Low Vision

Students with low vision, or partial sight, face a variety of challenges in an academic setting. They may be unable to read standard written materials, unable to see small objects, or able to see objects only within a specific field of vision. They may see images with sections missing, and text or objects may appear blurry.

Learning via a visual medium may take longer and may be more fatiguing for students with low vision. Some students may be able to read enlarged print easily, but others may only be able to tolerate reading for a short time and will require readers or audiotaped materials. Visual abilities can also vary in different situations. For example, reduced light or strong glares may affect visual abilities during different times of day or in different rooms.

Students with low vision may face challenges outside of class that can affect their coursework. They may need assistance locating large-print materials, getting around in an unfamiliar setting (on campus), finding transportation, conducting research, hiring readers for library work, and getting audio books on time.

Accommodations

Typical accommodations for students with low vision include:

  • large-print reading materials (e.g., books, handouts, signs, and equipment labels); large print is typically 16 to 18 point bold type, depending on the typeface used
  • front-row or preferential classroom seating in well-lit areas with full view of the presenter and visual aids
  • assignments in electronic formats
  • computers with screen and text enlargers, optical character readers (which convert print to electronic format), or speech output
  • readers or scribes for exams
  • recorded presentations
  • laptop computers for note taking
  • extended time for exams and assignments
  • verbal descriptions of visual aides
  • monitors connected to microscopes to enlarge images

In laboratories, typical accommodations for students with low vision include:

  • large-print instructions
  • large-print laboratory signs and equipment labels
  • monitors connected to microscopes to enlarge images
  • raised-line drawings or tactile models for illustrations

Specific Academic Activities

Related Links

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