Multi-sensory impairment

The Specialist Teaching and Preschool Service provides specialist support from a qualified teacher for multi-sensory impairment (MSI), as part of the service’s sensory impairment provision (visual and hearing impairments). Specialist Teacher support is provided for those children with a dual sensory impairment, ie pupils who have a combination of visual and hearing difficulties, who are sometimes referred to as deafblind, but may have some residual sight and/or hearing. Some may have additional disabilities.

Children with multi-sensory impairment have much greater difficulties in accessing the curriculum and the environment than those with a single impairment. They have difficulties in perception, acquisition of information and incidental learning may be limited.

The MSI teacher works with families and children from point of first diagnosis:

  • assessing communication,
  • maximising the use of residual senses,
  • offering advice on appropriate play and learning skills.

The specialist teacher (MSI)

  • carries out a full specialist assessment of need for educational preparation and planning,
  • advises pre-schools and schools on learning need and curriculum access,
  • trains school staff and support staff,
  • advises on specialist equipment, and
  • works alongside hearing impairment and visual impairment specialist staff as necessary.

The service operates in line with the Quality Standards in Education Support Services for children and young people who are deafblind/multi-sensory impaired.

The service uses the NatSIP eligibility criteria to guide decision-making over support allocation for individual children and young people with multi-sensory impairments (MSI) through systematic consideration of a wide range of relevant factors.


Who the service provides for

Eligibility for the service is a medical diagnosis of visual impairment and hearing impairment by orthoptist, ophthalmologist, audiologist or paediatrician.
Multi sensory loss can range from a mild to moderate hearing loss with a mild to moderate visual impairment in combination, or central processing difficulties with hearing and vision, through to a severe loss of both senses.


Hours of operation

Term time only


How the service is accessed

Families can be referred to the service by hospitals, ophthalmology clinics, schools, specialist health visitors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, community paediatric consultants, other specialist teachers, audiology clinics, SENSE and other charities.


Operational locations

  • Essex