Date
14 October 2019

​Understanding low vision

​Low vision affects each person in unique ways. Discuss learning and accessibility preferences with students and whānau, and areas they would value support.

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Definition

Vision is a complex sense. It's made up of the ability to see contrasts and sharpness of detail. It also helps with location of objects in the environment. 

A student wearing glasses

People with low vision have reduced vision, even when they use the best possible corrective contact lenses or glasses.

Types of low vision

In New Zealand, vision impairment is known as low vision.

Low vision may be:

  • congenital (present from birth)
  • hereditary (genetic, congenital or later onset)
  • acquired (through accident, illness or disease).

Influence on learning

A student’s low vision can have an impact on their learning across the curriculum, but it very much depends on the condition, their wellbeing, and the context.

Video hosted on Vimeo http://vimeo.com/61762058

Matt, a secondary student with low vision, describes how he makes school work. He reflects on his use of technology, effective partnerships with teachers, and the need for self-advocacy skills. 

Areas students may find tiring or challenging without support includes:

  • processing visual information
  • access to materials, especially print
  • learning social and daily living skills
  • navigation new or changing classroom layout
  • organising personal belongings and school work.

Technologies commonly used

Technologies and digital materials enable students with low vision access to education alongside their peers.

Low tech

High tech

Dark pencils and felt-tipped pens Laptops, iPads, cell phones
Dark lined pads and exercise books CCTV
Adjustable stands for devices Image capturing devices such as digital cameras or cell phones
Adjustable copy holders with line markers Magnification software
Hand-held magnifiers or monoculars Screen reading software
Writing and reading guides Voice recognition software
Slope boards and desks MP3 players
Angle-poise or clip-on desk lamps GPS

Useful resources

Website

Glossary of Eye Conditions

Publisher: American Foundation for the Blind

Next steps

Return to the guide “Low vision and learning”

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