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Low Vision in the classroom. Ann Heard Low Vision and Blind Support Email: heard.ann48@yahoo.com. Definition. Impaired visual function caused by any disorder of the eye or visual system.

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Low vision in the classroom

Low Vision in the classroom

Ann Heard

Low Vision and Blind Support

Email: heard.ann48@yahoo.com


  • Impaired visual function caused by any disorder of the eye or visual system.

  • Resulting in a reduced level of vision that cannot be improved to normal with glasses, contacts, medication or surgery.

  • Individuals have difficulty engaging in normal day-to-day activities.

  • Best-corrected vision in better eye becomes less than 6/18.

In the classroom
In the Classroom

Learners in the classroom need to see their educator, classmates, the blackboard, TV, computer, overheads and presentations. They need to take notes, complete assignments, read and take tests.

For low vision learners, many of these tasks are more difficult.


The range of medical conditions which may give rise to visual impairment is both large and complex.

The educator needs to understand the functional vision of the learner so this may be put into effective use.

Different e ye conditions different needs
Different Eye Conditions Different Needs

Bright or dim light

Light from side or back

Depending on Condition?

Enlarged print or normal

Simple magnifiers or technology

Cane or not

The whole learner
The Whole Learner

  • Important to identify needs early, if undetected or treated in an unsuitable or non-empathetic manner can give rise to :-

  • Poor reading and writing skills

  • Learner could become inattentive

  • Learner could become distracted and disruptive

  • Presentation and accuracy of work may suffer

Important to recognise signs
Important to Recognise Signs

The learner may run the risk of social and emotional challenges as a result of his/her inability to cope with the demands of a highly visually oriented world.

Sometimes not easy for educator to recognise, as learner who has never seen normally, does not know what he is supposed to see.

Look for
Look for


Unusual Movement


Excessive Blinking

Holds toys close

Turn In

Eye Rubbing

Turn Out

Constant Frowning

Eyes Move Independently

Moves head not eyes

Knocks things over

Shuts or covers one eye

Excessive Irritability during close activities


  • Reading, writing and drawing difficulty

  • Poor concentration when using near vision

  • Difficulty recognising colours

  • Stumbles over objects

  • Bumps into objects

  • Difficulties with lighting (glare)

  • Walks with shuffle or stoop

  • Dislikes physical activity


  • “I can’t see that”

  • “I see two”

  • “I feel dizzy”

  • “My head hurts”

  • “I feel sick”

Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions

  • How can contrast be used?

  • Does the learner need more time to complete tasks?

  • Must I help the learner move around?

  • Must the learner use bright strong colours?

  • Can the learner use a pencil or a koki?

  • Can the learner be encouraged to play rough and tumble?

  • What about technology?

Frequently asked questions1
Frequently asked questions

  • Must I reorganise the environment?

  • What lighting is good?

  • How does glare affect?

  • Will making things bigger help?

  • Can spectacles help?

  • Should the learner sit close to me?

I can s ee
I Can See

  • I - Illumination

  • C – Colour and Contrast

  • S - Size (magnification)

10 simple t ips
10 Simple Tips

  • Allow the learner to select preferred seating, preferably away from glare sources such as windows.

  • Permit low vision learner to wear sunglasses or a hat with visor if they are helpful inside.

  • Provide with hand-outs rather than being required to copy from the board. Hand-outs should be the correct size print for the learner.

  • Provide extra time to complete work, tests and assignments as well as adjust to the learning environment.

  • Allow learner to use technology equipped with screen enlarging software.

10 simple tips cont
10 Simple Tips (cont)

  • Provide learner with a tilted desk.

  • Provide learner with large print and broad writing materials (felt-tip pens) to increase visibility.

  • Allow learner to use simple magnifiers, telescopes.

  • Consider having a class session so schoolmates can learn what visual disorders are all about.

  • Finally, the teacher should inquire to be certain the student can see what is being presented. Don’t assume that if they don’t say anything, they are able to see it.

Team support needed
Team Support Needed

  • Family - immediate and extended

  • GP

  • Ophthalmologist

  • Geneticist

  • Optometrist

  • Low Vision Optometrist

  • Orientation and Mobility Instructor

  • Educator

  • Specialist Educator

  • Skills Developer

  • Psychologist

  • OT

  • Audiologist

  • Orthoptist

  • Neurologist

  • NGO

  • Social Worker


Important that all information regarding the learner is shared throughout the learner’s school career.

Points to remember
Points to Remember

  • Not all vision impairment is the same

  • Each learner is an individual

  • Join hands with the Team

  • Be adaptable

  • Observe and listen

  • Learner’s needs will change as he develops