University of Edinburgh

Cerebral Visual Impairment: an educational perspective

Presented on Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Case studies

Mary Dallas and Janis Sugden

Lighting case study

Ben is an ambulant young man with partial vision. He quickly became familiar with the setting, activities and equipment, pupils and adults.

After a few weeks, as he was crossing the room floor on his way from one activity to the next Ben suddenly halted and became unsure what to do.

This is what Ben saw

light on floor

Light ideas Have you thought of:

Taking time to consider the levels of natural and artificial light from the children's viewpoint?

  • where do the shadows fall?
  • is there glare?

Colour and contrast

  • high contrast, plain - easy
  • low contrast, patterned - difficult
  • red/green hereditary colour vision problem
  • tonal colour vision problems

Case Study

In a home for young people with physical disability, wall displays were not always successful in providing a good visual background.

Displays can pose problems for young people with visual processing difficulties - which potentially could include all those with cerebral palsy as they can have difficulty in perceiving items against a complex or 'busy' background.

Can you see the mobile?


Is it easier now?


Colour and contrast

Staff wanted to keep their stimulating wall displays and at the same time make the learning environment suitable for all pupils.

What would you do?

Solution in this case

Curtain tracking was fitted to the ceiling around the perimeter of the room so that a plain curtain could be drawn over the display walls whenever a high item/background contrast was needed.

At other times the curtain was drawn back and the display was on show.

Acoustics and auditory considerations

Acoustics - the natural sound characteristics of an indoor space that influence the nature of sound produced in it.

Auditory considerations - includes the effect of acoustics and a range of sound levels from:

  • young people and staff
  • background sounds from within the building and outdoors


Usman is blind and has good independent mobility within the school using a cane, tactile trailing and auditory skills.

Usman's school

Many parts of the school are reached through a large open concourse with a quarry tiled floor where the acoustics changed the characteristics of otherwise familiar sound.

While Usman learned to cope with this when the area was relatively quiet, at busy times of of day when the background noise level was high he became disorientated.

The floor made a significant contribution to the noise level, which affected Usman and other young people.

What would you do?

Sound ideas

Have you thought of:

  • seeking advice about the acoustics in your area?
  • making and audio tape of the ambient noise and attempting to listen to speech when it's playing?
  • establishing quiet times in daily routines?
  • making a list of noisy equipment?
  • always using a child's name before speaking to them?