The inclusion of children and
young people who have hearing and/or visual
The right to inclusion
If your child
has a sensory impairment − either visual or hearing − he or
she has the same right to use services and activities as other
children and young people. The law says that your child should not
be discriminated against or treated less favourably by services
because of their impairment or disability. Services have to take
'reasonable steps' to make sure your child is included and they do
this through a process of 'risk management'. This means that
services have to assess risk and then either eliminate it or
minimise it by making 'reasonable adjustments' to the activities or
by arranging additional support for your child. Risk assessments
should not be used as an excuse for excluding your child, but
should be used to find a way of including your child safely
Children with sensory impairments
The term 'sensory impairment' is used here to refer to children
or young people with either visual or hearing impairments or both -
the extent of those impairments will vary from child to child.
There are some children and young people who will have both visual
and hearing impairments. Some children and young people will have
other impairments in addition to their sensory impairment, such as
cognitive impairments, learning disabilities or physical
impairments. Some children and young people may have other types of
sensory impairments or may be hypersensitive to certain things in
their environment. This document does not deal specifically with
those types of sensory impairments or sensitivities.
If your child is both visually and hearing impaired or has other
impairments, he or she may have a one-to-one support worker
(sometimes called an 'intervener') funded through the local
authority's 'short break' service or be eligible for that type of
support. The role of the support worker will be to accompany your
child to activities and services and help them to access those
services. This type of support may also be available through direct
Reasons given to exclude children who have sensory
'It is too complicated' - Staff who provide
services may assume that adjusting their service or the activities
to suit your child is rather complicated and requires a lot of
expertise. They may be unaware of the help and support that is
available to make these adjustments.
'Something may go wrong' - Staff working in
services are often fearful that something will go wrong and that
they will be personally responsible. They are unaware that it is
the employer or manager who is responsible, unless they do
something that is considered negligent or reckless.
'We will need to employ a one-to-one support
worker' - Many services assume that the only way they can
support a child or young person with sensory impairments is by
supporting them on a one-to-one basis and they may feel that they
do not have the financial resources to do so.
'We cannot keep your child safe' - Service
providers may be worried that they will not be able to adapt the
environment and activities to make them safe for children and young
people who have sensory impairments. They are unaware of the help
and support that is available to ensure that your child can be
included in services and activities. It is more about a 'can do'
attitude than having technical skills.
'The service is not suitable for children with sensory
impairments' - This type of decision is made before the
service really understands what is required and it assumes that all
children and young people with sensory impairments require a high
level of expert support. It is a 'blanket rule' rather than one
based on getting to know your child or making an individual
assessment of your child's support needs.
'We or the other children won't be able to understand
your child' - This statement may be made with regard to
children and young people who use an alternative form of
communication, such as sign language or Braille.
What supports my child's rights to be included in services and
There are three things that support your childs right to be
included in services and activities.
- The law
- Good practice
You will find links to these sections on the top left hand side
of this page.