University of Edinburgh

Transition: approaches for children and young people with visual impairments

Presented on Tuesday 19 January 2010

Transition: Nursery to Primary

Kat Barrie
(Principal Teacher Sensory Service) Dumfries & Galloway Council

Readiness for school: case study

Implications of Tom McCallum Visual Impairment

  • Tom has no vision in his left eye
  • Tom is very short sighted in his right eye.
  • Even with glasses Tom’s vision is greatly reduced
  • Tom needs materials close to his face to see them (print/font size 18 or larger)Joined up script and italicised text is difficult for him to read
  • It takes Tom longer than his fully sighted peers to interpret visual information
  • Tom will take longer to complete work than his fully sighted peers and will tire more easily
  • Tom finds scanning activities difficult
  • Tom needs assistance to organise work spatially
  • Worksheets and colouring sheets for Tom need to be clear, bold and uncluttered
  • Outlining shapes in black/blue felt  pen helps Tom to see them more easily
  • Tom may not recognise you visually or by your voice so let him know who is talking to him
  • When speaking to Tom, say his name first to alert him that you are talking to him as he does not pick up eye contact
  • Tom may be startled if approached from his left side without warning
  • Give Tom some indication that you are approaching or leaving him
  • Be specific and give oral instructions as Tom misses gestures
  • Tom cannot see facial expressions or body language from more than 1 metre. He may miss when you are pleased or angry. Be specific with praise and displeasure
  • Explain the actions of games etc and show him objects close up as he will miss the teacher’s demonstration to the class
  • Tom finds difficulty following conversations in a noisy environment
  • Tom will find difficulty interacting with peers as he does not read social clues
  • Tom should use any low vision aids that he finds appropriate for a task
  • Tom will not be able to find his way around an unfamiliar environment unaided
  • Tom’s gait is unsteady and he may bump into chairs, tables etc and also trip over bags and other items left on the floor
  • Tom tires easily both physically and mentally.
  • For safety reasons Tom will be accompanied at all times  (He will receive full time support in the classroom and to travel safely around school)
  • Tom should follow the general rules of the classroom
  • Tom should be positioned at the front of the class

Special arrangements for Tom McCallum

  • Mrs McCallum (or occasionally Jennie) will bring Tom to the waiting area opposite the front office at 8.45am
  • Lucy or Bob will collect him and take him to the SfL base
  • Tom will use the lift between lessons and leave classes 5 minutes early to avoid the busy corridors
  • Mrs McCallum will send in a bottle of Fortisip (vitamin enriched drink) each day for break time. Tom can drink this from a beaker but will require it to be poured for him.
  • Lunchtime – Tom will collect his lunch and return to the SfL base to eat. Mrs McCallum will require a menu (fortnightly) to select foods for the kitchen to liquidise for him. There are no foods that Tom cannot eat. He requires them to be mash potato / porridge consistency.
  • Tom needs to drink frequently so should have access to his water bottle in class.
  • Tom will tire easily. He should be allowed to rest on the bean bags when needed.
  • Tom will need accompanying to and from the toilet. Lucy or Bob will wait outside the toilet (Tom should NOT lock the door as he may find it too difficult to open it again). He will knock on the door when he is ready to exit.

*Occasionally Tom may not feel well


  • Tom will indicate he doesn’t feel well.
  • He will be pale, feel hot, sweaty and clammy.
  • His heart will be racing (more than normal)


  • Take off his sweatshirt and try to keep him cool and calm. This should be all that is required and he should feel better within 5 minutes.
  • If he is still not feeling well after 5 – 10 minutes (or if he loses consciousness) lay him down on his side and telephone Mrs McCallum (work: ***** ****** / mob: ***********). She will advise on whether she will come to school and take him to hospital herself or to phone for an ambulance.
  • If Mrs McCallum takes him to hospital Lucy or Bob will accompany her.