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Vision Rehabilitation and Habilitation - the Profession

Vision rehabilitation and Habilitation with visually impaired people is a fascinating and rewarding profession. There are around five hundred Vision Rehabilitation Workers (sometimes called Rehabilitation Officers Visual Impairment, or ROVIs) and around 120 Habilitation Specialists working in the United Kingdom.   

Vision Rehabilitation and Habilitation are two separate disciplines; both teach a similar range of independence skills but the way they are delivered and the context they are delivered in, are very different and require very different approaches. Vision Rehabilitation Workers work predominantly with adults and Habilitation Specialists work with children and young people (0-25).  Both disciplines are employed in a number of different settings. These include adult social services, education settings, children’s social services, the NHS and national and regional voluntary organisations. A growing minority are now working in a freelance capacity or via specialist agency providers.

Workers have qualified through a variety of different training bodies over the last thirty years.  RWPN recognises the following qualifications as entitlement to practice as a Vision Rehabilitation Worker or Habilitation Speciaist: Honours Degree in Rehabilitation Studies (visual impairment); Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation Studies; apprenticeship standard ST0431 Rehabilitation Worker (Visual Impairment); Diploma in Higher Education in Rehabilitation Studies; BTEC Professional Diploma in Rehabilitation Studies (Visual Impairment) Level 5; Graduate Diploma in Habilitation and Disabilities of Sight (children and young people); Graduate Diploma in Low Vision Rehabilitation; Original Certificate in Rehabilitation Work; Combined Mobility Officer and Technical Officer Certificate.

Workers are trained to broad criteria laid out within the Sensory Services National Occupational Standards. These were published in 2008 by Skills for Care. Please click here to open the Sensory Services Standards page of the Skills for Care and Development website and go to the link to Sensory Services at the bottom of the page.

Four of the eleven standards (numbers 8, 9, 10 and 11) relate directly to rehabilitation work and working with deafblind people.  However, in addition, Standard 1 relates to Continued Professional Development and is the foundation for RWPN's CPD scheme (see below).

To work as a Habilitation Specialist, professionals must adhere to the Quality Standards: Delivery of Habilitation Training (Mobility and Independent Living Skills) for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment 

These Quality Standards are designed to ensure that children and young people with visual impairment are enabled, through high quality mobility and independence training and support, to achieve the greatest possible independence and maximise their educational outcomes and life chances.   


Vision Rehabilitation Worker professional risk matrix

Supervision Guidance

Newly Qualified & New Starter Guidance 

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

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

Peer Review Guidance 

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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