Background information to understand CVI

How Do You Know If You Have a CVI Competent Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments? Importance of the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement

How would parents, teachers and administrators know if they have a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) who is knowledgeable and competent to work with children with CVI? This has been huge and frustrating problem for years.

TVIs have been slow to educate themselves to serve these students with CVI effectively even when their caseloads have shifted to include many students with CVI. TVIs might attend a lecture or two and mistakenly think they have “competency” in CVI. The TVI who attends a weekend lecture about CVI, leaves with partial knowledge and few abilities to accurately assess, accurately program or to accurately create appropriate interventions for their students with CVI. They are even more dangerous than the TVI with no understanding!

Most graduate teacher training programs for teachers of students with visual impairments do not include CVI as a core competency area. Due to this, even now, new teachers of students with visual impairments leave graduate programs with little to no understanding of CVI yet take jobs in the field where 60% or more of the students have CVI!

To solve the problem of who has CVI competence and who does not have have CVI competence there is now the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement in place at Perkins School for the Blind: http://www.perkinselearning.org/cvi-endorsement

For this Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement, a teacher of students with visual impairments must prove their competency for CVI. They must take a knowledge test about CVI. They must prove experience with students with CVI by providing letters of recommendation. They must prove their ability to assess 2 students seen in videos using the Christine Roman-Lantzy CVI Range. The CVI Range is the only assessment tool for CVI with reliability. (See Dr. Sandra Newcomb: Reliability of the CVI Range Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, October 2010, © 2010 AFB).

We now have a way to “check” a professional’s competence in a directory of endorsed professionals: http://www.perkinselearning.org/cvi-endorsement/specialists?field_location_taxonomize_terms_tid=All&field_name_address_country=All&page=2

I always want a competent professional to work with my students with CVI and now add this statement to my report recommendation list:

Recommendations:

Services of a Certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment (CTVI) who is CVI Endorsed:

John will benefit from direct and consult vision services weekly from a certified vision professional who understands CVI.  To assure this competence the TVI must be CVI Endorsed: See the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement http://www.perkinselearning.org/cvi-endorsement Look in the search bar to access the directory of endorsed professionals: “Search for Specialist”. This will assure that the assigned TVI understands CVI, understands the effects CVI have on John’s learning and is trained to assess CVI using the Christine Roman-Lantzy CVI Range. John will benefit from environmental and materials modifications, methodologies and accommodations to support his visual functioning around all characteristics of CVI. The TVI will help build compensatory skills throughout the curriculum and support building advocacy for John’s independent learning. Every year at change of classroom, the TVI should provide an overview of the concept of CVI and provide a detailed explanation of how CVI effects John’s visual functioning.

To find endorsed professionals, you can visit the directory of professionals that have achieved this competence. It is growing daily nationally and internationally.

 

Teachable Moment: Color Highlighting

I did this Teachable Moment for Perkins School for the Blind. It discusses some ideas of how to use color highlighting to help with visual motor skills for children with CVI.

You can find it in Perkins eLearning

http://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/teachable-moment/color-highlighting-children-cvi

Visual Experience, Experience, Experience

For science nerds like me!

“Neuroscientists Reveal How the Brain Learns to Recognize Objects”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100922121937.htm

This article comes from work being conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They are studying how humans process visual information for recognition so they can design artificial visual systems. It seems vision is such a complex process! I think parents and teacher have understood this for years!

This great article that drives home the brain’s need for repeated experience to build visual understanding. The brain must have repeated experiences with objects in different kinds of positions, perspectives, lighting, size and distance. It reminds me to provide my students with real objects in repeated, predictable routines to build familiarity. It reminds me not it only present iPad visual targets that can’t be manipulated. The child builds visual recognition from the presentation of objects in multiple positions to view multiple perspectives. If the child is not able to manipulate material themselves, we must provide that varying visual perspective.

This is a reaffirmation of the characteristic of Novelty that Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy discusses (Roman-Lantzy CVI Range 2007)

 

 

Seeing Movement

Here is an interesting video about a woman with a brain injury. As she recovered some sight, she is first able to see rain since it was moving. She progresses to seeing other kinds of things moving in the world. Movement is so important for some children with CVI!

Blind Woman Who Saw Rain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ABQ-U6V0tY

 

Perkins School for the Blind CVI Symposium April 7, 2017

Spread the word about this important event! It filled very quickly last year so sign up if you are interested.

CVI Symposium: Best Practices and Current Research presented by experts in CVI

Held at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts

Friday, April 7, 2017 8:30 sign-in, presentations 9:00-4:30 

$100.

6.5 ACVREPs, 6.5 PDPs, 6.5 CEs

There will be discussion about current research and best practice related to brain-based visual impairments.

From the website:

Topics and Presenters include: (with more to be confirmed)

  • Visual Processing and the Impact of Damage: What We Know and How We Know

Lotfi Merabet, O.D., Ph.D., MPH

Presenter TBD

  • Collaborative/Coordinate Care – The Importance of an Effective Team

Anne Fulton, Ophthalmologist

Rebecca Davis, parent

Ellen Mazel, Ed., CTVI

  • Literacy and O&M from Phase I to Phase III

Christine Roman-Lantzy, D.

Matt Tietjen, M.Ed., CTVI

Find out more at:

http://www.perkinselearning.org/earn-credits/onsite-training/cvi-best-practices-current-research

I believe this will also be available to watch after the symposium.

Picture Accessibility for Children with CVI

In my work with children, I am often asked about the accessibility of pictures, icons and line drawings as communication systems for children. I especially struggle to be an effective voice around accessibility when my children with CVI look towards pictures but never use central vision to actually “see” and “understand” those pictures. I try to support my opinions with inservice simulations about peripheral looking, as it only provides visual information about general color and general shape. To understand objects, pictures, ions and line drawings, the child must look directly at the image using central vision and shift to the picture’s elements to understand it. At MIT, there are several labs that study various aspects of visual processing. I found this book and ordered it on Amazon for $10. I am finding it so helpful!

Looking into Pictures: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Pictorial Space by Heiko Hecht

Offering: Face to Face Perkins School for the Blind CVI Class

Starting January 21st, 2017, I am teaching an onsite CVI class at Perkins School for the Blind. It is a three day workshop. This course focuses on Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI): causes, assessment and strategies for access and improvement of vision for students with CVI.

Classes run three Saturdays from 8:30-4:00 with lunch included:
January 21
January 28
February 4
Snow day makeup: February 11th (Welcome to New England!)
Participants can earn microcredentials as well as one of these needed credits:
• 24 ACVREPs
• 24 PDPs
• 1.8 ASHA CEUs
• 1.8 AOTA CEUs
• 24 CEs

Here is the link for more information: http://www.perkinselearning.org/earn-credits/onsite-training/cortical-visual-impairment-mazel

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments: Mandatory Class for CVI

The class about CVI offered by University of Massachusetts Boston has been an elective for teachers in training learning to be Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments. I am so pleased and proud that the Vision Studies Program at UMASS has made this an MANDATORY part of their curriculum for TVI training. I believe this is the first in the country! Well done UMASS! It is a great step forward for our growing population of student identified with CVI. These new TVIs will graduate and be familiar with the unique assessment, environmental adaptations, specific interventions and program planning for children with CVI!

Inservice about Peripheral Vision

My students in Phase I and into early Phase II as measured on Christine Roman-Lantzy’s CVI Range, use their peripheral vision for looking. I struggled to help staff and parents understand exactly what this means as far as visual accessibility of learning materials for the child. I devised an inservice for staff and parents that simulates what kids see when they use peripheral vision. Using this, staff and parents can really live that inaccessibility.

I place people into teams of two. One person on the team is “has” CVI with only peripheral vision use (Phase I and early Phase II). I ask them to focus on a target in the room and not turn to look at any materials their partner will present.

The other team member shows their partner with CVI three kinds of learning materials in their peripheral field:

  • A 3D object
  • Pictures from a book
  • Communication icons
  • Words in large print

I ask the peripheral vision user to tell me what they can see during each presentation. It becomes so clear that using peripheral vision, the child can only see color and vague shape.

This inservice, yet again, gives me an opportunity to talk about the child’s assessed functional vision. I have the opportunity to again stress the possibility of improvement for children with CVI. Working with accessible learning materials with environmental adaptations matched to the child’s CVI Range results (Christine Roman-Lantzy 2007), will build visual skills towards that ventral stream use that we all want for the child but for now, these kinds of learning materials are inaccessible.

The inservice provides the experience of inaccessibility.

Understanding Color in the Brain

I always find it so exciting and encouraging when brain research about the visual system continues to unwrap the great mysteries of the brain. This understanding can only move us forward in understanding CVI and in assessing whether interventions are working. I am deeply interested in why my children behave the way they do. Here is a recent article from Spectrum MIT, a publication from Massachusetts Institute of Technology: http://spectrum.mit.edu/fall-2016/color-decoder.