Month: July 2015

Color Highlighting for Increased Visual Access

This young teenager with CVI has developed strong compensatory skills to supplement her visual skills. She received this new toy with a very small activation button that was less than 1/8” in diameter.


Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.50.57 PM

Swinging her head back and forth, she struggled to activate the guitar at first as she used only tactile skills to find the button to play her favorite Johnny Cash song.

not using vision

I highlighted the button, surrounding it with red duct tape.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.51.10 PM

She immediately held it up, using her vision to find the button and push it.

using vision

She was able to find it quickly and activate it herself. She does not always need to use her vision to turn it on but the visual supports helped build her independence for this leisure activity.

List of CVI Resources

Resources for CVI

Ellen Cadigan Mazel, M.Ed., CTVI




  • Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention by Christine Roman-Lantzy


  • Visual Impairment in Children due to Damage to the Brain by Gordon Dutton (Editor), Martin Bax (Editor) September 14, 2010


  • Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children: Visuoperceptive and Visuocognitive Disorders by Josef Zihl (Author), Gordon Dutton



  • American Printing House website: CVI Section



  • my blog


  • CVI offered at UMASS Boston Vision Studies Program: 3 graduate credits. Online



Brain Plasticity:

This is a TED Talk by Pawan Sinha, a Visual neuroscientist at MIT. He and his team research how our brains interpret the visual information that the eyes see. This research helps us understand how the visual system develops. It shatters long held beliefs about the critical periods for vision development and highlights the building understanding of plasticity. Dr. Sinha uses that research to give blind children the gift of sight. Dr. Pawan Sinha details his groundbreaking research into how the brain’s visual system develops. Dr. Sinha and his team provide free vision-restoring treatment to children born blind, and then study how their brains learn to interpret visual data. The work offers insights into neuroscience, engineering and even autism.


  • What’s Going on in There? by Lise Eliot. This is a great way to begin to become familiar with brain terminology and the building development of skills for vision and compensatory skills.


  • The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge Doidge discusses the revolution is neuroplasticity: the human brain is as malleable in infancy, as scientists have long believed, but also well into old age.


  • The Secret Life of the Brain: PBS Home Video: Includes: Baby’s Brain, Child’s Brain, Teenage Brain, Adult Brain and the Aging Brain.




Building Success at Any Age

A 13 year old student I have worked with for years continues to build more and more visual skills every day. I’m so proud of her! She works so hard!

Improvements are always possible and should be expected no matter what age. We now know the plasticity of the brain lasts a lifetime.

When I met her at age 9 months, she was truly a blind child. She located no visual information and stared at light consistently. Now her visual attention is improved and with that she has begun to recognize some familiar items. I expect more and more improvement with careful assessment, well-matched environmental considerations and consistently used educational programming. The key to her success has been parent understanding of CVI and parent use of CVI educational programming. There would be no improvements without the adult’s expectation of improvement!

Perspectives are Important

With our strong visual memory and the ability to manipulate objects and see them in all their different perspectives, we can understand a wide variety of materials when we see them in any position. We have perfect visual skills.


Children with CVI might not have this “library” of items or a “library” of items from multiple perspectives. When we present items to students, we should remember to present newer items in consistent perspectives.


For this student this is the best perspective to build meaning and recognition of her daily yogurt.

yogurt container



This is not a helpful perspective to start with:

yougurt top