University of Edinburgh

Functional Assessment of Vision

Thursday 8 and Friday 9 March

What do we mean by Functional Assessment of Vision?

Janis Sugden
SSC/ University of Edinburgh
Chartered Teacher Clackmannanshire.

Vision: The primary learning avenue for most individuals.

  • Guides the developing child’s motor milestones.
  • Allows the immediate access of incidental learning.
  • Vision “brings us the world.” Tannni L Anthony, Colorado Dept Of Education.

Functional Vision Assessment (FVA)
FVA is one of the hallmark features of vision services in the education of children who are visually impaired.

But who should do this?

Think about how FVA differs from a clinical assessment

  • It is not diagnostic.
  • It is not treatment oriented.
  • It assesses how vision is used in real life situations.
  • The evaluation combines information from many sources.

Why carry out FVA

  • To determine what and how a child sees.
  • To determine what can be done to facilitate learning through the visual sense.

Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act in 2004.
Aim: to ensure that all children and young people receive the additional support required to meet their individual needs and to help them make the most of their education.

The code sets out guidance on the Act’s provision.

Values and principles of assessment and intervention.

  • Taking a holistic view of children and young people and their circumstances and what they need to grow and develop and achieve their potential.
  • Seeking, taking account of and noting, the views of children, parents and young people.
  • Ensuring that parents, and young people, understand, and are asked to agree to the aims of any assessment.
  • Ensuring that assessment is an ongoing, integrated process of planning, providing for, and reviewing, services for the individual.
  • Adopting the least intrusive and most effective course of action affecting the lives of children, young people and their families.
  • Taking into account issues of diversity and equality and ensuring that outcomes do not discriminate against children, young people and their families.
  • Working in partnership with parents to secure education for their children and to promote their child’s health, development and welfare.

Duties on Appropriate Agencies
The Act promotes integrated working across agencies, in assessment, intervention, planning, provision and review.

Appropriate agencies have a duty to help an education authority discharge their duties under this Act (unless the help asked for is incompatible with the agency’s statutory (or other duties) or it unduly prejudices the agency in its discharge of its own functions.)

Assessment and Intervention
A wide range of approaches are used to support assessment and intervention and to promote inter agency working.

The Act does not prescribe any particular model of assessment or intervention.
Assessment is seen as an ongoing process of gathering, structuring and making sense of information. It identifies and builds on strengths, whilst taking account of needs and risks.

Assessment is a dynamic process.
It should not be divorced from other aspects of the child’s life at home, in school or in the community.

Ongoing Collaborative Assessment
The assessment process for visually impaired learners requires multi-agency consultation and/or collaborative working if any plans for their learning are to be effective.

This is vital for VI children who have additional difficulties. ( MDVI)

  • Visual Functions
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Field
  • Contrast Sensitivity
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Colour discrimination
  • Oculomotor control
  • Accommodation.


  • The optimal FVA occurs over several sessions
  • If possible in more than one environment. (this is essential for pupils with MDVI)

A Team Approach

  • The child or young person
  • Family members
  • Appropriate professionals.
  • Everybody working from the same frame of reference, using the same language.

Preparation for FVA

  • Collate details: Vision history, medical, educational records.
  • Consult: Meet the family, speak to the class teacher.

Know the learner

Take time to observe the child. Where do they sit? How do they look at materials.

  • How do they interact?
  • What interests do they have?
  • Note the child’s cognitive ability.
  • Observe the learner in different places. (Indoors , in the gym, in the playground , dining hall etc.
  • Try a variety of lighting situations. How does the leaner react?

Appropriate Assessments
Think of the learner’s preferred learning styles and ability.

FVA Report

  • Consider who the report is for.
  • Avoid jargon. If a technical term is used explain what it means.
  • Circulate the findings to everyone in the team.