What Quality First teaching is, strategies to teach pupils with vision impairment.

What Quality First Teaching is

Quality First Teaching refers to the style of teaching adopted to promote inclusion. 

It includes differentiated learning and strategies that are expected to be implemented by class and subject teachers, to meet the needs of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Quality first teaching and a graduated response are embedded in the SEND Code of Practice. 

Environment strategies 

Make sure the classroom is well organised and labelled, with good acoustics. Keep background noise to a minimum.

Make sure the seating position enhances and optimises use of vision to access:

  • interactive whiteboard
  • flipchart
  • screens
  • smartboards
  • any demonstrations

Check lighting levels to make sure there’s appropriate and comfortable light for the pupil, including use of blinds.

Where possible, pupils should be seated: 

  • with their back to the windows 
  • so shadows are not cast over them and their work

Highlight steps and key features within the school and playgrounds or outside space. Carry out an environmental audit as advised, in liaison with a Qualified Teacher for the Visually Impaired (QTVI).

Interacting with the child or young person

Make sure the child or young person: 

  • is included in the classroom
  • gets opportunities to work with a variety of peers at different times

Praise should be specific and clear, giving the pupil a realistic sense of themselves.

The child or young person should be clear on: 

  • what is expected
  • the volume of work they should complete in the time available

Help the pupil access good examples of peers’ work.

Give the pupil opportunities to have real first-hand experiences, for example use real objects.

Strategies for teachers and staff 

Delivering lessons

PowerPoints should have clearly numbered slides, so that students using personal copies of the presentation can easily follow in the lesson. 

Give clear verbal explanations when giving a demonstration. Verbalise what you write on a board.

Say the pupil’s name before talking to them so they know who you’re directing the request or instruction to. Remember that children and young people with a VI are unlikely to follow non-verbal communication

Do not stand against a window, as your face becomes difficult to see.

Supporting vision

Encourage pupils to:

  • use aids, for example writing slopes, glass or hand magnifiers 
  • keep glasses clean, if applicable, as advised by QTVI

Provide rest periods or alternate activities to reduce visual effort. For example, use audio books or a practical activity. Reduce unnecessary visual information from materials or copying from board.

Colour contrast

Make sure there’s good contrast between print and background colours, when making either paper copies or electronic presentations.

Adults should use pens that provide good contrast when writing on a board or pupil’s books, for example when giving feedback.


Provide a range of resources that support visual access, so the pupil can choose the most appropriate resource for an activity. 

For example: 

  • different types of pens and pencils
  • high visibility rulers 
  • soft pencils 2B and 4B 
  • wet ink handwriting pens
  • thick lined or wide spaced writing books 

Use resources that facilitate visual access across the curriculum, for example: 

  • coloured balls in PE
  • accessible science equipment 

A QTVI can discuss these and advise regarding purchase.

Learning materials

Use matt surfaces, including laminated materials, to reduce glare.

Provide materials with font style and size appropriate to the pupil, as advised by QTVI.

Give pupils their own copy of materials. Avoid sharing books or monitors so the pupil can position themselves in the best angle or distance, unless sharing is needed for social reasons.

Where enlargement is needed use A4 paper. Print landscape if the level of enlargement makes it more manageable. Number pages in the same place on the sheets.

Photocopies should be good quality, strong contrast, and colour where possible.  



  • arrangements for break and lunchtime activities 
  • the child’s participation and inclusion in these 
  • finding and accessing peers before these activities take place

Consider using a classroom tablet computer to take photos and enlarge images to help with access, as advised and discussed with QTVI regarding purchase.

Consider access to assemblies and information: 

  • give the pupil their own copies of materials or a laptop or tablet displaying information
  • consider the pupil’s seating position 
  • arrange access to staff to give additional verbal descriptions or information 
  • make sure the pupil has an evacuation plan and risk assessment in liaison with QTVI

Additional resources and information


Links to useful resources and a document listing teacher-reviewed resources for blind and partially-sighted learners.

Book Share (previously Load2Learn) 

Accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Useful for a range of needs

Seeing Ear Library

Accessible online library for large print.

RNIB Lending Library 

Large print and Braille books.

Contact us
Sensory Support Service
Elmfield House
Greystoke Avenue
BS10 6AY

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