Practical suggestions to help the visually impaired in school

Tips to help visually impaired pupils in schools:

Adapting text and diagrams for the visually impaired

It is important to consider the actual nature of the reader’s visual loss. If he or she has a restricted field of vision and is trying to read through only a small area of clear vision, enlargement of the text may actually prove a hindrance rather than help because few characters will be visible at one time. 

Enlarged photocopies - no amount of enlargement can be very helpful unless it produces a clear bold image for the reader. Always check what size of print the reader prefers rather than working to a standard enlargement for the sake of convenience. 

Retyping text - many books are unsuitable for enlargement because of the nature of print, spacing or because it is overlaid on a diagram. Microsoft Word (or other word processors) can be used to produce the appropriate size and quality of print required. 

Diagrams - it may be necessary to redraw diagrams rather than simply to enlarge them (see 1st paragraph). For a partially sighted reader simplicity is important. Care must be taken when labelling to prevent confusion - strongly coloured lines may be used. It may be better to use a key to prevent clutter in a diagram. 

Maps - it may be necessary to break down a complex map into a series of simpler ones, which may be overlaid.

Modification of GCSE to meet the needs of visually impaired candidates

  • no visually impaired pupil should be disadvantaged in courses or examinations on account of his or her disability
  • no visually impaired pupil should be given an unfair advantage as a result of course or examination modification
  • national criteria should be maintained intact after modification, in order to prevent the need for endorsement of the resulting certificate
  • all visually impaired candidates should take examinations as independently as possible and in a manner consistent with their own methods of study
  • no rigid code of practice should be drawn up that ignores the differing demands of different subjects and the varying needs of individual candidates

Candidates justifying special consideration in addition to that generally available to Visually Impaired might include: 

  1. Those newly blinded or having suffered recent deterioration in vision
  2. Those possessing a poor field of vision
  3. Poor braillists
  4. Those with poor hand-eye co-ordination 
  5. Those whose level of disability renders them unable to use human and technological aids efficiently    

Safety guidelines for practical lessons

  1. If no specialist teacher or Learning Support Assistant (LSA) support is provided, try to ensure that the pupil-teacher ratio is sufficiently low to allow close attention to the needs of the visually impaired child
  2. Give individual tuition to the pupil (if possible) before allowing him to embark on a task or piece of equipment
  3. Where appropriate, give a visually impaired child access to apparatus diagrams etc. prior to embarking on a task in order to encourage familiarisation
  4. Make sure that the lighting is good
  5. Ensure a safe working distance from the task, taking into account that partially sighted children may need to get near to the task
  6. Keep safety goggles clean and scratch-free
  7. Ensure that a visually impaired child has adequate working space between himself and other pupils or equipment in order to avoid the possibility of accidental injury through unseen contact with these
  8. Ensure that tools, equipment and materials are kept in identifiable and known parts of the room
  9. Keep all aisles and doors free from bags stools etc
  10. A non-slip floor surface is important in the vicinity of floor-standing equipment
  11. Encourage a visually impaired pupil to work with a sighted peer, but never allow complete dependence to develop
  12. Impress upon all pupils the risks inherent in their work in order to prevent the danger of over confidence   


Last updated: 14 December 2020 10:17:59

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