Visual Impairment refers the defects or diseases occurring to the visual system in the structure or function which cannot absorb or pass adequate information through one’s vision, thus leading to the significant difficulties and limitations in one’s daily life.
Features of Visual Impairment
Visual impairment can be divided into two kinds: amblyopia (partial blindness) and total blindness. People who are amblyopic still have partial vision but cannot be corrected through spectacles; however, although people who are totally blind have the ability to discern light source, they cannot know well the shape, contour and distance of the object.
Although students with visual impairment can be affected in their movements, daily lives, social interaction and learning, however, they do not differ with ordinary people in other aspects of their development, and some even possess extraordinary memory, hearing, spatial and other abstract concepts.
Students with visual impairment may encounter difficulties such as:
- Unable to receive clear pictorial information (such as images, texts, videos, figural images etc.);
- Unable to write or write slowly;
- Easily affected by noise and unable to distinguish the source of the sound, thus having difficulties in participating in group discussions or dialogues;
- Unable to live alone because they cannot see things around them and have a sense of isolation;
- Easy to feel frustrated and self-abased because they are in need of help, and thus having a sense of cowardliness or excessive self-defense;
- Due to many restrictions in their daily life, they may also have serious problems in their social interactions.
How to Help Students with Visual Impairment
Tips for teachers:
- Teachers should understand the special needs for the students with visual impairment in their communication, self-care, reading and writing etc. Make sure to avoid making subjective judgments on their disabilities in all aspects without any prior communication with them;
- Teachers may allow them to use other note-taking methods besides copying (such as a voice recorder, a computer with voice input, etc.);
- At their request, teachers may arrange for them to sit where they can see the blackboard, whiteboard or projector screen most clearly;
- Teachers should meet their needs in considering extending the time of examination or the deadline for homework, or providing methods of evaluation other than a written one;
- Teachers may upload onto the internet the course materials, course books, academic records, evaluations and other materials or information which assist in students’ learning and homework, or send them to students by e-mails, so that they can read the materials by enlarging them on the computer or by the aid of other instruments;
- Teachers may reduce the use of text, images, videos, etc. for teaching, especially colorful image material; if necessary, additional assisting materials (such as recording tapes, oral instructed course outline or summary, etc.) can be provided;
- Teachers may use the ALT attribute function to specify an alternative text description for the image file, allowing the text-to-speech computer software to convert the text description into audio output. Please click HERE for the procedures to implement the ALT attribute function in HTML webpage. Please click HERE for the procedures to implement the ALT attribute function in UMMoodle.
- Teachers may include the accessibility functions in their webpages or other electronic forms of information. Please click HERE (page 32-35) for the use guide of making accessible webpages.
- Teachers may distribute teaching materials and textbooks in advance so that they can have enough time to record or convert the teaching materials into other more convenient file types for them to read;
- If printed / projected materials must be used, teachers should discuss with them the most suitable visual size for them;
- Teachers should reduce classroom noise. If group discussions are needed, teachers should try to guide the students to speak one by one.
Tips for students:
- Please acquire from the students with visual impairment the knowledge of how to help them in case of emergency;
- During get-togethers or parties, please take the initiative to introduce yourself to them and guide them to meet other people;
- When guiding them to walk, do not push or pull them forcibly; as long as they hold on your upper arm, elbow or shoulder, they can walk at ease;
- When guiding them to sit down, do not push or pull them forcibly; as long as you guide their hands to touch the backs of chairs or cushions, they can sit down on their own;
- When guiding them to get on bus, please guide them to touch the edge of the door and pay special attention to the door height to avoid collisions and injuries;
- When guiding them to unfamiliar places, please tell them on the way the traffic conditions, special facilities, obstacles and dangerous areas, so that they can be familiar with the surrounding environment in advance;
- Since they cannot read clearly the road signs and signboards of the bus stops, if they seek help from you, please read the signs to them;
- Do not let them stand alone in the middle of the road or the other open area. Try to find a safe wall or pillar for them to lean on, and tell them the direction in front of them so as to let them feel secured;
- Make sure to tell them before you leave lest they do not know;
- Please be empathetic and try to experience their daily lives, their thoughts and feelings.