Low Vision and Children

Guest Blogger, Melody Bettenhausen, Development Director with Ensight Skills Center.

Visual cues are central to most early childhood education systems. Consider the number of school lessons that revolve around students writing on the whiteboard or reading off of photocopied handouts or even tiny text in books! Every subject, from math to spelling and even geography, requires reading and writing.

That’s why whether visual impairments are moderate, severe or profound, they often interrupt a low vision student’s ability to participate in regular classroom activities.

What is low vision? Children and adults with low vision are not considered legally blind, they simply have reduced vision at or lower than 20/70. Students who are blind have vision that is at or lower than 20/200. Nonetheless, only 15% of students with visual impairments are considered to be completely blind, with no light or form perception ability. That means even legally blind children may have some useful vision.

Low vision in the classroom
In a school environment, visual impairments can cause difficulties when it comes to traditional reading and writing activities, reading at a distance, distinguishing colors, recognizing shapes and participating in physical education games which require acute vision, such as softball and kickball.

Children with visual impairments often start off learning to read and write with the assistance of low-tech solutions, such as high-intensity lamps and book stands. Sometimes screen magnification and computer typing and reading programs are used. In other cases, low vision students will learn to read using the Braille system over text, or a combination of the two.

Typically, children work within the school district using teachers for the Visually Impaired (TVI) who introduce tools and skills that will benefit them in the school environment. Outside of the schools, these students work with a low vision rehabilitation team to access tools and skills that will benefit them in their home and work environment.

There are many modifications and assistive technologies that can allow children who are visually impaired to thrive in their education and personal endeavors. If you have any questions about programs or resources, please contact the Ensight Skills Center at 970-407-9999 or email at info@ensightskills.org.