Did you know?
Louis Braille was blinded as a child through an accident and created what we now know as Braille Reading Code for the Blind. He adapted it from a code originally created for use by soldiers passing messages along in the trenches to one another in the early 1900’s. He simplified the code and then created separate codes for music and math. By 1990, Braille was being used in almost every country in the world.
Individuals are considered to be legally blind by the American Medical Association when they have visual acuity not exceeding 20/200 in the more efficient eye with the use of corrective lens, or a limit in the field of vision that is less than a 20 degree angle (tunnel vision). That means that what a person with normal vision can see on a chart from 200 feet away, a legally blind person can see from only 20 feet away. A person is also considered blind if they have to use alternative techniques to do everyday activities efficiently.
Vision with 20/80 or worse in your better eye and/or a limitation in the field of vision, with correction, is considered to be a serious visual impairment.
It is not true that all blind persons have absolutely no sight; in fact, most blind persons have some remaining vision. A person may be considered blind when he/she can no longer drive safely, has difficulty reading a newspaper, or cannot see objects to the side.
There are a variety of disorders that cause blindness, which pervasively affects all aspects of an individual's life.
There are approximately 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the U.S. This includes people who cannot see at all as well as people who cannot correct their vision with contacts or glasses.
Some thoughts from blind people
- The terms “blind,” "visual impairment," or "visually impaired" are preferable to terms such as handicapped or disabled when referring to someone who has limited or no sight. People first language is recommended. Use phrases such as "people who are blind or visually impaired," rather than "blind or visually impaired people."
- Individuals who are blind are ordinary people, just blind. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t ask others what they want –- ask the person who is blind.
- They may use a long white cane or a guide dog to walk independently; or they may ask to take your arm and stay a half-step behind you to anticipate steps. Let them decide.
- They want to know who’s in the room with them. Speak when you enter the room they are in and let them know who you are, since they may not recognize your voice. Introduce them to others in the room.
- The door to a room or cabinet that is left partially open is a hazard to them.
- Don’t avoid words like “see.” They use them too.
- Don’t talk about the “wonderful compensations” of blindness. Their sense of smell, taste, touch or hearing did not improve when they became blind; they rely on them more and therefore, may get more information through those senses than you do--that’s all.
- Show them the bathroom, closet, window and the light switch too. They like to know whether the lights are on or off.
- They will discuss blindness with you if you’re curious, but it’s an old story to them. They have as many other interests as you do.
- Don’t think of them as just a blind person. They are just a person who happens to be blind.
- You don’t need to remember some “politically correct” term such as, “visually impaired,” “sight challenged” etc…. Keep it simple and honest, just say “blind.”
Academic accommodations for students who are blind include providing …
All material written on the board during the course of a class must be translated into Braille or tactile format. The student must have the translated material at the time that other students receive the same information on the blackboard.
Brailled material (i.e., notes, texts, handouts, tests) in a timely manner.
Assistive technology (i.e., screen readers and special equipment).
Note takers, scribes, personal readers, and lab hands (assistance in science lab help available through the CEA).
Raised line drawings (tactile materials) for graphs and illustrations.
Tape recorders, lap top computers, or Brailler for in-class notes.
Audio books (E-text, CD, tape) and materials.
Did you know?
George Matheson was a preacher who was visually impaired and who lived in Scotland in the late 1800’s. He reported that he could only see shadows, but despite that, the members of his congregation could rarely detect that he was visually impaired. He did have some help from his sister. She assisted him by putting his essays and early sermons in writing. Prior to becoming a preacher, he attended Glasgow Academy and the Glasgow University. He wore powerful glasses and sat by a window to read. He graduated with a bachelor's degree and an honorable distinction in Philosophy in 1861, and completed a master's degree in 1862. In addition to his educational achievements, he completed hundreds of articles and many books with the use of a typewriter, Braille, and a secretary.
Students who are visually impaired will have challenges that will vary from one individual to another. For example, an individual may have normal peripheral vision and minimal central vision or visa versa. Students with partial sight may see only shadows or have spaces of blindness in their field of vision.
Accommodations for students who are visually impaired include providing …
- Alternative examinations (oral, large print, taped, CCTV), extended testing time and specific lighting.
- Handouts in black print only on white or yellow paper, information written on the blackboard in an enlarged print handout, and transparencies (for close examination by student).
- Screen readers for computers, and Zoom-Text (enlarged text on computer screen).
- Enlarged print on handouts, raised line (tactile) drawings for graphs, and illustrations.
- Lab assistance and preferential seating in the front of the room.
- Note takers, scribes, tutors, personal readers, and tape recorders.
- Audio books and materials (student to request through the CEA).