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What is Low Vision?
by Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
Low vision is reduced ability to see even with regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. Low vision can make everyday tasks, such as reading the mail or writing a grocery list, challenging. For your students, this could mean difficulty seeing assignments, reading textbooks, taking notes, and/or following visual aids. Other difficulties may include reading and interpreting facial expressions and body gestures. About 135 million Americans live with low vision.
What tasks are difficult for those with low vision?
  • Recognizing faces
  • Tasks that are “close-up” such as cooking or sewing
  • Picking out and matching colors
  • Reading street signs and store names
  • Everyday tasks around home or school because lights seem dim
What can I do to help?
Keep in mind that those with low vision often have depression, anxiety, and confusion. Giving additional sensory information to your students with low vision may help to increase their success at school. Two examples might be:
  • SOUND: Ring a bell to signal lunchtime.
  • TOUCH: Use letters raised in felt or sandpaper so students learning the alphabet can feel the correct shapes.
What can I do to compensate?
Several classroom adaptations can help students with low vision cope with the daily tasks in school. These include:
  • Using large print
  • Preferential seating (front row, good lighting)
  • Making lessons more auditory (books on tape)
  • Reading directions aloud to the student for assignments and tests
  • Using computers with enlarged screens and/or fonts
I want to know more!
For more information on low vision, contact the National Eye Institute at:
National Eye Institute, NIH
2020 Vision Place
Bethesda, MD 20892-3655
(301) 496-5248
National Eye Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 30, 2008, from

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