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Adapting Video for VI Learners

Positioning monitors

Positioning equipment for VI students will involve compromises, and these will differ depending on the problems the student faces. The starting point is to gather as much information as possible about the student's eye condition so as to understand its impact and effect in terms of everyday functioning.

The following suggestions are guidelines only and will vary from one student to another. The best solution always is to ask the student!

Students with visual field defects

Positioning decisions need to take into account a wide range of issues, of which seeing other monitors is just one: we summarise them here.

Students who have problems seeing detail

Such students need to be squarely in front of and near to their screen. However, there are conflicting requirements. You need to avoid interrupting the line of sight to teacher and OHP (or the rest of the group if group discussions are anticipated): at the same time, you should aim for these visual targets to be in as narrow a cone as possible, so that searching for the next object of attention doesn't involve too wide a scan. Less compromises have to be made if the student has a monitor of their own. Providing a student with a monitor of their own means extra wiring, but it need not be complicated. The schematic shows how a second set can be 'daisy-chained' to a source (in this case a video) using inexpensive two-way connectors.

Connecting two monitors(D)

Once a student has their own monitor, other important classroom images can be fed to it. Some visually impaired students use closed-circuit television systems to magnify their reading materials. There are therefore opportunities - given the technical facilities of a large college - to provide such students with one common display area for their multi-media, personal magnification, and views of lecturer and OHP.

The student will need a simple switch box to route the video and audio signals, and in the case of any computer images, a multimedia card to produce the right signals.

Connecting video switches

Students with sensitivity to glare

Glare reduction is important ergonomically for all students, but with a VI student who is particularly sensitive to it, you need to pay particular attention to sources of glare. These can come from sunlight, artificial lighting, highlights from reflective surfaces, or light 'bleed' from the OHP or other projector. Any of these sources can produce hot spots on a screen. If you can't remove the source, (eg light coming in from windows), then you can try the following approaches:

  • look for ways to change the position of the monitor and seating arrangements;
  • choose a monitor with a flat rather than a curved screen - hotspot capture will be less;
  • consider a screen hood to reduce oblique light pickup (especially useful for personal screens). Don't buy one: they can be made from card;
  • consider an antiglare filter. Cheap ones use a fine mesh, but these can cause artifacts: polarising filters are pretty effective (but cost more).

Students with narrowness of visual field

Student must be central to the monitor. The amount of remaining 'field' may be very small, therefore the student will experience difficulty in following sequences, seeing all the relevant information and reading any text.

As with students who have difficulty seeing detail (but for different reasons), the monitor has to be positioned taking into account the need to find other visual targets, and how targetting is compromised by the particular field loss.

Students who have problems seeing moving images

Though a rare condition, some people cannot see objects in motion. Where movement forms an important part of the material, a series of stills would help. However, even though most VI students can see moving images, some still have problems 'following' them - because of visual field restrictions, for instance. In either case, students will need to be central to the monitor and may need additional notes before screening of the video to enable them to process the information.

Students who have difficulty changing focus

There should be no major problems if the student only has to watch the monitor or OHP screen. Difficulties will occur when the student is required to look at a text or a worksheet during the showing of a video or to divert attention from an OHP transparency. The student will be slow at doing this and may even need to change to different spectacles or low vision devices (which will make things even slower). You can help with pre-organisational material, like copies of any transparencies, scripts, still shots and so on, made available well before the event.

Students with contrast sensitivity problems

Central positioning is appropriate for most eye conditions but it is wise to check with the student. In contrast to the student who has problems with glare, a primary concern here is for the room to be strongly lit in ways which produce good contrast. That being so, you should assure yourself that the monitor picture is not washed out by the stronger lighting.