Visual disabilities

     Visual disabilities, also known as visual or vision impairment, or vision loss, translates to a decreased ability to see, resulting in issues that are not fixable by usual means (i.e., glasses or contact lenses). Visual impairments can have various causes and results in a broad range of difficulties such as the loss of central or peripheral vision, blurred vision, extreme light sensitivity, or color blindness. Visual impairments are distinguished from blindness which is defined by the complete inability to see. 

     For students, visual impairments can cause difficulties following the class written material such as readings and PowerPoint as well as examinations’ questions and instructions. One may need more time to go through the material and be more easily exhausted as this exercise requires additional efforts and a high level of concentration. In addition, a student with visual impairment may need to have a specific place in the classroom to be able to follow the PowerPoint or writing on the board. Written assignments can be very challenging.

In class

Situation
What is happening when the issue arises?

Issue
Why is the situation challenging?

Possible accommodation
How can the situation be made more accessible?

Notes taking

Some students are unable to take notes. It can cause them to miss part of a discussion or follow the class. This is problematic to study later on. 

- Use of the PowerPoint. 

 

- Making the PowerPoint available prior to class so that the student can prepare. 

 

- Slowing down when possible / applicable

 

Online: recording the class

Adapted position in the class 

Some students may experience difficulties to follow the written material used during a lecture such as PowerPoints and writing on the board.  

- Letting the student choose their position in class. 

 

- Making sure others are aware of their position (either by the lecturer or by the student and if the student is comfortable with this) so that the student does not recurrently need to ask one to move.

The PowerPoint shows very low contrast and / or small sized and / or unusual font. 

A student with a visual impairment might not be able to accurately see the material and thus read / use it during the lecture. They may miss out on important information. 

- Using contrasts in colors 

- Using large font 

- Providing the PowerPoints with the possibility to edit them (i.e., not pdf)

 

Student and lecturers can agree on what is adapted to their specific needs. 

Readings: 

- Extensive readings for classes 

 

Announcing or making readings available at short notice.

A student with a visual impairment may not be able to read the material or need more time to do so. It can lead to exhaustion and requires more organisation. If they do not do the reading, they come unprepared for class and miss out on important information.  

- Use audio-texts and/or text-to-speech software.

 

Spacing out the readings to give the students enough time to go through them.

 

Making the readings available at the beginning of the course so that the students can organize themselves. 

 

Letting the students know what parts of the readings are most important. 

 

Providing visual or recorded (i.e. podcast) summaries of the material (i.e., diagrams) 

 

Discussion between the lecturers and students regarding their specific needs (i.e., document in Braille).

Deadlines & Assignments

Situation
What is happening when the issue arises?

Issue
Why is the situation challenging?

Possible accommodation
How can the situation be made more accessible?

Many deadlines in the same week

Writing in any form can be a big complication for some students: not only is it more difficult because of a slow writing speed, but also because it can cause exhaustion and pain which can affect the rest of one’s body. 

- Extension 

 

- At the beginning of the semester, giving the option to move deadlines during the period to avoid overlap with other classes.

Written form  

For some students, writing down is incredibly more difficult than expressing themselves vocally.  

Some assessments such as weekly responses, or less substantial essays could be completed in a non-written form (completely or partially), such as audio or video recordings.

Examinations

Situation
What is happening when the issue arises?

Issue
Why is the situation challenging?

Possible accommodation
How can the situation be made more accessible?

Written examinations

The student might not have the time to complete the examination because of a slow writing speed. 

Extra time