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Visual Impairment


Visual impairment is a term which covers a range of difficulties with vision and includes the following categories:

  • Blind – Total blindness is the complete lack of form and visual light perception and is clinically recorded as NLP, an abbreviation for “no light perception”.
  • Legally Blind  – legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (6/60) or less in the better eye with best correction possible.
  • Partially Sighted – is a severe reduction in vision that cannot be corrected with standard glasses or contact lenses and reduces your ability to function at certain or all tasks.
  • Low Vision – reduced vision, even when using the best possible corrective lenses. Low vision may be a result of either congenital disease or of an acquired condition.
  • Cortically Visually Impaired – is a form of visual impairment that is caused by a brain problem rather than an eye problem.

You may have had limited or full loss of vision from birth, whereas others will have acquired a visual impairment during their life. Your sight problems are unique to you.

How does a visual impairment affect my disability?

The main effects of vision impairment are in the following areas:

  • ability to see detail.
  • width of visual field.
  • contrast sensitivity and sensitivity to glare.
  • seeing moving images and changing focus.
  • colour vision.
  • adaptation to changing light levels.

You may have a combination of the following:

  • lack of independence.
  • frustration.
  • additional difficulties or disabilities.
  • limited understanding of social situations due to missing out on non-verbal cues and modelling.
  • a guide dog, or a cane.
  • vulnerability in unfamiliar surroundings or situations.

Further guidance, information and support on Visual Impairment visit: RNIB or for events and support in South Yorkshire: SRSB.

Strategies to support learning for those who are visually impaired

Reading and texts:

  • Inform your tutor that you may require extra time for reading tasks.
  • Ensure that staff are aware of the font size you require so that they can ensure that handouts are produced in a suitable font and size.
  • Communicate with your tutor to inform them if the materials are suitable to enable you to learn or how things need modifying to meet your needs.


  • Request orientation so that you can familiarise yourself with the location and layout of key areas.
  • Volunteer to speak to the class (if you are comfortable) about your disability so that they can understand things better.

Giving instructions:

  • Introduce yourself to your peers so that you feel part of the group.
  • If you are unable to understand the context of a conversation because they are using directional instructions such as over there, down there, like this, make sure you make people aware and ask them to clarify.


  • Sit at the front of the class.
  • Ask to tape tutorial sessions. Ask the tutor to inform you in advance if there are changes to the classroom so that you can re-orientate yourself with the new environment.


  • Ensure that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is in place.


Last updated: 16th August 2023

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