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A young boy with VI plays with a therapist in a sensory room

10 Tips for Successful Learning for Pupils with Vision Impairment

From the Little Finger By Mary Lee (2005)

  • 1.Use your child’s name before beginning to speak in order to alert him to listening.
  • 2.Give your child plenty of opportunities to anticipate what will happen next, e.g., if you are going to lift him, pause first, with your hands round his middle, and say, “We’re going up”.
  • 3. Try not to manipulate your child’s hands overmuch; his hands act as his eyes and should not be restricted. When demonstrating an action, place your hand or hook a finger under your child’s hand. Allow him control of his own hands.
  • 4. If you are leaving the room, warn your child and say where you are going.
  • 5. Give your child lots of time to explore new things.
  • 6. Instead of using words like ‘here’ and ‘there’ use the words ‘left’ and ‘right’; be specific.
  • 7. Always move from the whole to the parts. Allow your child to explore an object in its entirety before starting to explore individual features.
  • 8. Think about what matters to your child and which senses he uses most. Use this in your description of objects and experiences, i.e. talk about weight and texture rather than colour and shape; talk about cold wind and wet rain rather than white clouds and blue sky.
  • 9. Allow your child to explore concepts using his own body e.g. high, low; under, over, through; in, out; big, little.
  • 10. Repeat activities that have to be learned through movement in order to give your child time to internalise and remember the steps in the task.

Learn More

Guidelines for Blind or Partially Sighted Pupils

How to Use Early Years Tactile Resources (Video)

[ Modified: Friday, 23 August 2019, 12:25 PM ]
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by Learning Hub - Tuesday, 2 July 2019, 8:56 AM
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We will be carrying out some essential maintenance on the Royal Blind Learning Hub website from 2pm, Tues 2 July.

Access to our website will be unavailable during the maintenance window. You will still be able to sign up for our seminars by telephone or email.

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by Learning Hub - Wednesday, 26 June 2019, 2:19 PM
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Marg Griffin came all the way over from Tasmania, Australia to attend our seminar on Vision Impairment & Autism Spectrum Disorder: Communication & Learning, which we hosted at the Royal Blind School last month.

Marg, who is State Coordinator for Vision Services in the Tasmanian Government Department of Education, has kindly reflected on her experience, and you can read her thoughts below.

In early May I visited the Royal Blind School Edinburgh to attend the PL course “Vision Impairment & Autism Spectrum Disorder: Communication & Learning”. The course was delivered by Nicola Traynor, Clare Mackenzie (Occupational Therapists with the Royal Blind School), and Heather Robertson( Speech and Language Therapist). Clare, Nicola and Heather provided a comprehensive course; they generously shared their professional knowledge and experience. It was evident that they drew upon current research and “hands on experience” of working with students with complex learning needs. I was warmly welcomed and grateful for the opportunity to establish links with their excellent service.

After the course I visited the Royal Blind School Independent Living residence. The facility offers a range of boarding arrangements for students with vision impairment. It was exciting to see the way in which this residence caters for diverse needs, has highly trained staff and a commitment to developing each young person’s personal independence.

Finally I spent time with Sally Paterson who shared information on the Royal Blind Learning Hub. Our Service has already benefited from the excellent on-line resources which are available via the Learning Hub. So it was such a lovely opportunity to talk with Sally. I am thankful that we can link in to these high quality resources and materials Indeed a continent away the Scottish Learning Hub is a valued learning tool promoting inclusive practices and understanding of the unique learning needs of students who are blind or have low vision.

My thanks to all the team from the Royal Blind School and Learning Hub.

[ Modified: Thursday, 27 June 2019, 4:43 PM ]
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 3 June 2019, 11:22 AM
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We will be carrying out some essential maintenance on the Royal Blind Learning Hub website tomorrow, Tues 4 June.

Access to our website will be unavailable during the maintenance window. You will still be able to sign up for our seminars by telephone or email.

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by Learning Hub - Tuesday, 14 May 2019, 9:48 AM
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Starting up a Switch Toy Library

By Karen Osterloh, Royal Blind School librarian

Our Library has recently been asked to look after a collection of switch adapted toys sourced by our Speech and Language and Occupational Health Therapists. These are toys that have been adapted to be operated by a switch: particularly useful for children and young people with complex needs.

Types of toy

So far our Switch Toy Library includes a furry monkey that plays a drum, a puppy that sits, walks, barks and performs backflips, a train that blows bubbles, an infinity tunnel, a spinning plastic globe with multi-coloured lights, and a vibrating pillow. We also have a few switch adapted CD/Cassette/Radio players.

White toy puppy with black spots, attached to a swtich

Toy furry monkey that plays a drum

Why do we use switch toys?

Switch toys are great for developing an understanding of cause and effect. With the right toy, pupils can be motivated to press a switch (in whatever way is suitable to them) in order to make something happen. When they operate a switch they are rewarded with sensory feedback in the form of sound, movement, light, vibration or other sensation. Switches can help with teaching many skills such as responding, timing, taking turns, choosing, listening and looking. They also aid social interaction as they enable them to take part in a group activity.

Storing the toys

As the switch adapted toys are expensive, we have added barcodes so that they can be signed out using our Library catalogue in the same way as Library users borrow a book. For storage, they are kept in large plastic boxes. 

Large box full of swtich toys, two monkeys, a puppy and various switches

Further information

There are many websites selling switch adapted toys such as: Inclusive Technology, Explore Your Senses, SpaceKraft and Liberator. There are also websites (Call Scotland, for example) which have instructions on how to make your own adapted toys - if you are handy with electric wiring! For more information about switches see the Call Scotland web page on Switches.

[ Modified: Thursday, 16 May 2019, 9:29 AM ]
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Lego Bricks Designed for Children with Sight Loss

Lego have designed "Braille bricks" to help blind and partially sighted pupils.

Watch the video clip from the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme to find out how pupils have been testing them out.

[ Modified: Monday, 13 May 2019, 11:56 AM ]
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 29 April 2019, 12:48 PM
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The Royal Blind Learning Hub is pleased to announce its programme of seminars for the 2019/20 year.

All events are FREE and will be held in Edinburgh at the Royal Blind School unless otherwise stated.

Please note some dates/times may change and will be confirmed when booking opens.

Seminars and Workshops 2019-20



Once booking is open for these seminars they will appear on our seminars page.

If you would like to express an interest in attending any of our future seminars please email

Or call us on 0131 446 3128

[ Modified: Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 1:00 PM ]
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Playground Environment

A boy with vision impairment wearing sunglasses and a learning assistant smile while playing outside

In this blog you’ll find guidelines for adapting the playground environment for your blind and partially sighted pupils.

The outside playground environment can be very difficult for pupils with vision impairment to navigate especially if there are large open spaces. Restrict play to smaller areas until they are familiar and also show them where play equipment is located as they will not see it from a distance. Playground area markers/colours are useful. You can teach the pupil to navigate to a certain point in the playground and encourage his sighted classmates to be aware of this. Setting up peer play opportunities in this area will encourage sighted children to stay and play.

Make sure children know what is available for them to play with. Children with VI often stick to one area/toy in a play environment because they cannot see what is available in other parts of the room, or the toys do not have good tactile interest. They also tend to stick to the activity which is safe and familiar, where they understand the ‘rules’ and know they won’t make mistakes. A lot of thought needs to go into scaffolding a play environment which is stimulating but also peer appropriate so that others will engage in play.

Learn more by watching the Let Me Play video.

Read our blog How to Adapt the Classroom for Blind and Partially Sighted Pupils.

[ Modified: Monday, 22 April 2019, 12:34 PM ]
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 18 March 2019, 11:54 AM
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Lisa Olson came all the way over from San Diego in America to attend our seminar on Tactile Graphics and Tactile Book Making, which we hosted at the Royal Blind School last month.

Lisa has kindly reflected on her experience and you can read it below:

Reflections on My Experience With the Royal Blind Learning Hub

Lisa Olson smiles at the camera with a sign pointing to the Royal Blind School in the background

I am so happy to have discovered the Royal Blind Learning Hub. In my current pursuit to learn as much as I can about best practices for supporting and empowering students who are blind or partially sighted, I have found your standout collection of resources to be of great help. Bravo to the Royal Blind team for your noble work--and with your web presence, the information you share now has a global reach! (You reached me across the Atlantic in San Diego! And it is clear your efforts can make a positive difference for students, educators, and advocates for the blind in other parts of the world as well.)

Thank you also for hosting the face-to-face teacher training seminars at the Royal Blind School campus in Edinburgh. Visiting your school in person, and participating in the Tactile Graphics seminar, was an invaluable experience for me. I am grateful for numerous worthwhile takeaways, including: new insights into tactile graphics theory and strong literacy development; new ideas for creating meaningful and effective multi-sensory learning resources collections; more exposure to state-of-the-art tactile graphics production options and technologies; and the opportunity (and privilege!) to meet and learn from Royal Blind staff and other Teachers of Vision Impairment from schools throughout Scotland.

As a college reference librarian, I currently work with post-secondary students in a large public community college system in San Diego, California. My visit to the Royal Blind School contributed greatly to my latest professional development goal of learning more about how I can most effectively advocate for our blind students' needs at the college level ... and how I can help break down barriers still encountered by blind students who are transitioning into the college experience.

[ Modified: Thursday, 28 March 2019, 1:23 PM ]
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Adapting the Classroom (Part 2)

Pupil and teacher smile as they work on a braillenote in the classroom

In the final part of this blog we complete our guidelines for adapting your classroom for your blind and partially sighted pupils.

Organised Environment

It is important to create a clutter free and organised environment around the pupil with vision impairment. It is good to have a set of drawers close to their desk with braille/tactile/large print labels for storing jotters, paper and other adapted resources. This ensures easy access to their materials and fosters a level of independence.

An organised environment also reduces their need to move unnecessarily around the classroom which takes time away from their task. It helps to keep finished work trays in the same place, making sure they have clear print/tactile labels or are different colours so the pupil can easily locate them.

There is no reason why a child with vision impairment cannot be part of the class routine of handing out the jotters, each jotter just requires a large print or braille label.


Be aware that what you put on the walls is unlikely to be seen clearly, if at all, by your pupils. If you do want them to view something on the walls it important to take them and show them where it is and make sure they know they are allowed to leave their seat when they need to use it, e.g. word wall. It is good for your pupils to have a desk copy of something they may need to refer to frequently.

For a pupil with no vision obviously it is not possible for them to access teaching information from the walls, however it is important that they know if their work has been put on the walls and how to locate that should they want to show someone. It is a good idea to make parts of any wall display tactile and have braille labelling.

Matt laminates can be purchased to eliminate glare from information on the walls. Some children who are blind may still have some light perception and it is important to have as much of an understanding of how they see as possible.

Learn how Velcro (hook and loop) boards are useful resources for blind and partially sighted students in our video How to Make Velcro Print and Braille Boards.

Read Part 1 of Adapting the Classroom.

[ Modified: Thursday, 7 March 2019, 9:50 AM ]