Education – the differences for blind and partially sighted children and young people

A female tutor sat next to her student - a teenage girl. She is showing her how to solve a maths problem in a book.

Education and learning are key to human development and, on a personal level, lead to a fulfilling adult life. Sight is crucial to how children and young people learn.

Challenges in Mainstream Education

Nearly 35,000 children and young people are living with a visual impairment in England alone. Approximately half of them will have additional needs, too. As Visual impairment (VI) is a low incidence disability, many young people who are VI are taught in mainstream schools. And because teachers may only see one or two students with a visual impairment during their whole career, often it can be the case that they’re unsure how to make education an inclusive experience for them.  

Specialised Support and Inclusive Education

All VI students should have access to specialised staff such as Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired (QTVIs) and Registered Qualified Habilitation Specialists (RQHSs). 

Learning for VI students must be explicit and structured – it needs to be supported in a specialist way, ensuring that development isn’t delayed and that these young people have every opportunity to reach their full potential. Lack of access to resource material, lack of self-advocacy, isolation, and anxiety can go hand in hand with their educational journey. They need as much multi-sensory learning as possible to enrich their experience, and VI students will generally need more time to process and digest their learning. 

“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes, doesn’t mean he lacks vision.” – Stevie Wonder. 

At RSBC’s Dorton College, we specialise in helping young people between the ages of 16 and 25 to fulfil their potential. We’re the only independent specialist Further Education provider for visually impaired students in the South-East of England.  

Dorton College support students academically from entry level to level 3. We make sure that they build up a robust portfolio of skills which prepare them for an independent and meaningful life after they leave education. How do we do it? Through a 1:1 supported, bespoke, person-centred programme that includes braille, assisted technology, mobility, independent living skills and employability sessions led by specialist staff including QTVIs, RQHSs and OTs.  

Students participate in social opportunities with both mainstream and VI peer groups, so that they’re able to experience inclusion and belonging. They can progress to a varied and exciting range of options after Dorton College, including employment, university, voluntary work and much more.  

Here’s what some of our students have to say about Dorton College: 

“I couldn’t have wished for better support!”

“It is a friendly environment; I enjoy it, and every day is different. I have made friends, and the staff are nice.”

“I came to Dorton College because I thought I could become more independent, and I learnt a lot of life skills like cooking and cleaning here. I have good support on my main programme of study and I really love it, although it is very intense as it’s a level 3 course. I know that this course is very hard, but it will get me where I want to be in life.”

“I decided to come at Dorton College to learn and improve my life skills and to increase my independence. This will give me freedom for my future.”

Find out more about Dorton College