VI education provision Local Offers in England: updated 2019

Picture of contact cardsThe RNIB/VIEW VI service Local Offer spreadsheet

Here is a downloadable spreadsheet that gives the link to the Local Offer page for the VI/sensory education service in every local authority in England.

It is an updated version of the Local Offer spreadsheet that was originally created by RNIB The updated version is the result of a collaboration between RNIB and VIEW, and is available from both organisations.

The aim of this spreadsheet is to provide a resource for professionals and parents to find information and contact details for the VI/sensory education service in every local authority, to ensure speedy referral of children and young people with VI.

The original spreadsheet had been created after several ECLOs working in hospital ophthalmology departments had told RNIB of the difficulties they often experienced in finding the contact details of VI services in local authorities that they didn’t routinely work with. This could result in delays in referral of babies and children for specialist support.

As well as parents, other VI professionals may also find the spreadsheet helpful (e.g. if a child is moving to another area, their QTVI may wish to contact the VI service in the new LA).

Finding VI service information in Local Offers

The process of updating the spreadsheet involved searching local authority Local Offer pages for VI service information. This was often a frustrating and time consuming task! While on some local authority websites the search was relatively simple, and took me to the VI/sensory service page after two or three clicks, in others the only VI specific information I could find was about what local voluntary organisations offered, or took me to the social care VI Local Offer. Sometimes, the only way of locating the VI education service Local Offer was via a Google search. I failed completely to find anything at all about the VI education provision on a small number of local authority websites and had instead, to give a generic SEND team link.

The information provided in VI service Local Offers

Once I’d found information about the VI education Local Offer, the next challenge was to locate contact details. In the best local authorities, the VI/sensory service page had a contact name, phone number and email address. In others, referral was through a generic SEND team and these were the only contact details given. In a few local authorities, the only way of referring a child was by downloading a referral form. No telephone number or email address was given, meaning that a parent or professional who might perhaps, just have a simple query, would have to go through the onerous process of downloading and completing the form in order to get their query answered.

The ‘tone’ of the information varied too. While some VI/sensory service Local Offer pages were friendly and welcoming – just what the parent of a newly diagnosed child would want to see – others came across as bureaucratic and more concerned with referral criteria.

Your VI service Local Offer on the spreadsheet

Please could you take the time to check the link to your VI/sensory service Local Offer page. If there is a better link that we should be using, let us know and we’ll change it on both the VIEW and RNIB spreadsheets – email

Please also consider how your Local Offer page compares to other Local Offer pages. Is your page: easy to navigate to; friendly and welcoming; informative; with contact details including phone number and email address?

Sue Keil
Research Officer