Specsavers in Norris Green has become the first optician in the country to equip its staff with an award winning course that trains them to provide better than ever help and guidance to those with a visual impairment.

The Visual Impairment Awareness Training (VIAT) course, developed by the Christopher Grange Visual Rehabilitation Centre in Knotty Ash, has been completed by five members of staff at the Broadway-based store in Norris Green.

The training course content was developed at the Christopher Grange Visual Rehabilitation Centre by a professional team of rehabilitation specialists, alongside volunteers and service users, and is for anyone who may come into contact with a person who is visually impaired.

Paul Stanway, director of the Norris Green store said: ‘A few of our staff have now competed the training. I have to say, we are all very impressed. It is really informative and detailed, with real specifics on how to communicate with and guide those with a visual impairment.

‘It should enable us to deal far more confidently with people with visual impairment, and not to be afraid to offer help because we can now do it in the "right" way, rather than shying away.

‘The training also helps us to identify what type of visual impairment a customer may have from the equipment they may be using, this will help us to tailor our approach and even to maybe offer signposting to other suitable services that may be helpful.

‘To those with a visual impairment, leading a normal, independent life is very important - so I’m very supportive of any training that helps to promote this.’

The certificate has already proved incredibly popular across businesses in the city, becoming even more popular after well-known Liverpool taxi firm Delta Taxis made the training compulsory for all of its drivers.

Ever since, the training has been taken up by a range of industries across the UK, including front-line council workers, staff at schools, retailers, taxi drivers, doctors, police, staff in care homes and of course those working in special needs or the visual impairment sector.

It is available in both classroom-taught and distance learning formats through the training centre, with the latter being key in helping the course to achieve its recent, wide-spread national success.

The Christopher Grange Visual Rehabilitation Centre recently won a national award for ‘Innovation’ for its training course at the 2015 National Visionary Awards, announced at the Visionary Annual Conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday 20 October 2015.

Mike Bailey, service manager at the Christopher Grange Centre said: ‘We have been blown away by the response and feedback that we have received so far, we feel we have opened the gates to visual impairment awareness training which can only benefit everyone and make a positive impact on the lives of people who struggle with sight loss every day.’

The Christopher Grange Centre is part of the Catholic Blind Institute, and aims to provide an environment in which children, young people and adults are enabled to achieve a life of fulfilment, security and dignity, irrespective of disability, infirmity or age.

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