When teachers have VI (visually impaired) students enrolled in the classroom, they can look forward to the challenge of not only enriching the classroom environment for the low vision child, but also making learning even more accessible to all the pupils.
This can be done by providing visual access to classroom materials, reinforcing access to texts and visual media, expecting the child to learn, being aware of mobility issues, scheduling motor breaks, keeping IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) goals close at hand, educating peers when needed, and staying in touch with parents and related professionals.
Provide Visual Access to Classroom Materials
Design or adjust bulletin boards and other classroom media to be visible to this child. This rule of thumb also applies to centers, posters, instruction cards, etc. Use of such larger print does no harm to the other students; in fact, it only enhances their ability to scan the learning atmosphere.
Enlarge written material and darken it on copy machine. Use of 11 x 18 paper helps here. Added bright color can also help make instruction visually available to a low vision child. Many teachers find it quite useful to enlist help of a volunteer person to regularly perform that task to maintain continuity.
Work with school using advice of related professional staff to supply your student with appropriate magnifiers and other visual aids. Ask your VI department for stickers to put on computer keyboard with enlarged letters as they make computer use far less stressful for the child. Many of the classroom adjustments made for a low vision child work well in any group setting.
Expect Visually Impaired Child to Learn
Treat a low vision student much like the other students: set learning standards commensurate with their ability and provide both curriculum and methods to achieve those goals. Too much sympathy can result in co-dependence, which only teaches the child and peers that independent learning can’t happen.
Provide taped texts when possible as you utilize multisensory learning, enjoying verbalizations with songs, rhymes, or jingles to reinforce material being taught. The whole class will benefit and learn!
Deal with Mobility Issues of Low Vision Child
Keep the classroom environment organized and dependable, avoiding sharp edges, things sticking out, or dangling electrical cords. These measures are among the hallmarks of any good classroom, and enhance classroom safety and comfort for all students.
Schedule Visual Motor Breaks for Visually Handicapped Child
Be aware since a this child is working harder to accomplish visual tasks, there is need for taking breaks from close work more often. These can be done naturally with short errands, putting something away, and related classroom duties interspersed throughout close visual tasks.
Similarly there is a need to allow relative free movement but still expect on-task and focused attention to the job at hand.
Keep Low Vision Student’s IEP Goals Close at Hand
Put the student’s IEP goals handy, and refer to them regularly. One good place is grade book or plan book. However, it can be fastened to the desk or wall as long as the student’s privacy is respected by adequate covering.
Such goals may include provision of extra verbal and auditory stimuli to reinforce concepts being studied. Do not connect some delay with lack of intelligence since it’s normal for a less sighted individual to take more time on some tasks. Also, do not assume a low vision student can’t learn visually as visual input can still be important to their progress.
Use of soft lead pencils, dark pens, highlighters, clearly lined paper, and slant boards or book-stands can be quite helpful.
Educate a Visually Handicapped Student’s Peers
Model to your students that the vision differences do not denote intellectual differences. Make sure the class hears some of the times when you compliment this student’s accomplishments. Pointing out the strengths without being too obvious helps the class accept the child for who he or she is, without undue emphasis on the visual handicap.
Stay in Touch with Parents and Related VI Professionals
Consult regularly with the child’s parents to help keep learning on track. Also, speak with any special professionals assigned to the case to stay in touch with recommended solutions. Keep notes to refer back to.
As can be seen, many of the steps a teacher can take to include a visually handicapped child in the classroom are also helpful to most other students. This makes it a win-win situation. So enjoy inclusion of such a child in your learning community.