Visual Impairment

Definition

Visual impairment is a generic term which covers a range of difficulties with vision and includes the following categories: blind, legally blind, partially sighted, and low vision. Some students have partial vision and may rely on residual vision with the use of adaptive equipment. Functional ability varies, depending on the length of time one has been blind, on training, personal experience and personality. The student is the best authority on functional ability.

Technical support

Most students with visual impairment require specialized equipment and adapted learning resources. Although Braille is associated with blindness, only a small number of visually impaired persons are proficient in using it (2 to 3% in North America). The majority, especially those who become blind later in life, use other adaptive technologies such as taped books, personal readers, and/or computers which convert print into speech. The majority of visually impaired persons will use typing or word-processing for written communication. Instructors are asked to permit these devices in the classroom, provided they are not disruptive.

Guiding a blind person

Guide dogs

Guide dogs are trained to lead a visually impaired person through daily activities. In the classroom setting, a highly trained guide dog will usually lie quietly at its owner’s feet. Guide dogs are not pets and should not be disturbed by staff or students when they are wearing their “working harness”.

Suggested instructional strategies and accommodations