This page gives you lots of information about Sensory Impairments. This can be visual impairment, hearing impairment, or both. Click on the questions below for more information. You can download a new (summer 2019) leaflet about ROVICS here.
- What are sensory impairments?
A sensory impairment is something that affects your hearing, vision or both your hearing and vision.
Different types of sensory impairments include:
- Visual Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- deaf or Deaf
- Multi-Sensory Impaired (MSI)
Sensory Impairments does not include Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD is a neurological disorder that results from the brain’s inability to understand certain information received from the body’s sensory systems (touch, smell, taste).
- What should I do if I am worried about my child?
You could speak to your GP or health visitor, who may refer you on to the most appropriate service. This could be audiology or ophthalmology.
If you are worried about your child, you could take them to visit a high street or local community optician or audiologist for a free vision or hearing check. Lots of large pharmacies and opticians can do these tests.
If your child is of school age, you could discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher or SENDco.
- What help and support is available in Devon?
There are local and national organisations that can support families of children and young people with visual, hearing or multi-sensory impairments.
Audiology and ophthalmology services for children and young people
- Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E)
- Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT)
- Torbay and South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (TSDHT)
- Plymouth Hospitals Trust (PHNT)
Specialist services and therapies
- Cochlear implant centres
- Highly Specialist Speech and language therapy services
- Specialist CAMHS for deaf children
Charities and national support
- Starting Point – a web based guide to all UK services for blind children
- Bliss – a charity working to support those with premature babies with vision problems
- Wonderbaby – A website for parents who have a blind or disabled child
- The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) – advice and support for deaf children and families, with advice for professionals working with deaf children too.
- Sense – The National Deafblind and Rubella Association – National voluntary organisation working with and supporting people who are deafblind or have associated impairments.
- Action for Blind People – a national charity providing practical and emotional advice and support across England to people who are sight impaired and their family and friends.
- Deafblind UK – Collection of information and resources for deafblind people.
- Guide Dogs (formerly Guide Dogs for the Blind Association) – Offer a range of services, support and activities for all ages and provide advice for parents and other carers.
- Listening Books – Audiobooks for people who cannot read due to illness or impairment.
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) – Improving access for disabled people to the environments and services they use.
- UK Vision Strategy – Provide a unifying framework for the UK’s eye health, eye care, and sight loss services.
- Through Scarlett’s Eyes – An informative family support network for visually impaired children.
- Sibs – a national charity to support siblings of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Local support groups
- Signpost Plus – The co-ordinators can help you get information about the local and national services and support available to you and your child.
- Moorvision – A voluntary support group for Devon families of visually impaired children and young people (0-25).
- Exeter and South Devon Deaf Children’s Society – This group aims to support deaf children, to develop effective interaction, communication and to offer every support to enable them to develop their full potential.
- What do different professionals do to support a child with sensory impairment?
Visual impairment, hearing impairment and multi-sensory impairment
Rehabilitation Officers for Visually Impaired Children (ROVIC)
What do ROVICs do?
ROVICs promote understanding, confidence and independence of each individual’s visual and non-visual abilities so that they can:
- Develop, progress and use vision to their fullest functional potential
- Access and achieve orientation, mobility, navigation and movement
- Be included and participate in interpersonal, organisational and daily living activities
- Communicate and interact
ROVICs assess the functional visual responses and behaviours of infants, children and young people. We encourage and monitor the developing functional abilities in relation to movement and independence, determining whether a visual difficulty is likely to impede access to or achievement of:
- Inclusion, self-esteem and self-confidence
- Age appropriate independence and social interactions
- Skilful, relaxed and safe orientation and mobility
- Access and navigation within and around home, community, and educational settings
The Babcock LDP Sensory Impairment Team (HI, VI, MSI)
What does the Sensory Impairment Team do?
The teams work with children and young people of school age aged 0-25 in the home and in educational settings.
Teams offer teaching, support, advice, Early Help and interventions for children and young people from 0-25, where a visual, hearing or multi- sensory impairment is having an impact on their ability to access education.
Support from the Sensory Impairments Team can help children and young people to achieve their full potential and fulfil their own aspirations.
- Parents/carers will gain a better understanding of the needs of their child or young person and will have confidence that their needs are being met
- Schools and settings will build capacity through wider workforce development leading to an increase in local provision
Our assessments are child-centred, and offer practical advice, information and personalised training. The service undertakes various types of assessment to include functional ability, orientation and mobility, independence, safety and accessibility, as well as environmental audits of home, community and educational sites. Assessments can be undertaken in any setting/environment that the child/young person is accessing, including at home, their local community, and other health and educational settings. Within educational settings the ROVIC service provides:
- individual assessments
- mobility and independence programmes
- staff awareness training for those working with the individual on a regular basis
- advising and informing on environmental accessibility and safety (environmental audit).
The initial visit will consist of a specialist assessment of need and observation of the child or young person. If the child or young person is in an educational setting, a discussion with class teacher, support staff and SENCO will be needed to look at appropriate strategies and interventions. This will be undertaken within at least 3 working weeks.
A written report will be provided within 10 working days of the initial assessment visit. This report will describe the diagnosis, assessment results, provision and training needs in a way that can be clearly understood by parents and professionals involved.
Long term planning outcomes will be provided annually in the form of a support matrix for schools to use to ensure CYP can access the curriculum and be successfully included alongside their peers.
If appropriate, joint visits with other professionals such as Communication and Interaction team, Speech and Language therapists or Rehabilitation Officers for Visually Impaired Children (ROVICs) can be arranged.
ROVICs can provide information relating to:
- Care and support for deafblind children and young people as per the deafblind guidance
- Benefits and concessions specific to visual impairment and registration status
- Local and national resources, services, and provision available to children or young people who are visually or multi-sensory impaired
- Advice and information for parents and carers
- Awareness and training related to visual or multi-sensory impairment
- Environmental audits relating to design, modifications and accessibility to settings and/or environments
- Certification and registration of visual impairment
The Sensory Impairment Team can offer information relating to:
- QTVI (Qualified Teacher of Learners with Vision Impairment)
- TOD (Teacher of the Deaf)
- QTMSI (Qualified Teacher of Learners with Multi-Sensory Impairments)
- Visual Impairment
- Choosing a Post-16 Setting
- Hearing Impairment
- Choosing a School
- Multi-Sensory Impairment
ROVICs have a statutory responsibility to maintain a registration/record database in relation to children and young people who are in receipt of a Certificate of Visual Impairment as part of our specialist assessment programme. The ROVIC service assessments aim to ensure that appropriate resources are recommended, and provided to children and young people presenting with visual impairment and or additional need.
Local authorities have legal duties to identify and assess the special educational needs of children and young people for whom they are responsible. LAs become responsible for a child or young person in their area when they become aware that the child or young person has or may have SEN. Babcock LDP works with Devon County Council in partnership to take responsibility for the children or young people with identified SEN, helping them to achieve the “best possible educational and other outcomes”. (SEN Code of Practice)
How to access the service
We aim to respond to all requests for service within 14 days of receipt, including where this is a request for Certification of Visual Impairment. Once a child/young person is accepted onto our waiting list, we try and see all children/young people within 18 weeks of the request.
Children and Family Health Devon
Single Point of Access Team
1a Capital Court
Sowton Industrial Estate
Exeter EX2 7FW
tel: 0330 0245 321
How to access the service
All referrals to the Sensory Impairment Team must come from a school/education setting/hospital with parental consent.
- What can I do as a parent carer to support a child with sensory impairment?
People working with your family can help you to support your child or young person’s needs. You can also find advice and guidance online:
- The Communication Trust – a range of information and tools for parents
- National Deaf Children’s Society Parenting Resources – useful resources to help you with your deaf child
- Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) – practical advice, ideas and contacts for parents and families of children with vision impairment
- How do I get the equipment and therapies my child needs?
Your child will need to be assessed by a therapist to receive specialist equipment or therapies.
Support at school
Social care support
Social Care support can include respite care / short breaks as well as personal budgets to activities to support a child or young person to achieve their best possible outcomes.
Mental health support
- Specialist CAMHS for deaf children
- Rehabilitation Officers for Visually Impaired Children (ROVIC) Service
Alternative and augmented communication (AAC)
- Vranch house provides an AAC intervention service. This service provides specialist Speech and Language Therapist input to help people use high-tech AAC systems.
- Dame Hannah Rogers provides AAC systems and aids for people with highly complex needs who may fit the ‘Criteria for NHS England Specialist Services’.
- Useful Links
- What is a ‘Certificate of Visual Impairment’?
- Deaf Blind Policy guidance – This explains how local authorities should act in relation to care and support for deafblind adults and children.
- Moorvision – A charity aiming to provide support for people caring for children and young people with visual impairments
- Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) Pathway – December 2018
- Babcock LDP – Sensory Impairment Team – support for children with sensory or visual impairments via school
page updated 15/07/19 firstname.lastname@example.org