- Make sure any pupil who has glasses wears them.
- Seat visually impaired children close to the blackboard, screen etc.
- Think about the lighting, decor and organisation of the room. Ask the visually impaired child what is best.
- Consider a desk lamp for more seriously visually impaired child.
- Supply taped instructions or enlarged text where necessary.
- Think about and try out different colour combinations on screen and on paper; black and cream/white is probably best.
- Be wary of textbooks which have text overprinted coloured backgrounds.
- Glare, shadows and reflections can affect pupils’ vision. Use of blinds on windows can be beneficial.
- For more severely visually impaired pupils, the teacher should verbally describe everything he/she is doing.
- Try to improve the listening environment by having a quiet classroom where possible
- A severely visually impaired child can develop unusual mannerisms such as twiddling their fingers, poking their noses, rocking etc. This is usually a sign of boredom or that they are confused and have switched off. Do not let them do this – nag them until they stop or else it will carry through to adulthood.
- Be aware of any changes in pupils or appearance of the eyes. Changes such as enlarging and non-dilation should be checked out by a medical practitioner even though it may be part of a condition such as tunnel vision.
P.E. and Visually Impaired Children
Children with severe visual impairments need to gain knowledge and control of his body in order to become aware of movement in space and movement that relates to people. He/she needs to learn about what happens when he/she moves and how he/she can control their movements.
Play games where he/she has to stretch up high and wide and bend in half etc.
When doing movement use similes, ‘Stand up like a soldier’ ‘Beg like a dog’ This helps them relate movements and objects and helps visualise concepts. ‘Crawl sideways like a crab’ ‘Wiggle like a worm’.
Name body parts. Play Simon Says, heads, shoulders knees and toes etc. help young children learn left and right using a glove on one hand.
To help teach awareness of objects in relation to self, use an audible ball (available from RNIB) and teach bouncing and catching. Teach him/her to skip with a rope. (These activities will probably need the help of the classroom assistant or another child if done within a whole class situation.)
Teaching a systematic routine can help with getting ready for P.E. The classroom assistant can teach this in the early stages.
1. Sit on floor – shoes off, socks off, Socks inside shoes, put under chair.
2. skirt or trousers off – cardigan, jumper, shirt off – lay out on top of desk in order.
3. P.E. shorts and T-shirt on.
There is a wide range of types and degree of visual impairment from short-sightedness, correctable with glasses to people who have virtually no useful sight – those registered blind. There is also the problem of colour blindness which can occur in up to 10% of boys.
Sometimes it is not the eye itself which causes the problem, but it is the pathway from the eye to the brain which is damaged. i.e. what the eye perceives has to be translated and made sense of by the brain.
Most people who are considered ‘blind’ have some sight. The degree to which each person is affected varies greatly. Some people can see to read but have difficulties getting around (tunnel vision); others vice versa.
Abstract concepts are difficult for those who cannot see as they have limited exploration to develop relationships. There can also be problems with movement, behaviour and responses as they do not pick up incidental information as easily as fully-sighted people.
What to look for: For children who have not been identified their eyes may turn or squint; they may screw up their eyes to look. They may be rather clumsy when moving around; they may have difficulty copying from the board; their handwriting may be large and spidery. They may tire quickly and may rub their eyes a lot. The child may be seen to have unusual habits, eg. rocking or rubbing fingers etc. This may indicate that they don’t know what is happening around them.
People who can help: SENCO / Resource Teacher
Wraparound is an all-inclusive scheme supporting children with visual and other disabilities in the Southern Health & Social Services area of N.Ireland. It offers help to parents, training for professionals, information and advice and play facilities for young children. Contact Catherine Murnin on 02890329373 or Catherine.Murnin@rnib.org.uk
Vision and Learning – an article by Keith Holland (pdf)
Declan is 14. He is an albino and is totally blind. This means that he has no pigments in his skin. His hair is white and his eyes are very pink. He must not go out in the sun without complete sun block. He is of average intelligence and is very sociable. Declan has learned braille from a period at a residential school which has encouraged him to be independent. His parents have decided to try to have him educated at the local secondary school. he will be seen by a visiting teacher for the blind at regular intervals and any textbooks he needs can be supplied in braille.
Declan wants to take part in everything and he has little or no fear. If he is in a new situation he uses his hands to explore it (or him/her). he is becoming quite strong and determined and does not like to be told what to do. Because he cannot see things he wants to satisfy his curiosity by asking questions constantly. Why? is his favourite word. Sometimes Declan can be seen rocking backwards and forwards. he does this when he has become confused and doesn’t know what is happening.