Contact the Sensory Service
The Sensory Service can be contacted for advice and information specific to children and young people who have, or may have, who are deaf/hard of hearing, have a vision impairment, or who have a multi-sensory impairment.
How to get support for a child or young person with a sensory impairment.
Support from the Sensory Service usually occurs after a referral from a health professional. This ensures the Sensory Service has the required medical information to help make decisions around support.
In some circumstances, the service also accepts referrals from parents, educational settings and other agencies if relevant medical reports and parental contact details are provided.
The Sensory Service team can support children and young people with or without a Statement of Special Educational Needs.
Babies and Preschool
Babies are usually referred to the Sensory Service through the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme and older preschool children are referred from a health professional. A Teacher of Deaf Children and Young People (TOD) will make contact with the family within two working days of receiving a referral. We ask health professionals to make sure parents/carers have given their permission for a referral to be made to the Education Authority.
School Aged Children
School aged children are usually referred to the Sensory Service through a health professional. A Teacher of Deaf Children and Young People (TOD) will make contact with the family and educational setting within five working days of receiving a referral. We ask health professionals to make sure parents/carers have given their permission for a referral to be made to the Education Authority.
On occasion, school aged children may be referred through an educational setting. For this, there must be:
A Teacher of Deaf Children and Young People (TOD) will visit the educational setting to carry out a functional hearing assessment and to provide initial advice on reasonable adjustments. In all cases, the service will advise educational settings/parents to contact a health professional for assessment. This would normally be through the GP.
Child or Young Person with Temporary Hearing Loss
If a child is aided temporarily due to an episode of glue ear, the Sensory Service will endeavour to provide at least one advisory visit and will direct educational settings and parents/carers to the Sensory Service website for advice, guidance and information on reasonable adjustments.
The Teacher of Deaf Children and Young People (TOD) will then assess if further support is required to support hearing aid management. Decisions around support will be guided by the Eligibility Framework.
To enable a child or young person to access the service, they must be diagnosed by a health professional as having a vision impairment (VI). Once a diagnosis is made, a referral to the Service for vision impaired will normally be made by a health professional from the local Health and Social Care Trust.
The date of referral is recorded as the date when all medical information and parent or carer contact details have been received. We ask professionals to make sure parents/carers have given their permission for a referral to be made to the Education Authority.
Preschool and School Aged Children
A Teacher of the Vision Impaired will make contact with the parent/carer and educational setting (if applicable) within five working days of receipt of referral.
What Happens Following a Referral to the Sensory Service?
Referrals go through a triage system to determine the initial response to the referral. If the referral is accepted:
Parents/carers or the educational setting will be contacted by a Sensory Service teacher and an initial visit will be arranged.
Once a child or young person has accessed the services of the Sensory team, a Teacher of Deaf Children and Young People (TOD) and/or Teacher for Vision Impaired (TVI) will provide individual support.
The team uses the National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NatSIP) Eligibility Framework to guide levels of support. This framework uses a nationally agreed criteria to help services make decisions about the level of support. The team will also take into consideration the views of the parents, carers, educational settings and/or the child or young person, where appropriate.
To understand the implication for education and development, the Sensory Service needs to know the level and type of vision impairment or hearing loss a child has, in order to provide individually tailored advice and support.