NON-OPTICAL LOW VISION DEVICES
By: Carmen Willings
Updated November 8, 2015
There are a variety of low-tech and mid-tech non-optical devices will help persons with low vision to access print and complete activities visually. Non-optical devices range from low tech to high tech.
Acetate or Color Filters
Acetate or color filters placed over the printed page will darken the print as well as heighten the contrast of the print with the background paper. It's usually preferred in yellow, but is available in other colors.
Bold Line Paper
Bold line paper can be a helpful tool for students with visual impairments by providing darker lines. Bold line paper comes in various formats, such as writing paper and graph paper, and allows a student to write script on the line or to construct a graph with increased contrast.
Book Stands & Slant Boards
Bookstands are another option for enlarging print through automatic magnification provided when a student is close to the material being viewed. Models that are designed specifically for persons with low vision help reduce postural fatigue by bringing the work closer to the reader’s eyes. When a bookstand is not available, one may be improvised by placing books beneath the book that is to be read. A variety of reading stands are available to enable the student to bring reading materials closer to himself/herself. These stands help eliminate back and neck strain for students who need to move close to materials in order to read it. Some students prefer using a three ring binder of various widths as it does not draw as much attention to themselves. Consider placing shelf liner on one side to create a non-slip surface for books. Use a clamp on the writing side if necessary to position paper so it does not slip down. This collapsible slant board (available in black and blue), from Therapro, is a favorite of mine as it collapses for easy transport between classes and is lightweight.
Felt Tip Pens
Allow student to use felt-tip pens (black or color) or 20/20 pens if the student needs a darker line and increased contrast. Usually preferred in black and available in various widths, these pens produce a bold letter or diagram. The use of different-colored markers will often help a student emphasize sections of his or her notes when scanning would otherwise be difficult. Similarly, allow the student to use a mechanical pencil as these pencils don’t become dull. A highlighting pen can be used to draw student’s attention to certain words and improve contrast between the print and the page.
If the student needs to be able to erase, as most students will, the Faber-Castell #8B is a bold line pencil that does not run or smudge and provides a bold line. It has a soft lead that requires a gentle press to write. It can also be erased unlike markers.
Large Print Keyboards
I am not a fan of large print keyboards as I feel strongly that students should be tough touch typing skills that will allow them to type on any computer and not be dependent on a special keyboard. There are, however, students that this type of keyboard is appropriate for. If a student has cognitive delays or has physically not able to use touch typing skills, then an adapted keyboard may be the best solution.
Low Vision Watches
Low vision watches are important for students with visual impairments who are learning time management skills.
Reading Guides with highlighters
Reading guides with highlighters help students track print through a tinted window helping with both tracking needs and contrast needs. Reading guide strips are available in various colors including pink, yellow, blue, red and green. Although yellow is typically best, it is important to trial the different colors with the student to determine which color is most beneficial to the student.
Some students will benefit from task lighting. Providing adequate lighting is equally as important as contrast, distance and size for a person to see well. Although a student may be sensitive to bright lighting and glare, providing light directed on the print will increase the clarity and assist the student in seeing particularly when lights are dimmed during Active Board presentations. Daylight type lights can be particularly helpful as they provide comfortable glare-free full-spectrum light. More conventional reading lamps, on the other hand, are less helpful as they must be positioned from behind and over the shoulder and onto the task. If using both a magnifier and task lighting, ensure that the light does not direct onto the magnifier or it can create glare as well as shadows. There are many options for task lighting on the market. This LED Foldi Lamp is a great example as it features 30 bright Daylight LEDs to provide comfortable glare-free full-spectrum light. Foldi will give up to 8 hours of light on batteries and unlimited illumination when connected to a laptop via the USB port, making it the ideal travel and office lamp.
Typoscopes may be especially helpful to students who find it difficult to focus on a word or track a line of print. The typoscope blocks out the surrounding text allowing the student to focus on the important information. Typoscopes are matt black cards with a small reading window that allows just a few lines of text to be seen at a time. These can help with tracking and prevent reflections from the part of the page not being viewed. This can be helpful to users who have a reduced visual field or cataracts or corneal opacities. These can be purchased or created using matt black cardstock.
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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