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Sensory Impairment (Local Offer)

What is sensory impairment?

The term sensory impairment encompasses:

  • Visual loss (including blindness and partial sight)
  • Hearing loss (including the whole range)
  • Multi sensory impairment (which means having a diagnosed visual and hearing impairment with at least a mild loss in each sense.  This is also called Dual Sensory Loss or deafblindness).

What is visual impairment (VI?)

Child reading Braille

This term covers varying degrees of vision loss including those who are registered
severely sight impaired (blind).  This would generally be diagnosed by a GP.  If your
child has recently been diagnosed with a visual impairment, there are a range of
organisations that can help support you. 


The eye clinic will provide a diagnosis of your child’s sight loss and, depending on certain criteria, will refer your child to the Peterborough Sensory Support Service. 

The eye clinic will develop a more detailed picture of your child’s sight loss and share with you a clinical report. Glasses, if prescribed, will be specifically made for your child.

You can view some key facts about vision impairment in children and young people on the RNIB website.

What is hearing impairment (HI?)

Child signing

Conductive deafness occurs when sound is unable to pass efficiently through the outer and middle ear to the cochlea (inner ear) and auditory (hearing) nerve.  The most common cause of conductive deafness in childhood is glue ear (fluid in the middle ear) which is usually a temporary condition. Glue ear (also known as OME – otitis media with effusion) affects about one in five pre-school children at any time. Conductive deafness can also be caused by a perforation (hole) in the eardrum or when part of the outer or middle ear didn’t form properly before birth.

Sensorineural deafness occurs when there is a fault in the cochlea or auditory nerve which carries sound signals to the brain. Sensorineural deafness is permanent.

Mixed deafness is a combination of sensorineural and conductive deafness.  One example of mixed deafness is when someone has glue ear as well as sensorineural deafness.

Glue Ear

Glue ear, for most children, resolves by itself and doesn’t need any treatment. For some children with long-term or severe glue ear, hearing aids may be provided; or the child may need surgery to insert grommets. Grommets are tiny plastic tubes which are inserted into the eardrum. They allow air to circulate in the middle ear keeping the pressure on either side of the eardrum equal and therefore helping to prevent fluid from building up.

Check out a really useful booklet on Glue ear on the National Deaf Children's Society website 


The audiologist will give a diagnosis of your child’s hearing loss. The audiologist will gradually get a more detailed picture of your child’s hearing loss.  Hearing aids, if prescribed, will be programmed especially for your child. These appointments will generally take place at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

If your child’s hearing loss is profound you may be offered assessment for cochlear implants (CI). The closest cochlear implant team is the Emmeline Centre at Addenbrookes.

If you have concerns regarding your child’s hearing, in the first instance you should go to your GP. 

Newborn Hearing Screening 

The newborn hearing screening test helps identify babies who have permanent hearing loss as early as possible. This means parents can get the support and advice they need right from the start.

What are aetiological investigations?

There are a range of medical tests that can be carried out to try and find the cause of your child’s deafness. The process to find out why a child is deaf is sometimes called aetiological investigation.

For further information see “Understanding your child’s hearing tests: A guide to the hearing and medical tests that are used to find out the type, level and cause of deafness” published by the National Deaf Children’s Society.

What is multi-sensory impairment (MSI)?

Boy playing indoors

Deafblindness is a combination of sight and hearing impairment that affects how you communicate, access information and get around. Many people who are deafblind have some residual sight and/or hearing.

Dual-sensory impairment or multi-sensory impairment are other terms that may be used if you have both sight and hearing impairments.   There is lots of useful information on deafblindness on the Sense website.

Learn more about deafblindness and multi-sensory impairment

Helpful resources for children with hearing loss and their families

Helpful resources for children with visual impairment and their families

Specialist Teaching Services

Young man in day centre

The Specialist Teaching Service aims to ensure the inclusion and achievement of children and young people with sensory and physical impairments and the building of expertise and capacity within schools in Peterborough, in line with current local and national strategies.

Equipment and aids


You can find a selection of aids and equipment providers below:

Deaf and Hearing Impaired


Action on Hearing Loss



Blind and visually impaired


Information about Sign Language

Deaf Parents, Deaf Children logo

A list of where to learn and watch British Sign Language online

Information on where to find and watch British Sign Language online can be found on the Deaf Parents, Deaf Children website.

Specialist SEND designated hub schools - sensory impairment