Accessible: Visual Recognition in Literacy

Many strategies for CVI that we see on the internet give us suggestions for visual access in literacy for students with CVI but they slip back into ocular suggestions: good contrast, larger size, reduced glare on the reflective page.

What is totally missed is the important concept that CVI is an issue of visual recognition. If the child has no firm idea of the item in real life, in real 3D form, we simply can’t then go to 2D pictures as a symbolic representation of that item.

Without visual recognition of things in the world, the flat, 2D images are merely squares of color and shape not a meaningful picture representation of anything recognizable.

Children may look at the images but the representation remains meaningless and inaccessible

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Resending TVI Survey About CVI with Link

We are fellow Teachers of the Visually Impaired who are working with collaborators in a study group to investigate Cortical/Cerebral Vision Impairment (CVI). We are interested in learning more about how our colleagues across the US are gaining knowledge about CVI and how comfortable they feel about addressing this visual condition.

Matt Tietjen and Peg Palmer are TVIs working for BESB (Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind) in Connecticut.

Ellen Mazel is the CVI Program Manager at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts and author of the blog “CVI Teacher.”

We guarantee that we will not use or share any of your personal information, your job or your personal circumstances. All responses will be completely anonymous.

Thanks for your help on this. We really appreciate the time you will take to fill out the following questions.

Here is the link to copy and paste into your browser:

https://goo.gl/forms/y6IwMbiGJIC5OjY23

CVI Survey for TVIs

We are fellow Teachers of the Visually Impaired who are working with collaborators in a study group to investigate Cortical/Cerebral Vision Impairment (CVI). We are interested in learning more about how our colleagues across the US are gaining knowledge about CVI and how comfortable they feel about addressing this visual condition.

Matt Tietjen and Peg Palmer are TVIs working for BESB (Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind) in Connecticut.

Ellen Mazel is the CVI Program Manager at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts and author of the blog “CVI Teacher.”

We guarantee that we will not use or share any of your personal information, your job or your personal circumstances. All responses will be completely anonymous.

Thanks for your help on this. We really appreciate the time you will take to fill out the following questions.

Peg, Matt and Ellen

CVI Assessment Opportunity

Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts is pleased to announce it is offering a limited number of CVI Range assessment sessions in the upcoming months. The assessments will be conducted by Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D., Ellen Mazel, M.Ed., CTVI, CVI Endorsed Professional,  and the Perkins CVI Mentor team. The assessment will include document review, parent interview, direct assessment, and written report to follow 4 to 6 weeks after the assessment visit. These assessments will be available on April 11 and 12, and May 3 and 4, 2018.  If interested, please send an email to evaluations@perkins.org or call Susan Symons at (617) 972-7571 for more information.  

A Mother’s Journey to Understand Her Son’s Vision

This is a wonderful video presentation from the mother of Arran, an eight year old with CVI. For years, she struggled to understand how her son “sees” the world. She was keenly aware of his behaviors yet professionals provided no answers. Arran lacked visual attention, reached without looking, hated busy places, hated loud places, hated anything new, and struggled with visual complexity. This confusing kaleidoscope of visual information caused her son to react by screaming, biting and scratching to communicate his distress. Over time, Helen understood that her son had CVI. Understanding the impact of the CVI visual characteristics helped Helen advocate for supports so learning could be perceived, be meaningful and occur in an environment with reduced visual confusion.

https://cviscotland.org/mem_portal.php?article=80

Understanding What is Seen

For students with CVI, understanding what is seen is based on previous knowledge and the expanded understanding of salient visual features (Roman-Lantzy).

This wonderful example is from Judy Endicott who has a family member with CVI.

Judy shares this experience:

I asked Johnny (now 8), in grade 2 and 6.5 on The CVI Range, “What do you see?”

Note: (Johnny is not “into” football, and doesn’t recognize the Eagles logo, but Judy is always showing him different newspaper or magazine pictures to gain insight into his visual world, and help him use salient features to identify the image.)

Judy asks: “Johnny, what do you see?

Johnny replies: “A guy in jail.” (Johnny connects the helmet bars with the mistaken salient feature of “jail” that is known to him.)

Judy says: “Point to his head.”  (Johnny does this)

Judy asks “What’s on his head?”

Johnny says: “a helmet” (Johnny understands only part of the image).

 

Then Judy showed him the whole picture:

Judy discussed all the salient visual information more fully.

She talked about body parts, football, uniforms, etc.

Johnny could label all of the parts correctly when Judy pointed to them, but didn’t connect them initially to help him identify a football player wearing a helmet when Judy initially asked, “What do you see?”

The type of questioning that Judy used: “What do you see?”  insured that Johnny truly had access to the visual images and concepts. When it was clear that he truly didn’t have access, Judy knew this was the critical place for more instruction.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication and CVI

So many of our students  rely in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to express their wants, needs, and opinions. Given the diagnosis of CVI, we must be sure these visual systems are receptively and expressively accessible to our students with CVI for optimal communication system success. Here is a webinar “Cortical Visual Impairment, The Everyday Impact on People Who Use AAC” from USSAAC, The United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and ISAAC, the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. This webinar is presented by Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D. and facilitated by Sarah Blackstone, Ph.D., SLP.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GE23MGY87PQ

Have You Really Controlled the Complexity and Light?

Complexity and access to distracting light and movement can completely overwhelm the student with CVI in the classroom. I have seen teachers work very hard to reduce the complexity of their classrooms. It can be a challenge but well worth every effort for our students with visual impairments due to CVI. Controlling complexity and light effectively creates accessibility to learning.

Take a look at this classroom: (Pinterest)

 

This teacher has covered the shelves that are probably filled with toys and books. The shades are pulled down to control distracting light sources. The floor cover is a nice non-complex background for looking at materials placed on the rug. A nice start!

BUT: look at the shelves in on the left side of the room. The black cover controls the complexity on the shelves but the complexity remains with the many colorful and complex materials stored on top. If those toys were removed, that left side of the room would be a much less complex background against which to learn. (Complexity of Array: Roman-Lantzy). That is, of course, if that is the way the student in facing in the room!

If the student is facing the right side of the room or learning in the middle of the room, that would be completely overwhelming and complex. If the student is facing this way and this is the background, the student would really struggle against this complexity of array. This side of the room is completely inaccessible for learning for the student with CVI.

Here is a challenge for everyone as you return to school from the holiday break. Pick a student in your class who has CVI. Think about every position you place that student throughout the day. Actually sit there. Is the background where the student is facing free of complexity? If not, rethink your adaptations so the whole room is adapted. Would there be a better place to face? Would learning against a wall rather than in the middle of the classroom be best? Accessible learning is from the student’s point of view not from ours.

Nicola McDowell: Adult with CVI

Nicola McDowell is a TVI and O&M Specialist. She also had undiagnosed CVI for more than half her life. She struggled with an invisible disability that she, herself, did not understand.

She describes her experience as living in a “visual wilderness”.

This is her story of her CVI based visual difficulties before and after her diagnosis. This video is about 19 minutes. It is so valuable for us as educators as Nicola clearly describes her visual difficulties and outlines some strategies that help her function as independently as possible. Some areas she describes include:

  • The causes of her visual fatigue.
  • The impact of novelty, new places, people, or materials, that she struggles to understand.
  • The impact of clutter and increased movement in her environment.
  • The ways she uses color to support visual location.
  • The impact of her visual field loss.
  • Her difficulties with facial recognition.
  • Her difficulties knowing where sounds are coming from.
  • Her difficulties in social situations.
  • Her reaction to overwhelming visual and auditory input (the “CVI Meltdown”).
  • How her visual skills masked her cognitive ability.
  • How understanding CVI helped her create strategies for independence.
  • How other people’s understanding of CVI, helped them support her visual needs.

Great food for thought in our service to students with CVI as we provide instruction towards their maximum independence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7SoRdMovfI

CVI Meltdown Stories

I’m sure at this last Thanksgiving holiday, families could share stories of “CVI Meltdowns”.

Students with CVI understand their familiar visual environment, know their familiar people and know their familiar materials. They can tolerate the level of noise and complexity that they are used to.

Holidays are full of Novelty and Complexity, two strong characteristic of CVI. The student’s visual system is bombarded with new noises, people, foods, and places. There is nothing in these new environments that they can recognize and understand well.  They just simply can’t handle all of this. Their behaviors tell us volumes if we are willing to listen.

Here is a link to some stories shared by parents of students with CVI. These stories can help us understand student’s “meltdown” behaviors and create strategies to cope.

https://cviscotland.org/documents.php?did=1&sid=55