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Physical, Medical Needs and Sensory Needs

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND)

In this Section

Physical, Medical Needs and Personal Care

Visual Impairment

Hearing Impairment

Autism Spectrum and Social Communication

Sensory Processing


Physical, Medical Needs and Personal Care


The SEND Code of Practice states:

6.35 - Some children and young people with a physical disability (PD) require additional ongoing support and equipment to access all the opportunities available to their peers.


Many students with a physical disability/ reduced mobility, medical condition or requiring personal or intimate care will be able to participate in most aspects of everyday school life such as function within the classroom, make progress and access the curriculum.

However, each child or young person has a unique set of needs that may affect their access and engagement in learning tasks and activities. Therefore, they may need some support through effective quality first teaching and waves of intervention that may be particular to them.

The Code of Practice requires schools to identify and assess pupils’ needs and for increasing specialist expertise to be deployed within the school. In some cases staff in school will require training to a level of competence to support these children and keep them safe and well.

This would be through effective co-ordination and joint working between parents, education, health and social care services to secure appropriate provision and deliver the best outcomes for the child/young person.

Physical disability (PD) refers to all types of physical disability –the impact may be hidden, mild or profound. With the right support and knowledge children and young people with PD can achieve as much as other children.

Section 100 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty on governing bodies of maintained schools, proprietors of academies and management committees of PRUs to make arrangements for supporting pupils at their school with medical conditions.

Find out more:

Trafford Graduated Approach: Physical, Medical Needs and Personal Care

Trafford's Graduated Approach to Assistive Technology


Visual Impairment


The SEND Code of Practice states:

6.34 Some children and young people require special educational provision because they have a disability which prevents or hinders them from making use of the educational facilities generally provided.

These difficulties can be age related and may fluctuate over time. Many children and young people with vision impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) or a multi-sensory impairment (MSI) will require specialist support and/or equipment to access their learning, or habilitation support.


Visual impairment can have a significant impact on a student’s educational development in some cases resulting in learning delay and reduced curricular access. This will require careful monitoring by schools and the Sensory Impairment Team. It is possible for some students to acquire visual loss later in life through accident or illness.

The Code of Practice is clear and schools can consult outside agencies for advice in preventing the development of more significant needs. Schools should feel free to contact TSISS for advice at any time. 

Visual difficulties take many forms, with widely differing implications for a student’s education. They range from relatively minor and remediable conditions to total blindness. Some students are born blind: others lose their sight, partially or completely, as a result of accident or illness. In some cases visual impairment is one aspect of a multiple disability. 

Whatever the nature and cause of the student’s visual impairment, the major issue in identifying and assessing his/her special needs will relate to the degree and nature of the functional vision and the student’s ability to adapt socially and psychologically, as well as to progress in an educational context. 

A defect of a student’s colour vision alone may not necessarily result in any special educational needs.

Definitions for Children and Young People with Visual Impairment:

Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI): A condition where some of the parts of the brain and its connections are damaged and the child or young person is unable to make sense of what they see.

Mild Visual Impairment: Visual acuity better than 6/18 with visual field loss or a degenerative condition.

Moderate Visual Impairment: Visual acuity between 6/18 and 6/36.

Severe Visual Impairment: Visual acuity between 6/36 and 6/60.

Profound Visual Impairment: Visual acuity 6/60 or less.

Find out more:

Trafford Graduated Approach: Visual Impairment

Department of Health guidance on care and support for Deafblind children and adults 


Hearing Impairment

Hearing impairment can have a significant impact on a child’s educational development in some cases resulting in learning delay and reduced curricular access. This will require careful monitoring by schools and the Hearing Impairment Team.

Hearing Impairment spans a range from mild/moderate to severe/profound. It can be temporary or permanent. Most students with hearing impairment will have been diagnosed at the pre-school stage and will have accessed some level of support from the Hearing Impairment Team and Health colleagues. It is possible for some students to acquire hearing loss late in life through accident or illness or a genetic condition.

A significant proportion of students have some degree of hearing difficulty at some time. Temporary hearing loss in the early years is usually caused by the condition known as “glue ear?. Such hearing losses fluctuate and may be mild to moderate in degree. They can compound other learning difficulties.

Occasionally a significant hearing loss may be caused by a long-term conductive loss in both ears. Significant permanent hearing losses are usually bilateral (both ears) and sensori-neural (due to problems with the auditory nerve or the cochlea) in origin.

They may be severe or profound and may give rise to severe and complex communication difficulties. A permanent loss in one ear and a temporary loss in the other may also cause significant hearing impairment.

Listening to language through hearing aids and cochlear implants and the visual concentration required following lip reading and sign language is very tiring. Studies have shown that deaf students are also at higher risk of developing social and emotional difficulties compared to hearing peers.

Many students with hearing impairment may require some of the following:

  • Flexible teaching arrangements;
  • Appropriate seating, favourable acoustic conditions and lighting;
  • Adaptations to the physical environment of the school;
  • Adaptations to school policies and procedures;
  • Access to alternative or augmented forms of communication;
  • Access to  amplification systems;
  • Access to areas of the curriculum through specialist aids, equipment.
  • Regular access to specialist support
Find out more:

Graduated Approach: Hearing Impairment