How visually-impaired kids can help education right now

John Patterson

Dr. John A Patterson is principal at St. Vincent's School, a non maintained school for sensory impaired and other needs in West Derby, Liverpool.

Follow @StVincentsL12 @DrJohnAPatters1

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Post-Brexit, and within a global pandemic, discussions around what should or should not happen in education has been both taken back to its roots, and quite simultaneously connected with innovation and future ‘ways of being’. The lockdown gave us all time to reflect and re-evaluate.

Presented here is a practical way we as educators can take action into that new, fresh  way we looked at things coming out of lockdown. By collaborating with the ‘Journey for Peace’ project, we can support and invest in the innovation of visually impaired (VI) young people and their education around the world. You may have felt isolated during lockdown and struggled to adapt. This is often the ‘norm’ for VI young people, who are masters of adaptation in challenging environments on a day to day basis. They have much to teach us all in seeing things differently. Would you like to get involved in our global vision?

The Visually-Impaired and New Ideas

As the UK, and the world beyond, looks for new trade and ideas to stem the expected economic downturns, we can learn much from the innovations of VI young people who, in ‘seeing things differently’, know full well how to adapt and conquer barriers in their stride. Unemployment for VI is a global concern, and it is challenged by St.Vincent’s school for sensory impairment in Liverpool through a creative curriculum designed to nurture strengths, forge routes to employment and generate entrepreneurial new trade internationally with and for VI.

This creative curriculum feeds into the design ideas generated for the Sightbox, a ‘toolkit’ for access to sports and education shared out of St.Vincent’s with VI schools internationally. This thus far includes: Pakistan, India, Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Nepal, Indonesia, Peru, Virgin Islands, Sierra Leone and Gambia. More recently ‘Mercy Ships’ will now have sightboxes ‘in residence’ connecting medicine and education on their journeys. As a school, your involvement with us could come within your SMSC, Citizenship, ‘British Values’, Design Technology and / or Duke of Edinburgh Award, framing an exciting start to a new academic year with new ideas.

Sightbox in Tanzania


Creative Curriculum

Our creative curriculum lies at the heart of the success story, as does the reciprocal value engagement of collaborative partners internationally, in curriculum projects. These are the projects in which our VI young people take active leading roles, where our pupils lead on the ‘reverse inclusion’ projects. If you have any VI young people in your school, let us work together to give your pupils the opportunity to lead their peers and change perceptions on VI abilities. This opportunity frames our creative strengths - see for yourself on Twitter via @StVincentsL12.

Vice Principal Dave Swanston with Sightbox in Ethiopia


International “Trainers of the Trainers”

Since 2015 when the City of Liverpool waved St.Vincent’s off to Ypres commemorating sight loss in the Great War, we have developed projects to connect our local pupils and their strengths with new innovation and as ‘trainers of the trainers’ both nationally and internationally. The range of projects is wide, but they focus on conceptualising and designing access to sports and education resources shared internationally.

The key to this innovation is the Sightbox. And “internationally” means just that: With over 20 countries so far including those noted above we have also welcomed VI young people and their teachers from Indonesia and Sierra Leone to come and learn our best practice. It is something we intend to repeat in Summer 2021 by running a VI Games - would you like to get involved?

Sightbox ambassador Angela Williams sharing Sightbox in Gambia


Rotary and Lions

This work has been magnificently supported by both Rotary International and Lions Clubs as we connect and share our best practices out of Liverpool with VI communities globally. The range and scope of our connected and focussed projects are shared on

Sharing the creative curriculum and Sightbox at the Palace of Westminster


Journey for Peace: A collaborative project

A project illustrating our vision and curriculum is ‘Journey for Peace’. Liverpool Heartbeat, Merseyside Police and St. Vincent’s worked on seven themes, presented in free, downloadable comics celebrated through iconic Liverpool statues. It has been used effectively during ‘lockdown’ as a complete project. The Key themes in the comics are health, happiness, wisdom, peace, friendship, bravery and justice. The comics open the doors for VI awareness and discussions around the key themes. Lesson ideas are included for you on ‘Journey for Peace’ started with a reading by Joe in New York at the LIONS UN Day, and can be seen here:


Here’s all the information you need to get involved: Alternatively, please contact St.Vincent’s on, or telephone 0151 228 9968.

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