Fostering Independence 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.

This lesson examines the importance of fostering independence in students with visual impairments. Teachers will learn some strategies to help students with visual impairments become more self-sufficient in the classroom.

The Importance of Fostering Independence

Students want to feel independent. Self-sufficiency builds students' confidence and helps them feel prepared for life in the 'real world.' However, students with visual impairments are often at a disadvantage when faced with everyday living skills that many people take for granted, such as time and money management, grooming habits, and food preparation.

Teachers can play an important role in fostering independence in students with visual impairments. Let's look at some strategies that teachers can use to help students with visual impairments maintain independence in a classroom setting.

Establish Routines

A key strategy to build independence is establishing routines in the classroom. Routines help make everyday activities more predictable and give students an idea of what to expect. Consider creating routines for common classroom activities, and spend time practicing them at the beginning of the school year until students are familiar with them.

Many activities in the classroom rely on students' sight, so think about how your routines can be adapted for students with visual impairments. Here are examples of common tasks in the classroom that may require a routine:

  • Lining up for lunch
  • Cleaning up an area after finishing an activity
  • Working in small groups
  • Taking a test
  • Working in the science lab
  • Going to the library or computer lab
  • Retrieving books, supplies, or other materials

Have a plan for teaching students with visual impairments how to complete these common tasks.

Don't Help Too Much

Try to resist the urge to do everything for your students with visual impairments. Although they may require individualized attention and support for certain daily tasks, they are often capable of doing many things independently after a little bit of practice. Here is a list of common tasks that students with visual impairments may be able to do independently once a routine has been established:

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