Unique positive opportunities for vision impaired children

Dolly French Alnwick Garden

Useful Links

The following local and national organisations provide help, assistance and guidance for vision impaired children and their families. We have found these web sites informative and easy to use. We are always interested in hearing about other organisations that may have helped you. For any questions, or to highlight organisation not on this list please contact our information officer at office@usefulvision.org.uk.

Books and Reading

Bag Books

Tactile, multi-sensory story packs for children and young people with severe and multiple disabilities and for pre-school mainstream children with a visual impairment.


Introducing blind and partially sighted babies and toddlers to books. A free pack is available which contains specially selected books and advice.


A free nationwide postal library or recorded books.

Clear Vision Project

Clear Vision lend tactile books and dual format Braille/print or moon/print for adults and children.

Cue and Review

National magazines on tape with 5 teen titles focusing on music reviews.

Learning Library

Based in Spennymoor, Co Durham.  Loans toys and specialist equipment to people of all ages who have special needs.

Living Paintings Trust

A registered charity offering free postal library of books with Braille and print and raised paintings with description tapes to follow.

National Library for the Blind

This site is aimed at adults rather than young children; however, there is a lot of information on visually impaired readers’ groups, events and activities.

VIP Diaries

Run by South Lakes Society for the Blind, VIP Diaries produces large print diaries and calendars, writing pads with wide lines and bespoke products.  email info@vipdiaries.co.uk or ring 01539 726613.

Further Education / Job Placements


Can provide an individual programme of support, training, work experience and job coaching.  Based in Birmingham, will help to find work near your home.

Evermor Solutions

Provide support for people who want to study at Higher Education level and have a long term physical or mental health condition or disability. All courses are distance learning and may be studied part time. Tel: 0191 492 0907.

Newcastle College

Joint resource base team provides support and advice supporting learners who are blind of visually impaired at Newcastle College.  They aim to provide the best possible learning experience on courses and to help students gain skills and qualifications needed to progress in life.

General Advice

Blind Children UK

Offer five ‘Key Services’ which are provided either free or at a nominal charge. These are: Family Support & Information, Educational Advocacy, CustomEyes Books, Specialist Equipment and a national network of Recreational Activities. Family support & educational support workers for North East families based in Newcastle Tel: 0800 781 1444.

Caudwell Children

Provide family support services, equipment and therapies for disabled children and their families across the UK. Run the destination dreams holiday for children fighting life threatening conditions. Tel: 0845 300 1348 www.caudwellchildren.com

Childhood Cataract Network

Support Group for those affected by childhood cataracts.  Organises trips and has an email group for advice and where members can chat.

Childhood Eye Cancer Trust

Support and info about retinoblastoma.

Contact a Family

A UK-wide charity providing advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children – no matter what their health condition. They also enable parents to get in contact with other families, both on a local and national basis.

Guide Dogs

A guide dog, though not suitable for every young visually-impaired person, can offer significant and truly life-changing benefits to some. Guide dog ownership can open the door to safe, independent travel, whilst bringing with it many additional benefits, such as companionship, social inclusion and an increased sense of responsibility.  If you would like to know more about guide dogs please contact your local Guide Dogs District Team by landline on 0845 3727499 or email guidedogs@guidedogs.org.uk.


A database of mainstream schools in the UK with facilities for VI students.


Information about Microanophthalmia, Anophthalmia, Coloboma and related conditions. MACS offer support and information to parents and professionals in the UK and around the world. Macs also give parents, families and children the opportunity to meet each other, support each other and learn from each other.

Nystagmus Network

The leading patient information, support and scientific research charity for Nystagmus in Europe. Provides support and information to families affected by the condition. Tel: 029 2045 4242 or 0845 634 2630 Email: info@nystagmusnet.org www.nystagmusnet.org

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

In England RNIB works with Action for Blind People to offer help and support for anyone affected by sight loss. Support includes: recently diagnosed, children & family services, young people’s services & activities calendar. Tel: 0303 123 9999 www.actionforblindpeople.org.uk

The Royal Blind Society

The Royal Blind Society provides support to give blind children and their parents the confidence to live beyond their sight condition. The Family Support Service supports young people aged 0-25 years who have been diagnosed with a serious eye condition and their family. Contact Family Support Worker Diane Rutherford on Tel: 07593405428 or email: diane.rutherford@royalblindsociety.org. Web: royalblindsociety.org.

RP Fighting Blindness

National charity which provides vital information and support services for individuals and families affected by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), related syndromes and other retinal dystrophies. Helpline: 0845 123 2354 www.rpfightingblindness.org.uk

SWAN UK (Syndromes Without A Name)

SWAN UK is an initiative of the charity Genetic Alliance UK offering support and information to families of children with undiagnosed genetic conditions. Email: info@undiagnosed.org.uk Web: www.undiagnosed.org.uk

Grants for families with VI children

Blind Children UK

Offer a grants programme to help children and young people access the most appropriate technology and sensory equipment. Need to show how the grant will help the child or young person further their education or social skills, and how the equipment/activity will assist or improve their day-to-day lives. Applications are considered quarterly. Tel: 0800 781 1444 www.blindchildrenuk.org/how-we-can-help-you/access-technology-and-grants/

The Chronicle Sunshine Fund

Provides specialist equipment to children with disabilities within The Chronicle circulation area. Tel: 0191 201 6289 www.sunshinefund.org

Disability Grants

Lots of information on one website on the availability of grants for disabled people with specific sections covering children, families, holidays, recreation, equipment and education. (Note: some of the grant giving bodies are region specific) www.disability-grants.org

Family Fund

Offers grants to low income families raising disabled and seriously ill children. Can help with essential items such as washing machines and fridges, but can also consider grants for sensory toys and family breaks. Tel: 01904 621115 www.familyfund.org.uk

Fashion and Textile Children’s Trust

Can offer financial support for a child’s education or well being if parent works in the fashion industry (refer to website – there is a wide definition of the fashion and textile industry) Tel: 0300 123 9002 www.ftct.org.uk


Provides grants and support to North East families who have been affected by diagnosis of childhood cancers. Includes crisis grants awarded in times of emergency. Tel: 0191 495 6186 www.tomafund.org

Visually Impaired Children Taking Action (VICTA)

Provide grants for equipment and services including youth weekends and sporting activities. Tel: 01908 240831

Leisure and Entertainment


Multisports and activity clubs for visually impaired children and young people, their siblings and friends, across the UK.


A theatre company of professional actors and directors who are visually impaired.

Talking Newspaper Association of the United Kingdom

Talking newspapers – some for children Leisure & Entertainment


A travel company with a difference. It aims to provide holidays for both blind/visually impaired and sighted travellers, journeying together in a spirit of mutual independence.

Your Local Cinema

Your nearest cinema with audio description together with details of what’s on.

Local Organisations in the North East

Durham Support Group for Families with V.I. Children

A support group open to families with a visually impaired child who live in County Durham or whose children attend the resource based schools on Belmont Campus, providing information, organising social and leisure events and raising funds to provide opportunities for families of vision impaired children.  Please contact the Secretary, Peter Mackie, by phone on 0191 384 1474 or by email petermackie@yahoo.co.uk.

Heel & Toe Children’s Charity

Provide therapy to children with cerebral palsy and other physical conditions. Tel: 0844 335 0512 www.heelandtoe.org.uk

Out of Sight

A small group based in South Tyneside organising events and trips for vision impaired children and their families in South Tyneside.  Please contact the Secretary, Leanne Thomasson, on thomassonleanne@yahoo.co.uk.

Specialist Equipment

Cobolt Systems Uk

Products for the Blind and Visually Impaired & suppliers of Audible Products

A wide range of products including talking clocks, talking multi function radios, talking combination ovens, talking watches, microwave cookware, a range of glasses, and more.

Zychem Ltd

Producing smellyvision, graphics, tactile images and machines for producing such images.


Ability Net

A national charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology

Inclusive Technology

Information on educational software, switches and computer access devices, simple communication aids and assistive technology for learners with special needs.

Toys and Games

Newcastle Toy & Leisure Library

Provides play and leisure opportunities for children with disabilities and their siblings. Gives children access to special toys, play equipment, multi-sensory sessions & soft play room. Tel: 0191 238 6303

RNIB Insight

Catalogue of toys suitable for blind and visually impaired children


Advice on multi sensory disability.Toys & Games

TFH Special Needs Toys

Touch Feel heal. Mail order toys for children and teenagers with special needs.Books & Reading