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Bullet Point Issue 6 now available featuring topics such as development during pre-school years, visual impairment and other disabilities, click here to find out more.

Education: The Great Equaliser!

Hello and welcome,
The following points have been expanded in the books available via my web site. They contain much more about accessing learning and the development of valuable skills.

Rgds Clive.

If You Don’t Do It Who Will?


Accessing the curriculum

Print Size

Sometimes we hear that the minimum print size a child or young person can access is used to argue or imply that a print size which the child or young person wants is in fact bigger than necessary.

Research shows that we need a reserve of acuity to be able to read fluently and quickly ...

Magnification and Reading Fluency

Reading speed and fluency will be affected by the number of letters or words a child or young person can see at one time ...

If the child or young person uses a magnifier, the visual field is restricted …

Some children and young people do not like using low vision aids ...

This can partly be addressed by the child or young person holding the magnifier closer to his or her eye which allows for a wider field of view ... There is always a trade-off though between ease of use and the best theoretical magnification …

Contrast Sensitivity

Another, and sometimes under estimated effect on accessing visual information is contrast ...

A contrast test allows us to measure the contrast threshold and hence predict reading fluency ...

Contrast Acuity and Mobility

Contrast sensitivity also impacts on mobility ...

Therefore, a low vision assessment should offer a balance …


Writing by hand may be difficult for children or young people with low vision. Often, handwriting is untidy. Consequently, despite his or her best efforts a child or young person may be unable to see what s/he has written …


Following are a few difficulties commonly encountered along with a few suggestions which may reduce the problem,

  • Hand eye coordination may be poor making pen control difficult. Sometimes, specific exercises to develop handwriting co-ordination set by an Occupational Therapist can help



  • Your child or young person’s views should be sought about his or her preferred method of recording information



Deciding if your child or young person should be a tactile or print user can be difficult. Unfortunately, a decision can be made based on available resources and not individual need. Following is a model used by colleagues in North America.


Based on assessment select the best option from the following,

  • Braille
  • Print
  • Braille, complemented with print
  • Print, complemented with Braille
  • Braille (tactile learner)

Ongoing Considerations

Having ascertained the best option consider further the following,

  • An option which includes both Braille and print should be dependent upon what the individual child or young person prefers


Five Considerations

Following are five considerations for deciding the most suitable medium. These are,

  • Medical
  • Physical
  • Print reading
  • Handwriting
  • Low Vision Technology

Who Should Be a Tactile Learner and Use Braille?

  • Medical: a child or young person who is severely sight impaired and with very little sight or is expected to experience rapid sight loss
  • Physical: someone with an additional disability that does not interfere with the ability to learn Braille


Who Should Learn and Use Print?

  • Handwriting: a child or young person has legible handwriting and can easily read his or her own and others' notes at an acceptable distance.
  • Low Vision Technology: someone who reads regular print without low vision devices and comfortably uses a pocket-sized magnifier for reading fine print.

Who Should Learn and Use Braille Complemented with Print?

  • Print reading: an individual's print reading speed is far below that of others at the same developmental level. S/he is consistently inaccurate when reading, and has difficulty reading a variety of print styles or print on a coloured background

Who Should Learn and Use Print Complemented with Braille?

  • Medical: a child or young person who currently has a stable eye condition but is at risk of eventual deterioration, has a slowly progressive eye condition, has a restricted visual field or has fluctuating vision


This analytical system is available in full within,

What is Red? A Poppy’s Red

Accessing the Curriculum

Visual Impairment and Other Disabilities


In the UK and other developed countries it is expected that all children, including those with a disability, will become familiar with ICT.


To ascertain the most appropriate technology, an understanding of an individual’s skills and needs are required. These include,

  • Current learning objectives
  • Long term learning objectives


Whatever ICT equipment is REQUIRED it must address individual need. Deciding upon suitability requires an assessment covering a learner’s potential and then matching it with the potential of the equipment ...

Current and Long-Term Teaching and Learning Objectives

A word processor that can edit and format may meet educational and visual needs in the primary and early secondary years. Later, more sophisticated equipment is likely to be needed …

The Effects of a Visual Impairment

Information about a child’s eye condition helps decision making regarding equipment and settings …

Learner Achievement

Your child or young person’s achievement will be governed by more than the eye condition’s severity. Other considerations include,

  • The significance of other disabilities
  • The appropriateness of early intervention


Other Disabilities

By matching knowledge of each area of need with an awareness of the devices available, recommendations can be made …

A Whole School or College Policy

For access technology to be successfully integrated there has to be a whole school or college policy with an approach supported across the curriculum …

Access Technology Drawbacks

Access technology including for example, screen magnification packages and speech access software has to be learned alongside application software. Common forms of access technology have their own difficulties …

Most pieces of access technology contain barriers of their own. These may include,

  • Screen magnifiers only allowing a ‘keyhole’ view of a task


Technological advances can cause additional difficulties. Updated versions of software might not be compatible with previous versions …

The requirements to learn about all of this equipment along with any new equipment places more demands on an already busy curriculum and alongside all the extra skills a learner with low vision needs …

Touch Typing

Touch typing skills are essential for those with low vision using a QWERTY keyboard. Consequently,

  • Time should be allocated at an early age to develop these skills so that a computer is viewed as a natural aid to communication


Word Processing Skills

Applications like spreadsheets and databases require individuals to understand concepts like cells, columns, rows and fields along with the relationships of cause and effect …

Writing, Reading Speed and Accuracy

A word processor helps a child or young person who writes slowly or has difficulty reading his or her own writing.

Reading difficulties can be supported …

Basic Packages Available

Packages include,

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and database programmes have fast find functions which can help to alleviate difficulties with searching and skimming


Graphics and Diagrams

A fully sighted child or young person can draw information from a diagram almost instantly. A diagram can be seen in its entirety and comparisons can be drawn quickly and easily. Individuals with low vision may find even simple graphic representations difficult …

When deciding how best to present information, consider its use and present the information in the most convenient format for the child or young person.

Communicating Information through Pictures

Many packages which involve the creation of graphics allow very limited access through a speech synthesiser ...


CD-ROMs allow access to a vast amount of information but they often contain graphics and video clips which are of little use to children or young people with low vision unless additional print or audio information is used.


Pages are often visually busy and the internet can be very difficult to access for those with low vision. As with CD-ROMs, internet pages often contain videos and graphics which are often very difficult to access.

Training For Those Supporting Learners

ICT must also be considered in relation to staff training …

Conclusion: Maximising ICT at School, College and Home

To ensure your child or young person can potentially maximise the uses of ICT at school, college and home several requirements are necessary. These include,

  • An effective school or college policy


ICT can enable your child or young person to potentially take more control over learning by promoting independence. Specialist ICT can play a significant part in helping integration by providing access to areas of the curriculum where low vision can represent a barrier.

One book worthy of note here is,

What is Red? A Poppy’s Red

Accessing the Curriculum

Visual Impairment and Other Disabilities


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