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What is visual impairment?

Many people have some type of visual problem at some point in their lives. Some can no longer see objects far away. Others have problems reading small print. These types of conditions are often easily treated with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

But when one or more parts of the eye or brain that are needed to process images become diseased or damaged, severe or total loss of vision can occur. In these cases, vision can't be fully restored with medical treatment, surgery, or corrective lenses like glasses or contacts.

Visual impairment is a term used to describe any kind of vision loss, whether it's someone who cannot see at all or someone who has partial vision loss.

When a child has a visual impairment, it needs immediate attention. That’s because so much learning typically occurs visually. Around 80% of what we learn comes through what we can see. Vision is one of our five senses. Being able to see gives us tremendous access to learning about the world around us, people’s faces and the subtleties of expression, what different things look like and how big they are, and the physical environments where we live and move, including approaching hazards.        

When vision loss goes undetected, children are delayed in developing a wide range of skills. While they can do virtually all the activities and tasks that sighted children take for granted, children who are visually impaired often need to learn to do them in a different way or using different tools or materials.  Central to their learning will be touching, listening, smelling, tasting, moving, and using whatever vision they have.  The assistance of parents, family members, friends, caregivers, and educators is important. 

For more information about support to schools and settings, you can contact the Camden Sensory Advisory Service.



In Camden, there is a specialist advisory teacher for children and young people with a visual impairment. SENDCO’s for early years settings, schools and colleges can refer for advice and guidance via an electronic Common Assessment Framework (eCAF) that they have access to.

Local health professionals, such as school nurses and occupational therapist also work closely with the specialist teacher to support children and young people in schools.

For more information about support to schools and settings, you can contact the Camden Sensory Advisory Service.

Under related services and external links, there are details for local and national organisations that can provide advice and support.

This includes the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) who offer information and support on their website.


Habilitation recognises that it is different from rehabilitation services for adults as many children and young people with visual impairment may never have had sight.

The purpose of habilitation is to help children and young people with mobility and life skills in a range of environments including in education and at home, and in doing so to build independence, confidence and resilience.

We are currently in the process of developing this in Camden, and further details will be set out here in due course.

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