Lost in Transition? Supporting young people with vision impairment for post school transitions

The Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research at the University of Birmingham will be hosting a free online conference to mark the conclusion of the Longitudinal Transitions Study.

During the event, which is being supported by Thomas Pocklington Trust, you will have the opportunity to learn about the findings from this research study. For over ten years we have followed the post-school transition experiences of 80 young people with vision impairment. This has included investigating the participants’ experiences in further education, higher education, apprenticeships, gap years and entering the labour market. This is a unique study in the field of vision impairment, and we are looking forward to sharing the findings from our final report with you. 

As part of the four-day event you will also have the opportunity to attend a series of workshops focusing on a range of important topics relating to supporting post-school transitions. These will be delivered experts in the field of vision impairment and will incorporate personal experiences from young people.

Registration

Register for the Main Conference on 22 June

Register for the workshops 23 -25 June

Programme overview 

Half day event: 22 June, 1.30 - 4.30pm

  • Presentation of findings from the Longitudinal Transitions Study by Dr Rachel Hewett and Professor Graeme Douglas, Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research 
  • Presentation from Elin Williams, Volunteer Development Coordinator at Look UK talking about her transition journey
  • Policy response to the findings (Speaker to be confirmed)
  • Premiere of a series of short video case studies produced by UCAN productions based on the research findings
  • Q&A panel

The event will be held as a Zoom conference (you will need to register online). There will be opportunity to pose questions to the panel of speakers before and during the event. A link to the Zoom webinar and the final report for the study will be circulated the week before the event.

Overview of the sessions and speakers for the half day event

Dr Rachel Hewett and Professor Graeme Douglas are based at the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research, University of Birmingham. The centre was established in 2001 with the underlying belief that 'through education, through research, and through access to appropriate resources, the barriers to learning and participation that may be experienced by people with vision impairment can be better understood and reduced'. Rachel and Graeme will highlight the key findings which have emerged through the Longitudinal Transitions Study, which they have led together since 2010. 

Elin Williams is visually impaired and one of the participants from the longitudinal study. She now works for LOOK UK, a small national charity empowering visually impaired young people and their families to thrive through a tailored peer-mentoring service and transformational events www.look-uk.org. In her talk, Elin will share her reflections on her personal experiences of transitioning through mainstream to specialist school, then to university and on to employment, and on participating in the longitudinal study. She will also share insight into the most common challenges around transition for VI young people that emerge through the LOOK Mentoring Project, and some ideas on how voluntary sector organisations can support specialist services.

Workshops: 23 - 25 June.

Wednesday 23 June 

  • 9.30 - 10.30: Further and Higher Education

Thursday 24 June 

  • 9.30 - 10.30: Technology
  • 2 - 3pm: Careers Education Information andGuidance

Friday 25 June

  • 9.30 - 10.30: Employment
  • 2 - 3pm: Mobility and Independence

Each workshop will last between 60-90 minutes and will be held on Zoom. We will aim to make the session’s interactive, allowing opportunity for engagement with other colleagues. Outlines of sessions and a final timetable of events will be released in due course. 

Overview of the Workshops and speakers and registration information

Please scroll down and register for each individual workshop.

Wednesday 23 June 9.30-10.30am: Further and Higher Education workshop

Moving into post-16 education: a student’s journey, led by Tara Chattaway and the Student Support Service at Thomas Pocklington Trust

Join us to explore the journey of blind and partially sighted students as they move on to post-16 education and beyond. This session will look at the experiences and barriers faced by blind and partially sighted students in college and university and will explore what we can do to support this journey and what policy changes are needed.

The session will hear from the Student Support Service at Thomas Pocklington Trust and students including Mentors from Look UK.

Tara Chattaway manages the Student Support Service which supports blind and partially sighted student to enter into and get the most out of post-16 education. Tara has worked in the sector for 14 years and is an experienced campaign and policy manager.

Register online

Thursday 24 June 9.30-10.30am: Technology workshop

Tech after school: collaborative working for successful transition, led by Kelie Mote from JISC with personal reflections from Holly Scott Gardner

How do we work together to facilitate successful learner journeys from school, through to further or higher education, and into employment? What do students and the people who support them need to know? This interactive session will explore some key considerations for young people thinking about college and university. During the session, delegates will have opportunities to connect with one another to spark ideas for effective student-centred solutions.

Kellie Mote is a subject specialist for assistive technology at Jisc, where she provides strategic guidance to colleges and universities across the UK, and facilitates large communities of practice. She sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology, and the Department for Education AT Experts Group. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/staff/kellie-mote

Register online

Thursday 24 June 2-3pm: Careers worshop

Careers Education Information and Guidance workshop led by Gareth Brydon from Thomas Pocklington Trust

This workshop will give an overview of findings from CEIAG research conducted by TPT and VICTAR in summer 2020. It will draw upon the direct experiences of vision impaired children, young people, their families and QTVIs of CEIAG provision in England. The focus will be the period since the legal duty for delivery was transferred to individual schools and colleges and the former national Connexions service was effectively decommissioned and replaced by National Careers’ Service in 2011/12.

The workshop will also consider challenges that lie ahead nationally in terms of government skills for jobs and careers’ policy, outline work being done by TPT and generate discussion about how sensory services have and might influence positive change locally with and for VI CYP in this context.

Gareth Brydon is the Children and Young People Manager at Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT). Gareth has 48 years lived experience of sight loss and 20+ years working in the sight loss sector. He has worked in a variety of roles including as a ROVI and Transitions team leader at the Royal National College for the Blind, managing regional employment and post compulsory education outreach services at RNIB East Midlands and East of England, and before joining TPT as national lead on employment and strategic partnership development with Action for Blind People.

Register online

Friday 25th June 9.30-10.30am: Employment workshop

Employment: The Ultimate Transition, led by Callum Russell from CrystalEyes

Employment is the ultimate goal for all and the blind and vision impaired are no exception. But the national statistic of 1 in every 4 blind and vision impaired adults being unemployed indicates that this final stepping stone is the most challenging of them all.

In this workshop, we will explore the barriers to success for blind and vision impaired young people and ask what we as a sector can do to equip those we support with the attributes that employers today are seeking.

Callum Russell is founder and director of CrystalEyes, a bespoke consultancy that helps broaden the horizons of people living with sight loss, allowing them to fulfil their potential. He supports young people who are transitioning to further and higher education, as well as adults entering the world of work. He also works with employers to ensure best practice in embedding equality, diversity and inclusion. Callum is an expert in employment support for the blind and vision impaired and has lived experience of seeking and maintaining sustainable employment with a vision impairment.

Register online

Friday 25 June 2-3pm: Mobility and Independence workshop

Preparing vision impaired people for their own future: mobility and independence, led by Suzy Mcdonald and Terri-Ann Bent from Birmingham Education Habilitation Service

What building blocks of independence does a vision impaired young person need to have put in place in order to be able to stand on their own two feet when moving from statutory education into higher education, training or employment? We will discuss topics such as travel, self-advocacy, banking, shopping and food preparation and acknowledge some of the challenges faced when moving away from home.

Suzy Mcdonald and Terri-Ann Bent are both habilitation specialists working for Birmingham Education Habilitation Service - between them, they have over 25 years experience in the hab field, as well as having worked in the wider field of vision impairment before joining the Birmingham team.

Register online

Who is the event aimed at?

The event is aimed at anyone who has involvement in supporting young people with vision impairment into or within post-school settings. This includes QTVIs, habilitation specialists, teaching assistants, SENCos, disability practitioners in FE and HE, careers officers, providers of employment services such as Job Centre plus, policy makers and charity workers. Families of children and young people with vision impairment and young people themselves as also very welcome to join us. 

How can I get more information about the event?

We will be continuing to update this webpage with details about the event, including an introduction to the speakers and the outline of their sessions. If you have any further enquiries, please contact Dr Rachel Hewett via email r.g.hewett@bham.ac.uk

GET IN CONTACT

If you have any further enquiries, please contact Dr Rachel Hewett via email r.g.hewett@bham.ac.uk