Vision friendly remote learning: a checklist for teachers
Online learning offers challenges and opportunities for all pupils, including those with a visual impairment. This checklist provides some practical suggestions on the reasonable adjustments that you can make to help ensure that visually impaired children are not disadvantaged by any move to online learning.
When planning remote online lessons think about:
- Have you thought about how to meet the visually impaired pupil’s communication and support needs?
- Have you balanced pre-recorded or pre-formulated learning with face-to-face online learning?
- Does the pupil have the tools and resources they need to learn independently? If not, what support do they need to access learning in the same way as their peers? for example: is the size print suitable for the visually impaired child?
- Have you encouraged children with a visual impairment to consider their best seating position and the most lighting arrangement in the area they are studying?
- Have you ensured that children with visual impairment have access to suitable technology such as voiceover, magnifiers etc to support their learning? Are they in good working order?
- Blind children use the Perkins Brailler to write Braille. In addition to this, a range of new technology has been introduced in recent years to provide speech and print output from Braille input.
- For those children with useful residual vision, a dark felt tip pen on white or yellow paper should provide the necessary level of contrast moving.
- The older child should be able to make their own decision regarding paper preference, but the younger child may be helped by using bold lined or squared paper.
Please ensure visually impaired children are provided with the correct writing materials, so that they can complete tasks adequately.
- Besides size of print, it is important to consider the quality and quantity of print used.
- The size, colour, and contrast of print on paper determine quality and should be the primary consideration.
- Print can be enlarged by some form of magnification using a low vision aid, or by enlarging on a photocopier. It should be remembered, however, that enlarging on a photocopier can be counterproductive as faults in the original document are also magnified.
- We should also remember that magnification is not always the answer, as the greater the magnification, the smaller the field; those children with limited fields of vision should be allowed to use the smallest print possible, so that the remaining field of vision receives the maximum amount of information.
- Contrast and clarity are essential. It is also important to try and avoid those texts and resources which have print across the illustrations, because this can cause unnecessary confusion.
- Some children may also prefer to place a card or ruler under the line they are reading.
Remember that children with a visual impairment will also need extra time to complete visually demanding tasks and it may even be necessary to reduce the amount of reading/writing you can realistically expect to be produced at the same time as the other pupils.
- If appropriate, allow pupils access to lesson content or a lesson overview before the session, so they can familiarise themselves with new vocabulary and learning.
- Before you start speaking, make sure everyone has muted their microphones and that there is no background noise.
- Pace your lesson.
- Talk slowly and clearly and build in natural pauses.
- Try not to deliver too much information too quickly and avoid abrupt changes of pace or content.
- Use clear language and avoid jargon. Give explanations of new, unfamiliar, or key vocabulary and repeat or show a written version of the word. Avoid drifting from the point!
- Make sure instructions are clear.
- Do not ask students to complete a task whilst you are still talking.
Break up content:
- Chunk your lesson into clear sections.
- Avoid long periods with just you talking.
- Break up learning with different activities.
- Build in learning breaks.
Make group work accessible:
Think about how you are going to include pupils in your activities and interactions by:
- Making sure that classmates understand how to communicate effectively online.
- Making sure a pupil’s microphone is on and free from interference, before they speak, so the visually impaired pupil can hear.
- Ask pupils to speak one at a time and repeat or paraphrase their answer.
Seek feedback from your pupils. Ask questions about:
- How easy they found it to understand what they had to do.
- The pace of delivery – whether the teaching was too fast or too slow.
- How easy it was to access images and videos.
For more information or advice, please contact us on 01724 407988 or your named QTVI:
Andy Spong Andy.Spong@northlincs.gov.uk or tel: 07919383345
Ellie Leeson Ellie.Leeson@northlincs.gov.uk or tel: 07823911191
Children with severe or profound vision loss returning to school (EHCP)
Challenges for schools to consider – As children gradually return to school – whatever that might look like – there will be challenges for everyone, but for children and young people with a severe or profound vision loss this will be even more challenging. Every child and school environment is different, but it is important that staff are aware of the particular challenges VI children will face and the additional anxiety and fatigue these challenges may cause.
Further information is available in this document: North Lincs Vision Support Team Guidance re Reopening of Schools [PDF, 43Kb]
What do we do?
The Vision Support Team work with children and young people and their families to ensure they have access to everyday learning opportunities in a wide range of settings. This includes homes, nurseries, schools and colleges, alongside children and young people of a similar age. Individualised programmes, specialist teaching and support is given, appropriate to their need, as part of a graduated approach to ensure inclusion in the community and social and emotional wellbeing.
Early help assessments are initiated and supported by the team as appropriate.
We have an open referral system. The team accept referrals from parents / carers and professionals. After a child/young person is identified as having a visual impairment and parental consent is given, the Vision Support Team becomes involved.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have concerns or queries relating to visual impairment.
Contact us by email, letter or telephone, providing us with details of your concern, the child’s name, date of birth and contact details.
An initial visit will be made by a Qualified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. Following a visual assessment, and using national criteria for involvement, we will then inform you of our next step.
In many cases, some basic recommendations are all that is required to ensure the child or young person has continued access to learning. Others may require specialist approaches towards teaching and learning, and will need on-going support with specialist programmes and monitoring visits.
Support in the home can be provided for pre-school children and their families. We delivery specialist programmes by qualified and experienced staff and we offer training for parents, siblings and other family members as appropriate.
We hold monthly support groups for parents and arrange social activities for families.
We provide Functional Visual Assessments and information regarding visual conditions and their implications for learning. We make basic recommendations regarding visual management to ensure effective and on-going access to learning for the children and young people.
We make recommendations regarding purchasing and the use of specialist equipment and we can offer advice regarding the modification of work and access to examinations.
We deliver specialist teaching sessions; including Tactile Literacy, ICT and Habilitation. We undertake Access Audits and offer support from Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired, Specialist Support Workers and Qualified Habilitation Specialists, as deemed appropriate by ourselves.
We provide habilitation assessment training, guidance and support to children and young people (0-25) with visual impairments.
Habilitation refers to the teaching of Mobility and Orientation and Independent Living Skills. The training aims to develop skills, knowledge and attitude for safer travelling and encourage greater independence for a child or young person with a visual impairment.
Visual impairments vary and the impact it may have on a child or young person accessing their physical environment will also vary. Therefore, the habilitation programme and training is developed in consultation with the child or young person and all persons who may be involved with their support, to ensure the best outcomes are achieved.
Vision impairment ranges from blindness or very low vision to an inability to see particular colours.
Some babies might have vision impairment at birth. It can also happen later as a result of injury or a medical condition.
Severe vision loss or blindness can affect your child’s development and learning. Early intervention can help your child reach their potential.
What should parents look out for?
Children who have vision impairment might have normal looking eyes. Often, it will be something in a child’s behaviour or the way they use their eyes that makes you think there might be a problem with the way they see.
What to look for in babies
Most babies start to focus on faces and objects by 4-5 weeks of age. By about 6-8 weeks, most babies will start smiling at the familiar faces and things they see. But if a baby has a vision impairment, they might not do this.
Babies older than 3 months should be able to follow or “track” an object, like a toy or ball, with their eyes as it moves across their field of vision. If your baby can’t make steady eye contact by this time or seems unable to see, let your doctor know.
Before 4 months most babies’ eyes occasionally look misaligned (known as strabismus). However, after 4 months of age inward crossing or outward drifting that occurs regularly is usually abnormal. If you notice this, let your doctor know.
Signs that a baby older than 4 months might have a vision problem are:
- eyes moving quickly from side to side (known as nystagmus) jerking or wandering randomly
- eyes not following your face or an object, or making eye contact with family or friends
- eyes not reacting to a bright light being turned on in a room
- pupils appearing white or cloudy rather than black
- eyes not appearing straight but turning towards the nose or drifting outwards
What to look for in toddlers
Vision problems such as a “lazy eye” or “squint” (known as amblyopia) may have no warning signs, and your child may not complain of vision problems. For this reason it is important to have your child’s vision checked.
Other indicators in toddlers might be:
- holding things close to their face
- complaining of tiredness
- frequent rubbing of the eyes
- turning or tilting the head or covering one eye when viewing an object up close
- getting tired after looking at things up close – eg reading, drawing, playing hand-held games
- seeming to see better during the day than at night
- seeming to have crossed or turned eyes or a squint (lazy eye)
- seeming clumsy – for example, knocking things over or tripping often.
What to look for in all children
If you notice any of the following let your doctor know immediately:
- eyes that are misaligned (look crossed, turn out, or don’t focus together)
- white or greyish-white colour in the pupil
- eyes that flutter quickly from side to side or up and down
- bulging eye(s)
- complaining of eye pain, itchiness, or discomfort
- redness in either eye that doesn’t go away in a few days
- discharge in either eye
- eyes that are always watery
- drooping eyelid(s)
- frequently screwing eyes up
- constant sensitivity to light
- any change in the eyes from how they usually look
Getting a diagnosis is the first step to the right support.
If you’re worried about your child’s vision, you need to get their eyes checked.
Your GP can send you to a children’s eye specialist (ophthalmologist). They will do tests to find out what the problem is.
Church Square House
30-40 High Street
Monday – Friday, approx 9am to 5pm, during school term time only.
- Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) Call: 0303 123 9999
- Unified English Braille (UEB) online is a training programme for sighted people to learn Unified English Braille (UEB)