Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment) - FdSc

Course Overview

The essential course information

Download the course factsheet
UCAS Code:
Full Time (2 years)
School of Allied and Public Health Professions
City South

Become a specialist in helping those with sight loss and blindness, either acquired or from birth. Learn key skills through simulation activities in this practical course. A rehabilitation worker’s strength is to be a problem solver and to help client’s improve their own problem-solving ability. You will develop individual programmes based on an agreed assessment of client’s needs.

Students who successfully complete this course can progress to the top-up degree (designed as part-time study) to obtain a BSc or BSc (Hons) in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment).

What's covered in the course?

Your initial learning focuses on the individual; how to work in partnership with the service user, their family and society. You will progress to working inter-professionally to promote the needs of people experiencing sight loss.

You will also learn how to teach visually impaired people to become independent in their daily lives, through orientation skills and safety in the kitchen, overcoming communication barriers and making the best use of any residual vision.

You will develop specific skills to help improve the mobility, independent living and communication skills of people with all levels of visual impairment.

Completing this course allows you to progress to our top-up degree which enhances your skills further and predominately looks at how to improve and reflect on your current practices as a Rehabilitation Worker (Visual Impairment), or a Rehabilitation Officer.

To access the Degree programme you must be working or linked with people who are experiencing sight loss, or have a visual impairment.

“I liked the fact that everything we needed for our course was on the one campus, and the local community had lots of venues we could access for mobility training.”
Jayne Pascoe

Why Choose Us?

  • Birmingham City University is one of only three UK providers with this level of specialist education and training, and the largest educator of Rehabilitation Workers in the UK.
  • The foundation degree is accepted as the trusted qualification to be employed as a rehabilitation worker.
  • The course is very practical and hands- on. Lectures and online support will enhance your learning but 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 help improve the mobility, independent living and communication skills of people with all levels of visual impairment.
  • Experts from outside of the University are also involved to provide additional specialist lectures.
  • Access to service users means you get a rare depth of insight, invaluable feedback on your progress, and a sense of personal satisfaction from helping people to live independently once again.

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

  • Level 3 NVQ or Diploma or equivalent (full award)
  • 2 or more A-Levels (DD/120 UCAS tariff points) or a BTEC ordinary National Diploma
  • 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.

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.

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.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Sep 2015 FT 2 years FdSc £6,000 per year*

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.

*£4,500 per year if you are part of NHS Partner Trust.

Financial Options and Advice

We have deliberately tried to set fees that reflect the cost of course delivery in order to help our students avoid debt.

Full-time students won't have to pay for tuition fees until after their studies - there are government tuition fee loans available. If you are a full-time student, after leaving university you will start to pay back your loan once you are earning over £21,000 a year, at a rate of nine per cent on any income above £21,000. So if you were earning £25,000, you would pay back nine per cent of £4,000, or £30 per month.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis offers key facts on fees, loans and grants:

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible financial support. This includes how to access non means tested grants, means tested bursaries and any additional grants.

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

As a qualified rehabilitation worker you will usually find yourself employed by local authority social services departments or voluntary organisations for blind and partially sighted people. Vacancies can also exist in schools, hospitals, and day and residential services. There can even be opportunities to work in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Career Progression

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.

Further Studies

The BSc (Hons) Degree in Rehabilitation Work (Visual Impairment), which was introduced in September 2010, is available as a progression route from the Foundation Degree.

Full Time

About KIS data

From September 2012, all universities and colleges are publishing standardised information for all undergraduate courses in the form of a Key Information Set (KIS). The KIS data is designed to meet the needs of prospective students and allow for informed decision-making when choosing a university course.

Putting our students first

We pride ourselves on our student satisfaction levels which have risen from 73 per cent to 83 per cent between 2010 and 2012. Our dedication to improving the student experience is illustrated by our award-winning student engagement, our close links with business and industry and our £180 million investment in new facilities.

Employability facts

Over 75% of business/marketing and accountancy/finance graduates from Birmingham City Business School who responded to our survey entered employment (and/or further study), earning an average full-time salary of over £18,000. Employers hiring these graduates include Stockdale Martin, Morrison's, Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank, offering positions such as Account Executive, Commercial Analyst, Senior Business Associate and Hedge Fund Analyst.

Working with your Students’ Union

Improving student satisfaction is a priority commitment shared by both Birmingham City University and its Students’ Union. In its strategic planning, the Union has pledged to be more accessible, more relevant and provide more opportunity to engage with a diverse student community.

The Students’ Union is already a key stakeholder in supporting an excellent teaching experience at Birmingham City University, through joint projects such as the Extra Mile Teaching Awards and the Student Rep scheme, which allows students to share their ideas on how they are taught.

As Birmingham City University moves towards a two campus strategy where it can better support enhanced learning and student support facilities across a two-mile radius, the Students’ Union will also be better able to implement its commitment to improve communication and engage with its valued student membership.

Course Structure

Your initial learning focuses on the individual, how to work in partnership with the service user, their family and society. You will progress on to working inter-professionally to promote the needs of people experiencing sight loss.

You will also learn how to teach visually impaired people to become independent in their daily lives through orientation skills and safety in the kitchen, overcoming communication barriers and making the best use of any residual vision.

You will develop specific skills to help improve the mobility, independent living and communication skills of people with all levels of visual impairment.

To aid accessibility, teaching occurs in intense week-long blocks so that if you’re based some distance away, you can receive uninterrupted training in a more convenient form (rather than a few hours a week over a longer period).

What else we offer

In 2013 after months of training, a select few health professionals ventured to Nepal to learn about international healthcare as part of an optional extra-curricular experience. This is their diary.

Additional support

If you are dyslexic, have a specific learning difference or a disability, we have a Disability Tutor who can help and support you. 

More on our disability tutor >>

We offer extra technical and learning support.

Additional Activities

Who would I be working with?

The client base that a Rehabilitation Worker would be expected to work with is extremely diverse. There will be individuals with complex visual impairments. There may be additional health or social problems. Clients can have other disabilities and complex needs.

You will be teaching skills to a range of people who may be experiencing psychological and physiological difficulties. You will become a specialist in the practical aspects of sight loss and blindnes and will offer professional assessments of individual need, to provide or co-ordinate specific services as part of an agreed programme and develop individual programmes based on an agreed assessment of their needs.

The aim of a Rehabilitation Worker is to help the individual learn how to be as independent as possible in relation to their circumstances. The rewards of improving an individual’s quality of life make this career truly inspiring.

Course Modules

Year 1

Moving into HE
This module will combine learning and teaching methods, interpersonal skills and reflective practice. Instruction will be given in academic writing, self-directed and independent learning. Content will include confidence building, listening, personal development planning and communication/presentation skills.

Low Vision, Blindness and Impairment
The module will cover a broad range of topics such as how the eye and brain functions, congenital blindness, disabilities and complex needs.

Foundations of Orientation and Mobility
This will introduce you to how to teach a range of independent indoor mobility skills and techniques. These are practical sessions where you will develop your planning, teaching and experiential learning skills.

Foundations of Activities of Daily Living and Communications
The module will introduce teaching skills to people with little or no sight in areas such as the kitchen and household. The sessions are practical and designed to enable you to teach techniques to enhance a person’s independence within the home/work place. 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.

Outside of the Group Learning weeks you will spend a minimum of 60 days at a work based learning organisation that provides services linked to individual with a sight loss. There will be opportunities to enhance your communication skills and potentially some practical skills with service users.

Year 2

Low Vision Therapy
This module continues on from Low Vision, Blindness and Impairment. Clinical and functional vision is explored in further detail. Magnification and electronic adaptive equipment will be introduced. The sessions are practical and will be conducted both on site and outdoors with the links to outdoor mobility.

Practice Debate
The module covers crucial areas such as legislation, person centred practice, models of disability, discrimination and significant issues relating to Rehabilitation Workers. The module is designed to be very interactive with small group research work and discussion.

Orientation and Mobility for Practice
This will introduce you to teaching skills and techniques to people with a visual impairment outdoors. 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.

Activities of Daily Living and Communication for Practice
The module will look in depth at assessment skills and report writing. Interpersonal skills will again feature highly. There will also be teaching in relation to emotional support, enabling and disabling barriers, working with people with complex needs, dual sensory loss and additional impairments. Tactile and electronic communication skills such as Braille and IT will feature throughout.

Year two will require a minimum of 60 days to be completed at a work based learning organisation that provides a range of rehabilitation services. You will carry a small case load and deliver services to people with visual impairments. You will start to carry out the real work and gain crucial experience which should enhance your employability.

Although there will be classroom based lectures, the course is mostly practical. You will learn new skills but the aim is for you to be able to teach these skills to a high standard. You will work in groups and quite often in pairs. There will be many opportunities to teach and to be taught.

Owing to the nature of the role, you will experience many practical teaching sessions in order to ensure that you are adequately prepared and fit for practice. This includes teaching sessions in and around the locality of the campus, providing in situ teaching and learning opportunities.

Assessment Methods

Methods of assessment vary from module to module, but can include written assignments, examinations, technical skills assessments, individual formal presentations, subject-related workbooks/portfolios. A competency based reflective journal is also completed during the work-based learning experience.

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.

I have done two 60-day work placements. In the first year I worked with a local charity and got myself involved in a wide a range of things. I made some great friends and contacts and even did a parachute jump to raise funds for the charity (parachute jumps are not a mandatory part of the Rehabilitation Work course.) The second placement was in a social services sensory team, which I have found incredibly useful; having an experienced ROVI (Rehabilitation Officer – Visual Impairment) to work through the issues with was fabulous. The second placement was a real learning curve, where all the theory started to click into place. The work placements offered by the University are invaluable.

All the staff that I have come into contact with have been very supportive. Our group bonded really well and we had some great times. I have met some fantastic people and have really enjoyed working with them in experiential learning; we teach each other and learn from each other. Spending time being taught is just as valuable as teaching as this is where you get to understand the teaching from a different perspective because it gives a clue to how your service user may feel.

Just after I started my second placement a job came up in the team and I applied for it. I spent ages getting the application right and preparing for the interview and it paid off as I will be starting work with the team as soon as I get the qualification! I couldn’t be more delighted. I am constantly learning and finding that everyone has something to teach me, which I feel keeps the work fresh. I would like to continue and take my learning to degree level, but not yet as I would like to get a few years under my belt and have a holiday too!

I would say to prospective students to get organised, get ahead, take every opportunity presented, and if there are none, make some! You have to be proactive and motivated. Start learning Braille from the moment you decide you want to do the course; little and often is the key. If you have a passion for the work, don’t hesitate!

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities. It’s no surprise that the Complete University Guide placed us in the UK top 10 for spending on facilities in both 2012 and 2013.

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 Corporate ICT 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.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.

This course is not available to International Students


For an overview of our undergraduate courses and a range of other information order a printed Prospectus or download a PDF of our Prospectus (16Mb).

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