Welcoming success of support for blind and partially sighted pupils

A ground-breaking partnership between the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh and East Lothian Council has been welcomed by Iain Gray MSP for East Lothian as he visited the school to learn more about its success.

Mr Gray met with pupils and teachers at the Royal Blind School to learn about the work of the East Lothian Vision Impairment Service (ELVIS) which delivers specialist education and support to pupils with vision impairment across the local authority.

The partnership enables pupils to access learning through the use of braille, large print, specialist technology and adapted learning materials, such as tactile diagrams. Pupils are also given support in developing independence skills and social skills. ELVIS also assists pupils and staff at crucial times of transition.

The partnership between the Royal Blind School and East Lothian Council began in 2017 and has been welcomed by pupils, parents and staff.

After his visit to the School, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I was pleased to visit the Royal Blind School to find out more about its important work with young people with vision impairment. I was especially interested in its unique partnership with East Lothian Council.

“East Lothian Vision Impairment Service (ELVIS) is a pioneering project delivering specialist education and support to pupils in East Lothian in a way not currently being undertaken anywhere else in Scotland.

“This is a great service for pupils, parents and teaching staff in East Lothian, and I commend both the Royal Blind School and East Lothian Council for this excellent initiative.”

Elaine Brackenridge, Head Teacher of the Royal Blind School said:

“We are delighted that our partnership with East Lothian Council has been such a success and that pupils with vision impairment are benefitting from this collaboration. 

“We were pleased to welcome Iain Gray to the Royal Blind School, giving us an opportunity to tell him how we are supporting pupils in East Lothian to make the most of their educational opportunities.”

Chris, aged 11, was one of the first pupils to be supported by the service.  His deteriorating vision had left him worried about the future and struggling to keep up with his schoolwork.  Now, in addition to one-to-one support provided in-school, he is supported four days per week by his ELVIS teachers, is learning braille, and has regained his confidence.

Chris’ mum Heather, said:

“It’s difficult to express in words how grateful I am of this partnership between the Royal Blind School and East Lothian Council. The year before the partnership began, Chris’ sight had deteriorated quite quickly and he had no confidence whatsoever.  We were all really struggling.  His sight loss was impacting on absolutely everything.  He was constantly worrying about the future. 

 “The difference in Chris in just a year has been amazing.  He has two very dedicated, knowledgeable and very professional members of Royal Blind School staff providing support to him through the partnership. It was recognised that there was a need for Chris to learn braille before starting high school and knew that time was a factor so everything was in place very quickly and he was up and running in no time.  They provide support by adapting materials for Chris and ensuring he is able to fully access his classes as well as his sighted classmates can.”