Seeing things our way

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Seeing things our way

  1. 1. “Seeing things our way” Universal design strategies for teaching students who are visually impaired Deb White KSP 604 Spring 2008
  2. 2. Roadmap • Causes and characteristics of visual impairment (VI) • Demonstration • Assessing functional vision in school • Universal design = good teachin’ • Maximizing abilities and minimizing obstacles • Legibility tour Thermoform map • Video (10 minutes): Equal Access: Science and Students with Sensory Impairments • Instructional strategies • Examples
  3. 3. Vision is a complex system • Eye globe (iris, lens, retina) • Surrounding structures (facial skeleton, eyelid, tear system) • Neurological system (optic pathways, vision centers of the brain) Image: National Eye Institute Eyes + Brain + Light = VISION
  4. 4. Defining visual impairments Legal blindness: visual acuity of 20/200 with best correction in one eye or visual field restriction to 20 degrees or less in the better eye Total blindness: inability to see anything, including light or objects (Only 5-10% of people who are visually impaired are totally blind.) Low vision: visual acuity ranging from 20/70 to 20/200; continued difficulty with vision, even with standard corrective lenses What does this mean? [20/20 activity]
  5. 5. Defining visual impairments The challenges… • It is difficult to define abilities in terms of categories . • The ability to see certain kinds of objects, pictures, colors, text, light, etc. varies widely depending upon conditions. • The needs and preferences of each learner should be addressed individually. Functional definitions of vision attempt to incorporate these variables in a practical way.
  6. 6. A functional definition of vision… …goes beyond categorizing the amount of vision a person has by seeking to understand the ways in which the person uses vision under various conditions and for different tasks (e.g., academic, self-help, and mobility). According to IDEA: “Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.” (Sec. 300.7 [b][1][13])
  7. 7. Causes of visual impairment Three types: 1. Refractive errors - Inability of the eye to focus light rays onto the retina correctly - Often correctable (glasses, contacts, etc.) Examples: Myopia (near sightedness) Hyperopia (far sightedness) Astigmatism
  8. 8. Causes of visual impairment Three types: 1. Refractive errors - Inability of the eye to focus light rays onto the retina correctly - Often correctable (glasses, contacts, etc.) 2. Structural impairments - Damage or impairment to one or more parts of the visual system Examples: Diabetic Retinopathy (irregular spots – blood - in visual field) Retinitis Pigmentosa (tunnel vision) Color Deficiency (color blindness) Strabismus (crossed eyes / wandering eyes) Amblyopia (lazy eye) Cataracts
  9. 9. Causes of visual impairment Three types: 1. Refractive errors - Inability of the eye to focus light rays onto the retina correctly - Often correctable (glasses, contacts, etc.) 2. Structural impairments - Damage or impairment to one or more parts of the visual system 3. Cortical visual impairments - Problem with neurological pathways, including reception and interpretation of visual information - Severe impairment to total blindness; sometimes improves over time Can be caused by infections of the central nervous system, epilepsy, head trauma
  10. 10. The result of visual impairment: Limited visual acuity, visual field, or both What is it like to experience this?
  11. 11. Assessing functional vision After an ophthalmologist or optometrist identifies and documents the impairment, a child can receive services in a school setting. Special education teacher / vision impairment specialist will evaluate: • Ability to see points both near and far • Ability to sustain function throughout daily tasks • Environmental factors (e.g., lighting, print size, seating preference) • Appropriate learning media (dominant learning styles) • Compensatory skills (e.g., listening, social skills, daily living skills) to be taught in the context of the environments in which they will be used
  12. 12. Universal design of instruction What is universal design? “Rather than designing your instruction for the average student, you design for potential students with a broad range of abilities, disabilities, ages, reading levels, learning styles, native languages, races, ethnicities, and other characteristics.” (Burgstahler, 2007)
  13. 13. Universal design of instruction General guidelines: • Curricular goals should be identical for visually impaired and typical students. • Seek to minimize changes in instructional procedures. Alter only what is necessary. Example: large print book, or using an optical device to read standard print?
  14. 14. Universal design of instruction General guidelines, cont’d: • Plan enough time for the VI student to process, absorb, explore, interact with their environments, and understand things. • Be aware of (and use!) your resources as a teacher. Know how to arrange for accommodations. • Most students thrive on flexibility, challenges, and high expectations – not pity. • Address the visually impaired student as a whole person (strengths/weaknesses, interests, needs, goals, humor) rather than in terms of a standard deviation from the fictional “average student.”
  15. 15. Universal design does not merely “accommodate disabilities” MAXIMIZE ABILITIES • Capitalize on strengths. • Identify and build assets. MINIMIZE OBSTACLES • Sensory (physical) • Conceptual (information processing) • Social, emotional
  16. 16. Maximizing abilities; minimizing obstacles Three broad instructional areas where teachers can facilitate success among students with visual impairment: • Gaining Knowledge • Demonstrating Knowledge • Full Participation in (laboratory) Activities Video (10 minutes): Equal Access: Science and Students with Sensory Impairments Produced by DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internet-working, and Technology) University of Washington
  17. 17. Strategies and ideas for teaching students with visual impairments Think about your own content area. What are some ways to maximize abilities and minimize obstacles when students are: • Gaining Knowledge? • Demonstrating Knowledge? • Participating in Activities?
  18. 18. Strategies and ideas for teaching students with visual impairments A very brief compilation of advice: • Allow the audio taping of lectures. • Provide large-print copies of textual materials. • Provide for the translation of textual materials into Braille and adaptive electronic media. • Assign a typical student to describe in detail visual representations such as videos, slides, and overhead transparencies to the VI student. • Supply tactile representations of diagrams and graphs. • Allow extra time for reading and viewing.
  19. 19. Strategies and ideas for teaching students with visual impairments A very brief compilation of advice, cont’d: • Use the student’s name with addressing him or her; use specific rather than general references to items (e.g., over there, these, its). • Introduce yourself when you are entering conversation and indicate when you are leaving it. • Provide numerous activities (e.g., lab science experiments). • Allow students to manipulate relevant (scientific) objects, models, and other materials when possible. Optical aids: prescription lenses, magnifiers, monocular, telescopic lenses, projection system (camera relays to student monitor), etc. Non-optical aids: alternative keyboards, lamp, reading stand, bold line or tactile paper, measurement tools, models and props, hats or visors, audio recorders, etc.
  20. 20. Final thoughts Build a partnership with the student, parents, and professional resource people to facilitate open exchange of ideas and needs. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. - Lou Holtz
  21. 21. Thank you.

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