Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) - FdSc

UCAS Code:
Full Time (2 years)
September 2017

Become a specialist in enabling people who are blind or partially sighted to be as independent as possible in their day to day lives by studying this foundation degree in Rehabilitation Work.

Visual impairment is a life changing experience and very often you will be working with people who are at a crisis point in their lives. A qualified Rehabilitation Worker's strength is to be a problem solver and to respond to a person's unique and complex situation. You will develop individual training programmes based on the person's needs and aspirations. Through a blend of key teaching sessions, simulated activities, online study and work based learning placements you will become competent in a broad range of new skills on this practical course.

Students who successfully complete this course have the opportunity to progress their studies to achieve a full BSc (Hons) degree by joing on of our two part-time top-up courses:

BSc (Hons) Habilitation Work- Working with Children and Young People (Top-Up Degree)

BSc (Hons) Specialist Complex Needs Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) - (Top-Up Degree)

What's covered in the course?

Your initial learning focuses on the individual and the impacts of visual impairment on all aspects of life. You will look at how to work in partnership with your clients and their families, and how to wotk inter-professionally to promote the needs of experiencing sight loss.

You will also learn how to enable people with a visual impairment to become independent in their daily lives. This may be through teaching orientation and mobility skills, safety and independence in the kitchen and the home, techniques to overcome communication barriers and making the best use of a person's strengths and any remaining vision.


Why Choose Us?

  • The course teams excellent student satisfaction scores reflect the quality of our teaching and our commitment to placing students at the heart of everything we do. The FdSc Rehabilitation Work course achieved a 100 per cent satisfaction score in the 2016 National Student Survey.
  • 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 UK. The course is delivered through seven block teaching weeks spread throughout each academic year. These are blended with work placements in each academic year and online study.
  • You can study alongside your present employment. If employed within the sector you may be able to continue working full-time with dedicated study days. For those in unrelated job roles you may be able to manage studies and placement commitments alongside a part-time job role. 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. Many parts of the course are very practical and hands-on. Lectures and online support will enhance your learning and you will be putting skills into practice from week one.
  • Working with the individual, and as part of the professional community, you develop specific skills to improve the mobility, independent living and communication skills of people with all levels of visual impairments.
  • Experts from outside the University are involved to provide additional specialist knowledge and experience.Engagement with people who have a visual impairment ensures you gain in-depth insights, invaluable feedback and a sense of personal satisfaction from supporting people to live independently.
  • Being part of the University’s Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences within a large higher education institution means there are many extra resources from which our students can benefit. These include extensive IT services and support, library resources including help with researching, our Personal Development Department.
  • Our staff have many years' experience both from working at Birmingham City University and as rehabilitation worker practitioners and line managers in the statutory and voluntary sector.


Student ambassador helps Open Day visitor

Open Day - 8 October 2016

Our next University-wide Open Day will take place on Saturday 8 October 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

Applicants require one of the following:

  • 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)


GCSE at grade C or above at English Language (or equivalent e.g. key skills level 2, adult literacy level 2 or CSE grade 1 will be accepted).

Additional entry requirements:

  • Prospective students should demonstrate the ability to undertake studies at Foundation Degree level.
  • Personal experience or experience of working with people with visual impairment is desirable. Relevant experience in other health and social care settings will also be taken into consideration.
  • All applicants are required to be aged 18 years or above on entry
  • All applicants 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. Please see IT specifications for further details.
  • This course requires students to learn to teach people with visual impairment in high-risk situations, such as crossing roads independently, working safely in the kitchen and managing home and personal care. It is a requirement that students will already be competent themselves in these daily activities, and have the capacity to monitor the safety of those they are learning to teach. The application form asks you to confirm this requirement.
  • If English is not your first language an IELTS score of 6.0 overall (or equivalent) is required.

The UCAS tariff is changing

If you're considering applying for this course to start in September 2017 onwards, it's important to know that the UCAS tariff system is changing.

UCAS tariff points – the points system most universities use to compare different qualifications – will be introducing a new system on how points are calculated.

More about the new tariff

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 2017 FT 2 years TBC 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.

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

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

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.

Year 1

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

This module will focus upon the complexities of the associated impacts of visual impairment on the individual. 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 for the client group. Students will study how the environment may affect the individual and how it may be utilised to improve independence. Importantly, a range of additional health conditions and disabilities will be studied to assess their implications on the rehabilitation process.

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. Two days of each full week you attend University will dedicated to the study and delivery of the techniques in this module.

Approaches to Learning and Teaching Activities of Daily Living and Communications

This module will enable students to apply concepts relating to learning and teaching to a broad range of skills based sessions. In particular you will learn new techniques to promote independence and safety for people with a visual impairment when preparing and cooking food and when managing 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.

Year 2

Low Vision Therapy in Practice

You will explore the prescribing and teaching of near and distance vision magnification aids. These sessions will encompass opportunities 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. These sessions will be conducted both on site and outdoors with the links to the teaching of orientation and mobility.

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

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

This module will extend your knowledge from year one study in relation to reading, writing and teaching braille as well as other tactile communications mediums. In addition there is a strong emphasis on learning how to introduce a broad range of the latest technology to people with sight impairment. This includes sessions about electronic magnification equipment, tablets and iPads, computer accessibility, specialist IT software, mobile phone accessibility features and GPS systems.

The course is a blend of face to face teaching blocks, independent study and work-based learning placements.

Block Learning Weeks 2017-18


Teaching is organised into 7 block learning weeks spread throughout each of the two academic years. To offer you an idea of how this works please see below the dates for attendance during the year one academic year 2017-18.


University attendance dates: Year one 2017-18 Group learning (GL) weeks

GL1: 11th to 15th September 2017

GL2: 16th to 20th October 2017

GL3: 20th to 24th November 2017

GL4: 8th to 12th January 2018

GL5: 12th -16th February 2018

GL6: 9th – 13th April 2018

GL7:  14th to 18th May 2018 (Assessment week)

As a guide, times for teaching sessions within each week will run as below, however there are often occasions when additional sessions are added at the start or end of the teaching day:

Mondays 11am - 5pm

Tuesday to Thursdays 10am - 4pm

Fridays 9.30am - 3.30pm.

In addition, during these weeks, you’ll have the chance to take part in the following activities:

  • Skills practice time in our resource rooms and training kitchens.
  • Group sessions.
  • One to one tutorials.
  • Library research sessions.
  • IT support and training.
  • Support with academic writing.

Independent study

When away from University, we recommend you have at least one or two study days per week. This is to allow dedicated time for independent study and preparation of work for upcoming GL weeks as well as time to complete placement workbook tasks and assessment related study.

All the course and module information can be accessed and downloaded from our virtual learning environment called, Moodle. Following each GL week, Moodle is updated with useful information, key resources, assessment briefs and forthcoming teaching resources. You can interact with other students via online forums to discuss module content and to ask general questions to course tutors. Your assignments will also be submitted through Moodle.


You will be provided with detailed assessment instructions through dedicated face-to-face assessment briefing sessions and written assessment documents.

The course team use a broad mix of assessment methods to reflect the types of work students will be doing in practice. These include:

  • Written assignments
  • Placement assessment documents
  • Observations of practical skills teaching sessions
  • Video analysis tasks
  • Invigilated assessments, for example viva voce
  • Case study analysis.

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.


You will complete a work-based learning placement in each academic year. This takes the form of a 40 day work placement in year one and a 60 day placement in year two. These are invaluable opportunities to build up hands-on experience and skills from the visual impairment sector.

First year placement:

This 40 day work placement may take up to two or three days per week between October and May during the first academic year. This work involves building up experience of working with people who have visual impairment and other disabilities. As part of the placement workbook there will be several related tasks to complete to maximise your learning experience. For example, observing and reflecting on the practice of qualified professionals. Please note that the first year placement is not concerned with the teaching of rehabiltation independence skills, it helps build the foundations for the delivery of these services in year two of the course.

You’ll have the chance to volunteer with local charities and may 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 – this may allow you to continue working full time with a study day each week. If you are not in a related job role you will need to ensure you have enough time during your working weeks to fulfil placement and study requirements in between the group learning weeks. This may be manageable if you are working in a part time role three days a week. In this instance you will have to set aside evenings and weekends for independent study time.

Second year placements:

You will complete a 60-day work placement usually between February and May in year two of study. This is usually 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 prior to the block placement beginning in February.

You will be expected to perform the role of a Rehabilitation Worker (RW) (Visual Impairment) delivering specialist assessment and independence training to people who have 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.

When you start the course, you will be assigned a personal tutor who will support you in finding suitable organisations to meet the requirements of the year one and two placements.

At selection days, you will be asked how you plan to manage the time requirements of work placements, University attendance and independent study alongside other employment and life commitments.

If you wish, please contact the admissions tutor to discuss your options.

Peter Cooke: Senior Lecturer/Admission Tutor

Tel: 0121 202 4223


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