Note: this article is about guidance in the Netherlands. Do you know agencies in your own country that provide similar care? Please let us know by emailing us at kim@adoa.eu and we will add it to this article!

What does my student see and what doesn’t he? Are there any adjustments needed in the classroom? Won’t my classmates think my aids are weird?
Won’t my son be bullied more quickly because he is visually impaired? Will my little daughter be able to participate in gymnastics?

These are questions that I get asked regularly in my daily work. My name is Henk Benjamins, ambulatory educational supervisor with Visio Education in Haren.

Visio Education is part of Royal Visio, a national institution that deals with Research, Rehabilitation, Education and Living for the benefit of people – young and old – with visual impairment.

When a child with a visual impairment attends regular school, a lot of school things go just as they always do. Some things, however, go differently. This can raise questions with teachers and parents, but also for the child or adolescent or among fellow pupils. At Visio, we have specialized teachers – called itinerant educational assistants – of whom I am one, who can answer these questions and who support a visually impaired pupil in all school matters that are a little different. Together with my colleagues, I support not only the student but also the teachers and tutors at school. We do this in all forms of education and from preschool to student. For children and young people with a visual disability it is also nice to go to school or follow an education in their own environment. Because of the itinerant educational guidance this has been possible for many years and with success!

The goal of itineranty educational support is to enable a child or young person with a visual disability to participate in regular (or special) education as good as possible. The paediatrician, together with the pupil, the teachers and often also in consultation with the parents, looks at what is needed to make this possible. This could involve special aids, such as a laptop with magnification software or adapted teaching materials on A3, digital or in Braille, but also, for example, better lighting during schoolwork or extra time for a test or exam. Giving advice and teaching skills is customized, aimed at the specific situation and needs of the student or pupil. For example, a child or young person who is partially sighted as a result of, for example, Autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA) requires different adjustments than a child with another visual disorder. On top of that, each child is also unique with their own personal characteristics and abilities.

“I like to talk to my itinerant educational assistant about school and how best to approach something. For example, drawing with a thick pen is more convenient than with a pencil. And I have now exchanged my school books for digital books on a laptop. I also like that he explains to the teachers what condition I have and how they can best deal with it. Through simple tips like writing larger on the board or by sharing the image of the IWB with me and extra time during a test, the lessons are a lot less tiring for me”.

The itinerant educational guidance is not only aimed at good education, but also at the formation of the child or young person into a person who later, despite his or her disability, can participate fully in our society. In this process, the stimulation of self-direction of the child or young person is an important aspect. Furthermore, the educational supervisor thinks about the future possibilities of the student and informs the school and parents about the legal and financial regulations.

In secondary education, guidance takes on a different form than in primary education, and similarly in vocational training and higher education. Guidance is directed towards what is needed in the educational situation, working towards the young person being able to find his or her way independently with the right skills and necessary aids. The educational educator gradually takes on a more coaching role. Of course the responsibility for the education of the pupil or student lies and remains with the school concerned.

For questions that fall outside the expertise of the itineran educational assistant, he or she will refer teachers and parents to other support services within Visio. Examples include relevant activities and training, ophthalmological examinations, ICT training, automobility solutions (getting your driver’s license) by Visio Revalidatie & Advies. In short, the itineran educational assistant is the contact person for everything that is involved in the visual disability of the pupil or student at school.

General information about Visio can be found on their website: Royal Visio
For information or registration, please contact our Client Services Office: 088 585 85 85