Tips For Teaching
Visually Impaired Students
Students with visual impairments are constantly challenged by classroom instructional strategies. Although lectures and discussions are easily heard by these students, syllabi, textbooks, overhead projector transparencies, maps, videos, written exams, and demonstrations are not easily accessed. Also, the visual impairments of these students can vary considerably; ranging from no vision, to the ability to see print if magnified. Here are some general tips for teaching students with visual disabilities:
- Offer the student preferential seatings. The student should be seated in such a way that she/he can get as much from visual and auditory cues as possible. Such a position is generally near the front of the classroom, however, a student may have an individual preference.
- Get to know your visually impaired student early in the semester. Meet with him or her to find out their level of visual impairment, then ask if he or she would like any help.
- Provide a thorough orientation to the physical layout of the room indicating the location of all exits, desks, raised floors, low-hanging objects, lecture positions, etc. When giving directions, use terms such as "left" or "right," "step up" or "step down," and convert the directions to the student's perspective.
- Avoid using phrases such as "this and that." For example, "The sum of this plus that equals this," is very confusing for someone who cannot see what is being referred to.
- If a student has a harnessed guide dog, it is working and should not be petted by other students in the class.
- Visually impaired students will most likely need extended time for their exams and possibly a reader/scribe for assistance in reading and writing. Faculty can provide these accommodations, or the Testing Center can provide exam accommodations.
- Standards for academic credit should not be modified for any visually impaired student. All students must meet the required level of understanding and performance competencies for the course. There may need to be modifications in the evaluation or testing method, but the content should not be changed.
- Visually impaired students as well as sighted ones can benefit from rich descriptive material. Try using enhanced verbal descriptions, such as comparisons and analogies with familiar objects that do not depend on prior visual knowledge.
- Partially sighted students should not be overlooked. They sometimes have greater difficulty in college than do totally blind students, partly because some try to "blend in," and do not use special assistance or ask questions.
If you have any questions, please contact the Advisor for Disability Support Services