ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Effective Classroom Accommodations for Visually Impaired Students

Updated on September 30, 2019
Dean Traylor profile image

Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects including education and creative writing.

by Michael Macor, The Chronicle
by Michael Macor, The Chronicle | Source

Visual learning is a luxury many students have in school. Books, pictures, movies and computer graphics have become critical tools for teaching numerous curricula. Even the ability to learn to read and play music or athletics is seriously hindered when there are no visual cues to learn from.

Yet, not all students have this luxury. Students with visual impairments are at a serious disadvantage and often must rely on their other senses to learn. Even this process can have its limitation and seriously affect what the student can learn.

In cases like these, teachers (general or special education teachers) must use various forms of accommodations to help students with visual impairments obtain the same type of education that their non-disabled peers are getting.

Accommodating these students in the classroom is essential. There are techniques, styles and assistive technologies that can be used to help them learn the same curriculum as their non-disabled peers. Many of these accommodations can be found on the accommodation/modification pages of an IEP (individual education plan). Other suggestions for accommodations exist on numerous websites specializing in special education, learning disabilities and visual impairments.

The Quran in Braille
The Quran in Braille | Source

What Does the Term Visual Impairment Mean?

To begin, one must understand what the designation of visual impairment means. Students with visual impairment have limited or diminished use of vision. This impairment will affect the students in various ways. Some will be totally blind, while others may have tunnel vision, peripheral vision or have some form of limited sight.

Many students with visual impairments can see the world around them; however, the vision is limited. In some cases, they may need words in a book, magazine, website or other forms of written media magnified (In part, these impairments are responsible for large print books).

Blindness is often the most extreme form of visual impairment. There are varying degrees of blindness. Students labeled as being legally blind will have vision worse than 20/200 and have a visual field of less than 20 degrees diameter.

People who are legally blind can read books, go to movies, and enjoy other visual arts or communications. Still, they need the help of magnifications, seeing-eye dogs, or canes when reading or traveling.

Blindness is often the most extreme form of visual impairment. There are varying degrees of blindness. Students labeled as being legally blind will have vision worse than 20/200 and have a visual field of less than 20 degrees diameter.


There are several forms of accommodations. These accommodations will be based on the individual student’s needs. It is important that a teacher collaborates with a specialist, the student’s case-carrier, or obtain information from the student’s IEP and its Accommodation/Modifications page.

Usually, an IEP will list the following accommodations:

  • Flexible time on exams and assignments
  • Alternative testing such as oral tests Audio book Flexible seating (i.e. in front of the class or by the board)
  • Breaking lessons into smaller pieces
  • Braile lesson materials
  • One-on-one assistance (help from paraprofessional)
  • Note-taking support Assistive technology

Assistive technology has become a popular medium to accommodate students with visual impairment. Some form that exists is a screen magnification or reading software. Another is a computer-reading program such as a reader or software that can convert a book onto a computer, have its words enlarged, and use audio recording to aid the students in reading comprehension.

Other assistive technologies are Type-and-speak, Braille-and-Speak devices or voice recognition software.

Testing Accommodations

Standardized testing is increasingly being used in schools throughout the country. Even students with learning disabilities are being routinely tested through these assessments. Testing accommodations are needed for students with visual impairments.

A teacher administering a test for students with visual impairments may do the following (again, it’s based on the individual student’s educational needs and functional abilities):

  • The use of readers, scribes, word processors, or large print magnifying equipment.
  • Have questions read to the students by a reader.
  • Have test reproduced to large print.
  • Allow extra time for test taking in an alternative site.
  • Have students answer questions orally and have a scriber or paraprofessional record the answer.

Students with visual impairments can learn the same curriculum that their non-disabled peers are exposed to. However, these students need accommodations in order to level the field for them and help them learn.

One example of accommodation for visually impaired students
One example of accommodation for visually impaired students | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Dean Traylor


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 

      22 months ago from U.S.A.

      It's important to note: Students with visual impairments with appropriate accommodations, like most students with special needs, learn at about the same rate as their peers without visual impairments. Vision loss is not a cognitive matter; it's a sensory issue. Students with visual impairments have reduced access to the visual environment which impacts their ability to engage in incidental learning. These deficits in learning must be addressed sequentially through direct instruction led by the Teacher of the Visually Impaired.

      Also, a general education teacher should not attempt to implement accommodations without consulting with a licensed Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI), which should be on staff at the school or working in an itinerant capacity for the district. This may include having the TVI administer tests when appropriate.

      However, your recommendations are generally great, provided the TVI is involved with these processes because it's failure to do so which results in misunderstandings about vision loss.

      Thanks for a great article on how to improve instruction for this population of students.




    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)