A. Grace Martin

Author, Student Teacher, Optimist and Promoter of Self-Empowerment


Accommodating for Individual Needs of Students who are Visually Impaired

Posted by agracemartin on March 5, 2015 at 12:10 PM

I worked with my colleague Jodie on this assignment do develop a learner profile as part of an IPP or ISP. Want to know more about Jodie? Visit her website at: jodieeinarson.weebly.com

Accommodating for Individual Needs (IPPs)

By: Jodie Einarson and Grace Martin

Characteristics of students who are blind or have low vision:

- Having poor to no visual perception.

- Students with visual impairments or low vision are able to use their remaining vision for learning but need a combination of compensatory visual strategies, low vision devices, and environmental modifications to access and respond to visual information.

- Visual impairment can involve a loss of visual clarity, and/or peripheral vision. Some conditions may result in reduced or loss of colour vision, sensitivity to light, or rapid, involuntary eye movements. These factors affect the student's degree of visual efficiency

- Low vision students usually are print users, but may require special equipment and materials.

- Low vision is defined as limited or diminished vision that cannot be corrected with standard lenses

- Clumsiness can occur when the eyes misjudge a distance. Sometimes young children who do not walk well actually have problems with their vision.

- May appear to also have a short attention span.

- May blink frequently or squint when looking at an object, reading, or watching TV.

- Crossed eyes, eyes that turn out, eyes that flutter from side to side or up and down, or eyes that do not seem to focus

- May become very isolated and stop doing activities they once loved

- Skim reading may be very difficult due to eye fatigue. Eye fatigue can cause headaches, and can also affect their study time.

- Difficulty recording notes

Learner Profile


1. Assistive Technology

• Device: Ideally we would give Orrin a laptop or tablet. We can borrow one laptop from the school’s laptop cart. Unfortunately, this would not have Zoomtext software as it is expensive software, but we can manually zoom in on Microsoft Word (and on most computer pages like websites). If the laptop cart is unavailable to borrow from, Orrin may use the teacher’s laptop while in class. Orrin having a laptop would allow him to successfully read and write all assignments. This approach would require some supervision to teach him how to zoom-in on a particular device. The other students should be aware that Orrin requires this device because he cannot see assignments as clearly as the other students do.

• Large print: If computers or tablets were not a possibility from the school, the teacher would have to take care to print all assignments large enough to be read by Orrin. Large lined pages and markers could be used by Orrin to write on to make his own writing more visible to him. This approach helps to solve the problem of when Orrin has homework and cannot take home a school computer or tablet. After the teacher has prepared this assistance, Orrin can use it independently. The other students won’t notice this assistance as much, but if it’s brought up the teacher can explain that large print helps Orrin read.

• Audio Technology: We could apply for grants to purchase Orrin a device with speech-to-text and text-to-speech software and a headset for the device. This software would aid Orrin in reading and writing because he does not need to rely on his eyesight to do so. Since he is also an orally processing thinker, he can better express his ideas verbally. This gives him more independence when completing assignments. If funding is still an issue, then audio books (textbooks on tape) can be given to Orrin during textbook research/reading time. The parents should be notified that Orrin is using this technology at school to help him get his ideas down efficiently.

• Braille Textbook: If a textbook is available in Braille version, it should be given to Orrin for use in class and at home. Or, Braille books on related science subjects can be found and purchased using the school’s book budget. Since it is difficult for Orrin to read small text, Braille is an assistive resource that would allow him to read science content independently. The parents should be aware of this approach in case they have not used Braille with Orrin before, and to be aware that the books are school property and must be returned.

2. Environmental Accommodations

• Physical Classroom Setup: Teacher must be aware while setting up the classroom with minimal furnishings, consistently located materials, and clear pathways. The lab area’s perimeter could be well defined with brightly coloured tape on the floor so that he can distinguish between different areas of the classroom. The teacher could put a high-contrast coloured fabric on the back of Orrin’s chair to help him find his seat. His desk should be placed in an easily accessible spot.

• Classroom Maintenance: The teacher must teach students how to properly maintain a tidy classroom by pushing in their chairs and returning materials to their proper location. This helps Orrin navigate the classroom and find materials that he needs.

• Noise Pollution: The teacher must control the student’s noise level during instruction because Orrin is an auditory learner and needs to be able to hear the teacher speak in order to learn. In this way, students can begin to respect Orrin’s auditory needs, including saying his name clearly when they wish to talk to him.

• Noon-hour Club: Since Orrin has a difficult time making new friends and engaging in social interactions (like communicating with peers over lunch hour), peer supports can be put in place to help Orrin feel accepted at school. The club could focus on nature, anti-bullying, leadership, alliance club, etc.

3. Academic Accommodations

• Differentiating product: Orrin can compose music and lyrics to express his knowledge of a concept in science. He is interested in music and has musical-rhythmic-harmonic intelligence. Allowing Orrin to compose would utilize his strengths to demonstrate his understanding. Orrin’s intrapersonal intelligence is expressed through this approach. If the topic is difficult to express through song, then Orrin can record verbal reflections. Other students should be allowed to differentiate their products as well.

• Differentiating instruction: Teacher’s verbal cues and relationship with Orrin are very important. The teacher should check in with Orrin to see how he is doing and use verbal assessments with him. Orrin can tell this teacher if he/she is using the proper volume for him to successfully understand. The teacher and Orrin can agree upon a hand signal that Orrin can give if he cannot hear properly. Students should know that they should use verbal cues with Orrin as well, like clearly saying his name. This should help with peer communication and enhancing Orrin’s social interactions.

• Differentiating process: For assignments, the teacher should encourage quality over quantity. In science lab reports do not have to be as formally structured, but instead focus on content. During lab experiments, Orrin should be paired with one of his friends who is not visually impaired. An expectation should be established that the friend is in charge of gathering materials and recording data, while Orrin is in charge of data analysis, interpretation, and lab report discussion. Since Orrin is not taking a large part of the experiment, the teacher can provide physical models of the systems that we are studying. If Orrin can manipulate the models then he is learning through his tactile preference as a kinesthetic learner. Parents can be informed that Orrin is being included in classroom activities according to his strengths.

• Differentiating content: If the science topic allows it, content could be focussed on nature and birds to appeal to Orrin’s interests.

Other Considerations

Peer Explanation:

• The teacher must explain to the rest of the students that Orrin has a visual impairment and needs adaptations to be successful. The teacher can explain that if a person has a slight visual impairment they can be helped with glasses, but Orrin cannot be sufficiently helped by glasses and so accommodations are made so that he has “better glasses” if everyone cooperates to help him.

Effectiveness Assessment:

• Asking Orrin how he feels about the accommodations can assess their effectiveness. Orrin is good at verbally expressing himself and he is self-aware of his needs and weaknesses. If he feels more confident in the classroom then the accommodation has been successful.

• Orrin’s academic performance can be an indicator of the accommodation effectiveness. If his grades improve, that is a measurable response.

Parent Communication:

• Open communication should be available to all parents at all times.

• The teacher can help Orrin’s parents find grants to pay for the laptop and Zoomtext software that he prefers.

Categories: Teaching Blog

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