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Adapting Video for VI Learners

Making best use of unmodified materials

Appropriate preparation of staff and other students

Awareness training for staff and the fully sighted students is one way of breaking down barriers and pre-empting misunderstandings which can easily be created.

For example, other students may not understand why the visually impaired student may be given preferential treatment, additional help or even have some of their tasks reduced, for example completing fewer mathematical problems. This can lead to resentment and the student can become a victim and be accused by their peers as 'getting away with it'.

It is not unusual for some anxious fully sighted students to be very concerned about the attention given to some one with disabilities and feel resentment. As some students may not look obviously visually impaired and move around independently and confidently, it is easy to see how such feelings may arise.

Training needs to occur as soon as possible, not only for students but also for all staff (academic and non academic) who may come into contact with people with a visual impairment.

Awareness training for staff and for fully sighted students might include these elements:

  • implications of common eye defects. Use 'simulation' spectacles to demonstrate problems in the environment (light and dark activities), reading different size print, viewing the screen, moving around the college,
  • implications in terms of access to the curriculum, eg speed of working, difficulties in finding resources, changing focus from distance task to near ones, use of low vision aids
  • safety issues including simple 'guiding techniques', eg room layout, adaptation to dark/light, electrical appliances
  • reading some extracts of autobiographies of people coming to terms with losing their sight, for example John Hull 'Touching the Rock'

Involve the visually impaired students in the planning of the activities and let them express their own preferences and difficulties. It may be that they would find this embarrassing so do consult with them beforehand. Do seek advice from a colleague (internal or external to your institution) who has experience of working with young people with a visual impairment - they will be able to help in the planning and usually provide the simulation spectacles.