“No skill shapes a child’s future success in school or in life more than the ability to read.” Bob Riley
According to an American community survey of 2012, a total of 659,700 children aged 4 to 20 reported a visual disability. (nfb.org) “Approximately 90% of individuals with visual impairments have functional or low vision; just 10% are functionally blind. However, students with low vision are often an overlooked majority in the population of children who are visually impaired. Difficulties of students with low vision are often not as apparent as they are for students who are blind.” (afb.org)
Students with low vision may find it difficult to speak up and let others know when they are struggling to read printed material, the chalkboard/whiteboard, or workbooks. Without the same access to classroom materials that students without a visual disability have, the students with low vision may begin to fall behind in the curriculum. Their reading and writing skills will not progress as quickly or at the same level as their peers. This lack of access to educational materials will have a lasting effect on the life of the student with low vision.
If your child has low vision, there are simple ways that you can make a difference. Talk to your child, find out if they can see the chalkboard/whiteboard from their current desk location, ask if the print size on the handouts given is large enough for them to read, inquire about group activities. Moving your child to a desk that allows him/her to see the board is a quick and easy solution. Ask the teacher to print the handout in larger font for your child. Making sure your child isn’t falling behind in activities, reading, writing, mathematics, and science will ensure they have a positive and successful experience in school.
Teachers of students with a visual impairment can also make a difference. Since most students will feel apprehensive about approaching a teacher and asking for help – take the initiative. Ask open ended questions to draw the student out. If you notice they struggled on a certain assignment, ask them what would have helped them do better.
Assistive Technology – Devices That Work
Computers and iPads are more and more prevalent in schools today. These can be great devices for students with low vision. Adding magnification/speech software to a computer will allow the student to easily see the screen or have the information read to them depending on their eyesight. However, sometimes more is needed. Electronic Video Magnifiers can magnify items in the distance, thus helping the student to see the board or other presentations effortlessly. Using an electronic video magnifier in the classroom for reading printed handouts, workbooks, and complete activities will allow a student to maximize their remaining vision. These devices also give the student the ability to work on their own and come to the realization that with the right tools they can succeed.
Teacher Jill Brown shared a story about a student who is having success in the classroom through the use of assistive technology. The school received an Optelec Multiview video magnifier that she uses with one of her students. She expressed to us how this device has helped her student: “The student that is using this device this year is new to using magnification. Not only is she able to read her letters, pictures, and words more accurately, it has improved her attention to reading. When reading she prefers the blue background as this cuts down on glare. Again, the color contrast has improved her attentive ability. She is able to turn the camera to view what the teacher is writing on the white board. She is just beginning to write and is learning how to coordinate the whole process.” (Jill C. Brown M.Ed.)
We are confident that with the right tools students with low vision can succeed in school. Optelec offers a wide range of low vision devices such as, optical products, daily living aids, and electronic video magnifiers. Our mission is simple: “Improving the quality of life for the visually impaired and blind by reaching out with simple and effective solutions.” We want to help your students succeed now while they are in school and continue to assist them in the future when they join the workforce. Whatever their goals may be, we want to help them reach them.
Connect with us today! Let us help you find the solutions that are right for your child or students.
National Federation of the Blind – Blindness Statistics - https://nfb.org/blindness-statistics
American Foundation for the Blind – Educational Interventions for Students with Low Vision - http://www.afb.org/info/programs-and-services/professional-development/teachers/educational-interventions-for-students-with-low-vision-2646/1235Sep 20, 2019