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Special Education Characteristics, Accommodations and Strategies

Home | Sources | Autism | Mental Retardation | Learning Disability | Other Health Impaired | Emotionally Disturbed | Visually Impaired | Hearing Impaired | Orthopedically Impaired

Visually Impaired


Students with visual disabilities are those who have disorders, in BOTH the structure within the ocular pathway AND function of the eye that with the best correction and medical treatment interfere with learning. These students would exhibit one or more of the following:

  • Reduced visual acuity usually 20/70 or less in the better eye after best possible correction.
  • Restricted field of vision, to the degree that it affects the student's ability to function educationally.
  • Reduced functional vision that interferes with the learning process.
  • Medically diagnosed cortical visual impairment.
  • Progressive and/or permanent eye conditions as noted by an eye specialist on an ocular report.
  • Temporary eye conditions such as post-operative retinal detachment where placement for a limited time is recommended.


Those who have no measurable vision or vision which is so limited as to be of little if any practical use as channel for learning. Such persons use Braille as their primary mode of reading and as an important source of learning. Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye after correction; or a restriction in the field of vision to an angle subtending an arc of 20 degrees or less.


Low Vision

Those who have sufficient residual vision to use that sense modality as an important channel of learning. Many are able to read print, while some children use a combination of print and Braille. Central visually acuity between 20/200 and 20/70


Visually Limited

Those whose visual limitation interferes with their learning efficiency. They rely on vision as a chief channel of learning and use of print as the primary mode of reading. There may or may not be adverse effect on learning.


Functional Vision

Refers to the student's ability to independently apply visual skills to the curriculum (school, classroom, community) This can vary widely, can be independent of the central acuity and can impact learning and educational performance

  1. May have limited social skills
  2. Unsure in new situations
  3. Possible mobility and orientation difficulties
  4. May have academic deficits


  1. Special materials, possibly enlarged
  2. CCTV
  3. Non-glare materials
  4. Adequate storage for materials
  5. Flexible time
  6. Reduced assignments
  7. Alternative grading scale
  8. Brailer, if needed
  9. Magnifying glass or bar
  10. Monocular for seeing distance
  11. Underline in bold colors
  12. Highlighting


  1. Provide support to help student understand what he's missing visually
  2. When writing on board, have another student write on a small dry erase board and sit by student with VI
  3. Re-type materials or enlarge on copier if size is a problem
  4. Give auditory descriptions
  5. State directions clearly and concisely, re-prase if necessary
  6. Build on the student's strengths
  7. Build a trusting relationship with the student
  8. Hands-on, interactive learning
  9. Use of computer programs

This site was created by Ann Kuehnel who is
a classroom teaching in the
Springfield School District,
Springfield, Illinois.