SSC logo Scottish Sensory Centre
university of edinburgh

Adapting Video for VI Learners

Understanding VI Learners' needs

There are many causes of visual impairment and blindness. For our purposes, root conditions matter much less than the effects they produce, since it will be those effects which will determine the strategies which teachers and students adopt.

Strategies which can help with one effect might hinder another: it is therefore very important for teachers to seek out, and students to make clear, what the problems are and their severity. Occasionally this will be the first time that some of these access orientated questions will have arisen (especially when vision is degenerating, or when loss has been sudden), and you might then need to seek expert assessment and advice.

The eight categories of problem below cover many of the effects which staff and students will face. It is worth reviewing first what normal sight implies.

Effects of visual impairment

Professionals sometimes use the names of eye conditions as a shorthand for their effects, and you may need information of a more medical nature to find out what is implied.

Strategies, and complicating factors

Planning how to handle the effects above comes down to teachers and students addressing three questions:

  • Can you find unaided ways to reduce or offset the effect (by careful lighting, attention to positioning, good choice of equipment and so on)?
  • Are there personal aids or adaptations which will help (like Low Vision Aids, or modifications to monitors or video players), and how are they best used?
  • Do you need to compensate for lack of access (by offering supplementary material in appropriate forms, marking or modifying existing video programmes, or designing alternative access features into new video or multimedia)?

There are some complicating factors.

Most of the rest of this advice pack focuses on answering the three questions above. Although we do so in relation to specific video related issues, note that they also apply to other aspects of educational access. Usually, your overall strategy will be a mixture of effect reduction, adaptations and compensation, and this mix should be designed within the broader arena of access to other curricular material.

Our advice pack deals with individual effects. However, there will be situations when a student has multiple disabilities. Be on the lookout for these, and prepared to modify or abandon our single - issue suggestions.

Even where resources are rich teachers will have less leeway to make appropriate modifications to the environment than might be optimal. This is firstly because there may be several VI students with conflicting needs, and secondly because the VI students' best environment has to be balanced with that of sighted students.