VIEW Conference: 16th & 17th March 2017

The annual VIEW Conference was held in Birmingham with a great line up of presenters. VIEW is a professional membership association for Qualified Teachers of children and young people with vision impairment. Teachers from all around the UK were in attendance for the two day event, which included presentations from VICTAR’s Graeme Douglas and Mike McLinden.

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This artwork was created by students at RNIB College Loughborough. The picture is of an eye against a background made up of old Braille pages. The outline of the eye is made up of black and white photos of staff and students’ eyes.  The pupil is made up of different coloured tactile collage segments. The iris is a concave mirror. It is going to be displayed at RNIB’s centre in Judd Street, London.

Reza Kiani presented on the topic ‘Association of autism with sensory impairments in young people and adults with autism’. In his presentation Reza highlighted that sensory issues are common in adults with intellectual disabilities. He also noted that there is a high chance of missing a sensory impairment and ASD in young people and adults with an intellectual disability if no objective tools are used. His take home message was to “always raise the concerns early on”.

Peter White BBC journalist gave a most interesting and thought provoking presentation of his lived experience of being blind, attending a specialist residential school for the blind and working in a predominantly sighted work place. Peter shared clips from a recent BBC radio broadcast, ‘Too Many Helping Hands’ (which also featured Graeme Douglas), including a clip from one young blind student who gave examples of ways in which the “inclusive” activities of the school she attended were not true of the “real world”.

Rachel Pilling and Yvonne Smith spoke about their study ‘Now they See it Now they Don’t’. This project has considered the benefits of traditional vision assessments in special schools, through consultation with teachers, parents and other stakeholders.

Naomi Dale provided an update on the Optimum VI project. This is a research study which aims to learn more about the early development of babies and young children with visual impairment, and also how different methods of early intervention and care might influence this early development. Much of the data was still under wraps, however what Naomi did share was the positive input from parents who have young children with congenital vision impairments involved in the research. The outcomes will be available in the public arena shortly.

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Mike McLinden presents on: “‘Access to Learning-Learning to Access’ – Analysing the distinctive role of specialist teachers of children and young people with vision impairments”

Mike McLinden addressed the topic of what is the role of the QTVI. This included consideration of the new training standards, new policy context and our historical understanding of what specialist teachers should do. As a vehicle for this discussion he drew upon a model developed by VICTAR: the ‘Access to learning and learning to access’ model.

Graeme Douglas presented with Nikki Chowdry from the Department for Education on the topic “Preparing for Adulthood”. Their presentation addressed the role of the QTVIs in the context of the new Code of Practice, and drew upon various research activities within VICTAR, including the Longitudinal Transitions Study. The audience gave interesting thoughts and reflections on the opportunities and challenges offered by the new SEND legislation.

Threaded through the conference along with the main presentations above, were a series of workshops that delegates could select from. The two day professional conference was facilitated well by Rory Cobb and Suzy McDonald. It was Suzy’s final conference, after many years of true commitment to the field of vision impairment. Rory and the delegates thanked Suzy for all her work for the sector over the years.

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VIEW Chair – Rory Cobb

Jane Thistlethwaite