University of Edinburgh

Adapting curriculum materials for VI pupils in mainstream classes: useful strategies and techniques that you can use

Presented on Wednesday 12 May 2010

Let me see too!

Alison Attwood

"It is difficult to generalise about the impact of visual impairment on a child's development. The needs of each child will vary and factors such as personality, age of onset of impairment, degree of visual loss, the presence or absence of additional disabilities and cognitive ability will make each child different (Visual Impairment. Access to Education for Children and Young People)

It is very important that professionals understand the special educational needs of the child. The school, visual impairment support staff, medical authorities require to work together with parents to share their knowledge to best address these needs.

A key aim is to enable children to maximise their vision to access the curriculum. We have to know and understand the child; be conscious of the learning environment and the materials we present them with.

Eighty percent of what we learn is triggered by vision. A lot of learning particularly in the early years is incidental. Children with a visual impairment often miss out on this incidental learning; they often appear behind their peers in learning. However towards the upper stages of primary, given appropriate support they are matching their peers.

Accessing the Curriculum

The child, the environment and the resources used interact in accessing the curriculum.

The child

  • receives visual information. We have to think about clarity, contrast and colour
  • processes the visual information. Time  to focus and process information in the optimum space is most important. 
  • comprehends. In considering comprehension of what is seen, does the child recognise, understand and  commit to memory?

The Environment

Consideration has to be given to

  • lighting
  • classroom/school organisation
  • classroom/school ethos.


The materials should

  • match the needs of the child and enhance visual functioning.

"The success of children with a visual impairment in mainstream schools is heavily dependent upon the quality of support that is available to them." (Visual Impairment. Access to Education for Children and Young People)

distance vision normal

distance vision 6/18

distance vision 6/36