University of Edinburgh

Accessing Outdoor Environments for Visually Impaired Children

Presented in June 2011

Outdoor Areas Data Collection sheet

Time of Day:
Weather Conditions:

As you move around the school mark on:

  • The type of surface you find, for example tarmac or grass.
  • The transition from one surface to another – is this clearly defined.
  • Are the surfaces non-slip, in good condition, even, clear of obstacles/overhanging plants/protruding roots?
  • Are the surfaces/plants interesting to all the senses?
  • Are the plants non toxic and safe to touch?
  • What colours are in the environment – would you describe the area as montone or are there a variety of colours, are the contrasts bold enough?
  • In what ways has attention been drawn to hazards within the school-grounds? Are these measures useful for children with low vision?

Sensory cues:

  • How would you orientate yourself in this area? What is the primary sense with which you engage with the area – eg; traffic noise, smells, texture etc
  • List the features that can be engaged with through each sense – eg; water, sand, sculptures.
  • Are the cues permanent or transient?


  • Are there clearly defined routes?
  • Do they have edges, tactile surfaces or dropped kerbs?
  • Are there benches at suitable intervals?
  • Is there more than one accessible route?
  • Are there any signs? Are they in a suitable position and suitable format?
  • If you have signs in different parts of the grounds, is the positioning of these signs consistent?
  • Are the colour contrast and font legibility of these signs sufficient to be accessible to pupils with low vision?
  • How would a child know they were there?
  • If the route contains steps, are the steps adapted in a way that optimises their visibility?
  • Are hand-rails in place to help with the navigation of steps?


  • How does this space change with the weather – do puddles form, is there any shade, does it get windy etc? Does this change with time of day or season?


  • Are there any gates (how do they open), are there any gaps?
  • Is the entrance welcoming? How?

Any other comments:


Social Area

Time of Day:
Weather Conditions:

As you move around the school mark on:
Physical Features:

  • The type of surface you find, for example tarmac/grass/trees/planting?
  • The sunny/rainy/windy areas and marking any shade or shelter and how this changes throughout the day.
  • Size – how many children would this area accommodate? Is the area clearly demarcated and if so how?
  • Is the area accessible for all children?
  • How does this area help/hinder independence?


  • What size seating is there – how many children could sit here – in large groups, in small groups, individually?
  • What is it made of?
  • Is there any shelter – from rain above and wind peripherally?
  • How is the seating arranged – is it easy to talk to others?
  • What activities could be done here:
    • creative vs active,
    • quiet vs noisy,
    • small group vs big group


  • What are the sensory characteristics of the place – is it interesting/inviting for all senses? Are there any senses not stimulated?
  • What activities can be done here (eg; football, running, reading, chatting)? Would the activity disturb activity in other areas?
  • Does it accommodate different types of children:
    • shy vs outgoing,
    • quiet vs active,
    • old vs young

Any other comments:


Learning Areas

Time of Day:
Weather Conditions:

As you move around the school mark on:

Physical features:

  • Is the acoustic environment conducive to the delivering of a lesson?
  • Is the area sheltered – could it be used in all weathers – hot, cold, rain etc?
  • Is there adequate seating or space for temporary seating?
  • Are there any features (in proximity or beyond) that would influence the delivery of the lesson (eg; unlocked gates into the car park) if the children were unsupervised?
  • Is their unrestricted line of sight to all areas of the playground if needed?

Types of lessons:

  • What type of lesson could be held here:
    • quiet vs loud,
    • sedentary vs active,
    • resource intensive vs simple,
    • messy vs clean?
    • Creative/independent vs structured
    • Make use of visual, auditory, kinaesthetic learning style

What would make the area suitable or not suitable for the chosen lesson type?

  • What subjects would lend themselves most obviously to being explored at this environment?


  • What resources (natural or manmade) could you use easily in this area to support a lesson?
  • Are you close to a specific resource – eg; wildlife garden, playground marking,  electric point, a water tap etc?
  • Are these resources naturally accessible or do they need to be adapted?
  • Would any resources used create a hazard for pupils with visual impairment (in use or when stored)?

Any other comments: