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Adapting Video for VI Learners
Positioning and related issues: a summary
Choosing a good place for VI students in the workplace makes a huge difference to their learning efficiency. The task isn't easy though, and the results will always be a compromise with easier access to one learning resource than to another. The student needs to be able to see his or her teacher; other students (particularly in group work); the TV or monitor; the OHP; and any controls or equipment either for vision aids or for the curriculum material being taught. Finding a good position depends on understanding students' needs and these will differ person to person.
A good location for students with visual field defects will be determined by where the defect is situated in the eye eg
peripheral and central field loss
the student will need to be positioned centrally, usually near to the screen, OHP or group
right field of vision loss
the student will need to be positioned centrally or towards the right of the screen, OHP or in the group
left field of vision loss
the student will need to be positioned centrally or towards the left of the screen, or in the group
(D)>upper field of vision loss
the student will not be able to see the information on the OHP and will need their own copy or the information read out
lower field of vision loss
the student should be placed centrally
loss of right eye or loss of left eye
similar positioning as for right and left visual field loss but the problem may be dealt with more easily than field loss
visual field inattention
if the student knows they have this problem, then attaching a strip of coloured paper or some other item to the side of the monitor (as the student faces it) where the student has the visual attention loss may be sufficient to alert the student to the 'missing' area.
Where students have moderate problems seeing details, they need to be positioned square on and near to the screen. You can also help with good OHP design. Large print in 'bold' with a limited amount of information on each acetate helps the information to be read more easily. Avoid using too many colours, and choose tones which are in sharp contrast with the background colour of the acetate. Make sure that the OHP is clean!
There needs to be strong colour contrast on video and OHP acetates, especially for those students with colour perception problems or any central retinal condition. Note that when colour is used to highlight some video feature, or colour codes are used on the OHP, these may not be apparent to students: teachers need to reinforce them with careful explanation and questioning to check for understanding.
If students have severe problems seeing details it may be better not to rely on the OHP at all. Where it cannot be assumed that the student will be able to see diagrams or read text from them as quickly as their fully sighted peers, appropriately printed copies of the acetates might be more appropriate. If this is not possible, the content needs to be read out and diagrams explained. Choosing this strategy might also ease other positioning problems, making it easier to find a compromise.
Students with narrow visual fields need to be positioned centrally. They will find it difficult to locate, read and scan information quickly - diagrams will be potentially difficult. Previews will be especially useful, so try to provide hard copies of acetates or even tape recordings before the sessions. This kind of pre-organisational material will also help students who have trouble seeing moving images.
Some students cannot change focus quickly (or in certain cases, at all). They will have no major difficulty if they just have to concentrate on the monitor or OHP screen. Problems will occur if the student is required to alternate between the teaching aid and a text or a worksheet. The student will be slow at doing this and may need to switch to different spectacles or low vision devices are used. If copies of transparencies are made available before the session, then these can be co-located with the other texts on the students desk, where no focus shift or change of visual aid is needed to see both notes and OHP materials.