Month: May 2018

New CVI Podcast: Jessica and Dan Marquardt: CVI parents

This week saw the launch of a powerful new podcast, Kaleidoscope. The podcast is named Kaleidoscope, from the description of the visual world given to us by people with CVI. They describe their world as a swirling scene of random colors and shape with little visual meaning.

In this first episode, Jessica and Dan describe their experiences as they tried to understand their daughter’s CVI and to advocate for services that would build functional vision due to well known brain plasticity. Tune in and share with professionals and especially with parents of children at risk for CVI.

Environmental Changes for CVI

A request for a CVI accessibility environmental consult came to the CVI team from Perkins Physical Education staff: Before the consult, they were clearly on the way to making this space more “CVI Friendly” with ideas already in place for controlling light, visual complexity and sensory complexity by using the supports of color and movement to create orientation, enjoyment and safety in the physical education spaces. Here is a write up of our brainstorming session as an example of this CVI collaboration.

CVI Collaborative Consultation: Gym Area

Collaborative Consult Partners: Physical Education team and CVI mentors.

 Goals of consult:

Creating an accessible environment for students with CVI in the gyms, on the walking tracks and in the fitness room.

Discussion of which activities need visual adaptations versus those that can be auditory and tactile-only based on the identified goal of the activity. This will vary by activity and student.

  1. How to make the coat hooks/hangers accessible for optimal student success?

The goal is student independence to hang up their coat. This is determined to be a visual goal.

The area is dim which will not impact the student with CVI. We brainstormed using light, movement and color for visual and visual motor targets: Using red bike hooks that are larger and a highlighting color, using Tap-lights as a light support.

  1. How to make the track accessible?

The goal is exercise. This is determined to be a tactile goal that we can build some visual targets into. The track has a rail that can be used as a tactile support for walking the track. To eliminate lightgazing to overhead light, use a baseball cap with a bill or turn the lights off (during the day and when there is enough light coming in from outside). To build some visual task into this activity, use red, shiny indicator on the wall at the four turning areas. For the most part, this is a tactile activity.

  1. How to make the exit door in the pool accessible for exiting the area?

The goal is visual and safety. This is determined to be a visual task.

The pool area has many doors and students are confused as to which one to use to exit. Use a red indicator on the exit door.

  1. How to make navigating through the fitness area safe and accessible?

The goal is moving safely through the space. This is determined to be a visual goal.

Is changing the flooring possible and practical? Example: visual or textural strip to define path around machines. The floor is textured so would not hold the tape color highlighting well. Perhaps a location indicator of several destinations could be used and learned (color, shiny).

  1. How to make the gym less complex?

Remove things not longer used: hanging ladder, hanging rings. Use the “two wall rule”. Pick two walls and make these non-complex. Face students to these walls for instruction.

  1. How to make the fitness room less complex?

Remove decorations (done). Sit in the equipment and determine if this is facing a place that is too complex. Turn towards a wall.

  1. How to make the water dispenser accessible?

Color highlight with shiny tape its location. Color highlight with shiny tape the water lever on the right to get cold water. Color highlight with shiny tape the bottom of the cup dispenser (this is the place to grab).

  1. How to make sport equipment accessible?

Create a non-complex are of the gym with a table and chair. Face the student towards the non-complex wall. Add side “blockers” to reduce peripheral movement. Present each piece of equipment against a black background one at a tie. Name it, name its visual features and name its function. “This is a bat for baseball. We use it to hit the ball. It is brown, long and has a grip”.

Use shiny, saturated colored lightup balls: Available on Amazon

9. How to reduce complexity of the workout machines? Treadmill?

Add removable cover for the complex array of buttons. One that flips on and off would be ideal. Color highlight important buttons like “on” and “off” in bright but different colors. To help the student get onto the equipment and know where to grab, highlight with shiny tape on the handles or use the “grips” from Amazon below. For stepping up, color highlight “where to put your foot”.

  1. How to reduce lightgazing?

Use baseball cap. Position student with back to the light. Arrange equipment so light is behind the student.

BlueCosto 5x Soft Neoprene Luggage Handle Wrap Grips Suitcase Travel Tags




Parent Interview, Observation and Direct Assessment: What is Learned?


  • The parent interview gives up the across the lifetime visual abilities (improvement history), across environments information (home vs grandmother’s house) and across the day abilities (early in the morning and after a long school day). The parents also identify other visual difficulties for assessment that I might not have considered. Each child has their own unique visual difficulties and the parents help me know what to assess.
  • The observations in multiple familiar and unfamiliar environments gives us the child’s functioning in a less adapted learning environment.
  • The direct assessment, conducted in a very adapted environment (low complexity, sound, movement etc.) that gives us a look at the visual skills with all the supports in place to support that student’s vision. That direct assessment environment tells us what the child is capable of if the environment is adapted and what adaptations would help.
  • We bring those adaptations into the classroom and home for optimal visual functioning and across the day access.