Vision impairment


Statewide services to support students with vision impairment are based on the campus of Narbethong State Special School, 25 Salisbury Street, Buranda, Brisbane. These include:

Paediatric Low Vision Clinic

The Paediatric Low Vision Clinic (PLVC) is a direct service provided by the Department of Education (DoE) to students with vision impairment in state and non-state schools. Services are provided to children with vision impairment, including those with multiple impairments, from birth to school leaving age.

The PLVC provides a range of specialised vision assessments, support and information to assist students with vision impairment, their families, school staff and specialist support staff. Assessments assist in developing an understanding of each child's vision condition and associated visual behaviours, facilitate student access and participation, and promote learner engagement. Valuable input is provided by students, parents/carers, school and specialist support teachers during the PLVC appointment.

The Paediatric Low Vision Clinic team

  • Paediatric optometrists
  • Education advisors in vision impairment

The Paediatric Low Vision Clinic can provide information on:

  • educational implications of specific eye conditions
  • optical and non-optical low vision devices
  • adjustments to learning materials, for example
    • font size (large print, symbol size)
    • alternative format (audio, braille, digital)
    • preparation and presentation (background, foreground colour and layout)
  • environmental adjustments (optimum illumination levels and control)
  • borrowing low vision equipment
  • assistive technology.

Children attending the PLVC will have their own eye care practitioners who provide treatment/medical intervention for their eye conditions. The role and focus of the clinic is to supplement and complement these services by establishing the functional vision in the school learning environment. School specialist staff will attend clinic appointments with families and recommend teaching strategies and educational adjustments for curriculum programming and access.

Outreach clinics

The PLVC provides services to a number of regional centres throughout the state in addition to the clinic services on the campus of Narbethong State Special School.


Referrals to the PLVC are made by the Advisory Visiting Teacher-Vision Impairment (AVT-VI) or Head of Special Education Services (HOSES) in consultation with the student (where possible), parents/carers and school or regional staff. Medical practitioners make referrals directly to the clinic.

Enquiries can be made by contacting:
Telephone: (07) 3823 0747
Fax: (07) 3823 0757

Alternative Format Library services

DoE specialised staff in the Alternative Format Library (AFL) support teachers and schools across the state by providing resources for students with a print disability who require their learning media, as an educational adjustment, to be in a format other than standard print.

A person with a print disability defined by the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (section 135ZP) is:

  • a person without sight
  • a person whose sight is severely impaired
  • a person unable to hold or manipulate books or to focus or move his or her eyes


  • a person with a perceptual disability.

Resource collections include texts in braille, large print, audio and electronic format. The AFL may request electronic formats of textbooks (PDFs) directly from the publisher on behalf of the teacher/school. Tactile kits (which include a story book in print and braille, tactile pictures and accompanying objects relevant to the story) are available for use with early learners. Some professional texts and educational programs specific to vision impairment are kept in the library as reference materials and are available for loan.

If a requested item is not in our collection, we provide a transcription service in order to produce appropriate curriculum materials in braille (including tactile diagrams) or in large print. Advance notice is required to enable timely production of resources. This production time will vary depending on the complexity and volume of the text. A Media Request Form is available to borrow resources or to request that materials be produced.

The AFL also provides a collection of equipment for short term loan including braille machines, closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) and embossers.

Resources for student use are usually sent by mail to schools for a limited loan period only. Free post under Mail for the blind will be applicable in many cases. Staff may also visit the library to collect items.

The AFL is located on the campus of Narbethong State Special School.

Enquiries can be made by contacting:
Telephone: (07) 3823 0766
Fax: (07) 38230760

Orientation and Mobility Services

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) is a direct and indirect service offered by the department to students with vision impairment in state schools throughout Queensland. The Orientation and Mobility service is currently coordinated by the statewide services for students with vision impairment in DoE, based on the campus at Narbethong State Special School. Programs will be delivered, where possible, by teachers qualified in Orientation and Mobility, in collaboration with school staff and regional Advisory Visiting Teachers – Vision Impairment. The O&M team works with schools to develop a plan to build the capacity of the school to increase learning outcomes for students with vision impairment.

What is Orientation and Mobility?

Orientation refers to understanding the environments in which one learns and moves.

Mobility refers to safe, purposeful movement within these environments.

Why Orientation and Mobility?

Children with severe vision impairment may require specific support within and beyond their regular school curriculum in order to:

  • understand, access and participate in the various environments that learning occurs


  • understand, access and participate in the Australian Curriculum.

O&M is a key strategy to provide this extra support.

Student target group

Children with verified vision impairment under the Education Adjustment Program (EAP), including those with additional impairments, may be eligible for support from the O&M team.

How do I access support?

Advisory Visiting Teachers – Vision Impairment and Specialist Teachers – Vision Impairment as well as Statewide Advisory Visiting Teachers—Orientation and Mobility can assist schools in identifying whether a student would require an orientation and mobility program.

Enquiries can be made by contacting:
Telephone: (07) 3823 0754

Assistive Technology Services

DoE Assistive Technology Statewide Support is available to students who require the use of assistive technology (AT) as an educational adjustment. Support is delivered in the following ways:

  • email and telephone support
  • preparation and dissemination of documentation, specific keyboard shortcut lists, tip sheets
  • workshops for professional development
  • web conferences
  • arrangement of AT expos and visits from specific suppliers to demonstrate new equipment
  • school visits to work with staff who support students using assistive technologies.

Support can be provided in the following areas:

  • acquisition of keyboarding skills and use of typing programs
  • screen reading and screen magnification software
  • accessing software applications from the keyboard for non-mouse users
  • accessing software applications with low vision using accessibility features
  • creating accessible documents and trouble-shooting accessibility barriers
  • scanning and reading options for gaining access to printed materials
  • text to speech and specialised applications for various devices
  • braille devices and options for embossing, note-taking and curriculum access in general.

Enquiries can be made by contacting:
Telephone: (07) 3823 0754

Braille Music Services

DoE Braille Music Services offer a range of support to students requiring alternative modalities of accessing music in the curriculum. These services include:

  • braille music and textbook transcription
  • orchestral and band music transcription
  • braille music resources and games
  • statewide support for music and instrumental teachers of students with vision impairment (VI), VI support staff/AVTs and music students in schools
  • professional development for music and instrumental teachers of students with VI, and VI support staff/AVTs
  • support for large print strategies—ICT music support applications, and composition and editing programs.

Enquiries can be made by contacting:
Telephone: (07) 3823 0747

Last updated 07 January 2019