Support for your child or young person

Find out about the support available for your child or young person.

Deafness and Hard of Hearing

Preschool Support

Preschool support is designed to ensure educational settings and families have access to broad, balanced and unbiased information. 

The Service aims to make contact with families within two days from referral and will offer support based on individual concerns and wishes.

The Service provides support for preschool children who are deaf/hard of hearing.  This may include some or all of the following:

  • Advice and guidance for parents/carers to help them to understand their child’s hearing loss.
  • Individual support at home for preschool children and their families who have a diagnosed sensory impairment.
  • Work in partnership with parents/carers to help them to support their child’s development of language and communication through play-based activities.
  • Specialist equipment for children where a need is identified and providing support for equipment such as hearing aids and cochlear implants.
  • Support, advice and ongoing training provided to teachers and other professionals working in preschool settings, so they are well-equipped to meet children’s needs.
  • Information on specific types of sensory impairment and how these may impact on learning in educational settings.
  • Support for transitions into preschool settings and school.

School Age Support - Educational Settings Support

The Service provides support to children who are deaf/hard of hearing in the classroom, in both mainstream and specialist settings.

The Teacher of Deaf Children and Young People (TOD) will focus on the deaf child’s development in communication, literacy and mathematics as key areas as well as social and emotional development. 

The support may include some or all of the following:

  • Provide support with a focus on developing areas such as language, communication, literacy, social and emotional development and independence.
  • Advise educational settings on the implications of deafness and strategies to promote access to the curriculum and inclusion.
  • Offer bespoke training to educational setting staff to ensure that the child/young person has access to the curriculum and the staff are aware of their needs.
  • Differentiation of curriculum content where appropriate, with pre and post tutoring to ensure understanding.
  • Regular language and literacy and communication assessments to monitor progress.
  • Routine testing of hearing aids and other equipment at educational settings.
  • Functional hearing reviews.
  • Advice on assistive technology to improve/provide access to the curriculum or the environment and training for its use.
  • Advice about examinations and access arrangements.
  • Support the child/young person and families at transition within and between educational settings.
  • Statutory advice for statements of special educational needs.

Specialist Equipment

Specialist equipment or assistive technology is necessary for some pupils in educational settings. Radio aid systems are often required to help deaf/hard of hearing children and young people to access the educational setting curriculum. 

The Service will:

  • Provide advice and training on specialist assistive technology.
  • Provide a specific programme of skills to help the student use their assistive technology independently, as appropriate.
  • Assess, monitor and review assistive technology requirements.

The Sensory Service will assess the need for specialist equipment for individual pupils in educational settings. Where assistive technology is assessed as needed the equipment will be provided via a loan system and the Sensory Service will maintain the equipment and assist in the event of equipment malfunction. 

You can find out more about specialist equipment by contacting the Sensory Team.

Vision Impairment

Preschool Support

The Sensory Service provides support to preschool children with a vision impairment.  Preschool support is designed to ensure educational settings and families have access to broad, balanced and unbiased information. 

The Sensory Service aims to make contact with families within five days from referral and will offer support based on each individual’s concerns and wishes.  

The support offered may include some or all of the following:

  • Advice and guidance to families to help them to understand their child’s vision impairment.
  • Work in partnership with parents to support early development and learning through play based activities.
  • Advice and support on teaching of tactile, pre-braille and Braille skills and early literacy experiences.
  • Advice on appropriate toys, sensory materials and books.
  • Support visits, advice and training to preschool settings and schools; and
  • Support for transitions into preschools settings and school.

Some aspects of this programme may be delivered jointly with Habilitation Specialists from Guide Dogs NI.

School Age Support Educational Setting’s Support

When children reach school age, the Sensory Team continue to work closely with families carrying out visits to children in educational settings, both mainstream and specialist.

A Teacher for Vision Impaired (TVI) will continue to focus on the visually impaired child’s development in literacy, learning to access information, use of equipment, independence, social and emotional development and mathematics as key areas.

Children and young people who receive weekly support often have severe or profound  vision impairment and require alternative methods for literacy, including braille, computer reader and touch typing. The support programme may include some or all of the following:

  • Assessment of how the child/young person is using their functional vision in an educational setting.
  • Advice and guidance on reasonable adjustments.
  • Offer training to educational setting staff to ensure that the child/young person has access to the curriculum and the staff are aware of their needs.
  • Direct teaching for some pupils with a very high level of need to acquire specialist skills such as braille and use of specialist equipment to enable them to access the curriculum independently.
  • Provide direct support in the classroom with classroom assistants to support the learning, educational progress and inclusion of pupils, where appropriate.
  • Advice on the differentiation and adaptation of teaching materials.
  • Advice on technology to improve/provide access to the curriculum or the environment and training for its use e.g. magnification software, braille note taker.
  • Advice about examinations and access arrangements.
  • Environmental audits and advice.
  • Support the child/young person and families at transition within and between educational settings.
  • Advice for adapting learning resources in braille, large print and electronic versions.
  • Statutory advice for statements of special educational needs (SEN).

Specialist Equipment

Specialist equipment or assistive technology can provide ways to assist learners with vision impairment (VI) to develop their literacy skills to their full potential, to access information and present their work.

The Service provides advice and training on:

  • Low vision aids;
  • Skills in independent use of technology;
  • Advice on ICT requirements for parents/settings regarding e.g., iPad accessibility and suitable apps to stimulate vision and maximise visual access; and
  • Assessment, monitoring and review of assistive technology requirements.

The Sensory Service will assess the need for specialist equipment for individual pupils in educational settings. Where assistive technology is assessed as needed the equipment will be provided via a loan system and the Sensory Service will maintain the equipment and assist in the event of equipment malfunction.  

You can find out more about specialist equipment by contacting the Sensory Team.

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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.