University of Edinburgh

Ideas to assist visual difficulties due to brain damage

    The following ideas have all been suggested by parents and carers and patients with visual difficulties due to brain problems. Not all the ideas will be useful to everyone. It may be that only one or two of the ideas will actually help to make a difference. We are always looking for more ideas and suggestions to add to this list. Please email ( me if you wish to add any other suggestions or change some of the ideas that you think are wrong or wish to improve upon.
    Kind regards.
    Andrew Blaikie

    Strategies, which were described as proving helpful inside the school/work environment

    Problem Approaches Variations / developments
    Difficulty going downstairs

    Handrails at all steps, fluorescent paint to highlight the edge of steps
    Allow child to leave early or later from class to avoid the crowd in the corridor

    Supervision from support teacher with verbal prompts to assist child.

    School 'buddy' for transition time.

    Good lighting, minimal wall decoration around stair wells

    Move classes to ground level (where possible).

    Use of lift or stair climber

    Cluttered class environment, bumping into desks

    Plain flooring. Move furniture to allow 'flow through', decrease amount of clutter on the walls to allow background contrast for furniture and minimise distraction.

    Place child's desk closest to the classroom door and the teacher.

    Use symbols, pictures or colours to indicate storage areas for materials

    Involve child with layout and choice of symbols for storage zones

    Try 'footprints' on the floor to lead to the child’s desk

    Difficulty focussing on blackboard and teacher

    Place child at front of class facing blackboard and teacher to prevent the distractions of looking over/between other heads and objects.

    Provide chair with arms to help child sit on the centre of the chair so they cannot fall off and can concentrate on 'looking' and 'listening'.

    Sit with teacher slightly to the right for left visual field or attentional impairment and vice versa

    Provide a separate work station (can still be situated beside neighbour) or ensure large surface area on double desks to prevent distracting 'elbow bumping' and peripheral distraction caused by movement of a restless neighbour.

    Consider portable 'work screen' to minimise visual and auditory distraction

    Difficulty copying from blackboard

    Difficulty seeing computer screen

    Ensure that all written material is visible depending on acuity and contrast sensitivity

    Position child face on within close proximity to reduce clutter and increase magnification.
    Remove distracting wall coverings around board.

    Consider white board for different contrast.

    Provide material on handouts to reduce unnecessary copying of material.

    Ensure good lighting of the teacher and the board.

    Use mat computer screen to block glare.

    Classroom assistant to help with scribing or keeping child's visual attention on target

    Teacher not to talk and write on board at the same time to allow visual sense to be the maximum focus

    Provide a computer with a digital camera with a zoom facility to both view distant material and import it

    Ask the teacher to use large well spaced script for the whole class
    Regularly loses school materials

    Use a portable screen to demarcate the desk area.

    Use coloured tape to mark placement zones eg; jotter in red box, pencil placed on yellow rectangle to the right.

    Provide labelled storage tray with personal colours or pictures for child to store and return materials to

    Encourage child to only have current items required on desk

    Provide clear pencil case with a white cardboard insert

    Use coloured coded paper to cover school books or use a picture or clear symbol to assist visual recognition

    Fatigues easily and  becomes overwhelmed by visual and sensory input

    Behaviour deteriorates

    Allow child to place head on arms for 'time out' at desk.

    Let child move from desk to designated 'quiet zone'

    Change activity to less demanding one and return later when refreshed

    Consider content of teaching day and do not do too many intensely visually focussed tasks in a row

    Allow for some gross motor physical movements to 'calm down'

    Ensure time out zone is viewed positively and used by other children

    Involve child with design of this zone, the colour choice and the position and seating

    Encourage the use of a traffic light system eg; child can say I am feeling green for go, amber for tiring and red for stop.

    This allows the child to express how they feel as a single word

    Difficulty accessing playground and playing

    Handrails at steps, smooth pathways, clear boundary markings.

    Handrails for path guides or footprints etc.

    Soft zone for safe play

    Inform classmates of child's poor vision and explain that an individual child in a group cannot be identified (explaining why affected children stand at the side of the playground or attach themselves to another child for security)

    Bright paint on railings, designated play zones

    Accompanying classroom assistant or 'play buddy'

    Push along toys available to walk with

    Suitable activities accessible for CVI children.

    Involve child in activities that they are able to do, enjoy and excel in