University of Edinburgh

Play and Communication for Children with Visual Impairment and Additional Support Needs

Presented on Monday & Tuesday 1 & 2 December 2008

Creating a Responsive Environment

How do we do this?
Mary Lee
Royal Blind School, Edinburgh

Creating a 'reactive' environment

It should:

  • Be respectful and attentive
  • Be responsive
  • Be interactive and mutual rather than directive
  • Include opportunities for choice
  • Include opportunities for turn taking
  • Create a need for communication
  • Be relevant
  • Allow for sensory impairments
  • Be fun
    RNIB Partners in Learning course

The Learning environment

Structuring the environment

  • Routine
  • Physical surroundings/simplicity
  • Making sense of sound
  • Making sense of objects

The social environment

  • Interactive partners
  • Group work
  • Creating a need to communicate
  • Behavioural needs

Giving significance to the environment

  • Context/relevance
  • Repetition/familiarity
  • Experiential signifiers
  • Pace/time

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

  • Physiological (food, drink, warmth)
  • Safety/security
  • Belonging/friendship/affection
  • Self-esteem/adequacy
  • Cognitive
  • Aesthetic
  • Self-actualisation

Maslow: need to fulfill each level before can move on to the next.


Objects of reference and experiential signifiers

Objects of reference - what are they?

Objects of reference are used to:

  • Aid understanding of language
  • Enable self-expression
  • Develop pre-literacy skills

Points to consider

  • Level of concept development
  • Sensory and physical impairments
  • Relevance of objects as signifiers
  • Availability of objects of reference

Environmental signifiers

  • Broaden the idea of a signifying object to a significant experience
  • Experiences would be multi-sensory
  • Signify, eg; days of the week, rooms and areas, activities