University of Edinburgh
 

Visual Impairment Scotland Report

Chapter 10 Low Vision Aid Use other services

Introduction

Key Points

Less than half the children with significant visual impairment were reported to use a Low Vision Aid (LVA).

A wide variety of LVAs were employed in school. Where children were using a LVA the most common was a hand-held magnifier (81%) for near work. Only a minority of children were using distance aids such as telescopes (27%) and binoculars (5%).

Very few preschool children were reported to use LVAs.

There were many children (12%) whose parents reported they were using a LVA where their teacher did not. Similarly there were many children reported by their teacher (9%) to use a LVA at school but seemingly not at home.

Children with no additional disabilities were more likely (58%) to use a LVA compared to children with additional disabilities (21%).

10.1 Introduction

Information on Low Vision Aid (LVA) use was available to VIS from both parents and teachers. Information from parents was available on all children. As described in Chapter 7 complete educational information from teachers was available on 73% (297/409) of children under the age of 16 years. Analysis of LVA use was restricted to children with visual acuities between 6/18 and 1/60. This is consistent with previous literature on the subject60. Between these acuity limits there was parental information available on 216 children and educational information on 154. Table 10.1 describes the general findings of LVA use. Less than half the children with significant visual impairment were reported to use a LVA.

table 10.1

10.2 Types of LVAs used by children as reported by teachers

A wide variety of LVAs were employed in schools.

table 10.2

The most common was a hand held magnifier (81%). Other forms of ?near sphere? LVAs were employed such as CCTV (30%), desktop magnifiers (17%) and spectacle mounted magnifiers (8%). These other forms of LVA were however much less commonly used compared to hand held devices. Only a minority of children were using distance aids such as telescopes (27%) and binoculars (5%).

figure 10.1

10.3 Age Groups and Gender

Age Groups

Figure 10.2 describes the percentage of children reported to be using LVAs by age group. The information is from their parents. Of the 35 children under the age of 5 years only one is reported to be using a LVA.

figure 10.2

Throughout the primary school period LVA use rises steeply peaking at 74% (14/19) of children between 9 and 10 years of age. The overall percentage then drops significantly during transition to secondary school and the early secondary school years dipping to 33% of the 11 to 12 year olds using LVAs. The percentage of

children using LVAs then rises steeply again and plateaus at an average of 72% (23/32) between the ages of 13 to 16 years.

Gender

Boys were more likely to be reported to use LVAs than girls. This was not statistically significant.

table 10.3

10.4 Visual Acuity Groups

As visual acuity becomes poorer a greater percentage of children are reported to use LVAs. This trend dips in the poorest visual acuity group. This may be because there are a greater number of children in this group with additional disabilities making LVA use less practical.

figure 10.3

10.5 LVA use at school and at home

As highlighted earlier only one pre-school child was reported to use a LVA. This is despite it being recognised that pre-school children can be effectively taught to use LVAs19. There were very few children (14) in special schools who met the visual acuity criteria for inclusion in the analysis. From this group only 2 children in primary school were reported as using a LVA. It is recognised that children in special schools have more complex additional disabilities making the use of LVAs more challenging and sometimes impractical61.

table 10.4

It is surprising that only about half (56%) of children in mainstream education with visual impairment are reported to be using a LVA in school.

figure 10.4

Some children?s (12%) parents reported they were using a LVA where their teacher did not. Similarly there were a few children reported by their teacher (9%) to be using a LVA at school but seemingly not at home.

figure 10.5

10.6 Additional Disabilities

As expected children with no additional disabilities are more likely (58%) to be reported to be using a LVA compared to children with additional disabilities (21%). This is consistent with the finding of low rates of LVA use in special schools.

table 10.5

It is surprising that only 58% of children with visual impairment and no additional disabilities are using a LVA to aid access to text, pictures and the blackboard.

figure 10.6

More importantly 42% of children are not using a LVA. That these children are not using a LVA in school is likely to be impacting negatively upon their ability to access the curriculum.

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