How to make a referral for a child with hearing loss or visions impairment

Information about the referrals process.

Referrals are usually made by health professionals. This means we have the necessary audiological information to help us make decisions around support.

Families and education professionals can refer to the service, but a child can only be seen if there is evidence to support the concern. For example, in the case of school aged children, school staff have specific and identified concerns based on observation/collected evidence.

Hearing Loss

Young babies are usually referred to our service through the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme. Our staff will make contact with the family within two working days of receiving a referral from Newborn Screening.

We ask professionals to make sure parents/guardians have given their permission for a referral to be made to us.

The Sensory Service accepts referrals for children with:

  • Mild to profound sensori-neural or permanent conductive hearing loss  (British Association of Teachers of the Deaf BATOD criteria)
  • Evidence of protracted history of middle ear complications;
  • Evidence available from health colleagues to support the diagnosis;
  • In the case of a school aged child – school staff have specific and identified concerns based on observation/collected evidence/issue of aids/or hospital alert;
  • Parents have been consulted and are in agreement for referral.

The Sensory Service will accept all referrals initially made via the Newborn Hearing Screening programme.

The Sensory Service does not accept referrals for children and young people with temporary conductive hearing impairment e.g. as a result of glue. In cases of glue ear where a child is aided temporarily, the Sensory Service can provide a one-off advisory visit to support the setting in managing the aids, subject to service capacity.

Parents, schools and other professionals are able to contact us for advice on how to proceed if they have concerns about a child having a hearing loss that is not yet diagnosed.

Vision Impairment

To enable a child or young person to access the service they must be diagnosed by a health professional as having a vision impairment.

Once diagnosis is made, a referral to the Service for Vision Impaired will be made by a health professional from the local Health and Social Care Trust.

The date of referral is recorded as the date when all medical information and parent contact details have been received.

We ask professionals to make sure parents/guardians have given their permission for a referral to be made to us.

Initial contact will be made, usually by phone within 20 working days of receipt of referral during term time.  Initial contact will take longer during school holiday times.

Why do we ask for medical information first?

Our support and advice is individually tailored to each child and young person. To explain the visual impairment and its implication for education and development we need to know the level and type of visual impairment a child has. While we attend Low Vision clinics, and can carry out functional vision assessments, it is the responsibility of health professionals to make the diagnosis of a vision impairment.

However, parents, schools and other professionals are able to contact us for advice on how to proceed if they have concerns about a child having a vision impairment that is not yet diagnosed.

Referral Pathway

The Sensory Service will accept referrals for children with a:

  • Medically diagnosed visual impairment affecting both eyes which cannot be fully corrected with spectacles or contact lenses to within normal limits.
  • Reduced visual acuity of 6/18 or less or 6/12 with nystagmus.
  • Visual field loss with both eyes open which significantly affects function
  • Diagnosed degenerative eye condition.
  • A cerebral vision impairment which can be demonstrated to significantly affect function.

If there is very low, or no vision in one eye, but the other eye has better acuity than 6/18 (monocular vision), this does not require specific intervention from the Service. Advice on monocular vision is available on the Sensory Service website for parents/ schools to access.

Settings are encouraged to contact the service prior to referral to discuss individual cases as appropriate. For referrals which lie outside these thresholds, the service may be able to offer information about other useful resources or telephone advice.

Last updated: 24/02/2021