Visual impairments include disabilities in the sense of vision that affect the central vision acuity, the field of vision, color perception, or binocular visual function to the degree that it impedes the educational process and necessitates procurement of supportive services or programs. The American Medical Association defines legal blindness as visual acuity not exceeding 20/200 in the better eye with correction, or a limit in the field of vision that is less than a 20-degree angle (tunnel vision). This term includes people with extremely limited vision, as well as those with none at all.
Accommodations may include:
- Textbooks ordered in the preferred medium of the student
- Seating in the front of class without glare from windows
- Tape-recording of lectures and class discussions
- Note taking devices such as pocket Braille computers
- Handouts in the medium that the student prefers
- Lab assistance
- Advance notice of class schedule changes
- Reading lists or syllabi in advance to permit time for transferring into alternative format
- Clear black print on white or pale yellow paper for students with visual impairments
- Testing accommodations: taped tests, reading of tests, scribe, extended time, separate place, enlarged print, and/or computer word processing software with speech access
- Materials presented on the board or on transparencies read aloud
Students with no light perception or no functional vision may rely on a white cane, a service animal, or a sighted guide for mobility purposes. Service animals should not be petted or addressed unless permission is granted by their owner. When serving as a sighted guide, let the student take your arm just above the elbow.
It is helpful to identify yourself first when speaking with a student with blindness or low vision. A lower noise level in the classroom is important for hearing. Students may require a reader for assignments and exams and may use a note taker or a note taking device in class to take notes.
Passageways through doors and aisles should be kept clear. When furniture is moved, students should be advised of new arrangement. Any changes in class locations should be given to student in advance, or a non-disabled student should be assigned to wait at the door and guide the visually impaired student to the new location.