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Adapting Video for VI Learners

Pacing teaching and learning

Vision is one of our two major senses - it is in fact the 'coordinating' sense. It has been estimated that as much as 80% of our learning has a visual focus. Therefore, it is necessary to be aware of the impact upon learning if some one is visually impaired. Students will come to you with a variety of learning experiences and study skills - some of these may be poorly developed for instance, they may find it difficult to take notes, or to organise their work in a systematic way. If they are relying heavily upon taped material, they have to develop a different set of skills, for example, indexing skills. The use of laptop computers by many visually impaired students brings with them a different set of organisational problems such as keeping files backed-up, printing out perhaps in several formats including braille and dealing with 'technical problems'.

Having low or no vision means that it may take much longer to do many tasks. One good example is the reading of any texts. Add to the text any graphical or video material for instance, and the time to scan, read and fully process the information takes much longer. If the student is using a low vision aid such as a hand held magnifier or is using braille, the problems are further compounded. You might like to try to read a page of text with a magnifier and note the differences in your reading techniques, or view a video through a mock-up low vision aid (i.e. a cardboard tube), and note how long it takes to see what is happening. Gone is the ability to scan the page quickly noting headings, layout, reviewing diagrams/photographs, making predictions about endings of sentences etc. Instead, you have to read words one at a time and then build up a picture of the graphics by systematic scanning. Quality and size of print is not usually a major concern of the fully sighted student but can be a crucial factor for the visually impaired one.

Demonstrations or explanations written on black/white boards may be similarly difficult to follow. The careful use of explicit language - often expressed in different ways and copies of any notes for the student before the session will aid understanding. Viewing of videos can be enhanced by pausing at crucial times to allow for further discussion/explanation or time to read any text on the screen. The use of discrete questioning should help to identify areas of difficulty.

It cannot be assumed that new concepts are understood, especially if they are introduced via video material. Repeat viewing of vital sequences, verbal explanations/additional information to accompany the scenes will help understanding as will careful analogies based on students' experiences. Bullet point notes prepared beforehand will also assist comprehension.

Differentiated tasks are appropriate bearing in mind the extra time it takes the student to read and process visual or tactual information.

Examinations/internal assessments will need extra time. Advice needs to be sought but as a rough guide, allow up to 33% more time. Do consider the impact on the learner - having to sit for extra time is very exhausting especially when the physical task of reading/writing has a high 'fatigue' component.