Low Vision and Blindness

Great resources for Teachers and Parents

What is Low Vision and Blindness?

DEFINITION

Low vision is when the person's visual acuity is 20/70 or poorer in their better eye and cannot be corrected or improved with regular eyeglasses. They may have some functional sight, but daily functioning is affected.


Blindness is when the person has no functional vision and may only perceive shadows or movement. A person is legally blind when visual acuity is 20/200 or worse, even with correction. The two types of blindness include partial blindness and complete blindness. Partial blindness means the person has very limited vision, while complete blindness means the person cannot see anything, including light.


MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS:

  • Intellectual characteristics: the individual's ability to see may not have any effects on their general intelligence.
  • Play and social interaction skills may be delayed.
  • Language and concept development: language does not seem to be affected for numerous students, but their ability to associate words with concepts may be difficult since there is no hands-on experience.
  • Academic achievement: any student who is blind or has low vision can success at the same rate as their peers in academics.
  • Perceptual abilities: a student's visual perception may be significantly affected.


PREVALENCE

1 out of 4 school-aged children have vision impairments


"Over 285 million people in the world are visually impaired, of whom 39 million are blind and 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairment (WHO, 2011). It is predicted that without extra interventions, these numbers will rise to 75 million blind and 200 million visually impaired by the year 2020 (WHO, 2010)." (Lighthouse International, 2015).

Can it interfere with learning in school?

A child who is born with low vision or blindness has the same amount of intellect as any other child. Their ability to see may not have any effects on their overall general intelligence. However, they may have some difficulties understanding concepts. This is because they lack hands-on experiences. Also, If a student has low vision, they may read slower and require more time to complete assignments. Accommodations can be made for them regarding printed materials to better assist them with their readings.


Some accommodations to help a student with low vision and reading include:

  • Enlarged print
  • Digital or e-text
  • Audio texts

What is like to live with visual impairments?

Check out this great story about Emma, who was born with underdeveloped eyes. Her mother knows not to concentrate on the serious parts of the situation, and to just have fun; everything will be okay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZu1CwSfm0g
A Child with Blindness -- The Planson Family -- Our Special Life -- Episode 2

Classroom Accommodations

To support students with low vision or blindness, certain things can be done differently in the classroom. These include:

  1. Using dark letters on pale backgrounds for bulletin boards. This is important because it will help the student to better see the announcements. Students with low vision are able to see more efficiently when there is a contrast between the letters and the background.
  2. Familiarize students with potential problem areas. Problem areas include trashcans, protruding objects, and changes in floor elevation, such as steps. Students especially need to know these areas for their safety.
  3. It may also be helpful to create materials to support the student with low vision or blindness's academic success. This includes creating braille labels for classroom items or printing braille versions of classroom handouts for the child.

Low vision and blindness in the home

Some appropriate home accommodations, modifications, or strategies to support students in the home include:

  1. Arranging furniture. It is important to arrange furniture in such a way in the home so that nothing sticks out and gets in the way of the person who has low vision or blindness. Keeping the home consistent is important, as well as avoiding slippery floors and rugs.
  2. Using contrastive colors to your advantage. Painting objects in the home to make them standout will go a long way. It will help people with low vision locate electrical sockets, oven dials, or thermostats in the home.
  3. Adding extra lighting. Adding extra lighting, especially in hazardous areas such as entryways or stairwells, will help people with low vision or blindness locate them easier and know what to expect.

Helpful resources

This website is useful for family members, or anyone, who wants to find out more about low vision and blindness. There is an area to donate, as well as an event area if you want to become involved. It also updates the audience on current relevant events.

https://nfb.org/


This website may be useful for teachers that want to learn more on how to accommodate students who have low vision or blindness. It includes a picture of a virtual classroom designed to assist in helping children with low vision or blindness. It also includes technology that can be implemented.

http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/for-job-seekers/careerconnect-virtual-worksites/classroom-for-teacher-with-low-vision/1234

helpful APP

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This APP is great for people who have visual impairments. It was developed by the Tilenus Group and allows for people who are visually impaired to identify the color of things. This is very helpful, especially when taking part in day to day activities such as getting dressed and making sure it matches.

Sources

Prevalence of Vision Impairment. (2015). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.lighthouse.org/research/statistics-on-vision-impairment/prevalence-of-vision-impairment/


Blindness Statistics. (2014, August 6). Retrieved April 23, 2015, from https://nfb.org/blindness-statistics/


Smith, D. D. & Tyler, N. C. (2014). Introduction to contemporary special education. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. (ISBN-13:978-0-13-294461-8)