What does Ms. Milton need to know about students with visual impairments?
Page 1: Overview of Visual Impairments
Since the first grade, Evan and Emily have received their education in the general education classroom. They have recently moved and will attend a new school this year. Ms. Milton has just learned that Evan and Emily will be in her third-grade class.
Though she is excited about the opportunity to work with these students, Ms. Milton is also a bit nervous about her ability to meet their needs. The twins will require some accommodations if the general education curriculum is to be accessible to them. With the help of key individuals, Ms. Milton will work to minimize their differences and maximize their learning opportunities.
What does it mean to have a visual impairment?
The term visual impairment encompasses both blindness and low vision. Visual impairment refers to any level of vision loss that affects an individual’s ability to complete everyday tasks. Individuals with visual impairments may have considerably different levels of visual functioning, and they use what vision they have in different ways.
Emily has low vision. This means that she has a significant loss of vision that cannot be fully corrected by glasses or contact lenses. Emily performs everyday tasks using visual strategies:
- Assistive technology (e.g., closed-circuit television)
- Environmental accommodations (e.g., the use of high-contrast materials)
- Materials in alternative formats (e.g., large print)
Evan is blind. He uses his tactile and auditory senses most effectively for learning, as opposed to using vision. Evan performs daily tasks using:
- Assistive technology (e.g., Perkins Brailler)
- Orientation and mobility skills (e.g., using a long cane)
- Materials in alternate formats (e.g., audiotapes)
- Environmental accommodations (e.g., the use of tactile warning strips at edges of stairs)
Listen to the advice Betsy Belknap offers to general education teachers about students with visual impairments (time: 1:26).
Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Longley Way Elementary, Arcadia, CA
Additional information about teaching students with visual disabilities can be found in the following IRIS Modules: