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Students with Blindness or Low Vision. Chapter 9. What is the History of Blindness and Low Vision?. Examples that illustrate accomplishments from early times: Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey

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What is the History of Blindness and Low Vision?

  • Examples that illustrate accomplishments from early times:

    Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey

  • 1800’s – Louis Braille developed a system for reading, writing, and music using raised dots which could be “read” with one’s fingers

  • Formal education for this population began in the U.S.; and the American Printing House for the Blind was established.

  • Early 1900’s saw emergence of public school programs.

  • Advocacy movements stressed integration into all facets of society.

  • 1990’s – Professionals developed a common core curriculum and a national agenda for students with blindness and low vision.


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What is the Legal Definition of Blindness and Low Vision?

  • Legal Blindness – vision of 20/200 or worse in the best eye, with the best possible correction OR field of vision limited to no more than 20 degrees (does not equate to total blindness)

  • Low vision – vision of 20/70 to 20/200 (also called partial sight)

  • Visual acuity – how sharp visual images are perceived

  • Visual field – the scope of what one can see without turning the head or moving one’s eyes


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What is the IDEA 04 Definition?

  • Visual impairments including blindness are defined as “vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.”


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What Else Should I Know About the Definitions of Blindness and Low Vision?

  • Legal definitions emphasize visual acuity and residual vision.

  • Teachers should be concerned with how well a student can use residual vision and the impact on educational performance.

  • Students with low vision may be able to use printed materials (for example, large print books).

  • Students with blindness may need to learn through means other than printed materials.

  • Individuals with the same visual acuity can function differently in the same classroom.


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What is the Prevalence of and Low Vision?Blindness and Low Vision?

  • Only about .04% of the school age population have been identified with visual impairments.

  • 90% of all individuals with visual impairments have some functional vision.


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What are Some Causes of and Low Vision?Blindness and Low Vision?

  • Optical defects

    • Refraction – focusing light as it passes through different components of the eye

    • Refractive errors are more common and include:

      • Astigmatism – focusing problems whether stimuli are near or far; usually present at birth; may cause headaches, nausea or tired eyes

      • Hyperopia – can see better at far distances than close up

      • Myopia – can see better at close range than at distances


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The Eye (Figure 9.1) and Low Vision?


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What are Some Causes of and Low Vision?Blindness and Low Vision? (continued on the next slide)

  • Ocular Motility Defects

    • Nystagmus – eyes move abruptly in continual jerky types of involuntary motion; may cause the student to tilt or turn his/her head to try to see better

    • Strabismus – any deviation in the alignment of the eyes as a result of muscle imbalance or neurological condition

    • Amblyopia – suppression of images which causes a blurred image in either or both eyes (“lazy eye”); can lead to permanent vision loss if untreated


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What are Some Causes of and Low Vision?Blindness and Low Vision? (continued)

  • External eye problems can affect the orbit, eyelids and cornea

  • Growths, thinning, or inflammation of the cornea can lead to problems with vision, pain, and tearing of the cornea

  • Internal eye problems can include Retinopathy of Prematurity (a possible complication of premature birth

  • Cortical visual impairment – vision loss associated with brain damage


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What are some Possible Characteristics of Students with of Blindness or Low Vision?(continued on the next slide)

  • Intellectual Characteristics: The ability to see may have little or no effect on one’s general intelligence.

  • Play and Social Interaction Skills: These may be delayed.

  • Language and Concept Development: Language does not appear to be significantly affected for many students. Association of words with concepts and understanding concepts may be difficult without hands-on experiences.


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What are some Possible Characteristics of Students with of Blindness or Low Vision?(continued)

  • Academic Achievement: When considering achievement, assessment methods should be considered. Students with blindness or low vision can succeed in academics at the same rate as their peers.

  • Perceptual Abilities: Visual perception may be significantly affected and include orientation, mobility, and wayfinding

  • Psychological and Social Adjustment: These areas may be affected including social isolation and negative reactions from peers


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How is Blindness and Low Vision Identified in Infants and Toddlers?

  • Medical professionals may diagnose based on a child’s lack of visual fixation on parents’ faces or interesting objects, abnormal eye movement, family history, and visual acuity.


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How is Blindness and Low Vision Identified in School-Aged Students?

  • Snellen charts are used for screening.

  • Teacher reports of frequent behaviors (rubbing eyes, squinting, tilting head to look at books, holding objects close to eyes, etc.) that indicate problems seeing.

  • Comprehensive assessment – follows confirmation of a vision loss adversely affecting educational performance

    • Functional vision, learning media, cognitive ability, academic achievement, orientation and mobility skills, social skills and independent living skills


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What Should I Teach Students with Blindness or Low Vision? Students?

  • Regular curriculum + expanded core curriculum to address their needs specific to their vision loss

  • Expanded core curriculum may include skills needed in the core curriculum at a greater depth than sighted peers or skills sighted peers would not need

  • Self-advocacy and self-determination skills


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What is the Expanded Students?Core Curriculum?

  • Skills students with blindness or low vision may need

    • Compensatory skills

    • Visual efficiency skills

    • Literacy and Braille skills

    • Listening skills

    • Orientation and mobility skills

    • Social interaction skills

    • Independent living skills

    • Recreation and leisure skills

    • Career and transition skills


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How Should I Teach Students with Blindness and Low Vision? Students?

  • In general, students with blindness and low vision should learn the same information as general education students although more time and accommodations might be needed.

  • Counseling to deal with reactions from others

  • Possible teaching of care for prosthetic eye

  • Adaptations for color or visual discrimination problems

  • Responding to traffic signals, etc.

  • Provide a copy of teacher’s notes

  • Read aloud

  • Supply audio tapes/CDs of print materials

  • Use hands-on models and manipulatives


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What are Considerations for the Instructional Environment? Students?

  • Assist through touch and sound, more than sight, for those with little or no functional vision.

  • Use specialized equipment.

  • Provide equal access to the core curriculum.

  • Do not re-arrange the furniture or leave items in the path.

  • Determine the LRE based on student needs and strengths, preferences, and related services needs.

  • In general, provide appropriate lighting, tactile materials, necessary print size, and decrease visual clutter.


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What Types of Instructional Technology Can be Used? Students?

  • Use programs to magnify computer screens.

  • Scan materials for access.

  • Provide Braille if the student uses it.

  • Always use captioned videos.

  • Use of a guide dog may be needed.

  • May scan in materials and use a synthesizer that reads the text to the student

  • Voice recognition software applications


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What are Some Considerations for the General Education Teacher?

  • Request large print materials in advance.

  • Get training on the use of optical devices and software.

  • Encourage student relationships and interaction.

  • Support emotional and learning needs.

  • Provide daily cues.

  • Consult with vision specialist regularly.

  • Use tactile materials.

  • Reduce glare on materials.

  • Speak in normal tones.

  • Tell the student when you are leaving the room.

  • Maintain high expectations and give regular feedback.


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