OPTICAL DEVICE USE
By: Carmen Willings
Many students who have visual impairments will be print readers and will use print as their primary mode of communication. Instruction in print reading and writing falls under the area of the general curriculum which means the student will receive their instruction within the general classroom setting. The teacher of student with visual impairments (TVI) will assess the student's functioning and determine what non-optical devices will assist a student in accessing print. The low vision specialist may prescribe optical devices that will help the student access print. The TVI will instruct the student in the proper use and care of the devices.
For those that are able, it is ideal and less restrictive to instruct a student in the use of optical and non-optical devices. Low vision devices will allow access to regular print materials both in and outside of the classroom, such as magazines, labels, price tags, game boards, time tables, and menus. This will prepare the student for adult life when most environmental, educational, and leisure reading materials will be available only in regular print.
After the student has been prescribed low vision devices from the Clinical Low Vision Specialist, the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments will need to instruct the student in accurately and efficiently using the device(s). Some students will only require a short period of instruction, while other students will need longer to gain the skills needed to independently use the devices. As with all areas of instruction, the student's individual needs and skill levels will play a factor in determining the appropriate type and amount of instruction.
Prior to optical device practice, encourage the student to independently retrieve the device and clean the device if necessary. Throughout instruction encourage the student to use the dominant eye, grip the device correctly, stabilize the materials, determine the proper focal distance, and ensure the device is in focus. At the end of the practice, encourage the student to properly store the device.
Near Optical Device Instruction
Students who have been prescribed a magnifier for near viewing need to learn to use the device properly. Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI's) instruct students on how to manipulate their devices, on how to focus them, and on how to use them to accomplish functional and academic tasks. Instruction also must center on identifying when it is appropriate to use the devices and on when to use them in conjunction with non-optical devices or techniques. Skills the students will need to learn include:
Students who have been prescribed a monocular for distance viewing need to learn to use the device properly in order to participate in activities across a variety of environments.
Skills the students will need to learn include:
The following are some possible activities the student can use the monocular for:
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
AFB's site, Family Connect, provides a list of fun activities for teaching magnifier use. The specific page can be found here.
ENVISION Near Magnification Devices
This training program and kit, available from APH, teaches students to use near optical devices and practice the skills of tracing, tracking and scanning with near distance magnification devices.
ENVISION Distance Magnification Devices
This training program and kit, available from APH, teaches students to use distance optical devices and practice the sklls of tracing, tracking and scanning with distance magnification devices.
"By providing a variety of tools to gain access to print materials, the teacher is applying the principle of filling a student's toolbox with a variety of tools."