Low Vision and Blindness
Resources for Teachers and Parents
Definitions and Descriptions
A visual disability is an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a persons daily routines. Visual disabilities are broken into two subgroups:
- Low vision
Blindness enables no functional eyesight
- Peripheral vision
- Tunnel vision/ Restricted central vision
- Near-sighted vision
- Far-sighted vision
- Legally blind
Age of Onset:
- Congenitally blind: from birth or infancy
- Adventitiously blind: lost sight after age 2
- Normal acuity- 20/20 vision
- Impaired acuity (less severe and with correction can be normal)- 20/40
- Impaired acuity (low vision)- 20/70-20/200
- Legally blind- anything below 20/200
"The primary causes of childhood visual disabilities include those due to premature birth, accidents and hereditary condition" (Smith & Tyler, 2014). About 1 and 4 school aged children have some sort of vision impairment, however most are aided by glasses. Approximately 83% of children with a visual impairment are in fact blind (NFB, 2014). However, most students do not need special education accommodations. Only .04% to .1% of all school-aged children receive special education services due to their visual disability (Smith & Tyler, 2014). "A student can be considered functionally literate without being able to read print or braille if she or he can interpret the environment through the auditory" (Zebehazy, 2014).
Parental Guidance is Key
Home-based strategies to help children with vision impairments
2. Encourage social skills- many children who are blind tend to socially develop two-year later than a sighted child. Parents must work harder to create a safe and comfortable environment for their child to explore social skills. Parents can teach basic social skills such as sharing, greetings and appropriate manners. Parents can even initiate and plan play dates for their child.
3. Explaining the nature of the impairment- as a parent it is your duty to keep your children safe and secure. Providing an explanation for your child's differences has been proven to help a child with a disability's self esteem. Remind your child that they are different but different is not a bad thing; everyone is different in their own way. Once he or she is willing to accept their differences it will be easier for them to succeed in life despite of them.
Links to Additional Information
- Providing numerous examples of instruction: Students with visual impairments may have trouble reading print from a distance or even certain prints within a textbook; teachers can provide texts with enlarged print or audio texts.
- Providing material: Teachers can work with agencies and organizations to access materials such as Braille textbooks, worksheets and tests and also find books on tape (Smith & Tyler, 2006)
- Creating a safe environment: Teachers must make the classroom the safe for all children, not just those with disabilities. Teachers can teach students to always push in their chairs if they are blocking a walk way, make sure all rugs are always flattened, allow the student with the impairment to learn the classroom before hand (Smith & Tyler, 2006).
There is always hope
Blindness Statistics. (2015, September 1). Retrieved November 15, 2015, from https://nfb.org/blindness-statistics
Smith, D. D., & Tyler, N. C. (2014). Introduction to Contemporary Special Education. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education.
Zebehazy, K. T. (2014). Functional literacy for students with visual impairments and significant cognitive disabilities: The perspective of teachers of students with visual impairments. Research & Practice for Persons With Severe Disabilities, 39(4), 259-273. doi:10.1177/1540796914566712