Month: February 2015

Progession to 2D Symbols

So often professionals jump to using photographs when the child with CVI  is not looking at pictures at all (2D is much harder than 3D) or is looking but does not understand what is represented in the picture.

At the Concord Area Special Education Collaborative (CASE), we have had great success with carefully moving our children with CVI to using pictures for communication.

Our approach is mindful of the child’s need for visual memory of the real item before any pictures can be used.  We start by assigning symbols to fun activities that the child already likes.

This is a progression of symbols from 3D to 2D for an activity playing with a fan:

Real fan —>embedded fan—>picture of the exact fan


The Steps:

  1. The child shows consistent understanding that the fan represents the fun game of turn taking and blowing materials around. (we have created visual memory for a symbol that is enjoyed and familiar).
  2. Once understood we glue the fan to card stock that is 5″X7″. (We build on that familiarity but move to a visual presentation that is almost like the photograph.
  3. We then move to the high quality photograph that is also 5″X7″.
  4. Once that is understood we continue our assessment to understand what size photograph the child needs and how many photographs can be presented at once.

This is one example for one child that was created after a careful assessment.  Collaboration is essential between all the professionals and parents to create and use this communication progression well.

Preschool Valentines Book for Children with CVI


Here is the wonderful literacy material created at Concord Area Special Education Collaborative (CASE) by Tess, Speech and Langauge Therapist and Sue, Preschool classroom teacher for the February theme of Hearts.  It presents a clear, red heart as a single image on the page then uses the same salient feature with a variety of textures for each page.

The bumpy heart using bubble wrap


The lacey heary using lacey paper


The googly heart using googy eyes


The rough heart using sandpaper


The bead heart using party beads


The pom-pom heart using pom poms of various sizes.


Each page is presented with predictable text and funny voice for each type of heart.

Heart lacy text

Staff that understand CVI well create fantastic materials based on their firm understanding of the characteristics of CVI and their child’s needs determined after assessment. They then created individual books adapted for each child to share with family.

Applying Concepts: Color Highlighting the Joystick






I received a fantastic idea from a former graduate student, Amanda, from my UMASS CVI class. She assessed her 19 year old student and determined that this student responded best to red and that red highlighting helped her student visually locate and reach.

Amanda noticed this student couldn’t access the iPad to play her favorite videos. The team had been working on this goal for over a year without success. This child was frustrated that she couldn’t advance through her videos or manipulate the advance icons on her iPad through touch or swiping.

Here is Amanda’s narrative:

“I bought a pair of Mini-Fling suction cup-mounted push button joysticks on Amazon. The joysticks themselves are low complexity black/gray and mount to the glass on the iPad.  You position the conductive bottom over the icon you wish to touch. I highlighted the buttons using shiny red mylar tape. The results are amazing! Right away my student attended to the buttons and now pushes them on her own to activate her iPad videos”.

In little time, the student was able to activate the iPad independently.

I thought this was a fantastic CVI adaptation so “stole” the idea for several of my students. I hope you find it helpful as well!

Share your great ideas everyone!

The other very important take away message is that all students regardless of age benefit from a CVI assessment and CVI interventions.

In the pictures above, I added the color highlighting to the joystick above the advance arrow on the Big Green Monster book app.  My student was able to immediately access this highlighted button to read the book independently!

Thanks Amanda!