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Interventions and Supports for School-Aged Learners with Vision Loss

It is estimated that approximately 90% of information that is transmitted to the brain is visual. Students with typical vision use this information to make meaning of the world around them. When school teams are assessing and planning for instruction, this information is very important. This means that considerations in the planning process need to be made for students with vision loss to ensure that they have the best access possible to the range of educational experiences throughout their day.

The term Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) is used to define concepts and skills that are learned incidentally by students with typical vision but may need to be presented more intentionally to the students who have vision loss. In addition to the general education core curriculum that all students receive, students with vision loss also need an expanded core curriculum to meet needs directly related to that vision loss. The ECC areas include:

  • Assistive technology skills, including optical devices;
  • Compensatory skills that permit access to the general curriculum;
  • Career education and planning specific to their disability;
  • Orientation and mobility skills (O&M);
  • Social interaction skills;
  • Sensory efficiency (including visual, tactual and auditory skills);
  • Self-determination; and
  • Independent living skills.

School teams need to think about the whole child as the develop planning and instruction. The Ohio Department of Education, and the former Center for Instructional Support and Accessible Materials (CISAM now the AT&AEM Center), developed the The Ohio Guidelines for Working with Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (2015). These guidelines provide information regarding services to support the implementation of educational goals for students with vision loss.

Learners with vision loss may use a combination of assistive technologies in order to be successful in the general education curriculum and in their social and leisure activities. Some of the categories of assistive technology include: academic and learning aids; aids for daily living; assistive listening devices and environmental aids; augmentative communication; computer access and instruction; environmental control; mobility aids; recreation and leisure aids, seating and positioning, and visual aids. For an overview of Assistive Technology (AT) in Ohio, please visit the Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials website. For additional information on assessment, planning, and instruction, please visit OCALI's Teaching Diverse Learners website.