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.
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.