Month: August 2016

University of Massachusetts Online CVI Class: Starts September 12th

VISN 648: Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment

Class #: 14819
Locaton: Online
Instructor: Ellen Mazel
Credits: 3

Course Description: This course provides an in-depth study of CVI and resources available for assessment and instructional strategies. Participants will further examine and explore the unique educational needs of children with CVI and the skills related to teaching these children in a full array of educational settings; Pre-K through grade 12. Topics include teaching strategies in the core and expanded core curriculums, such as: literacy, career-vocational skills, visual efficiency and compensatory auditory strategies. Instruction will also address material modifications and accommodations.

Required Text:

  1. Cortical Vision Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention
    • Author: Christine Roman-Lantzy
    • Copyright: 2007
    • Available from:

Fall CVI School Checklist

Fall is here and schools are opening their doors to students.  The fall is an exciting, fresh beginning that I look forward to each year! It is an especially busy for TVIs as we assess children, educate staff, adapt materials and environments and support parents, students and teams.

Here is a fall checklist for CVI for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments:

  1. Complete CVI Range (Roman-Lantzy 2007) for all students.

All TVIs should become “CVI Endorsed”.  The online CVI workshop will solidify your knowledge of CVI if you have never taken an in depth class about CVI. In the endorsement process, you will be asked to pass a multiple choice test and then to score 3 children with CVI. This endorsement will prove your competency using the CVI Range for assessment.

Perkins CVI Endorsement .

There are just too many people using the CVI Range incorrectly. If the Range is not used correctly the results will not provide the child with the correct goals and objectives or the correct adaptations, accommodations and methodologies needed for their optimal visual functioning. This misalignment will limit the child’s visual improvements.

  1. Share CVI Range results with parents. Parents will benefit from a discussion about the overall concepts of CVI so they fully understand their child’s visual skills and needs after the assessment. With this fuller understanding about CVI, they can more effectively understand their child’s CVI Range score. With this background knowledge, the accommodations, modifications and environmental supports make sense. Parents need this background information to advocate for their child across a lifetime, every year as staff and schools change.
  2. Conduct and inservice to the educational team about the overall topic of CVI. With a firm understanding of the CVI concepts, teams can better understand their students visual functioning and their unique educational needs. The accommodations, modifications and environmental supports have more context and will be more consistently used if fully understood.
  3. Conduct a second inservice to the team about how CVI effects each individual student. Children, even with the same score on the CVI Range, have unique educational needs based on their own individual assessment results around each of the 10 CVI Characteristics (Roman-Lantzy).
  4. When classroom schedules are completed, look across the learning day to ensure the CVI adaptations are in place at all times.

(Example: In morning meeting the child is at the correct distance from the learning materials (Distance Characteristic), has visual access to the better visual field (Visual Field Characteristic), has an identified “wait time” (Latency Characteristic), has materials in the most accessible color (Color Characteristic), has the light controlled and used optimally (Light Gazing Characteristic), has the movement distractions removed or movement used to draw visual attention (Movement Characteristic), and has the complexity of the environment matched to the assessed need (Complexity Characteristic).

  1. Create a “cheat sheet” to hang in learning areas so staff can quickly refer to the recommendations for best visual field, best distance, best best color, and other CVI recommendations around assessed needs.
  2. Check that the classroom has areas for learning that are adapted to assessed CVI needs. If the child requires a non-complex, quiet separate learning area to preview materials or to learn skills this needs to be an identified and provided area for learning.

Overlooking Children in Phase II and Phase III (Roman-Lantzy)

I hear too often that a child can’t have CVI because they can look and reach or can move through the environment. This is incorrect. Children in Phase I are very visually impaired and appear blind. It is easy to understand their visual impairment even for untrained people. Children in Phase II and Phase III, have some visual abilities. The untrained person sees these visual behaviors and mistakenly believes the child can use their vision effectively to learn. It is essential to have an assessment using the CVI Range (Roman-Lantzy 2007) before deciding whether a child has CVI or not. It is only through rigorous assessment around the 10 characteristics that we can determine a child’s functional vision. It is always the children in Phase II and Phase III that are overlooked and under-assessed. Children in Phase II and Phase III sometimes reach, track and move around well but struggle with visual recognition. This lack of visual recognition is the major roadblock to learning. The lower field is often still a problem well into Phase III. Facial recognition is often strongly effected well into Phase III. Children should certainly see an ophthalmologist to rule out any ocular issue but a trained TVI who understands CVI and how to use the CVI Range must do a functional vision assessment using the CVI Range before dismissing CVI. It is the functional visual assessment to identify visual skills in need of support so learning is optimal.

Phase III: Continuing Visual Needs

Looking at the Christine Roman-Lantzy CVI Range (Roman-Lantzy 2007), Phase III is measured as 7-10 on the Range. What visual concerns are still effecting learning? Only careful assessment using the CVI Range (Roman-Lantzy) and the CVI Extension Chart (Roman-Lantzy) can identify these needs.

  • Latency for understanding: students may still need extra visual exploration time to understand what is seen especially the flat 2D literacy materials and symbols and at distance.
  • Students benefit from the support of salient language and labeling that capitalizes on auditory skills to support visual recognition.
  • Lower visual fields might still be effected in Phase III and should be assessed to ensure safe movement through the environment.
  • Visual novelty still effects visual recognition. The student benefits from having newer learning based on the familiar materials. Presenting new materials to teach new learning presents an extra challenge that might impede learning.
  • Complexity of all kinds effects children in Phase III: complexity of array, sensory complexity, facial complexity and complexity of backgrounds, still might limit access to learning and social information.
  • Distance learning requires support because these students are often “close lookers” and lack typical visual curiosity at distance.
  • Although lightgazing may have disappeared as a visual behavior, children benefit from backlighting for 2D understanding and other learning.