In the classroom
"There are dozens of conditions impacting sight, and each condition has its own unique characteristics and clinical features. In addition, the impact of the visual impairment on individual learning is also tied to the onset, the severity, and the type of visual loss, as well as to any coexisting disabilities that may be present in the child. For this reason, all classroom accommodations, modifications, and strategies must be designed with the individual needs of each student with a visual impairment in mind. There is no one-size-fits-all model. In addition to decreased visual acuity and visual field, a number of other vision problems may also impact the visual functioning of the student with visual impairment. There may be issues with sensitivity to light or glare, blind spots in their visual fields, or problems with contrast or certain colors. Factors such as lighting, the environment, fatigue, and emotional status can also impact visual functioning in many of these students throughout the day. Students who have the same visual condition may use their sight quite differently. To ensure accessibility to classroom instruction, it is essential that you know how your student is using his/her vision. A specially trained teacher of students who have visual impairments, working with the IEP team members, can help determine the best adaptations and learning media to use with each student." (Dept. of Education, Govt. of Newfoundland & Labrador, 2001).
Children with visual impairments often have talents that they will be unable to develop without guidance to help them learn by using different sensory modes. Visual impairment may affect development of concepts, mobility, orientation to an area, abstract learning, relationships with peers, self esteem, and access to many elements of educational, vocational and recreational living that the sighted world takes for granted. A variety of teaching approaches will serve to enhance their learning and abilities in all areas of their lives. Early intervention with these children is critical, and, as is true with all students, teachers must make every effort to discover and nurture their vivsually impaired students' interests, talents, and strengths.
Visually impaired students have a difficult time seeing at distances, view anything other than large print, tire quickly (eye strain), and they may not be able to participate in activities that require intense focus on a certain thing for long periods of time. These conditions are relative and general as they are related to the most common eye issues.
The instructional strategies for students that are visually impaired or blind are to make sure that to offer a variety of paper formats, such as braille (if able to read) and enlarged print. It would be good to also use e-text so that they can listen to the text if they cannot see the print to read it. All the following UDL guidelines go along with using these instructional strategies. 1.1 Offer ways of customizing the display of images. 1.3 Offer alternatives for visual information. 2.5 Illustrate through multiple media. 4.2 Optimize access to tools and assistive technology.
Educators have access to tools that allow them to enlarge print, seat the child closer, and coordinate with the special education teacher if necessary when making accommodations for students with this type of disability. Teachers may also reach out to parents as there is often a team effort going on behind the scenes to help improve the child’s learning experience.