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 • 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.
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
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.”
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.
What is the Prevalence of 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.
What are Some Causes of 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
What are Some Causes of 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
What are Some Causes of 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
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.
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
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.
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
What Should I Teach Students with Blindness or Low Vision? • 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
What is the Expanded 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
How Should I Teach Students with Blindness and Low Vision? • 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
What are Considerations for the Instructional Environment? • 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.
What Types of Instructional Technology Can be Used? • 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
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.