Charity calls for investment in training for qualified teachers of visually impaired


Press Release | 02/05/2015

Scotland’s largest visual impairment organisation has called on the Scottish Government to increase investment in training more Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired and to strengthen the provision of specialist resources for blind and partially sighted pupils.

Responding to the Scottish Parliament Education and Culture Committee consultation on the attainment of school pupils with a sensory impairment, charity Royal Blind said:

“The number one priorities for improving the attainment levels of pupils with visual impairment are the training of teachers, the provision of resources, a fuller understanding of inclusion and the provision of a suitable environment.”

Royal Blind, the charity that runs the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, outlined that to obtain the maximum benefit of educating visually impaired children in the mainstream schools sector, the following need to be addressed:

  • There is a deficit in Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired as many have retired.
  • There is a lack of time and financial support for teachers to complete the necessary Post Graduate Diploma.
  • Too few teachers have been trained in fully contracted Braille, leading to it becoming common to only teach un-contracted Braille. This puts children with serious visual impairment at a serious disadvantage, with a likely impact on their long term access to education and attainment.
  • High quality transcription of text into Braille or Braille into text is not always available.
  • There is a lack of habilitation specialists teaching mobility and orientation.

In its response to the Parliament, the charity argues that for full integration of visually impaired children and young people in a way that goes beyond simply placing them in a mainstream school, they need to be included in every aspect of school life and the curriculum.

Royal Blind believes that teaching independent living skills, mobility and orientation is vital for blind children in addition to academic teaching. A lack of social and daily living skills such as meal preparation, shopping, money handling, safe navigation on streets and using public transport contribute to high levels of unemployment amongst blind people.

Richard Hellewell, Chief Executive of Royal Blind said:

“The majority of children with visual impairment are educated in mainstream schools today and Royal Blind fully supports this. We aim to work with local authorities to support pupils with visual impairment no matter where they are being taught in Scotland to help increase attainment levels.

“We are preparing to launch a new service to support teachers in schools that have visually impaired pupils. Our Learning Hub is available to provide support, education and training to any teacher in Scotland who has a visually impaired pupil in their classroom.”

For further information please contact:

Davina Shiell, Marketing Manager, Mobile: 07713 987797

Notes to Editors:

· Royal Blind is Scotland’s largest charity supporting people with visual impairments. We run a number of services for blind and partially sighted people, the largest of which is the Royal Blind School. Our vision at Royal Blind is to make a significant contribution to building a community in which blind and partially sighted people, including those who also have other disabilities, are fully included and lead fulfilling lives.

·The Royal Blind School is particularly focussed on meeting the educational needs of children and young people who have both a visual impairment and other needs affecting their learning.

·Submissions to the Scottish Parliament Committee can be viewed at