Rehabilitation Workers
Professional Network

Rehabilitation and Habilitation - the Profession 

There are around 450 registered Vision Rehabilitation Specialists (sometimes called Rehabilitation Officers Visual Impairment, or ROVIs) and around 120 Qualified Habilitation Specialists working in the United Kingdom.   We formally adopted the term Vision Rehabilitation Specialist (VRS) in 2022 - here's why.

Rehabilitation and Habilitation

We believe that Rehabilitation and Habilitation are two distinct, separate disciplines under the one professional umbrella; both teach a similar range of independence skills but the way they are delivered, and the context they are delivered in, are different and require very different approaches. Vision Rehabilitation Specialists work predominantly with people over 18 and Qualified Habilitation Specialists work with children and young people (0-25).  Professionals from both disciplines are employed in a number of different settings. These include adult social services, pre-school schools and colleges, children’s social services, the NHS and national and regional voluntary organisations. A few practitioners work in a freelance capacity or via specialist agency providers.

image of two trainee VRS. One under blindfold being instructed by the other in how to cut a tomato with a knife using an afro comb as an aid

Qualification to become a registered professional

To become a registered Vision Rehabilitation Specialist or Qualified Habilitation Specialist, a registrant must be able to provide proof that they have qualified with a defined and specified qualification.  

All routes are at minimum UK Quality Assurance Agency (QAA level 5) for rehabilitation and level 6 for habilitation.  

Courses at level 5 are of usually of 24 month's duration. 

Courses at level 6 are at either 12 months or 24 months depending on the way the course is delivered.  

RWPN recognises the following qualifications as entitlement to practise as a Vision Rehabilitation Worker: Honours Degree in Rehabilitation Studies (visual impairment); Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation Studies; apprenticeship standard ST0431 Rehabilitation Worker (Visual Impairment) (via evidence of successful End Point Assessment); Diploma in Higher Education in Rehabilitation Studies; BTEC Professional Diploma in Rehabilitation Studies (Visual Impairment) Level 5; Graduate Diploma in Low Vision Rehabilitation; Original Certificate in Rehabilitation Work; Combined Mobility Officer and Technical Officer Certificate;

RWPN recognises the following qualifications as entitlement to practise as a Qualified Habilitation Specialist: Graduate Diploma in Habilitation and Disabilities of Sight (children and young people); Habilitation Work - Working with children and young people - top-up BSc (hons) degree

Read RWPN's Habilitation Qualification Policy here

Professional Standards - general

Qualification courses base the content of their courses on the 2008 Sensory Services National Occupational Standards   All registrants must adhere to RWPN Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and undertake mandatory CPD.

Professional Standards - rehabilitation

The knowledge, skills and behaviours specified in the government's  Apprenticeship Standard underpin qualification to become a Vision Rehabilitation Specialist.

Professional Standards - habilitation

The Quality Standards: Delivery of Habilitation Training (Mobility and Independent Living Skills) for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment  underpin the qualification to become a Habilitation Specialist.

RWPN Practice Guidance for Qualified Professionals 

Vision Rehabilitation and Habilitation professional risk matrix This matrix is designed to highlight the hazards and proposed safeguards linked to various areas of professional practice contained within the two disciplines. It is essential to understanding why employing unqualified or unregistered professionals pose a risk to our clients.

Supervision Guidance

Newly Qualified & New Starter Guidance  For an example of specific local authority guidance for newly qualified VRS  look at this policy form Bridgend County Borough Council in Wales.  

Guidance: The Role of Sensory Assistant/Assistant Rehabilitation Officer This guidance is to help managers and their teams reach sound and safe conclusions about how services can be delivered using this supporting role, alongside qualified professionals.

Driving and CVI Guidance on what to do when being aware of a certified/registered individual who is driving

Physical Activity and Vision Rehabilitation - A guide for vision rehabilitation workers supporting blind and partially sighted adults through physical activity

Peer Review Guidance for use in peer group case-work discussions

Peer Review Reflective Learning Statement

CVI registration card guidance

Mobility Scooters The use of mobility scooters by sight-impaired people can create professional dilemmas for the workforce and it is not a clear-cut issue.  We are grateful to Sight Scotland Veterans for permission to share this information leaflet that they have prepared and which sets out some considerations for the client. Considering getting a mobility scooter (1).docx

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