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Adapting Video for VI Learners

Promoting assertiveness

To find solutions to problems, you need first to know that they are there. Some people are reticent about their difficulties, sometimes because they feel they are unduly imposing on others, sometimes because they do not want to appear as perennial complainers. Occasionally it is because of a sense of privacy.

But as we have tried to show, visual impairments are complex and varied, and so are course requirements and the demands of learning materials. All partners in the exercise need to be assertive about their needs and (in a mirror of effective assertiveness) be open to comments and questions from others.

We reckon that you (teachers and students) should put most effort into constructive, assertive communication at certain critical times. These are when you first start a course and are negotiating for appropriate course and environmental adaptations; during lessons; and when things start to get difficult. Each situation is different.

Starting a course

At this stage, as a student you might well find that you have to push a little to make your needs known. Teachers have a mass of other course start-up duties: it is all too easy to miss finding out critical personal details at this stage. But without knowing about your visual problems; what your current coping strategies are; what LVAs you use; what your preferred reading methods are; how much advance organisation you need; and how you like to present work, the teacher can't begin to assess the impact on their course delivery and resources, much less set them up in time for the course.

The obvious answer is good, early dialogue. Teachers: encourage your students to voice their own problems and suggest modifications, and make time to meet with them before the course rush. Students: be prepared. Be ready to explain your situation.

If either of you find that you don't know how best to tackle a problem, seek professional advice. You might want help in a number of areas if you are accurately to assess your joint environmental, educational, or information technology needs. Getting this advice takes time, though, so all the more reason to start early.

During lessons

The kinds of issues above tend to be large-scale ones. On a day to day basis, students need to be assertive, because however well teacher and student understand each other, success will only come through constant attention to detail. Students: don't be afraid to say if you are unable to see the video or OHP; go ahead and suggest changes to video, monitor, or lighting settings if they aren't working out. If viewing time isn't enough, ask for preview and postview time.

When things go wrong

After all the planning and careful preparation, things still go wrong. Again, the most crucial step is to avoid delay in saying what the problem is - whether from the point of view of teacher, VI student, or the other course members. Teachers: allow students the opportunity to say 'no' when things aren't right. Don't hesitate to call in outside help - in these situations many professions can offer support, from ophthalmic specialists through to VI Centres.