By: Carmen Willings
Vision helps to provide information about nonverbal communication and also helps provide meaning to language. Students with visual impairments need many hands on experiences with real objects paired with auditory labels and descriptions and a rich literacy environment (print and/or braille depending on the student's unique needs).
The toddler years are typically the time of great language development as children begin to make connections and verbally label and identify objects. Children who are blind or visually impaired will not have the same opportunity to casually observe and make connections with gestures and materials in their environment. Unless the student was intentionally taught through direct experiences paired with language, their language development will undoubtedly be delayed.
To encourage the student to develop language, it is important for the student to be exposed to good language models in a active learning environment. The following strategies can help a student develop their language skills:
Model appropriate language
There are language problems that are common among children with visual impairments. They are verbalism, echolalia, difficulty with pronouns and frequent questioning.
It is common for a student to talk about people, objects, and events without having the understanding of the concepts. This is because they haven't had the experiences related to the topic, but have heard others talk about the said topic. Having a vocabulary or language without the understanding is called verbalism. It is the ability to talk about a subject without the concepts or understanding related to it.
If the student isn't provided with many hands-on experiences, the student will have difficulty understanding concepts and will not have a foundation to build upon. As stated in Guiding Principles, provide the student with many hands-on and concrete experiences with real objects.
Many students who are blind or visually impaired learn to talk by echoing or copying phrases or sentences even if they do not understand it. They may echo what they just heard, or have delayed echolalia where they repeat language heard earlier in association with a particular subject or event. Speech and Language Pathologists can evaluate and determine if the student needs support and assistance in developing their language comprehension.
Again, using concrete experiences can help a student understand language and using a consistent schedule can help a student feel structure and organization allowing them to anticipate the activities. Help expand on the students language and model language. For more information on Echolalia in children who are blind or visually impaired and strategies to minimize it, refer to the article written by Mary McDonach in the Winter 2011 edition of Future Reflections.
Many students with visual impairments ask excessive questions. which can be inappropriate to the conversation or inappropriate within the social context. Frequently this can be a learned way of initiating interactions or to check that the person is still nearby. Students need to learn when it is appropriate to ask a question, and when they need to listen for an appropriate time to ask it. Students who ask questions for comfort and reassurance of another persons presence should be encouraged to express their feelings directly rather than through questioning.
Students who are blind or visually impaired also can have difficulty sustaining conversations. They can tend to focus on their own interests and not appear to have an interest in others. Students may need explicit instruction in participating in conversations. This is a skill that can be addressed by the Speech and Language Pathologist or from the schools guidance counselor where skills can be modeled and practiced. For suggestions refer to social interactions.
Sign up for free membership to access the FREE downloadable templates, handbooks and handouts on the Printables page. Simply click on the Log In | Register link in the navigation bar. If you haven't joined yet, you will be prompted to create a password.
TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC: An Activities Based Curriculum for Teaching Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Written specifically for fellow itinerant Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI’s), this book consists of over 400 activities and topic areas of discussion for instructing students in the Expanded Core Curriculum. The activities are age-neutral and multi-sensory and therefore can meet the needs of the broad range of students served on an itinerant caseload serving. The activities can be individualized to the students various learning modalities and scaffold in order to challenge students but ensure success. Select those activities that align with the student’s learning objects based on the student’s unique visual needs and academic and developmental level.
The core activities listed in the Activity section can be adapted to each thematic unit. These include:
In addition to the core activity areas, each of the 32 Thematic Units incorporates additional unique ECC concepts and skills providing you with a years’ worth of activities. These units are cyclical and can be used repeatedly to help students build on prior knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of concepts. Each unit includes suggestions for activity adaptation associated with the unit. These include lists of objects, possible community based experiences, environmental print, poems, children & young reader books, children's songs, pop culture songs, movies, and websites.
Unique Concepts within the Units include:
Although the intended audience of this resource is fellow Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, special education teachers may find these activities beneficial to the students in their classrooms as the activities are multisensory and include life skills and concepts needed by all students. This resource, however, is not intended to take the place of a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). Readers are advised to consult their own TVI’s regarding instruction in the ECC and the unique visual needs of the student’s served in their programs.
Note: This curriculum is a digital pdf download. Once you make your purchase you will be directed to an order confirmation page where you will find the download link. This download will also be included on the receipt sent to the email address you provide. The pdf download can be found directly under the order number.
Each download is intended for single instructor use per copyright. Thank you for helping me preserve the content and not distributing copies to third parties.
Digital pdf download: 364 pages (11 pt font)
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings
Visual Efficiency & Magnifier Fluency Grab & Go ECC Supplements
This workbook is a pdf download that can be printed on demand for use with students. It contains five different types of worksheets for developing visual motor skills and near magnifier fluency skills particularly with the use of a video magnifier. As a supplement to the TVI’s Guide to the ECC, the worksheets correspond to each of the 32 ECC Thematic units. The worksheets, along with a list of environmental print for each thematic unit, are designed to help students refine their visual motor skills while reinforcing ECC concepts presented in the thematic units.
Visual Efficiency & Near Magnifier Fluency Worksheet Details:
Digital pdf download: 210 pages
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings