Environmental Adaptations for Students with Visual Impairments

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn various strategies for adapting the school environment for students with visual impairments. These strategies will help ensure students' safety and access to schoolwide resources.

The Importance of Environmental Adaptations

It's Ethan's first day at a new school, and he is excited to finally start 6th grade. He is determined not to let his visual impairment prevent him from having a great year.

When he walks into the school building, the first thing he notices is that he cannot read the directional signs. He has no idea how to find the principal's office, cafeteria, bathroom, or his classroom, because none of the signage is updated with large print or braille.

After asking another student where to find room 303, he heads to the nearest staircase. At his old school, the edges of the stairs had bright yellow tape, but these don't. He trips on the landing, dropping all of his books.

He finds a teacher to guide him to his classroom. His teacher greets him and invites him to have a seat in the back of the room. He is not near a wall outlet, so he can't plug in his electronic magnifier. He is also near a window, which casts a glare on the chalkboard.

So far, Ethan is not off to a great start. With some adaptations, his school environment could help to ensure his safety, provide equitable access to school resources, and help foster his independence.

Teachers and school staff must take the safety of all students into consideration. A typical school building may pose safety hazards for students with visual impairments and may limit students' access to resources, such as restroom facilities, the cafeteria, the playground, and the library.

Let's take a look at some specific strategies for ensuring the safety of students with visual impairments in the school setting.

Around the School

Remember Ethan's difficulties when he enters the school and makes his way to his classroom? Let's look at how signage and other strategies could help him navigate around the school.

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