receives support from a specialist teaching assistant and a habilitation specialist, but this support was threatened recently when, due to budget cuts, the local authority looked to remove most of the funding Romilly relies on.
Jorja is ten years old and lives with her mum Laura in Chichester. Due to her vision impairment, her school years have been a source of constant struggle in accessing the information and support she needs.
Every day, Jorja faces challenges which affect her learning, with large print reading materials repeatedly forgotten about and equipment which would enable her to participate fully in class not provided. Laura has had to buy equipment for Jorja, including a kindle and laptop, with her own money, due to delays in the local authority providing them.
Laura says: “The stress and anxiety that these repeated issues cause is phenomenal. I don’t feel I get much support. It’s often just me winging it, trying different things to see what will work.”
Help the YVA raise awareness about the support needed by children with vision impairment by sharing these videos using the hashtag #SeeOurPotential.
The organisations supporting the Young Vision Alliance are: Thomas Pocklington Trust, Guide Dogs, Hab VI UK, Moorvision, Nystagmus Network, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Royal National College for the Blind, Royal Society of Blind Children (RSBC), VICTA, Vision Impairment Education Workforce (VIEW) and Vision UK.
 Hewett R with Keil S (2016) Investigation of data relating to blind and partially sighted people in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey: October 2012 – September 2015 VICTAR, University of Birmingham for RNIB.
* We received responses from 113 out of 152 local authorities. 1 in 3 of those local authorities cut their spending on services for children and young people with vision impairments