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visual impaired learners, causes and traits

Updated on January 15, 2016


Visual impairment

Visual impairment is defined or described as damage to any part of the eye which results in serious limitation in ones abilities to see and process information through the visual channel. Visual impairment is usually classified as either low vision were the learners uses sight to learn but their visual impairment interferes with daily functioning the eyes and the other type is severe sight impaired (blindness) were a learner uses touch and hearing to learn and do not have functional use of sight.


The following are the causes of visual impairment according to (Virginia, 1991).

HEREDITY: Heredity is defined as the sum of all genes containing traits that the child inherits from both parents. Visual impairment is attributed from the genes someone inherits from the parents. Almost half of the children who are partially or completely blind; either inherited the gene from the mother or father or one of the relatives in the family has the same impairment.

DISEASES: Visual impairment is also caused by diseases like Rubella (maternal measles) which can be prevented today by a vaccine but unfortunately not everyone may receive an immunization there are children born in areas far away from medical centres especially in Africa and those with parents whose religious beliefs do not allow them to do so. Also infections which cause visual impairment are conjunctiva which is a thin layer of tissue lining covering the eyelid and connected to the layer of the sclera.

It is also discovered that visual impairment is also caused by cataracts which are defined as a clouding of the lens of the eye which can be congenital, caused by a trauma or associated with diseases like maternal Rubella. An optic nerve defect is also one of the causes of visual impairment. This type of problem causes the optic nerve to become weak and if not treated with medicine early may lead to blindness.

ACCIDENTS: Accidents can also cause someone to lose sight at any stage of life.

Traits of learners with visual impairment

As a teacher you will need to pay attention to all learners in the class and observe them as individual, you will notice that learners with visual impairment will be showing the following signs (Educational depatment, 2000)

  • Blinking the eye more than usual because he/she is trying to recapture the images in front of them.
  • He/she is seen constantly rubbing their eyes but not vigorously. This is done so as to ease pain
  • Tilting the head to one side of the when reading and finding problems in reading such as holding a book too close or far away from the eye especially in the presence of bright light.
  • Makes jerking eye movement (rolling eye ball) and in most case the child have red and swollen eyes.
  • He/she complains of regularly of headaches and may not like talking part in games which involve catch and throwing objects.


How to help learners with visual impairment as a teacher

As a teacher you will need to pay attention to the visually impaired learners has sight plays a key role in the learning process, so ensure you put the following measures in place (Educational department, 2000).

  1. The learners should seat in front or the second seat from the board or near the teaching/learning aids and because much of the learning happens with the ears, the teacher should be a bit louder in verbal explanations and always give clear instruction.
  2. Teachers should write big and bold work on the bored and switch off the electrical bulbs especially fluorescent tube has it may cause them to shed tears.
  3. The seating arrangement of the learner should be away from the window as sensitivity to light varies individually, glare is generally not acceptable to, most learners with visual impairment, at times just let them sit in a position they are comfortable.
  4. For the prescribed with spectacles encourage them to use them and always remained them not leave the spectacles at home, because other children with visual impairment feel shy to wear the pair of glass.


Educational department. (2000). Understanding and helping children with special education (a guide for teachers). Hong Kong: Hong Kong printers.

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