The Visually Impaired Student
Approximately 1.1 million Americans are legally blind (Pallarito, 2004). Legal blindness is defined as a measurement used primarily for eligibility for government or private assistance programs (Turnbull 2019, p 430). In order for a child to qualify for special education and related services, his visual impairment must affect his learning. It is estimated that two students out of every 1000 have a visual impairment that interferes with learning (Turnbull 2010, p 430).
According to Turnbull, there are three types of visual impairments: Low Vision, Functionally Blind and Totally Blind (Turnbull 2010 p 431). People with Low Vision can read print and may depend on optical aids; those who are Functionally Blind use Braille for reading and writing but use their vision for other tasks; while individuals who are Totally Blind use tactile and auditory means to learn and they use Braille (Turnbull 2010 p 431).
There are two main causes of visual impairments: congenital and adventitious (Turnbull, 2010 p 435). Congenital impairments occur at birth or before visual memories have been established and adventitious impairments are defined as...
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...that these students learn about dressing themselves, making their own snacks and doing household chores (Turnbull 2010, p 449.) In elementary and middle school years the student should be learning basic skills and becoming comfortable with the usage modifications and accommodations (Turnbull 2010, p 451). They need to develop O and M skills as well. As students moves through high school they should be learning independent living skills in addition to working on graduation requirements (Turnbull 2010, pp 451-452).
Since most students with visual impairments learn in the general education classrooms it is important for teachers to take time to help these students develop an independent spirit while working towards general education goals. In return, the freedom and confidence they gain from learning to do everyday tasks will only aid them in their future endeavors.
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