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Supporting Children
with Vision Impairment
Teacher Professional Development

Why do teachers need to know
about vision impairment?
ACARA and DECD policy both mandate the need for children of diverse
abilities to be able to access and progress through the education system.

The revised Students with Disabilities Policy (2006) provides a framework

for the delivery of teaching and learning practices, and the provision of
services and support, to ensure that all students with disabilities can
enjoy the benefits of education in a supportive environment that values
diversity, inclusion and participation.
(DECD, 2006)
The objectives of the Australian Curriculum are the same for all students.
The curriculum should offer students with special education needs
rigorous, relevant and engaging learning experiences.
(ACARA, 2012)

Some statistics

Vision Impairment

Major Causes of Vision


Cortical vision impairment

damage to one or more parts of the visual system

damage to the visual pathways in the brain (may have reduced visual
field or blindness in half of their visual field- usually have some vision).

Refractive Errors

Myopia- near sightedness (difficulty viewing at a distance)

Hyperopia- long sightedness (difficulty with near point tasks e.g.


Astigmatism- distorted or blurred vision (difficulty with both near point

and distance viewing)

(Hyde et al. 2014)


+What can you do to support

learners with vision

Checklist for identification

Supporting Learning
To support successful learning, students with VI may need:

Modifications to the school environment

Considerations in classroom setup

use of adapted teaching methodologies

Modification of learning resources

adaptation of the regular curriculum (content and strategies)

Expanded Core Curriculum

Useful handout:

/staff/learning/diversity/educational/ vi.html

Supporting learners with vision

impairment- setting up the
Provide a consistent and predictable environment.

Ensure child is able to reorient themselves with the room after any changes are

Clear and organised storage for equipment (and power access if necessary).

Hang materials above head height.

Clear floor space with direct path to main areas in the room

Consider seating placement in the classroom.

Consider the lighting in the classroom.

Doors- fully open or fully closed Cupboards and drawers all must be kept closed

What changes can
Avoid standing in front of windows when delivering instructionsbe made to your
classroom and school
Use blinds or curtains to reduce glare
to promote access ?

Announce your arrival/departure

Supporting learners with vision

impairment- teaching strategies

Plan for multisensory learning experiences: can you provide tactual

and/or auditory learning materials to your lessons?

Adapt lessons to suit the students capabilities. Students should still

be encouraged to participate as much a possible like their peers.

Be flexible in setting assessment and assignments.

Plan for students to work in small groups

Allow extra time for students to complete tasks to the same standard
as their peers.

Require students to raise hand and wait until called upon during class
discussions and call on the student with vision impairment as much
as you would their peers.

Plan for students to participate in fitness and PE lessons

Supporting learners with vision

impairment- resources for learning

Enlarge any print materials

Consider contrast. Students may also use black markers on white paper.

Provide large print books where possible

Provide copies of work presented on whiteboard


Monocular telescope


Laptop computer

Laptop coupled with Interactive Whiteboard

Large Scientific Calculator

Dictation onto a recorder to reduce writing load.

Provide concrete materials where possible.

Be sure to
storage for

+Supporting learners with vision

impairment- curriculum and assessment

Consider the
individual needs of
the student with
vision impairment.

Work with learning

support staff in
developing an
Individual Education
Plan that meets the
students needs and
capitalises on their

Be familiar with the

Expanded Core
Curriculum content
being taught by

m and

Be flexible in
assessment and
setting assignmentsallow for use of other
senses and other
presentation methods
e.g. use of computer
for written tasks.

Allow extra time for

students to complete
assessments to the
same standard as
their peers.

Expanded Core Curriculum
Research shows that students with VI usually require
planned and structured delivery of an expanded core
curriculum with explicit teaching and assessment.

This curriculum includes:


Functional Vision training

Independent Living Skills

Orientation and Mobility

Recreation and Leisure

Self- Determination

Social Skills

Technology Skills, including Adaptive Technology and

Touch Typing

Transition to Post School Pathways

Supporting children
with vision

Have a positive and encouraging

approach to teaching and working
with a child with vision impairment.

Have high expectations of the

student- expect the same academic
and social standard as you would of
any other student.

Consider setting up a buddy system

for in class and outdoor activities.

Help children to connect at play

times. Seat children with supportive

Engage students in classroom

discussions and activities to the
same frequency of any other student.

Maintain open communication with

parents on the social development
and concerns of their child.

Social and emotional


Where to from here.
What are you currently
doing that would assist
a child with vision
impairment in your

Identify the members

of the interdisciplinary
team to provide
support for a student
with vision

What funding or
leadership support is
needed to commit to
the successful
inclusion of students
with vision impairment
at our school?

What can you

implement in your
teaching practice and
classroom setup that
will better assist a child
with vision

What changes can we

make to our school
policy that will assist
children with vision
impairment to be
successful in our

Educational Planning Case
What are the needs of the child?
Then consider the following..

Modifications to the school environment

Considerations in classroom setup

use of adapted teaching methodologies

Modification of learning resources

adaptation of the regular curriculum (content and strategies)

Expanded Core Curriculum

Make a brief plan! What would you do?

Vision Impairment
What is Nystagmus?

Nystagmus impairs the childs

ability to fix on one spot. Vision is
General orientation and mobility is
Reading is a challenge. This affects
learning across the curriculum.
Difficulty viewing resources.

Further Reading
ACARA. (2012). The Shape of the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Australian Curriculum,
Assessment and Reporting Authority:
Cook, R. E., Klein, M. D., & Tessier, A. (2008). Adapting Early Childhood Curricula for Children with Special Needs (7th
Edition ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
DECD. (2006). Students with Disabilities Policy. Retrieved September 20, 2013, from Department for Education, Training
and Development:
Ferrell, K. A. (2011). Reach Out and Teach: Helping Your Child Who is Visually Impaired Learn and Grow (2nd Edition ed.).
New York: AFB Press.
Holbrook, M. C., & Koenig, A. J. (2000). Basic Techniques for Modifying Instruction. In Foundations of Education, Vol 11,
Instructional strategies for teaching children with visual impairments (pp. 173-195). New York: AFB Press.
Hyde, M., & Palmer, C. (2010). Understanding Sensory Impairment. In M. Hyde, L. Carpenter, & R. Conway, Diversity and
Inclusion in Australian Schools. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Kapperman, G., & Sticken, J. (2000). Assistive Technology. In A. J. Koenig, & M. C. Holbrook, Foundations of Education,
Instructional Strategies for Teaching Children and Youths with Visual Impairments (Vol. 2, pp. 500-528). New York: AFB
Pagliano, P. (2005). Using the Senses. In A. Ashman, & J. Elkins, Educating Children with Diverse Abilities (2nd Edition ed.,
pp. 319-358). New South Wales: Pearson Education Australia.
Palmer, C. (2014). Understanding Vision Impairment. In M. Hyde, L. Carpenter, & R. Conway, Diversity and Inclusion and
Engagement. 2nd edition, South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Salend, S. J. (2011). Creating Inclusive Classrooms. New Jersey: Pearson.
South Australian School for Vision Impaired. (2013) Curriculum, Retrieved 20 February, 2015, from SASVI:
Vision Australia. (2012). Nystagmus. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from Vision Australia: Blind and Low Vision Services:
Ward, M. E. (2000). The Visual System. In M. C. Holbrook, & A. J. Koenig, Foundations of Education: Vol. 11, Instructional
Strategies for teaching children and youths with visual impairments (pp. 77-110). New York: AFB Press.
Wilkinson, M. (2000). Low Vision Devices: An Overview. In F. M. D'Andrea, & C. Farrenkopf, Looking to Learn: Promoting
Literacy for Students with Low Vision (pp. 117-136). New York: AFR Press.