Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) - FdSc

UCAS Code:
Full Time (2 years)
September 2016

This Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) is the only specific higher education course of its kind in the country, giving you the most recognised qualification to start your career as an empowered support worker.

Experiencing sight impairment or complete vision loss is a life changing experience and very often you will be working with people who are at a crisis point in their lives. Together with your service users, you will develop individual training programmes based on their needs and aspirations - and start enabling people who are blind or partially sighted to be as independent as possible.

What's covered in the course?

You'll be working with students from all over the UK, typically coming to Birmingham for regular, intense contact sessions on campus to leanr more about types of visual impairment challenges, then either continuing your study at home or in your current working environment (if appropriate).

Your initial learning will focus on the individual and the impact of visual disability on all parts of their life. From day one, you will work in partnership with service users and their families, working inter-professionally to promote the needs of people experiencing types of blindness.

You'll teach your service users about orientation and mobility skills, safety and independence in the kitchen and the home, techniques to overcome communications barriers and help them make the best use of their strengths and any remaining vision.

You'll complete a work based learning placement in each academic year (40 days in year one and 60 in year two) - invaluable opportunities to gain hands on experience and skills from the visual impairment sector.

Why Choose Us?

  • We've been training Rehabilitation Workers for over 20 years and the largest educator of these specialist practitioners in the UK.
  • The foundation degree is accepted as the trusted qualification to be employed as a Rehabilitation Worker in Local Authorities and non-statutory agencies across the country.
  • If you've got other commitments, this course has been specially designed to be flexible and is based on a blended learning approach to the many areas of visual impairment.
  • Our virtual learning environment (Moodle) provides resources for each module to guide self-directed study in-between University attendance weeks.
  • Dedicated work placements in each academic year ensure students qualify with the competence and confidence to work effectively in practice.
  • Our staff have many years' experience as both rehabilitation worker practitioners and line managers in the statutory and voluntary sector.
  • There are many extra resources available to you - like extensive IT support, library resources including help with researching, a personal development department for academic support and student services for advice and guidance on employability.
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Open Day - 11 June 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 11 June 2016. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

Please note: we are currently reviewing our entire course provision for 2017/18. Details will be included in your registration email.

This course is not open to International students
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Where our students go

Our students have gone on to work with companies such as:

  • Blind Veterans UK
  • Devon County Council

And in jobs such as:

  • IT instructor
  • Rehabilitation Officer Visually Impaired

Entry Requirements

  • Level 3 NVQ or Diploma or equivalent (full award)
  • 2 or more A-Levels (DD/120 UCAS tariff points)
  • Level 2 NVQ or Diploma (full award) plus a written paper (details of content will be provided by the admissions tutor post application)
  • 5 GCSE passes at grade C or above plus a written paper (details of content will be provided by the admissions tutor post application)
  • For applicants with relevant and significant work experience in the disability sector there is the option to complete a written paper (this will be set by the admissions tutor following receipt of an application).
  • GCSE at grade C or above at English Language (or equivalent such as key skills level 2, adult literacy level 2 or CSE grade 1 will be accepted.

Additional entry requirements for the Foundation Degree in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment):

  • You should demonstrate the ability to undertake studies at Foundation Degree level.
  • In addition, personal experience, or experience of working with people who are blind and partially sighted is desirable. Relevant experience in other care settings will also be taken into consideration.
  • You are required to be aged 18 years or above on entry.
  • You must have access to, and be able to use, broadband internet and e-mail facilities, as a proportion of this course is delivered through these media.
  • This course requires you to learn to teach people who are blind and partially sighted in high risk situations, such as crossing roads independently, coping safely in the kitchen and managing home and personal care. It is a requirement that you will already be competent yourself in these daily activities and have the capacity to monitor the safety of those who you are learning to teach. The application form asks you to confirm this requirement.

From A/AS Level with a minimum of 2 A Levels

Mature students with no formal qualifications

  • Most of our students are not school leavers and a number have chosen this course in order to change their career or return to work.
  • Mature applicants without formal qualifications must demonstrate personal or professional experience of any of the caring professions and the ability to study at Foundation Degree level.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
FdSc Sep 2016 FT 2 years £6,000 per year Apply online now

International Students

Sorry, this course is not available to international students.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

We offer a wide range of professionally accredited and vocational courses that require the purchase of, among other things, uniforms, equipment, subscriptions, professional body memberships and DBS checks, and may require you to pay to attend conferences or participate in placements.

The link below provides our estimate of the possible costs associated with key activities on specific courses. Please bear in mind that these are only estimates of costs based on past student experience and feedback. The actual costs to you could vary considerably (either greater or lower than these estimates) depending on your choices as you progress through the course. We set out where we can, based on experience, where these indicative costs are for activities that are optional or compulsory.

All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Find additional costs for your course

How to apply

Please apply directly to the school.

Download the following documents to apply online:

Tel: +44 (0) 121 331 5500

This course is not available to International Students

It is not possible to apply for this course via UCAS - please apply directly to the School.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Loans and Grants

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible undergraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.


Skills for Higher Education and Work Based Learning

This module will focus on your individual learning style, interpersonal skills and reflective practice. Instruction will be given to enhance your academic skills in relation to searching for appropriate materials, academic writing and independent learning. Content will include confidence building, personal development planning and communication/presentation skills and links with professional skills relating to your first year placement.

Foundations of Low Vision, Blindness and Impairment

You will study a broad range of topics such as how the anatomy of the eye is affected, psychological theories of adjustment to sight loss and functional implications to the client group, plus how the environment may affect the individual and how it may be used to improve independence.

Principles of Orientation and Mobility

This module will introduce students to teaching a range of skills to enable people with a visual impairment to travel safely and independently in an indoor environment. These are practical experiential learning sessions where you will develop your planning, teaching and evaluation skills.

Approaches to Learning and Teaching Activities of Daily Living and Communications

You will learn new techniques to promote independence and safety for people with a visual impairment when preparing and cooking food and a range of other household tasks. Communications introduces you to Braille and other tactile communication systems. Adaptive equipment will feature strongly, as well as an introduction to assessment of individuals with a visual impairment.

Low Vision Therapy in Practice

You will explore the prescribing and teaching of near and distance vision magnification aids. Theses essions will give you the chance to try out your assessing and teaching skills with particular attention to eccentric viewing techniques. You will actively investigate strategies that people with low vision can use in a broad range of complex environments.

Professional Skills and Values for Rehabilitation Work Practice

This module covers key issues relating to rehabilitation practice such as professional values, legislation, person-centred approaches, models of disability and discrimination. The module is designed to be very interactive with stimulating group discussion, debate and case study analysis.

Orientation and Mobility for Advanced Complex Environments

This will introduce you to teaching techniques to people with a visual impairment to orientate safely and independently in an outdoor environment. Skills will be taught to a high level, with opportunities to teach bus and train travel as well as complex town and city centre routes.

Assessment, Communications and Technology

Students will investigate and demonstrate the skills required to conduct a specialist visual impairment rehabilitation assessment. There is particular attention focused upon information gathering abilities, interpersonal skills, positive risk management, working with people in distress and designing agreed rehabilitation programmes.

Course structure

On the theory side, we will involve you in interactive classroom based lectures, group discussions, debates and presentations that may range from the application of theoretical concepts to the study of practical rehabilitation programmes.

You will also experience many practical teaching sessions through simulation activities in order to ensure that you are adequately prepared for practice - typically, in small groups.

You will learn new techniques to teach skills around sight impairment to a high standard - like orientation and mobility, communications and kitchen-based skills. These sessions will use our resource rooms, training kitchens and other specialist facilities as well as buildings at the University and in the wider area.

You will also be learning in the field on your work placements, working in real teams helping service users in types of visual impairment. In your first year, you'll spend 40 days on placement spread throughout the year. These placements will allow you to put your knowledge into practice, about different types of sight loss and the whole sight loss journey. In your second year you'll have 60 days on placement in one block from February to May. You'll be working in a team as a rehab and support worker, with a range of settings possible - from the NHS to voluntary sector organisations, such as Blind Veterans.

You'llbe assessed in a variety of ways, including:

  • Written assignments
  • Placement assessment documents
  • Observations of practical skills teaching sessions
  • Video analysis tasks
  • Invigilated assessments e.g. viva voce (oral exams)
  • Case study analysis

This flexible course, with seven block-teaching weeks spread throughout the year, will allow you to work part-time around your studies. If you're already employed within the sector, you may be able to continue working full-time with a dedicated study day. For those in unrelated job roles, you may be able to study alongside a part-time job three days a week.

Teaching breakdown

16 Time in lectures, seminars and similar MidnightBlue
59 Time in independent study RoyalBlue
25 Time on placement LightSkyBlue

Assessment breakdown

44 Written exams DarkOrange
12 Coursework FireBrick
44 Practical exams #fece5a

Student stories - Michelle

Michelle Lofthouse shares with us why she chose to study at Birmingham City University, what she has enjoyed about the course and how studying here has given her the confidence to succeed and have a great career in working in the rehabilitation field.

Study and work abroad

If you are interested in undertaking part of your studies abroad, the Erasmus scheme may be of interest to you. It allows higher education students to study for part of their degree in another European country.

It is open to undergraduates in their second year (or above) and offers a unique opportunity to enhance your CV and experience new cultures. If you study with us you will have access to an Erasmus co-ordinator, who can provide information about which institutions we have links with.

Find out more

Further study

Students who successfully complete this course can progress their study to achieve a full BSc (Hons) degree by joining one of Birmingham City University’s two part time top up courses below:

BSc (Hons) Habilitation Work – Working with Children and Young People – Top up Degree

This course enables you to become a dual qualified worker for working with children who have a visual impairment and enables you to register as a Habilitation Specialist.

BSc (Hons) Specialist Complex Needs Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) – Top up degree

Student stories Fiona Kilbey

There are not many courses in my chosen subject and I felt that Birmingham City University was the best one that offered a course that I could feasibly fit into my life. My local social services sensory team also recommended the course. I could not move away, so being able to attend the University was a very attractive prospect. I also feel that it is important that some of the lecturers are visually impaired themselves.

Enhancing Employability Skills

You'll graduate from this course with a recognised and valuable rehabilitation worker qualification, able to start helping people losing their sight or with any kind of visual disability, and aware of the specific social and psychological challenges types of blindness can bring.

Our graduates find jobs with organisations including local authorities, the NHS, but also charities and social enterprises. 90 per cent of graduates from this course went on to work or further study after six months.

As an empowered rehabilitation specialist, you'll be able to find satisfying and fulfilling careers helping clients not just in the UK but on a global basis, such as New Zealand.

Working with people who are visually impaired whilst on the course will give you an in-depth insight, invaluable feedback on your progress, and a sense of personal satisfaction from supporting people to live independently.


In your first year, you'll spend up to two or three days per week on placement between October and May, where you'll get first-hand experience of working with people who have sight impairment and other disabilities. You'll have a placement workbook to complete, which includes several related tasks to maximise your learning experience, like observing and reflecting on the practice of qualified professionals. You won't be teaching rehabilitation independence skills on your first placement, but is instead designed to help build the foundations for when you get to deliver these services in your second year.

You might also volunteer with local charities during your course, or be involved with befriending and volunteer visiting schemes as well as supporting social groups and hospital information services. Your current job role may meet the requirements of the first year placement - and might give you the chance to carry on working full-time with a study day each week.

Your 60-day second year work placement usually takes place between February and May, and is normally four days a week for 15 weeks with a study day each week. The first two weeks take the form of induction activities that often occur in November before the block placement beginning in February.

You'll be expected to perform the role of a Rehabilitation Worker (RW) (Visual Impairment) delivering specialist assessment and independence training to people with a visual impairment. This will be as part of an active Local Authority Sensory Services team or with a voluntary organisation that hold the contract for the provision of rehabilitation services. Each placement has a qualified RW as a mentor who will provide an induction into the agency and work shadowing opportunities as well as allocating and supervising your caseload.

More about our placement opportunities...


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.


Examples of some of the skills rehabilitation workers can offer their clients:

  • Teach individuals how to cross roads independently and negotiate complex routes
  • Demonstrate a range of adaptive equipment. This could include new technology such as smart phones and tablets.
  • Instruct in safe cooking methods and daily living skills, for example, ironing.
  • Provide group training programmes to fellow professionals such as Social Workers, Occupational Therapists and Hospital staff.
  • Teach a range of communication skills, for example, Braille and Deaf Blind alphabet signing.
  • Give advice and reinforce training in relation to the use of magnifiers and low vision aids
  • Provide support and advice to individuals with a sight loss, carers, family members and parents of children with a visual impairment.
  • Advise about design and modifications to specific environments to make them more accessible to those with visual impairment, for example, a person’s home or a soon to be built shopping centre.

This innovative and unique course offers you the opportunity to develop teaching skills to work with people who have a sight loss. This course will develop your specialist skills, knowledge and understanding to enable you to qualify as a professional rehabilitation worker who may gain employment in a social services department or a voluntary organisation. You will learn about not only the problems of sight loss, but also how to help people experiencing sight loss in a much broader context.

Work based learning is an integral part of the course. There is the requirement to attend a minimum of 60 days with an organisation that provides services linked to sight loss in year one. There will be opportunities to observe practice and interactions with individuals with a sight loss. In year two, there is the need to attend 60 days with an organisation that provides dedicated rehabilitation services. This is where you will start to manage a case load and deliver tailored services in relation to the individual’s needs.

If you are already employed by an organisation that provides services then it would be likely that you would stay with your existing employer while on the course. However, year two work based learning requires you to carry an actual case load - so the organisation must hold the contract to deliver the localities rehabilitation services for second year work based learning.


BCU Graduate+

Through our courses we give you the skills and experience needed to get a head start when applying for jobs. But we offer something extra too – Graduate+.

Our unique programme gives you the chance to develop valuable skills outside of the more formal classroom learning. We award points for Graduate+ activities (including firewalking!) and these can be put towards a final Graduate+ award.

More about Graduate+

Graduate Jobs

As a qualified rehabilitation worker you will usually find yourself employed by local authority social services departments or voluntary organisations who work with people who are blind or partially sighted. Vacancies can also exist in schools, hospitals, and day and residential services. There are also opportunities to work in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Starting salaries may vary between £20,000 to £30,000 per year.


We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

We boast up-to-date, innovative facilities that simulate the real situations that medical staff may come across.

These resources are essential in offering students a hands-on introduction to health and social care practice. Much of our teaching is carried out within our state-of-the-art, £30m Seacole Building, which houses some of the best learning facilities in the UK.

Take a virtual tour of our skills suites at Seacole

In a sector where new techniques are constantly being discovered, we work hard to ensure that students learn using the most up-to-date equipment available. These include the only mock operating theatre in an English university and a cutting-edge radiography virtual clinical training facility, virtual ward and virtual case creator.


The kitchen is used by our visual rehabilitation Students. Everything in this room allows students to safely prepare and cook food as a person with a visual impairment.

Visual Rehab Resource Room

This room allows the Visual rehab students to learn to use a whole variety of equipment such as braille machines and simulation glasses.

Mary Seacole Library

The Seacole library, based at City South Campus, is one of the UK's largest specialist health education libraries. The state-of-the art facility offers an extensive range of range of information and reference materials set out in a relaxing environment, conducive to studying. There are comfortable seating areas, group study areas, a silent study area and private study rooms.

You will have access to all of the University’s libraries, including the main Kenrick Library on the City North Campus, which is open for almost 90 hours a week and holds more than 320,000 books, 2,000 print journals and carries more than 4,000 electronic journals online.

Computer Facilities

The Seacole building houses a large open access IT Suite which comprises of 96 PCs, full colour printers, photocopiers and scanners. Our PCs utilise the latest Intel i5 core technology, all with:

  • Fast (unrestricted) internet connectivity
  • Ability to save files to USB, DVD & CD
  • Microsoft Office software
  • Research and statistical software
  • Storage space which can be accessed from any PC across the University and from home

Our PCs are also designed to support students who may have difficulties with reading and writing, featuring specialised software with zooming/magnification and screen reading capabilities, which may also be customised for individual student needs.

The IT Suite offers extended opening hours and is supported by a specialist Open Access Assistant during term time. In addition to the open access PCs within the IT Suite, there are 12 networked student PCs available within Seacole library.

Our staff

All of our teaching staff have had real-world practice experience in either local authority or non-statutory care settings. Many are themselves visually impaired or been pre-diagnosed with sight loss and have direct knowledge of many of the issues service users encounter around types of visual impairment and blindness.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295