Visually Impaired - Blind & Partially Sighted
A student with a visual impairment is one whose vision is restricted to the point that s/he requires the use of specialized techniques, textbooks, materials and/or equipment to function in the educational setting.
Depending on the degree of visual impairment, there are two categories of the visually impaired:
- Blind - A student who, after the best possible corrective lenses (glasses), has no vision or has little potential for using vision and relies on tactile or auditory senses for learning.
- Partially Sighted - A student who, after the best possible corrective lenses (glasses), uses remaining vision for learning or may use a combination of visual/tactile input for learning.
Collier County Public Schools provides unique skills training, including orientation and mobility, by highly qualified teachers of the Visually Impaired (VI) to students identified as blind or partially sighted in all district schools. Instructional services focus on teaching the student to learn about and adapt to his/her visual disability with an emphasis on gaining skills to access the curriculum. Teachers of the Visually Impaired provide the appropriate adaptations and accommodations needed to meet academic expectations in the classroom. A wide range of assistive technology devices and low vision aids are available to meet individual student needs.
When a child turns 3 years of age, itinerant services are available in the PreK ESE program at various school sites throughout the county. Students ages 6-22 receive instruction in their home zoned school based on their individual needs.
Service delivery models include: consultation and itinerant/resource services. In the consultation model, students remain in the regular classroom. The itinerant teacher of the visually impaired consults with the student's classroom teacher(s) regarding necessary interventions and accommodations. Itinerant/Resource services are provided when students receive instruction in specialized vision skills as part of the school day on an identified schedule. These services may be provided in the child’s classroom or in a separate room on the school campus. Orientation and Mobility training is provided, as necessary, and occurs on the school campus and/or in the neighborhood surrounding the school and community.
Students with visual impairments are provided adaptations to access the general educational curriculum. For the student with low vision, these may include increased contrast and color highlighting, lighting adaptations, varied time requirements, optical devices, and auditory materials. A student who is blind may use Braille, tactile adaptations such as raised maps, speech access, use of real objects and materials, and auditory descriptions. Other curricular areas important for students who are visually impaired include instruction in daily living skills, career development, communication literacy, use of assistive technology, use of functional vision, and social skills.
Students who are visually impaired may read using one or more of the following methods: standard print, which can often be read comfortably with decreased viewing distance or by using a hand magnifier or other optical devices; enlarged print; Braille; or auditory learning, in combination with the above media or as the primary medium.
Most students with visual impairments rely on auditory information for some part of their learning. Books on tape or CD, spoken output from the computer, and use of tape recorders for memos are provided based on individual students needs.
Children with visual impairments vary widely in their learning abilities and needs, and educational support from a professional in visual impairment is vital in their learning. The vision program assists students who are blind or visually impaired in developing strategies to compensate for his/her visual impairment. Our program encourages independence and the development of a positive self-concept. Proper placement and support provide a foundation for students to function successfully in the educational environment to become a contributing member of society.
Dr. Heather McElroy