This project was carried out in 2001-2 and investigated the mobility and independence needs of children with a vision impairment and how best to support the development of these essential skills. It was funded by the DfES, GDBA, Opsis and RNIB.
The project report outlined recommendations for services responsible for mobility and independence education. Over time these recommendations paved the way for the development of a set of ‘Quality Standards for the Delivery of Habilitation Training (Mobility and Independent Living Skills) for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment’, which was published in 2011. The Quality Standards are available at http://www.ssc.education.ed.ac.uk/resources/vi&multi/habilitation.pdf.
The role of habilitation practitioner has been developed to meet the requirements set out in the Quality Standards. This role is now well established across the UK as a key element of specialist provision, alongside qualified teachers of children and young people with a vision impairment (QTVI). Habilitation is specifically mentioned several times in the education and health provision sections of the SEND Code of Practice for England https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398815/SEND_Code_of_Practice_January_2015.pdf
More information about the work of habilitation practitioners is available from the website of Hab VI UK https://habilitationviuk.org.uk/, the National Professional body for Habilitation Practitioners. This includes details of training courses which lead to the qualification of habilitation specialist.
At the time the ‘Steps to Independence’ report was published, an interactive website was also created by VICTAR to provide an additional learning tool for its findings. The website is inevitably showing its age in several ways now:
- Technically it is rather clumsy;
- Some of the language is outdated, for example referring to ‘mobility and independence’ rather than ‘habilitation’;
- The content assumes a different policy context and refers to elements of SEN provision which existed under an earlier SEN Code of Practice.
Nevertheless, we believe it is still a valuable resource for students and practitioners working in this area and have therefore decided to keep it open. As with the written report, we advise those using the website to bear in mind its age when they read it.
Interactive Steps to Independence interactive resource