Conference Workshops: Thursday 28 September 2023

All workshops have limited places available, so please ensure you send your preferred second choices.  We will endeavour to allocate your first choice where possible.

Workshop Session 3:  10:30 – 11:45

Social-Communication, Language and Interaction in Children with Severe and Profound Visual Impairment. 

Children with congenital profound or severe visual impairment are at high risk of social-communication difficulties, including difficulties with pragmatic language and interaction (Tadic et al., 2010). These findings have implications for the high prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in VI reported in the literature, and which is estimated to be as high as ~30% (Do et al., 2017). However, any child with severe-profound VI is likely to have significant delays in cognitive, language, and social development and it has not been known whether an additional social-communication risk can be successfully differentiated under three years and whether a child with social-communication risk early on can continue to present with these difficulties during childhood.

Elena will present data from the Optimum project (Dale et al., 2017) which examined cognition, language and social-communication in toddlers with VI and longitudinal associations with language and social-communication from the DAiSY project (Dale et al., in preparation) when children were seen again when they were 4-7 years of age. The results are discussed in terms of clinical and educational implications.

Facilitator: Elena Sakkalou, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University

Audience: All

Geography: UK Wide

Thank you to Guide Dogs UK for sponsoring this workshop.

Guide Dogs Logo displayed onto a paw print

The Power of Sport – A Panel Discussion

In August, The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Games are coming to Birmingham. The panel discussion will highlight the connection between physical activity and good mental health for blind and partially sighted people.

The discussions will highlight the necessity of working collaboratively to provide support and opportunity to help blind and partially sighted people start to become a little more active. The panel will discuss the challenges with access to local provision and showcase what local sight loss organisations could do to support equitable access to facilities and activities.

We will hear how people and organisations have been able to remove barriers and create opportunities that allow blind and partially sighted people to remain active and understand how to boost their mental health.

This panel session will provide the opportunity to explore the impact of sport on all aspects of our lives. We will share ideas and opportunities to engage local people in sport and to try new physical activities. There will be an opportunity for delegates to share their own work and experiences as we discuss how we can make a difference through sport.


  • Martin Symcox, Head of Leisure and Sport, Thomas Pocklington Trust (Panel Host)
  • Alice Holloway, RNIB Lead, See Sport Differently
  • Kelly Barton, Engagement Manager, Thomas Pocklington Trust
  • Marc Gulwell, Sight Loss Adviser Team Manager, Sight Support West of England
  • Gareth Davies, Stakeholder Engagement Manager – Accessibility, RNIB
  • Ian Isham, Head of Sport Development, British Blind Sport

Audience: All

Geography: UK Wide

Thank you to See Sport Differently for sponsoring this panel discussion.

See Sport Differently logo with pink triangle on the left hand side

10 Things I’ve Learnt as a Fundraiser Turned Grant Assessor

Vic has been a fundraiser for more than 15 years. Last year Vic was on the other side of the proposal, as an assessor.  During this time, she learnt a lot, and, in this session, Vic will share what she will now be doing differently in her fundraising and grant applications as a result.

Vic will talk you through 10 things she’s learnt as a fundraiser turned grant assessor and there will be time for peer learning, troubleshooting and Q&A.  You’ll leave the session with a boost of confidence and some new ideas to take into your fundraising and grant writing.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their organisation’s Case for Support document or a recent grant application, as there will be an opportunity to reflect and develop this during the workshop.

Facilitator: Vic Hancock Fell, Founder, Fair Collective

Audience: Anyone responsible for fundraising or supporting fundraising. This session will be appropriate for organisations of all sizes but may be of particular interest to small and medium sized organisations

Geography: UK Wide

Thank you to Macular Society for sponsoring this workshop

Macular Society logo has an image of an eye in place of the dot for the letter "i" in "Society". Underneath it says "Beating Macular Disease".

Inclusive Service Design and Delivery: Reaching Everyone who Needs Us.

This workshop will explore examples of how the Association of Blind Asians shape the way they design and deliver services.  Debbani will share innovative ways of reaching local communities and participants will come away with tangible actions they can take to ensure their services are relevant, accessible, and inclusive to all that need them.

Join Debbani Ghosh, CEO of Association of Blind Asians Leeds, who will share their work and facilitate discussion on designing inclusive services.

Facilitator: Debbani Ghosh, CEO, Association of Blind Asians

Audience: All

Geography: UK Wide

Thank you to Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation for sponsoring this workshop.

Fight for Sight & Vision Foundation Logo

The Merger Rollercoaster

This workshop is an opportunity to explore what lies behind the practicalities and legal requirements of mergers. The workshop will be hosted by Keith Valentine from Fight for Sight and Vision Foundation and Sarah French from Vision and Hearing Support, who both have recent experience within their own organisations of mergers. They will explore the drivers which led to a decision to merge, the opportunities it has and will present for their respective organisations and their beneficiaries. They will also share the impact on them as leaders and their teams throughout the process and beyond.

The workshop will focus on the drivers for change and the ups and downs of the journey, rather than the practicalities. If you want to learn more, come along – it is a rollercoaster.


  • Sarah French, CEO, Vision and Hearing Support
  • Keith Valentine, CEO, Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation

Audience: CEOs, Trustees and Leaders

Geography: UK Wide

Thank you to Fight for Sight/Vision Foundation for sponsoring and hosting this workshop.

Fight for Sight & Vision Foundation Logo

Workshop Session 4:  12:15 – 13:30

Chairs, Trustees and CEOs – Finding the Balance

This workshop will build on information gathered during two Visionary sessions, led by Brian Cavanagh in June, speaking separately with trustees and CEO’s.

The workshop will bring trustees and CEO’s together and consider a range of issues including:

  • Establishing clear relationships between paid members of staff and trustees.
  • Developing an effective working relationship between the chair and the CEO.
  • How to recognise what is operational and what is governance.
  • How trustees can feel confident things are being managed well without managing!
  • How CEO’s can engage effectively with a board of trustees.
  • How to share uncomfortable truths.

Facilitators: Brian Cavanagh, Founder, Brian Cavanagh Consulting

Audience: CEOs, Trustees and Leaders

Geography: UK Wide

Service Delivery and Support for Families of Children and Young People with Vision Impairment and Additional Needs.

45% of children with Vision Impairment have other disabilities. MoorVision has had 15 years’ experience in delivering a fully accessible service to all children and young people registered with us regardless of their additional needs. We ensure that every child has the opportunities they need to achieve their full potential by offering support in all areas of their education, sport and leisure, wellbeing, peer support, home and social life.

MoorVision will be covering best practice in including children with VI and additional needs in service delivery and offering an interactive workshop on how this can be achieved. Delegates will gain both an insight into the wide variety of additional needs presenting and practical ideas to inform future delivery.

Facilitator:  Laura Hughes, CEO, MoorVision

Audience: All colleagues from organisations delivering services for Children and Young People with VI and additional needs

Geography: UK Wide

Sensory Services – A Panel Discussion

This panel session will share experiences and knowledge of developing and delivering joint sensory services. Panel members from England, Wales and Scotland will discuss highs and lows, drivers for change, practicalities, funding and what difference it has made to people.


  • Philippa Simkiss, Philippa Simkiss Consulting (Panel Host)
  • Graham Findlay, CEO, North East Sensory Services
  • Lowri Bartrum, CEO, Vision Support
  • Clare Burgess, CEO, Sight for Surrey

Audience: All

Geography: UK Wide

Eye Care Support Pathway

A presentation about the new Eye Care Support Pathway and how Visionary and RNIB are working together to support local organisations to influence Integrated Care Systems in adopting it.


  • Phil Ambler, England Country Director, RNIB
  • Pete Hoey, Pathways Lead, Visionary

Audience: All

Geography: England

Making an impact: issues, challenges and opportunities in evaluation

This session will introduce some key terms and approaches to evaluation. It will explore common challenges, the importance of understanding the purpose and benefits of evaluation, and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches. There will be an opportunity to explore the wider context of research in voluntary sector and specific issues that delegates wish to explore.

Facilitator: Jay Kennedy, Director of Policy and Research , Directory of Social Change

Geography: UK Wide

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