Info for Schools

The Visual Support Service is one of

North Tyneside’s services for

children and young people.

Information for Schools

Who is the team?


Kate Nesbitt, Qualified teacher for the visually impaired.
Karyn Thompson, Qualified teacher for the visually impaired.
Ken Finn, MSI Teacher (in training).

We are trained teachers who have taught in schools according to our specialism.  We have then had additional training about eyes and eyesight to post graduate level, and visit many schools in North Tyneside to teach and make recommendations as appropriate.


Michelle Chapman, Mobility and Independence Officer.
Joanne Forster, Specialist Support Assistant.
Suzanne Monaghan, Administrative Assistant.


General Visual Information


What is a visual impairment?


This is an eye condition that cannot be rectified by wearing glasses/contact lenses, medicine or surgery.  A person with a visual impairment’s vision may remain stable, deteriorate or improve.  A visual impairment can have more than one symptom within the eyes.

Very few blind young people have no light awareness.  Even light perception is still useful vision.  A visual impairment is a low incidence disability.


Why is vision so important?


·        It is estimated that a significant percentage of all learning comes through vision.

·        Vision acts as a bridge between information from our other senses

·        Vision unifies, co-ordinates and is informed by input from touch and hearing.

·        40% of the brain is devoted to vision.


Diagnosis of visual impairment and the role of teachers and schools.


A visual impairment can be diagnosed at birth or thereafter.  However a number of eye conditions remain undetected until the child goes to school.  Nursery nurses, teachers and teaching assistants may observe a child displaying poor coordination or learning problems which maybe signs of a visual impairment.  Some further symptoms to look out for:


·        Peers closely at objects or pictures.

·        Hold work or their head at an unusual angle for viewing something.

·        Does not make and maintain eye contact.

·        Avoids close work.

·        Has difficulty finding items dropped onto the floor.

·        Bumps into things or knocks things over.

·        Has difficulty finding all text on a page.

·        Loses place or skips lines when reading.

·        When reading or doing near work either closes or covers one eye.

·        Poor hand control.

·        Confuses similar words or does not recognise the same word again.

·        Short attention span.

·        Rubs or pokes their eyes.

·        Wave hands/flick fingers in front of their eyes.

·        When throwing balls or placing items the child misses the target.


If a child displays several of the above symptoms, they may have a visual problem which can impact on educational progress.


Sometimes parents do not inform school about their child’s visual impairment for various reasons.  If a child mentions or the parents request time off school for a visit to the Eye Hospital (Ophthalmology), Orthoptist or Optician then a visual impairment might be present.