Educational Planning for Students with Visual Impairments

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Educational planning is important for all students and might be especially crucial for students with disabilities. This lesson discusses factors and strategies associated with educational planning for students with visual impairments.

Why Planning Matters

For seven years, Theresa has been teaching students with visual impairments, or disabilities affecting their capacity to see and process visual information. Theresa teaches a mixed-age elementary school class, and her students usually have fairly severe impairments.

At a recent meeting, Theresa started talking with some colleagues about her students' long-term outcomes. She mentioned to a colleague that she thinks educational planning, or considering a student's long- and short-term educational needs, goals, and capacities, is a really important part of being a responsive teacher.

Theresa's colleague wondered why planning might be so important for students with visual impairments. Theresa explained that these students' impairments need to be consistently reevaluated and considered in relation to their functioning, and that setting goals and staying organized can make a big difference in determining access to resources.

Short-Term Planning

When Theresa thinks about educational planning for her students, first, she thinks in the short-term. Short-term plans cover goals and strategies for about one year of a student's education. For some students, especially those who are recently diagnosed with impairments, a short-term plan might cover only six weeks of educational work before a team reconvenes to plan further.

Theresa knows that here are various factors impacting a short-term educational plan for a student with visual impairments.

Evaluating Severity

First of all, Theresa believes that the severity, or extent, of the visual impairment plays a major role in helping her establish meaningful short-term goals for her students. When a student is newly-diagnosed and assessments show that the student has little or no vision, a short-term plan will usually involve explicit teaching of strategies for self-management in the classroom and for accessing assistive technologies.

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