Visual Impairment / Blindness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), there are two categories of visual impairments that an individual may have: Low Vision and Blindness. The CDC and WHO defines low vision as a visual acuity of 20/70-20/400 and blindness as a visual acuity of worse than 20/400.

Low Vision: An individual who has low vision may struggle with ordinary everyday tasks such as: reading, writing, shopping, or driving a car. Their vision is unable to be corrected with prescription eyewear. Individuals use a combination of vision and other senses (e.g. sound, smell, or touch) to learn. Individuals identified as having low vision may benefit from different lighting or larger print in the classroom.

Blindness: An individual who is identified as being "totally blind" is typically unable to tell light from dark and is unable to see at all. Individuals who are "legally blind" have less than 20/200 vision in their more functional eye or a very limited field of vision. These individuals may use Braille or other types of non-visual media. 

Considerations and instructional strategies:
  • Include the approved disability accommodation statement in the course syllabus. Invite students to contact you if they need disability-related accommodations.
  • Consult with SAS if your class involves lab work, field trips, and/or requires students to access off-campus work sites.
  • If the student uses a guide dog, it should not be petted or distracted while in harness and working as this could place the student in serious danger.
  • Provide a description of visual content.
  • Give clear, detailed instructions (e.g. bottom left corner).
  • Allow for priority seating.
  • Allow students to audio record class lectures.
  • When in doubt about how best to assist your student, ask them. Remember that confidentiality is important; therefore, it is best to have the conversation in private (e.g. during your office hours).
Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
  • Testing accommodations: electronic exam materials for use with a screen reader and/or screen magnification software
  • Tactile imaging of graphic materials
  • Course materials provided in an electronic format for use with screen readers and/or screen magnification software
  • Note-taking assistance
  • Brailled materials (if the student is proficient in Braille)
  • Permission to use tape-recorders, laptop computers and/or a BrailleNote for note-taking