How to get vision, hearing, or multi-sensory support for your child, what type of support we offer, what happens when your child gets older, leaves education, or their vision or hearing improves.

The goal of the Sensory Support Service is to help young people to realise their full potential by working alongside them and their families on shared outcomes and aspirations.

How to get support

Your child has a vision, hearing or multi-sensory impairment

Any child with vision or hearing loss can be referred to the sensory support service right from first diagnosis until they go to higher education or into work. 

This referral can be made by: 

  • parents
  • the young person themselves
  • settings, for example nurseries, schools, colleges
  • any medical or health professional

If you'd like to refer a child, you can: 

Once the initial referral is made, we make sure that we have the latest medical information from audiology or ophthalmology. If we haven't been sent this as part of the referral, we can request it with your permission.
 
We'll always call parents or carers to: 

  • get more information
  • talk about next steps 

How this helps your child and your family

The aim is to identify: 

  • the child or young person's needs through assessment 
  • what can help and support them to achieve their aspirations

We do this by working with parents and services such as: 

  • audiology
  • ophthalmology
  • speech and language therapists
  • education settings  

What type of support your child will get

Support looks different for every child and young person and will vary depending on their age. 

We use the NatSIP Eligibility Frameworks for SI Services guidance, alongside our own judgment and the views of others to agree the best support for your child and family. 

We remain flexible in order to make sure we meet the needs of individual children and young people in different ways. Support is not fixed and can change based on the child's needs.  As children and young people develop and grow older, the aim of the service is to encourage maximum independence.

Ongoing support

Ongoing support is provided at three levels.

Level 1 

Advice for all: 

  • email
  • website and phone
  • a toolkit of information
  • access to our courses and on-line training for settings
  • parent support groups

Level 2

Three planned visits or contacts per year. 

These will be used for: 

  • assessments
  • observations
  • meetings
  • training
  • advice as needed 

We can also make an individual plan if your child needs extra sessions to get targeted work based on need. 

These sessions could cover:

  • establishing use of new equipment, for example: 
    • hearing aids
    • radio aids
    • electronic magnifiers
    • speech software
  • additional language teaching
  • additional assessments, for example: 
    • IT
    • reading
    • speed of processing
  • self-advocacy and independence skills

Level 3

More frequent visits for high level of sensory need, due to: 

  • the ongoing and sometimes changing impact of the sensory impairment 
  • the need to learn specialist skills

Depending on the age of the child and the setting these visits will include:

  • direct teaching
  • modelling or working directly with parents and staff 
  • further assessments, advice and training in addition to Level 2, for example:
    • Braille tuition
    • use of voice over and speech technology
    • bespoke language programme

Support as your child gets older

Support doesn't stay the same as your child gets older. 

The focus is on where the child is based and what their needs are, for example:

  • early years: visits can be made to the home or early years setting, including nursery, childminder, nanny 
  • school age: visits will made to the setting, with training and advice provided
  • college: visits can be made to the college, if the young person agrees

The regularity of support will change as children and young people develop skills and gain more independence.

As a parent or guardian you can still contact your child or young person's Sensory Support Service member of staff at any time.

Other support available

We have a list of external charities and groups that offer vision support, hearing support, and multi-sensory support.

What happens next

If your child or young person leaves education, or if their vision or hearing improves, we'll no longer see them. 

We'll pass on information and signpost you to the relevant people, with their agreement and yours.

You need more information or you're concerned about the support you're getting

Speak to your QTVI, MSI, ToD, or the setting in the first instance. 

You can also: 

Contact us
Sensory Support Service
Elmfield House
Greystoke Avenue
Westbury-on-Trym
BS10 6AY

Phone: 0117 903 8442
Text: 07810 506 669
Email: sensorysupportservice@bristol.gov.uk