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Visual impairment refers to a range of difficulties from partial sight through to blindness.  Pupils with visual impairments cover the whole ability range. For educational purposes, a pupil is considered to be VI if they require adaptations to their environment or specific differentiation of learning materials in order to access the curriculum.

Degrees of visual impairment

The following are nationally agreed definitions of degrees of vision loss. They refer to the corrected vision (with glasses/contact lenses if worn) in the better eye.

  1. Mild loss – slightly reduced distance vision of 6/12- 6/18 with good near vision OR a diagnosed visual condition
  2. Moderate loss – reduced distance vision of 6/18- 6/36 and slightly reduced near vision OR moderately reduced distance vision of 6/24-6/36 but poor near vision requiring enlargement of materials.
  3. Severe loss – 6/36 – 3/60 may have some, but not necessarily all, of the following in addition to those in levels 1 and 2: difficulty accessing large amounts of text so that modified materials are required / safety issues with regard to PE, practical science, technology / requires mobility and independence and daily life skills training
  4. Profound loss – educationally blind who uses Braille to access the curriculum, 3 /60 or less. May have some, but not necessarily all, of the following in addition to those in levels 1, 2 and 3: inability to handwrite / need to use mobility aids and training to move around safely / use Braille or audio to access text 

All children and young people diagnosed with a mild, moderate, severe or profound loss in accordance with the nationally agreed definitions meet the criteria for referral for their visual impairment.

The involvement of the Visually Impaired Service requires a medical diagnosis prior to referral.  The Visually Impaired Service have produced an information guide that contains more details of their service to schools.


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