How the Sensory Support Service works with children and young people who have hearing, vision or multisensory impairments.

What is sensory support

Sensory support is for children and young people from birth to 25, who are:

  • deaf
  • hearing impaired
  •  blind
  • partially sighted

The National Sensory Impairment Partnership (NATSIP) website Go to (opens new window) includes the eligibility criteria for sensory support.

Sensory support helps children and young people to learn at home, in early years settings and schools by working with families and a range of professionals from educational settings and services, health care, social care and voluntary organisations.

Support is available from the time your child is diagnosed to when they leave school or further education.

How your child can get sensory support

Local or specialist hospitals make most referrals for children with visual or hearing impairments after they’ve been identified as having a sensory impairment.

If you’re concerned that your child has a possible visual or hearing difficulty, get an appointment with a health professional, such as your doctor. They can refer your child on to check if they have a vision or hearing impairment. 

If you, your child’s early years setting or school is concerned about their hearing or vision, call 0117 903 8442 to refer your child to the service. Medical information is needed before support is given.

Early years settings or schools should fill in the document vision referral form (62 KB)  if they're concerned that your child may have a visual impairment.

What happens after your child is referred

The team will contact you, your child’s early years’ setting or school. Depending on your child's needs, they'll either give you information or visit you and your child at home, early years’ setting or school.  

If they visit you, they'll write a report that describes the support your child needs. This support is based on a national eligibility framework.

Sensory support will help your child’s early years setting or school by providing:

  • assessment of your child’s educational needs
  • appropriate ways to teach so they can follow the curriculum
  • training and support so that your child is fully included in the early years setting or school and makes good progress
  • direct support and teaching for children who need to learn specialist skills, such as Braille
  • advice and support to help your child develop independence and life skills

Early years support

Support in early years includes:

  • home visits
  • working with parents and carers to help a child develop specific skills, such as helping a blind child to learn to play using their other senses, helping a deaf child to communicate, or providing advice and information
  • provide opportunities for family learning, such as Acorns and Explorers sessions, which are for young children and their parents or carers from the time they’re diagnosed to meet others, share information and learn together.

School age and Further Education (FE) support

Support in schools and other educational settings, including FE colleges, includes:

  • training for teachers and teaching assistants and providing support, such as programmes of work to develop specialist skills
  • advise on planning lessons that take in account hearing and visual impairment issues
  • advice on strategies and approaches in the classroom, including how to adapt teaching materials
  • providing independence training in schools
  • teaching specialist skills like listening skills and Braille

Contact the sensory support service


Call: 0117 903 8441 / 2 / 3 

Find more information on the sensory support service website.