LOW VISION & BLINDNESS

Resources of Parents, Teachers, and Students

What is a visual impairment?

According to IDEA, a visual impairment involves an issue with sight that interferes with a student's academic goals. The term includes both low vision and blindness.


Definitions:


  • LOW VISION: A degree of vision loss; vision is still useful for learning or completing a task (worse than 20/60 in better eye)


  • BLINDNESS: A degree of vision loss; not having functional use of sight (20/200 or worse in better eye)

WHAT IS NEEDED FOR VISION TO WORK?

  • Light
  • Something that reflects light
  • An eye processing the reflected image into electrical impulses
  • A brain receiving and giving meaning to these impulses
Understanding the Visually Impaired (Helping #3)

AGE OF ONSET

Congenitally blind: Blind since birth or infancy


Adventitiously blind: Lost sight after the age of 2

HOW ARE THINGS DIFFERENT FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED INDIVIDUALS?

Visual impairments can cause developmental issues for individuals, especially children. For example:


  • Delay social development
  • May play differently than their peers
  • Engage in high levels of solitary play
  • Avoid spontaneous play
  • Select only toys that are concrete, familiar items

INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES AT HOME AND SCHOOL TO INFLUENCE ADVANCEMENT

One of the main aspects of helping a visually impaired individual is to enforce support. Here are a few instructional practices parents and educators can do for their children and students:


  • Provide developmental milestones: Visually impaired students often have delayed developmental milestones. Continuous feedback from vision is important for them to interact with the world around them with this disability. With this, their developmental milestones may heighten.
  • Provide a variety of experiences they can become familiar with: Providing children with a variety of hands on experiences with objects will help the child learn best and at a faster pace. It'll also familiarize them with those specific objects and how to use them.
  • Reduce auditory distractions: Focusing is sometimes difficult for children with visual impairments. If they are learning something, be sure to limit auditory distractions so they can focus on what is most necessary to their development.
  • Create consistent routines: "Creating a consistent routine will help the child learn to anticipate events." Creating a routine that is easy to follow, will ease the pressure of trying to figure out what is going to come next. It will help prepare the child for each transition.
  • Support and influence their own independence: It is easy for parents and educators to overly cater to the VI child to make things a bit easier for them, however, it is in the best interest of the child to slowly learn and do things for themselves. Completing tasks with the child will also help them greatly.
Early Intervention: Helping babies with visual impairments

WHAT ELSE CAN EDUCATORS AND PARENTS DO?

  • Teachers can teach the explicit and implicit rules of game play and social interactions
  • Peers can be taught to model appropriate social skills to prompt their classmate when these skills should be provided
  • Parents can organize play dates and give feedback to their child about his/her personal interactions

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR STUDENTS WITH LOW VISION IN SCHOOLING

Different accommodations offered to students to make their learning experiences easier:


Accommodations:


  • Magnifiers or holding book close to face
  • Handheld telescope or Visiobook
  • More time to finish work


Accommodations for print:


  • Enlarged print
  • Digital or E-texts
  • Audiotexts or personal readers


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References




Common Eye Disorders. (2013, April 23). Retrieved November 13, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basic_information/eye_disorders.htm


Fenell, Z. (2013). Defining Visual Impairment for Parents and Special Education Teachers. Retrieved November 13, 2015.


Smith, D., & Tyler, N. (2013). Low Vision and Blindness. In Introduction to Contemporary Special Education Video-enhanced Pearson Etext Access Card New Horizons. Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.


Willings, C. (n.d.). Early Intervention Program for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired. Retrieved November 14, 2015.