Pictures & Worksheets
By: Carmen Willings
Special attention needs to be given when selecting worksheets and materials for students with low vision. Students with low vision need to be provided with the highest quality worksheets and materials that provide good clarity and are accessible and appropriate for the student's unique visual needs.
Pictures are used regularly in classrooms to convey information, illustrate points and make materials more visually appealing. Frequently text is dependent on the picture for meaning in early literacy books. When pictures are used that are critical to the text, it is important to pair the pictures with objects or models for students who have significant reduced vision and are unable to view pictures even when using low vision devices. A raised line drawing can be used if the student is able to understand two dimensional forms.
Selecting Worksheets and Pictures
For students with low vision, consider the quality of pictures when selecting worksheets or materials to use. Worksheets should be of good quality. In other words, if the lines are faded or the pictures are abstract, either use a different worksheet, or verbally identify the pictures for the students. Avoid worksheets where the ink has faded or print/ink has bled through when making copies of thin paged originals. Care also must be taken to be sure that students are provided with enough space to complete math computations or write their responses with larger print size.
Similarly, be sure to use teaching materials that are in a simple, bold font and of good visual clarity. Some older memory games and alphabet cards are still in circulation in many classrooms. These older games and cards frequently use obscure pictures of unfamiliar items to today’s students and consist of line drawings that are visually cluttered.
Look instead for uncluttered pictures with simple drawings or preferably photos of the object. Be sure that there is a good contrast and avoid dark printed letters on dark colors such as black on dark blue. Most phonics manipulatives are in a simple font and appropriate for students with low vision.
Avoid figure ground activities (hidden pictures, word searches, etc.) unless they are part of a lesson in visual perception or using low vision devices to visually scan and locate pictures. Reading maps can be a challenging activity. The student may need an adapted map that only includes pertinent information.
Selecting Picture Books
Select books with clear pictures and good visual contrast. Books should be colorful with simple pictures rather than pictures that are visually cluttered. If the book uses photographs, try to select books with a matted finish instead of glossy to reduce glare. Also look for books where the print is not written across the pictures, but instead, is placed on a solid background.
I like the Word PlayHouse kit from APH to teach beginning phonics and reading skills. The tiles are constructed of a durable plastic yet I have found some students, who are so inclined, can still bend the tiles. For those students, I use letter tiles commercially available, as they can be adapted by adding braille letters without obscuring the print. I then add Velcro to the back of the tile and present it on an APH Velcro board for high contrast and reduced clutter.
The Tri-fold Board from APH provides a great background to place words on for a word wall. I also like to use the Picture Maker Felt Board and texture strips when creating build-a-word and build-a-sentence activities. If you do not have access to Quota Funds, you can create your own felt board by purchasing foam back cloth (material you find on the ceiling of cars) from auto supply stores. This material is great as it doesn't get fuzzy like many flannel boards.
Ensuring the student has access to the curriculum and entire educational environment is a key role of the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments. This presentation provides an overview of accommodations for students who are blind or visually impaired. I discuss considerations for providing accommodations, go over common accommodations, strategies for preparing the student to request job accommodations and strategies for communicating needs to teams and employers.
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