The Council for Disabled Children is the umbrella body for the Disabled children’s sector, bringing together professionals, practitioners and policy-makers. It does not provide one to one support for parents but has an excellent online library of resources that parents can access to find out more about disability policy and practice including a selection of materials specifically written with parents in mind.
The following resources make a good starting point:
- Parent carer guide to the Code of Practice
- Disabled Children: A Legal Handbook
- Directory of national helplines and support services for parents
- Expert Parent Programme
- A family guide to the SEN system
- My Rights, Your Responsibility leaflets
Information, Advice and Support Services
There are Information, Advice and Support (IAS) services in every local area in England who provide advice to young people and parent carers. You can find contact details for your local IAS by following this link.
There are over 150 local Parent Carer Forums across England which are used by over 52,000 parents every year. You can find your local group by clicking the above link.
The National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP) is a partnership of organisations working together to improve outcomes for children and young people with sensory impairment (SI). NatSIP is funded by the Department for Education (DfE) in England for provision of specialist information, advice, support and training to improve the outcomes for children and young people with sensory impairments.
NatSIP has a range of resources on its website and also runs courses including “Understanding the needs of children and young people with vision impairment” which is an excellent course for teachers and teaching assistants.
The agreed purpose of NatSIP is:
- to improve educational outcomes for children and young people with sensory impairment, closing the gap with their peers, through joint working with all who have an interest in the success of these young people
- to help children achieve more and fulfil the potential of children and young people who have Sensory Impairment (SI)
- to promote a national model for the benchmarking of clear progress and impact criteria for children and young people who have SI
- to support a well-trained SI workforce responsive to the Government agenda for education
- to inform and advise the Department for Education in England and other national agencies on the education of children and young people with SI
- to promote collaboration between services, schools, professional bodies and voluntary bodies working with children and young people who have SI
- to promote collaborative working between education, health and social care professionals in the interest of children and young people who have SI
Contact a Family provide direct advice and support services to parents and carers. A free national helpline is open Monday to Friday between 9:30am and 5:00pm: 0808 808 3555
In supporting children, young people and their families, Guide Dogs offers:
- Guide dogs for children and young people
- Movement matters habilitation service, including assessments, mobility, orientation and independence training, parent guidance days and professional workshops.
- Family Support– Trained and experienced staff are there for parents with practical advice and support from the moment their child is diagnosed with a visual impairment. Starting Point is a guide for parents from first diagnosis including a telephone helpline, online and printed resources.
- CustomEyes Books– We can produce books in large-print, tailor-made to suit a child’s eye condition. The service includes fact and popular fiction titles, annuals and National Curriculum revision guides for home and school.
- Education support– We offer expert, independent help and advice in accessing the right specialist support. We help make sure the individual needs of children and young people with a visual impairment are met in the best educational environment for them.
- Access Technology– Technology can really help ‘level the playing field’ for children with visual impairment. We provide expert individual assessments and grants giving children and young people access to personalised equipment to help them communicate, study and play.
- Recreational activities – We offer an expanding UK-wide programme of day and weekend family events, plus social and adventure activities.
IPSEA – Independent Parental Special Education Advice
An excellent resource for parents to access independent special education advice. IPSEA offers a telephone advice line for parents, a telephone call booking system, face to face sessions, a Tribunal helpline and SEND training for parents and school staff. The website is also packed with legal briefings, guides to SEN support, the EHC Plan process, templates, pro forma letters etc.
SOS SEN offer a free, friendly, independent and confidential telephone helpline for parents and others looking for information and advice on Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). They offer walk in advice sessions and are expanding their services across the country. SOS SEN concentrate on helping people to find their way through the legal and procedural maze which is so daunting to so many who try to obtain satisfactory provision for a child’s special needs.
Are you a young person up to the age of 29 and have a vision impairment, or are you a parent of a vision impaired child? Then we want to hear from you. LOOK is here to help you improve your self-confidence, develop skills and make new connections.
We do this through:
- LOOK Mentoring project – become a mentor or find a mentor.
- LOOK Skype chat groups – connect with others and share experiences.
- LOOK youth forums – make new friends and exchange ideas.
- LOOK voices – get your voice heard and become part of our creative team. We are looking for bloggers, vloggers and, for our podcasts, roving reporters.
- LOOK leadership events – come and broaden your horizons.
RSBC offers a family support worker service and can support you to. Are decisions about your child’s future, their education and help you take the lead in developing your child’s independence and life skills. They also offer employability support and Social groups for 11-17 and 18-25 year olds in England and Wales.
Scope offer a free confidential helpline 08088003333 and a wealth of resources on their website for many types of disabilities.
Parent-led information, resources and informed opinion about children and young people 0-25.
Also on Facebook.
Visionary is a membership organisation. Visionary’s aim is to establish a strong sustainable national network of high quality local voluntary organisations to join up with national organisations and public sector providers to ensure that all people living with sight loss in the U.K. can access the services they need at a local level.
TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT SERVICES
Blind in Business help people who are blind or have partial sight into work. Our Training and Employment Services help you to identify and achieve your ambitions. We offer help and support with finding work, the interview process, and obtaining equipment to help you succeed. We also support employers in hiring and working with people with vision impairments
The Partially Sighted Society provides information, advice, training, magnifiers and electronic low vision aids and clear print material for anybody with a vision impairment to help them to make the best use of their remaining sight.
Provide grants for IT equipment including laptops, software, desktops and iPads. All items supplied through the grant scheme are for home use only, not for school or college. Conditions apply.
It is worth asking your early years setting, school or QTVI to join this forum. It is moderated by RNIB and is an excellent online forum of QTVIs, learning support assistants and technicians who provide peer to peer resource sharing, advice and best practice on support for vision impaired learners.
Positive Eye delivers commercial courses, training, resources and products for educational practitioners who are working with children who are blind, have a vision impairment, or who work with children with special educational needs and disability.
ORGANISATIONS OFFERING MUSIC, THEATRE, SPORT, MULTI ACTIVITIES AND RESIDENTIAL TRIPS
Please see under Sports for organisations offering sporting opportunities
Action for Blind People fully merged with RNIB in April 2017. It provides practical and emotional advice and support across England to people who are blind or partially sighted and their friends and family. Find out more, here:
Action Activity Breaks are residential holidays for children and young people, aged 8 – 17 years, who have sight loss and have a good ability to understand and follow instructions. Our activity breaks give an opportunity for children and young people to meet other people of a similar age, with sight loss. For some this could be the first time that they meet and share experiences of this kind with their peers. Not only do the breaks provide a great opportunity for improving social skills, they also encourage personal independence, and help teach new life skills. With our help and support everyone is encouraged to meet new challenges, and achieve their personal goals.
Amber’s Vision is to give blind and partially sighted children the best possible chance to fulfil their musical aspirations. Amber Music Awards exist to provide financial grants to individual children and young people in support of this.
Little Amber is an innovative service offered by The Amber Trust. It aims to enable blind or partially sighted babies and young children to engage with music by providing families and professionals with resources and ideas for music-making.
Adventure Sports Activity Weekend Breaks and Holidays For Blind and Partially Sighted Children.
Accessible and active holidays for disabled people including blind, partially sighted people and wheelchair users
VICTA run excursions and UK / overseas residential trips. VICTA also provide grants for IT equipment including laptops, software, desktops and iPads. All items supplied through the grant scheme are for home use only, not for school or college. Conditions apply.
VocalEyes provide audio described events around the UK for blind and partially sighted people to experience and enjoy arts and heritage.
BBC Radio 4 InTouch programme
Weekly News, views and information for people who are blind or partially sighted. Available as podcast and on BBC iPlayer.