Supporting students with sight problems

  • Physical environment - think about

    • Noise levels
    • Is the environment safe? Are doors closed or open?
    • Is the student familiar with the space? Could you give a brief description of the room (eg shape, size, location of doors, furniture)
    • Does the student have a seating preference? Do they need additional space? eg for a support worker or an assistance (guide) dog.
    • How will the student keep a record of what’s happened? Would taping lectures, seminars etc help?

    Communication – think about

    • Giving the student necessary information verbally eg introducing yourself, explaining what will happen, introducing those present.
    • How will a blind student know you’re talking to them? eg address the student by name if you know it; if not, a light touch on the arm will catch their attention.
    • Are you speaking to the student not the support worker (if a student has one)?
    • The pace, tone and level of your voice - speech should be as natural as possible.
    • How you provide important instructions - orally as well as in writing.
    • How will the student know a conversation has ended?
    • How you provide instructions - eg “this is a step down” not “this is a step”.

    Your behaviour – think about

    • Can the student understand/respond to the feedback you’re giving? eg some gestures, such as nodding your head, may not be noticed.
    • How and when you offer help – don’t assume the student needs it.
    • Are you using visual images to convey information? How do you ensure the student has that information?
    • Have you allowed for the fact that it may take the student longer to complete assignments?
    • Are you spreading work evenly and avoiding 'bunching' of deadlines? Are you flexible with deadlines? 

    Other students – think about

    • Is the student aware of what’s going on around them? eg something happens on the other side of the room that is funny and you laugh.
    • Is the student aware of who’s speaking? eg if someone else joins the conversation, be sure they introduce themselves to the student.
    • How will the student join a group discussion?
    • Guidelines for working together - Are students speaking one at a time?
    • Do other students understand best practice for communicating with students who are blind or visually impaired?
    • How you encourage contributions from all members of the group

    Sources of useful information and support