According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 25 percent of all children have a vision problem significant enough to impact their learning.
Up to 80 percent of learning is vision-based. Therefore, any type of functional vision problem which affects the visual skills, can lead to learning difficulties and impact a student’s overall performance in the classroom.
Strong visual skills are essential for all aspects of learning.
A problem with any of the visual skills can impact:
- Reading comprehension
- Homework completion
- Classroom performance
- Concentration and attention
- Visual arts
Fortunately, there are certain strategies and accommodations that teachers can implement to help their students with vision problems to succeed in the classroom.
Follow these practical tips to give your students with vision difficulties the chance to succeed.
1. Consider your seating plan
It is important for students with visual difficulties to sit facing the front of the class.
This will not only allow them to see what you are writing on the board without turning around, but will also help them to accurately copy from the board and prevent careless mistakes in their notes, such as leaving out letters, words, or even full lines of text.
Sitting your students in groups or around tables is a creative way to help encourage collaboration and make learning more fun, but this seating arrangement should not be permanent.
If this is a style that suits your educational philosophy, you may want to think about dividing your class into groups for part of the day, when the whiteboard will not be used during the lesson.
2. Be aware of your students’ visual aids
Some students may require glasses for specific tasks, such as when using a laptop, or completing extensive writing assignments or examinations.
If a student requires glasses for certain near vision tasks, take note whether your student is following through and actually wearing their glasses.
Corrective eyewear and specialized lenses are essential for children with reduced functional vision. If a student refuses to follow through, speak with their parents to figure out how you can encourage them to wear their glasses.
3. Make sure your classroom has appropriate lighting
Seat your students with visual problems away from direct sunlight to ensure that their vision is not affected by glare.
Although natural lighting in the classroom is best, tungsten light bulbs can be used as well.
Try to avoid harsh fluorescent bulbs, as this type of lighting can cause eye strain, headaches and fatigue— especially among children with visual impairments.
4. Make accommodations while teaching
Implement these changes to enhance vision clarity for your students with visual impairments:
- Use a black or dark colored marker when writing on the whiteboard. Bright colored markers, like red, orange and yellow can be difficult to see on a whiteboard.
- Read anything you write on the board aloud to provide auditory cues for students who have difficulty seeing or reading.
- Avoid using language that relies on vision, such as “similar to this one” or “over here.”
- Be patient if you notice a student daydreaming or staring into space, as this is often a sign of visual dysfunction, rather than an attentional issue.
By making some adjustments around the classroom you can help your students with visual difficulties to achieve greater academic success and even help to boost their confidence in school.
If you think a student with learning difficulties may be suffering from a visual impairment, it is important that they see an eye doctor for a comprehensive evaluation of their functional vision.
With a program of vision therapy, their visual skills can be strengthened, and clear and comfortable vision can be achieved.
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