Capitalizing on a student’s need for color highlighting and motion to draw visual attention at distance, I used a red laser pointer and slowly circled an Exit sign in Mobility to draw visual attention up and to the sign at 10+ feet. The child was able to locate the sign that previously was impossible to see. Once we practiced finding several signs , he could find others in the building.
The Learning Media Assessment has a wonderful component called the Sensory Channels Assessment. The TVI observes the child’s interaction with materials over many sessions (I like to do 5 or more).
What is the first thing that the child does with a material? In scoring the assessment we might notice that a child immediately brings the materials up to their eyes. That child’s primary sense for learning is vision. If we notice the child takes the materials and most often creates noise or brings it to their ear to explore, the auditory sense is the best for learning. If the child brings it to explore in the mouth or begins running their hand over the surface of the material, the tactile sense is the best for learning. (NOTE: exploration in the mouth is a rolling exploration rather than that biting seen in children who are seeking sensory input). The child might bring it to their nose indicating the importance of this smell sense for understanding the materials. The child might lick materials that could indicate that taste is supporting learning.
The Sensory Channels Assessment also looks at secondary senses used. A child might use vision first then put it in their mouth to explore. This would be vision as the primary channel and tactile as the secondary channel. If the child makes noise with the material then brings it to their vision to look, the primary sense is auditory and vision is the secondary channel.
Lastly, the Sensory Channels Assessment tells us about weak sensory channels. These are areas that might benefit from instruction and practice to increase use.
It is important to evaluate the best sensory channel so we use these “optimal” channels for all learning but it is equally important to identify weak channels to bolster their use in all activities. The more we can build all the channels to their optimal level, the more access the child has to the world.
Children tell us a lot about their best learning mode if we just observe!
The teacher for students with visual impairments should conduct a Learning Media Assessment on every child as part of any functional visual assessment. This LMA assessment carefully looks at a child’s ability to access print, symbols and learning media at near and distance. It might recommend that your child with CVI access materials using tactile and auditory media. This might be true but I would never leave print out for a child with CVI. I would build visual skills for literacy using color highlighting and use Braille as well if warranted.
I know of one student learning Braille at a high literacy level while she also builds print understanding using large print, bold green font with red highlighting. This is the best of both worlds!
The National Braille Press provides free materials for children and families to learn Braille.
From their site:
- An age-appropriate print/braille book for three age groups: birth-3, 4-5, and 6-7 in English or Spanish;
- A braille primer for sighted parents entitled Just Enough to Know Better;
- A tactile ball (red bags only);
- Print/braille bookmark;
- Print/braille alphabet card;
- Because Books Matter, a guide for parents on why and how to read books with their young blind child;
- A tactile maze or flag;
- Wikki Stix, a product that allows a child to make tactile pictures (blue or green bags only);
- A gift coupon redeemable for another print/braille book or braille/large print playing cards;
- Tactile Alphabet Letters sheets, showing upper- and lowercase print letters in raised-line format, and braille letters (blue bags only);
- A Braille Caravan block;
A description of the program on DVD.
In the beginning of the student’s IEP in the parental “Vision” section, parents are asked:
“What concern(s) does the parent and/or student want to see addressed in this IEP to enhance the student’s education”?
Here’s is a fantastic one that one of my parents crafted. Perfect!
Visual Goals: To increase function of her visual skills affected by CVI. Having the opportunity of aggressive intervention at this stage, might possibly bring about lasting improvement in functional vision. It is imperative due to the remarkable plasticity of the brain and the ability of neuron growth. What we will be looking for is Karen to locate items that are in her environment and to learn to reach to explore and learn.