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Learning to Learn: Selecting the Tool from the Toolkit. Something to Think About. Over 40% of the brain is used for vision Children with a visual impairment learn differently, they cannot rely on vision to provide information. Introduction. Five year old male Started school F ebruary 2013

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something to think about
Something to Think About
  • Over 40% of the brain is used for vision
  • Children with a visual impairment learn differently, they cannot rely on vision to provide information
  • Five year old male
  • Started school February 2013
  • Horizontal pendularnystagmus
  • Vision 6/60
  • N36 font N12 N16 N24 N36
since starting school
Since Starting School…
  • Knows letters
  • Can write own name
  • Can discriminate between colours
  • Can problem solve
  • Can describe actions
  • Uses an I pad
highlights from blennz assessment
Highlights from BLENNZ Assessment
  • Diagnosed with oculocutaneous albinism
  • 6/60 crowded chart
  • Eye and physical fatigue likely
  • Bold, contrasted work
  • Clutter could affect ability to see

Capable indoors and out

  • Looked at crossings and traffic
  • Willing to take part in ADL activities
  • Able to dress independently but strategies suggested
  • Ideas given for kitchen activities
recommendations general
Recommendations (General)
  • Reduce the area for scanning and searching
  • Enlarge print to N36 at least
  • Monitor visual and physical fatigue
  • Ensure (new) blue or black markers are used on the whiteboard

Point to visual information to help student locate

  • Provide personal copies of big books
  • Familiarise student with new surroundings
  • Provide bold well contrasted materials
recommendations strategies and tools for learning
Recommendations (strategies and tools for learning)
  • Use of slope board will assist with posture
  • I pad appropriate
  • Student to select position in class to reduce glare
  • Turn taking activities to promote social skills

Use motivating activities for engagement

  • Visual timer to prepare for end of activity
  • Magnifiers to reduce visual fatigue
  • Activities that require use of other senses
classroom adaptations
Classroom Adaptations
  • Avoid glare from lights/windows
  • Sit in the front of the class
  • Ensure classroom is clutter free
  • Adapt materials according to each activity
  • Include the student
what is needed
What is Needed?
  • A plan (IEP) – goals – short term/long term (less is more)
  • ‘Tools’ and strategies
  • Training/instruction – incorporated into programme
how was the decision reached
How was the Decision Reached?
  • SETT Framework
  • Student
  • Environment
  • Task
  • Tools
what do we want to achieve
What do we Want to Achieve?
  • The student to say what he wants/needs
  • The student to select an appropriate tool for activity, time of day, visual needs (and know how to use it to achieve success)
what has happened since the assessment
What has Happened Since the Assessment?

IEP Goals

  • Build on unknown letters
  • Build up sight words for emergent level
  • Count to 10 consistently
  • Form numbers
how does vision impact on iep goals
How Does Vision Impact on IEP Goals?
  • Learn to use appropriate tool to be able to see words/letters
  • Distance at which is comfortable for student to see board
  • Position at desk for working
  • Lighting on smart board could be an issue
  • Better attitude to school
  • Some behavioural issues in playground
  • 1-1 reading tuition
  • Some physical work needed to improve upper body strength
what do we hope for in the future
What do we Hope for in the Future?
  • The student will be able to advocate for himself
  • The student will be engaged and motivated by learning
  • The student will not be disadvantaged by his vision impairment
  • The student will have the knowledge of what is available to select from

The student will need to be re assessed in the future as his learning needs and possibly his vision change

  • It is a team approach to ensure we achieve what we set out to do
children with a vision impairment and complex needs
Children with a Vision Impairment and Complex Needs

CVI Introduction

  • A vision impairment as a result of a brain injury
  • Damage to the visual centres of the brain
  • The eyes can see but the information is not interpreted by the brain
  • Visual functioning fluctuates
how can you tell
How Can You Tell?
  • Preference for a colour (red/yellow)
  • Visual latency (delayed response)
  • Visual complexity difficult
  • Visual field deficits

Difficulty reaching and looking

  • Difficulty with distance viewing
  • Light gazing/non purposeful gazing
  • Need movement to see objects

Blink reflex impaired

  • Vision (like looking through Swiss cheese)
  • Prefers familiar objects
  • May co-exist with another eye condition
  • Often associated with cerebral palsy
  • Discussion with family and people closest to the student
  • Review medical information
  • Collate data from all sources
  • Assess whether needs stem from visual or physical behaviours

Physical disabilities may restrict visual exploration of immediate surroundings

  • Social interaction may be reduced – unable to see who communication is with
  • Lack of visual cues will affect strategies used to promote learning
assessment tools
Assessment Tools
  • Functional Sensory Assessment
  • Hiding Heidi (contrast)
  • Cardiff (acuity)
  • History of child
  • Observation
  • Reaction to light/colour/glare/movement
examples of recommendations
Examples of Recommendations
  • Provide student with real life experiences
  • Use lots of practice to use vision
  • Use real objects
  • Present two objects – begin with preferred objects

Use an object calendar to prepare student for tasks

  • Keep tasks short and varied
  • If using photos make sure they are uncluttered and of a size which is easy to see

Integrate use of vision into daily activities and routines

  • Use favouritecolours
  • Use wait time to ensure child looks

Adaptations provided when tasks cannot be carried out without support – natural and reduced when skills are learned

  • Instruction needs to be regular, appropriate and above all – consistent. If it is written down then everyone can follow it
points to consider
Points to Consider
  • Let student respond before prompting again
  • Expressing and receiving ideas is key to learning
  • All information to be retained requires training, practice and time to acquire

Activities should be age appropriate

  • Use child’s existing characteristics in activities, e.g. a child who enjoys light gazing may enjoy computer games with light effects
selecting the tool
Selecting the Tool
  • Every child deserves to have a choice – this will be more difficult for some than for others, especially if the child has a physical disability as well as a visual impairment

The child may need to be presented with choices and indicate what they want through their preferred method of communication; what this is will need to be determined


Teach the child to make choices

  • Wait!
  • Do not select objects because you like them, the child has to…they need to be motivating for the child
  • This process may take a long time with little feedback

Processing time may be longer, adapt according to the situation – no two days will be the same


Choice involves opportunities to use cognitive, communication, motor and social skills. The child can learn about objects, exploring their environment and being a participant


When a child is able to explore objects (even in a confined environment such as a wheelchair tray) – he/she will be able to use memory to discover where they are again. Think about placement of objects to make this easier.

tactile learners
Tactile Learners
  • Can learn through mutual tactile attention – place object within the child’s reach and let them explore before physical guidance or prompt
  • Understanding symbols – starts with real objects, partial objects, representative symbols (photographs), abstract symbols (board maker) and even Braille
  • I-M-ABLE Curriculum (Diane Wormsley) use of repeated experiences helps to encourage learning of words as these words are the ones they want to know about
  • Physical ability will play a part in being a successful Braille user
it is important
It is Important

To remember

  • That students with complex needs are able to learn to make eye contact, ‘show’ what they want, ‘say’ no, pick up on the feelings of others, respond in ‘their own way’

Children with disabilities who are engaged in classroom activities can learn from their peers, they can learn to make choices, they can increase their ability to learn and they may feel helpless


If a child does not know an object (or person) is there because they cannot see it, then how can they interact with it to make a choice?


Sometimes physical and health needs may take over from learning needs – know your student to decide what is most important

want to know more
Want to Know More?
  • Jan Van Dijk
  • Kay Ferrell
  • Christine Roman-Lantzy
  • Lilli Nielsen
  • Jane Erin
  • Gordon Dutton