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Visual impairment

Visual impairments can affect one or both eyes and can have widely differing implications for a child’s education. Visual difficulties take many forms, with specific characteristics unique to each individual child. They range from relatively minor problems to educationally blind.

Some children are born with lack of light perception; others lose their sight, partially or completely, as a result of an illness or accident. In some instances, visual impairment is only one aspect of a multiple disability.

If staff suspect a child or young person has an undiagnosed visual impairment, discuss this with parents/carers. You should also advise them to seek medical advice from their GP or optician. Educational settings should not attempt to assess visual impairments themselves. Please see external support page for further information.

Indicators of possible ‘visual’ impairment’

Moderate visual impairment

Deterioration in academic performance that are due to visual behaviours include:

  • Deteriorating handwriting;
  • Slowness in copying from the board
  • Increasingly asking for written instructions to be given verbally
  • Child moving text closer to eyes or squinting.

Moderate to severe visual impairment

  • Will have problems accessing work from the board or print.
  • May have problems identifying peers in the playground.
  • The child may become tired towards the end of the school day. This may be due increased demands on concentrate on visual elements of learning. Be aware of the impact of lack of appropriate modifications or lighting conditions.
  • Children may have issues with self-esteem, emotional well-being and social interaction.

Severe to profound vision impairment

In addition to the difficulties described for children with mild to severe, the child may:

  • Have trouble accessing open areas. He/she may also be more prone to tripping over or having accidents whilst navigating the school/setting site
  • Need access to print through Braille and may not be able to benefit from usual approaches to learning to read.
  • Have a severe impact on a learner’s ability to function independently in the school environment
  • Need a high level of adult support in order to access the curriculum
  • Need high level of teaching of Braille outside the classroom environment and texts / diagrams produced a tactile format
  • Take longer to complete tasks, often in a different medium
  • Need help with social interactions with their peers and help to fully develop an understanding of others.
  • Find it difficult to maintain positive self-esteem and social confidence.

Provision and or strategies:

  • Work together with other professionals e.g. Sensory Support Team, mobility officer, to share strategies and advice to enable the child or young person to access the learning environment. For example, through the use of Information and Computer Technology (ICT), alternative visual resources or pre-learning.
  • Consider lighting and position for CYP and how it supports their vision.
  • Provide uncluttered space and plain backgrounds to help the CYP focus on the appropriate object.
  • Use auditory reinforcements.
  • Use talking books & literature/books or those with braille if the child or young person is a braille reader.
  • Use reading apps.
  • Create a folder of frequently used (transferable) resources which the CYP can access during lessons.
  • Use a 3D printer.
  • Take account of mobility needs such as accessing mobility / cane training.
  • Provide access to low visual aids.
  • Consider using talking equipment for life skills / curriculum activities.
  • Provide access to quieter learning environments.

Last updated 1 October 2020

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