About Blind and low vision
‘Blind and low vision’ refers to significant and ongoing challenges with the ability to see. Some young people may be considered ‘legally blind’ if they cannot see beyond six metres (compared to 60 metres for a young person with normal vision) or if their visual field is less than 20 degrees in diameter (compared to 140 degrees for a young person with normal vision). Some young people may be considered to have ‘low vision’ if they have permanent vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses and their ability to complete everyday tasks is affected. Students with low vision may have some sight, but experience difficulties with visual acuity (being able to see detail), accommodation (being able to focus), field of vision (the area that can be seen), colour vision and adapting to different lighting between environments.
As a teacher you can best support the student by knowing about the type and severity of vision impairment they have. Some young people might be learning to read Braille, or use low vision aid technology like electronic magnifiers, closed-circuit television or iPads™. They might need large print materials. Understanding each young person’s strengths and abilities will allow you to develop ideas about ways to make education safe, fun, and as inclusive as possible.
What might be some strengths?
- Students who are blind or low vision may have the same capacity for learning as other students.
- They may have normal reading comprehension (i.e. they can understand what words and sentences mean).
- They might be skilled at identifying things through touch.
- Some might be able to learn number concepts through hearing.
- They can be resilient, adaptable, and have good emotional well-being.
Where might you provide support?
- Some students might have challenges with reading. This could include getting tired easily after reading for long periods, taking longer to read, or making more reading errors.
- Some children may have trouble making eye contact, reading facial expressions and observing social cues.
- They may have much less access to educational material than their peers.
- They might at times feel frustrated or disappointed with their vision or with looking different. They might feel self-conscious about using low vision aids, which can be a barrier to making friends (e.g. magnifiers, CCTV, iPads™). They may feel like they don’t fit in or have low confidence or low self-esteem.
- Some students might have delays with movement, balance and object control. This may make physical education and being independent challenging for them.
- Some students may have difficulties with starting tasks, problem solving, planning, organising and memory.
- Walking around in unfamiliar places can be difficult.
Identify different ways that a student can learn
Consider the environmental setup
Social skills and acceptance
Best practice tips
Statewide Vision Resource Centre
Transition to and from secondary school
Low vision aids
Other co-occurring conditions