Low-Vision and Blindness

Nathaniel Berry

Blindess Defined

Blindness as defined by the U.S. definition is the best-corrected visual acuity of 6/60 or worse (=20/200) in the better-seeing eye. Blindness is defined by U.S. definition 20/200 best-corrected visual acuity in the better-seeing eye and the World Health Organization standard of < 20/400.

Source: NIH National Eye Institute

High School Placements for Blind and Low Vision Students

"It used to be that the majority of blind and low vision exchange students were placed in schools for the blind in the United States. That is no longer the case. Experienced exchange professionals know that there is no one size fits all approach to placing these talented students in U.S. high schools."

A stronger focus on inclusion has emerged since the application of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) cornerstones. Today 95% of students with disabilities are included in the general education classroom, with 90% of students with Blindness and Low-Vision.

"In this arrangement, blind students can take some or most of their classes, including advanced and elective courses, with their non-disabled peers. In doing so, students derive all of the benefits of placement at a school for the blind, such as access to assistive technology and specialized instruction in braille, while experiencing full inclusion with their sighted peers."

See more: http://www.miusa.org/resource/tipsheet/highschoolplacements

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Snellen Eye Chart

The Snellen Chart is a chart used by Ophthalmologists to measure visual acuity. Depending on the patients ability to view the chart from a 20 feet distance and identify which letters they are viewing allows their eye doctor to determine acuity.

Video: Causes of Blindness and Low-vision

Causes of Blindness and Low Vision

Accommodations in an Educational Setting

In a classroom setting, students with visual impairments face challenges regarding instruction or assignments that are structured in aspects that focus on visual acuity. To reduce these challenges, feature:

· Verbal description of class activity, such as when a show of hands is requested, stating how many hands were raised

· Class assignments available in electronic format, such as computer disk, to allow access by computers equipped with voice synthesizers or Braille output devices

· Assistive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)

For more accommodations, visit:




"A Simple Philosophy Turned A Blind Student's Dream Into Reality"

التعليم في أمريكا - مساعدة الطلاب ذوي الإحتياجات الخاصة

Expanded Core Curriculum

An expanded core curriculum is necessary when instructing students with visual impairments such as low-vision or blindness. By augmenting their curriculum through direct instruction of expanded topic areas, they can better prepare them for life beyond school. These areas of expansion include:

1. Compensatory or functional academic skills

2. Orientation and mobility

3. Social interaction skills

4. Independent living skills

5. Recreation and leisure skills

6. Career education

7. Use of assistive technology

8. Visual efficiency skills

Incorporating these skills into an expanded curriculum lead to learning braille, study and organizational skills, spatial understanding, and any adaptation of the existing curriculum. Additionally, by strengthening these areas, students improve cooking, personal hygiene, money management, time monitoring, and organization. These are often skill areas that children with visual impairments do not develop because they do not observe them in others and they are often not explicitly taught.

Fore more, visit:


Low-Vision at home

Beth's milestones: Parenting a child with low vision

Home strategies for Low-vision and blindness

-Foster a love of reading at a young age by reading books that have rhythmic schemes or auditory qualities

-Focus on tactile activities such as a petting zoo or instruments

-Learn to read braille with your child

For more tips for parenting a child with low-vision or blindness, go to:



Another issue relating to low vision is the psychosocial impact of a visual impairment. Children growing up with a visual impairment can experience many negative consequences including:

  • feeling like they look different, either because they cannot visually verify how others look or because they wear glasses or use optical devices,
  • feeling clumsy because they drop things or bump into objects.
  • feeling like an outsider because they cannot take part fully in activities,


Assistive Technology:

New England Low-vision and Blindness


Low-vision and Blindness iOS Apps:


A New Model of Education for Blind and Low Vision Students:


Works Cited

American Foundation for the Blind. Educational Interventions for Students with Low Vision.

Corn, A. L., & Koenig, A. J. (1996). Foundations of low vision. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Mobility International USA. High School Placements for Blind and Low Vision Students. 2015.

New England Low-vision and Blindness. Students, Schools and Universities Low Vision and Blindness Resources. 2014

Mobility International USA. "A Simple Philosophy Turned A Blind Student's Dream Into Reality."

NIH NEI. Glaucoma, Open Angle: 2010 U.S. Age Specific Prevalence Rates for Glaucoma by Age and Ethnicity. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 2010.

NIH NEI. Cataract: 2010 U.S. Age Specific Prevalence Rates for Cataract by Age and Ethnicity. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 2010.

NIH NEI. Age-Related Macular Degeneration: 2010 U.S. Age Specific Prevalence Rates for Age-Related Macular Degeneration by Age and Ethnicity. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 2010.