Visual Impairment Service - Inclusion and Specialist Support Team

Service details

Who are we? 

This service is part of the wider Inclusion and Specialist Support Team and a part of Hackney's Integrated SEND Service enhanced support for children with additional needs. This specialist sensory team supports children and young people with:

  • Visual Impairment
  • Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI)/Deafblindness

The team is made up of:

  • Two Qualified Teachers for Visual Impairment (QTVI)
  • One Qualified Teacher for Visual Impairment and Multi-Sensory Impairment (QTVI/MSI)
  • A Habilitation/Mobility Specialist
  • A Specialist Portage Worker for Sensory Impairment

What do we do? 

Our specialist sensory team offers advice and support to families and children from diagnosis and beyond.

We help monitor and support children and young people's progress in early years and throughout all stages of education.

How can we support children and families at home? 

  • Support for families at home after diagnosis
  • Liaising with medical professionals
  • Advising on toys, play, and resources that support skills development

We can also help signpost families to activities in the local area and opportunities for young people to meet and socialise.

RSBC (Royal Society of Blind Children) support for Hackney families

RSBC offers a wide range of specialist opportunities for young people and advice for families. Young people and their families can sign up for sessions on the RSBC website.   

Alternatively, you can contact RSBC by email or by phone 020 3198 0225 

Royal Society for Blind Children - Hackney Drop-in sessions Autumn 2023

Information, guidance, and support for vision-impaired children, young people, and their families.

Do you have a child with a vision impairment? Are you a vision-impaired young person aged 16-25?

It is not always easy to access the extra help that is available through benefits and grants. RSBC is here to provide free and confidential advice, as well as support for applications including:

  • Welfare Benefits
  • Personal Independence Payment - PIP
  • Disability Living Allowance - DLA
  • Universal Credit
  • Grants

Get in touch to make a telephone appointment with our Support Advisor.


Come along to one of our drop-in sessions if you would like to check whether you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to, need help with applying for benefits and grants, and find out what other support you may be able to get.

Hackney Drop-in sessions Autumn 2023 Dates:

Get in touch to make an appointment with RSBC's Support Advisor Edyta Katna.
Phone 07833 732277


Sessions with Melanie Norton Hackney's Lead Visual-Impairment Service Lead at Hackney Service Centre, 1 Hillman St, London E8 1DY

Contact number 07799656556

  • Tuesday 14th November Room 52 from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm
  • Thursday 14th December Room 52 from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm

Are there any drop-in session for families?

Yes. The service runs drop-in sessions for families with children who are visually impaired and aged 0-4.

Parent-carers can come and get support and advice from the team and meet and make friends with other families and children. 

We also offer access to specialist sensory equipment and toys.

Call the service if you need to check the dates for the next session.

RSBC online early years group for parents who have a blind or partially sighted baby or child between 0-4 years old

The Bright Beginnings Early Years Group will give you specific strategies and tools that will benefit you and your family for a lifetime.

It is also a great way to meet other families and grow your support network.

These online drop-ins will run every week from 1 pm to 2 pm on Zoom.

Session links are provided when you book.

Book here to attend the RSBC Bright Beginnings online Early Years Group.

This is a great time to join these sessions. They are a new option for RSBC, so you will be meeting other parents and children who, like you, are also attending them for the first time.

In these sessions, you and your child can expect to take part in:

  • Different activities each week from sensory stories to messy play and music sessions.
  • Opportunities to meet and chat with other parents and families.
  • The option to take part in useful discussions about practical concerns with relevant guest hosts.

What support do we provide for children in education?

  • Information on school options; mainstream, additionally resource bases in mainstream schools and specialist schools
  • Advice to schools and settings on how to include visually impaired children
  • Support for children and young people in their learning
  • Monitoring school placements
  • Contributing to planning, reviews, and reports

We monitor children’s progress when they start at an early year's settings and through their time at school.

We can advise and support families to explore different options for their child’s development and education.

Advice can be offered to both families and education settings.

The service works with other professionals and services working with visually impaired children. We contribute to plans at important stages in a child’s education also referred to as transition. This includes providing advice on the transition to further education.

What support can we offer for Children and Young People who have Multi-Sensory Impairment (MSI)/Deafblindness?

Our team includes a teacher who is a qualified MSI teacher who can offer deafblind/MSI children and young people :

  • Assessment of their needs as deafblind/MSI learners
  • Advice to schools on including children and their specialist curriculum requirements
  • Support for interventions in school settings
  • Environmental assessments
  • Support and advice to families about communicating with and supporting their child’s development
  • Training for teachers and professionals providing services to deafblind/MSI children and young people.
  • Contribute to planning and reviews, including reports
  • Deafblind Guidance Assessments as part of an overall social care assessment

The Visual Impairment (VI) Team and Elective Home Education

If a parent-carer decides to educate their child at home, they take on responsibility for their child’s education. This is called Elective Home Education (EHE). If this is a choice you are making we advise that you register for EHE when your child reaches compulsory school age. This is the term after their 5th birthday. Information and instructions are included in Hackney Education's Elective Home Education (EHE) Policy.

The VI  team will monitor the home provision with a termly or annual visit, depending on the nature and extent of sensory impairment.

If the child has an Education, Health, and Care Plan, a Personal Budget for education can be requested from the EHC Planning Team.

A timetable of education activities, with any costs, must be provided. This is sometimes called provision mapping. Personal Budget applications and activities will be considered by the EHC Planning Panel or EHC Plan Management Team.

This team and panel make the final decision to agree on the personal education budget. Parents have a right to appeal through the tribunal process.

If the education provision a child is receiving is not considered to be suitable, attendance procedures will be followed.

SEND Local Offer

Local Offer Age Bands
Early Years and Pregnancy 0-4
Primary 4 -10
Secondary 11-14
Preparing for Adulthood 14-18
Young Adults 18 - 25
SEN Provision Type
  • Targeted
  • Specialist

Who to contact

Contact Name
Melanie Norton
Contact Position
Visual Impairment Team Service Coordinator
020 8820 7620 020 8820 7620

Where to go

Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street

E8 1DY

View E8 1DY on a map
Venue Notes

Buses: 30, 38, 55, 106, 236, 242, 253, 276, 277, D6, 388,

Train: London Fields, Hackney Central, Hackney Downs

Limited Disabled Parking in Hillman Street and Reading Lane

Other details

Who is eligible?

This is a specialist service for children and young people who are visually impaired or have Multi-Sensory Impairment / Deafblindness 

Referral required?


Referral Details

Self-referrals are accepted from parents and carers (or young people)

Referrals can also come from service providers in health, education or social care services. 

Just contact the team. 

What to do if you have a complaint

If you have feedback about this service, something you liked or were not happy with, you can talk to the person who worked with you or, if you feel more comfortable, a service manager. They will try to help sort out any problems.

If you are still not happy with the service you can raise your concerns formally. This means someone who is not part of the service will look at your feedback or concern and see if anything can or needs to be done to help make things better.

If you need to make a formal complaint you can use the London Borough of Hackney complaints procedure.


  • This service is provided free of charge
  • It is for children young people and families and education settings

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