Children in the classroom need to see their teacher, classmates, the white or blackboard, TV, computer, overheads and powerpoints. They need to take notes, complete assignments, read and take tests. For low vision children, many of these tasks are more difficult.
10 ways to support children with low vision in school
- Allow the student to select a preferred seating location- this may be in the front of the classroom, perhaps located conveniently to the white board or the teacher’s position in the classroom, and away from glare sources such as windows.
- Permit low vision students to wear sunglasses or a hat with visor if they are helpful inside.
- While learning to copy from the board is an important skill for the student to develop, offering handouts rather than requiring everything to be copied from the board may be helpful. Handouts should be in a print size appropriate for the vision of the student. Print that is too large may actually slow down reading speeds. Their low vision specialist can suggest what size print will be appropriate.
- Consider that extra time may be needed for the student to complete tests and assignments if extended reading and writing are required.
- Ensure computers are equipped with screen enlarging software.
- Be provided with a tilted writing/reading stand when close working distances and/or magnifiers are required. This will support their ergonomics to minimize fatigue and discomfort.
- Confirm with their low vision specialist the appropriate size text of printed materials.
- Use a monocular or bioptic telescope to improve seeing the teacher, whiteboard or blackboard, and classmates at a distance. Telescopes, especially those mounted onto eyeglasses (bioptics), can enable individuals to very conveniently see almost normally and enable them to stay more connected to their academic and social activities in school.
- Consider having a class session so schoolmates can learn what visual disorders are all about. Be sensitive to how the student may feel about such an opportunity.
- 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. Also, don’t assume they’ll admit if they are having difficulty!
Read about IEP and IDEA information for parents of visually impaired children by Dr. Anne Corn called Low Vision Services: Working with Your Child’s School. The National Organization of Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) has very helpful publications for parents and educators regarding vision and other issues affecting children with albinism.