Working with Visually Impaired Students

In Class

  • Announce at the start of several class meetings that students with disabilities can have a separate meeting with you to discuss the modifications or adaptations he or she may need.
  • Provide a thorough orientation to the physical layout of the room, indicating the location of all exits, desks, raised floors, low-hanging objects, lecture podium positions, and other objects in the room.
  • Provide reading lists, syllabi or other reading materials in advance to allow the student time to have the materials made accessible. If this is not possible, please understand that the student may need additional time to have his/her materials prepared. The Office of Academic Development can assist with this.
  • Give front-row or preferential seating to students who are blind or have visual impairments.
  • Meet with each other before classes begin or as early as possible to discuss the strategies and modifications the student will need in class.
  • Face the class when speaking. Say out loud what is written on the board. Describe clearly whatever visual aids or graphics you use.
  • Use specific descriptions and try to be explicit. For example, say “two plus two equals four” rather than “this plus this equals this.”
  • Allow students permission to use adaptive equipment in class such as tape recorders, or computer note-taking devices. The Office of Academic Development can provide a release form that will safeguard copyrighted information. All taped materials are erased at the end of the semester.
  • If necessary, assist the student in arranging for note-takers or class partners. The Office of Academic Development can assist with this.
  • Establish ground rules for group discussions. Ask the student who is talking to identify himself or herself by name. When asking a student to respond to a question, identify that student by name.
  • If the students are required to do an in-class assignment, and it is not practical to do it with another student or with the adaptations you both use in class, you might arrange with each other to do it at a different time or location. If you need a location or a proctor, the Office of Academic Development can assist you.
  • Discuss beforehand alternate methods for taking tests. While alternatives are entirely negotiable between the student and the professor, it is best to be specific about due times and dates.
  • Some possibilities include the following:
    • Printing tests in a larger font.
    • Prior arrangements to take the test orally at a separate time.
    • Have the test dictated by a test-reader (the Office of Academic Development can provide this). o Arrange for the exam to be taken through the Office of Academic Development which as a screen-reading software.
    • Provide extended time for assignments and tests if required.

Do not make any assumptions about a student’s needs and abilities.

Do not hesitate to ask the student how you can be of assistance. 

Communication with Blind or Visually Impaired Students

  • Identify yourself when greeting a student who is blind. When you are leaving, let the student know.
  • Speak directly to a student, not through a third party. Look at the student when you are speaking. It is helpful to maintain eye contact.
  • It is all right to use the words and phrases such as “look,” “watch,” “I’m glad to see you,” and/or “Do you see what I mean?”
  • It is not necessary to raise your voice when speaking to a student who is blind or visually impaired.