Visual impairment is a generic 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.

Support: 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.

Environment: 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.

Access: Ensure that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) takes place.

Examinations: You may be entitled to exam access arrangements.

Last updated: 6th November 2018