Visual Impairment Information and Teaching Strategies
By: Mauro Garcia
1. Types of Visual Impairment
2. Signs of Visual Impairment
3. Help Under IDEA
4. Tips for Parents
5. Tips for Teachers
IDEA Definition of Visual Impairment
• An impairment in vision that, even with correction,
adversely affects a child’s educational performance.
• This definition includes both partial sight and blindness
Help Under IDEA
• Early Intervention- A system of services to support infants
and toddlers with disabilities (before 3 years old) and their
• Special Education and Related Services- Services available
though the public school system for school-aged children,
including preschoolers. (ages 3-21)
• If a child meets the definition of visual impairment under
IDEA as well as the state’s criteria, then they are eligible to
receive the service they qualify for.
Signs of Visual Impairment
• Eyes that don’t move together when
following an object or a face
• Crossed eyes, eyes that turn our or in,
eyes that flutter from side to side or
up and down, or eyes that don’t seem
• Eyes that bulge, or bounce in rapid
• Pupils that are unequal in size
Signs of Visual Impairment cont.
• Repeated shutting or covering of one eye
• Unusual degree of bumping into things or
knocking things over
• Frequent squinting, blinking, eye rubbing
• Sitting too close to toys, books or TV.
Types of Visual Impairment
Strabismus- Where the eyes look in different direction and do not
focus simultaneously on a single point.
Optic Nerve Hypoplasia- Which is caused by underdeveloped fibers
in the optic nerve and which affects depth perception, sensitivity
to light, and acuity of vision.
Cortical Visual Impairment- Which is caused by damage to the
part of the brain related to vision, not to the eyes itself.
Types of Visual Impairment cont.
Coloboma- Where a portion of the structure of the eye is missing.
Congenital Cataracts- Where the lens of the eye is cloudy.
Retinopathy of Prematurity- Which may occur in premature
babies when the light-sensitive retina hasn’t developed sufficiently
Retinitis Pigmentosa- A rare inherited disease that slowly
destroys the retina.
Children Affected & Types of Impairment
• Vision difficulty refers to children
who have serious difficulty seeing
even when wearing corrective
lenses and those who are blind
• Severe Vision Impairment refers to
children who are unable to see
words and letters in ordinary
• Legally blind refers to children who
have 20/200 vision or worse and
that the vision can not be
corrected with corrective lenses.
Severity Children Affected
Vision Difficulty 490,420
Legally Blind 59,341
Tips for Parents
• Learn as much as possible about the specific visual
• Encourage curiosity and help your child explore
• Work with school staff
• Talk to other parents
Tips for Teachers
• Ask to be a part of the IEP team
• Talk to special education teachers about
• Find the materials or resources needed to
support the student
• Talk to the student’s parents
Ideas for Students with
• Find out if school has technology needed to help
student succeed in the classroom
• Practice auditory skills since hearing will be primary
• Keep information on braille books available
• Practice analytic touch to get a sense of object
• Help distinguish between behaviors that are socially
unacceptable in public, yet acceptable in private.
• Understanding social distance for various
• Make student comfortable when asking for help
• Showing acceptable social behavior in a multitude of
Daily Living Needs
• Help understand importance of:
• Basic personal hygiene
• Dressing skills
• Preparing meals
• Practice eating skills
• Managing money
• Using technology like cellphones, computers etc.
• Basic understanding of time and keeping schedules
• Requires uses of other
senses to make up for
lack of vision
• Ask questions like:
• “Do you smell dinner?”
• “Can you hear the bird
• “Isn’t the dog’s fur soft?”
• Allow them to hold
objects in their hands to
get a complete picture.
Making Classroom Accommodations
• Keep aisles clear of debris
• Notify students if any changes in the classroom are
• Make extra space for equipment like books in braille,
enlarged print materials or other hardware
• Be clear when giving instructions
• Allow for extra time to finish assignments
• Assign a peer to help in case of emergency
Texas School for the
Blind and Visually
• Academics- Designed for students who are functioning within
two years of their grade level. This is the regular, public school
curriculum for grades K-12, including the Texas Essential
Knowledge & Skills adopted by the state.
• Elementary concepts- Designed for students ages 6-12 years of
age who are blind or visually impaired and may have additional
impairments. This approach is for students who are at the
readiness level for academic learning, but are not yet reading,
writing or doing math on a first grade level.
Educational Programs cont.
• Practical Academics- Designed for students 12 years of age or
older who are functioning more than two years below their
chronological age, with at least kindergarten equivalent reading
and writing skills. Practical Academics courses focus on teaching
students to use their academics skills in a variety of meaningful,
functional tasks in preparation for adult life.
• Basic Skills- Designed for students aged 6-22 who have visual
impairments combined with other disabilities who learn best with
the support of consistent routines and meaningful functional
• These programs focus on a more expanded core curriculum.
• These skills include:
• braille and other modes to access the general curriculum
• orientation and mobility
• assistive technology
• career education
• independent living skills
• recreation and leisure
• sensory efficiency
• social interaction skills
• Admission Process
• Visiting the school
• Connecting with other parents
• More information
• The Inclusive Classroom M. Mastropieri Pearson Lynch 4th ed.