The advent of mainstreaming has made it increasingly important for traditional classroom teachers to be familiar with the research and practice of instructing blind and visually impaired students. The following sites have been selected to both augment training of the vision specialist as well as introduce his/her colleagues to some of the best sources of information on teaching blind and visually impaired students.
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
This is an excellent one-stop location for information about teaching the blind or visually impaired child. Questions related to assessment, mobility, academic problems, and a great deal more are covered here. Although the Texas School for the Blind is a residential school, the information contained here is generally applicable to the student who is being mainstreamed.
Hadley School for the Blind
Hadley has a long-established and well-deserved reputation for providing free high-quality distance learning courses for qualified students and adults. The classes range from traditional academic subjects to courses that impart skills to help with adjusting to vision loss. You may be especially interested in
The Hadley School for Professional Studies
which provides programs in 24 distance learning courses, 20 of which offer continuing education credit. Tuition is charged for most courses, and enrollment must be done online.
Special education Resources and Information
ERIC is the acronym for the Educational Resources Information Center. The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC) is part of the National Library of Education, U.S. Department of Education. ERIC EC provides information on the education of individuals with disabilities as well as those who are gifted.
Tiresias: International Information on Visual Disability
The Tiresias web site provides in-depth information on assistive devices for people with visual disabilities, current and future research, technical information, disability organizations and agencies, sources of research, funding, publications, standards and legislation. The site features a text only option.
Resources for Parents and Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Children
This is an outstanding annotated list of resources of use to both parents and teachers alike. You will find a list of organizations that provide information, products, and/or services in addition to a listing of books and publications.
National Association for Visually Handicapped
Most people who have vision loss retain residual vision throughout their lives. Often the remaining sight is significant and substantial, although altered or diminished. NAVH's purpose is to work with the visually impaired so that those affected can live with as little disruption as possible. NAVH stresses the importance of using eyesight despite a visual impairment. This membership organization has links to its store of low vision products, information on the psychological effects of vision loss, a free newsletter, and information on the most common types of vision loss.
V. I. Guide Home Page, for Parents and Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Children
This site was developed by Betsy Walker, the parent of a blind child. It is intended as a resource for teachers and parents of blind and visually impaired children. Topics include: vision related services; special education services; assistive technology; assistive products; as well as information on medical, legal, entertainment, and research related to blindness and vision loss. This is an excellent, well-organized site.
Resources for Parents and Teachers of Blind Kids
While it appears that this site is no longer maintained, it, nonetheless, provides an excellent list of useful links, many of which are in the United Kingdom and overseas. You will find material on open and distance learning, organizations related to blindness and visual impairment, international sites (many of which are in the native languages), resources, and programs in disability studies. While the list of links is not as complete as many other sites, the strength of the site is that is features links to many resources that are not easily found elsewhere.
Assistive or adaptive technology has exploded many barriers to education and Employment for visually impaired individuals. Students with visual impairments can complete homework, do research, take tests, and read books along with their sighted classmates thanks to advances in technology. Adults with visual impairments can continue to work and pursue a tremendous range of careers in mainstream society because of the use of computers and other devices. A variety of information on technology can be found in this web site section, which features descriptions of adaptive equipment, offers tips on using technology effectively, and gives technology specialists advice on making web sites and computer applications accessible to people who are visually impaired.
What Families Need to Know
Currently, nearly 94,000 children in the United States who are blind or visually impaired are being helped by some form of special education. These students are an extremely diverse group ranging from infants to young adults through age 21. This page of The American Foundation for the Blind is an excellent resource for both parents and teachers.
The New York Institute for Special Education Blindness Resource Center
This private organization, although focusing on the State of New York, provides access to useful links on Braille literacy, general information on blindness and vision loss, eye conditions, deaf-blindness, low vision resources, online information, organizations in the field of vision loss, medical research, and vendors.
A highly-respected organization, providing information on services for young children, child literacy, services for youth and teens, career services, adult services, library services, Braille production, public education resources, and recorded media. You will also find links to sections on identifying sight loss, medical articles on vision loss, understanding visual impairment, and coping with vision loss. The site is quite user friendly, with the ability to adjust color contrast as well as font size.
VIEW International Foundation (VIEW) is pleased to make available a large number of tactile diagrams developed for use by college students. Initially this collection is only available on CDs. Schools may purchase all or part of the collection depending on their needs. To utilize the files in this collection, a school must have the free Adobe Acrobat reader® and a means for printing on and processing capsule paper. There are 11,280 files in the complete collection, which is available on 10 CDs. To utilize these diagrams, they must be printed on capsule paper which is then processed with a machine that activates the paper producing a raised image. Topics covered include: aeronautics and astronautics (fluid sciences); aeronautics and astronautics (fluid and thermal sciences); aeronautics and astronautics (control systems, flow charts, graphs, and UNIX systems); biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, earth and atmospheric science; graphs and shapes; mathematics and statistics; physics; economics, languages, life sciences, psychology, and physical education.
Teachernet, Accessible Resources
was developed as part of a pilot project of The Royal National Institute for the Blind, and comes in response to the RNIB campaign 'Right to Read'. That campaign seeks to ensure that 'blind and partially sighted people are able to read the same books at the same time and at the same price as sighted people. Although designed for the United Kingdom, it offers a wealth of useful resources for teachers and parents of the visually impaired. Of special interest are:
Special Education Needs
which provides a wide range of information relating to special education needs and disability advice and materials for teachers, parents and others working with children with SEN in England. You will find information about implementing disability discrimination legislation in schools and about Aiming High for Disabled Children. The
section of TeacherNet is for education professionals interested in all aspects of research. Finally, the page devoted to
lists hundreds of sites with free information and resources for educational
Helping Your Preschool Child
"This booklet is for families and caregivers who want to help their preschool children to learn and to develop the skills necessary for success in school -- and in life." It includes sections on the education and development of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers; tips for preparing a child for kindergarten, selecting TV programming, and choosing child care; and related material. Also available in Spanish. While not specifically designed for the visually impaired child, it still contains much of value. From the U.S. Department of Education.
Delta Society: National Service Animal Resource Center
Information about acquiring a service animal, which is "any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability." Includes a FAQ, definitions, tasks performed by service dogs, and details about applying for and training a service dog. From the Delta Society, an organization whose mission is to "[improve] human health through service and therapy animals."
Lab Resources for Visually Impaired Students
This is an excellent video prepared by the University of Washington showing real-life examples of how blind and vvisually impaired students can do lab experiments. Provides practical examples of the technology and techniques employed.
Lab Resources for Visually Impaired Students
This is an excellent video prepared by the University of Washington showing real-life examples of how blind and vvisually impaired students can do lab experiments in science. Provides practical examples of the technology and techniques employed.
Getting in on Science: Strategies for Teaching Chemistry, Physics, and Physical Science With Labs for Blind and Visually Impaired Students
This is a "must read" for any teacher of a visually impaired student who plans to take chemistry, physics, or any advanced science lab course. It is crammed with practical ideas of how to effectively deal with the highly visual aspects of such classes. Concise and readable, with links to other related resources.
Hadley School for Professional Studies
" . . . a unique distance education program that provides a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional professional continuing education. [Designed for those] who want to build or refresh their skills to work more effectively with clients and students. HSPS . . . allows you to earn Continuing Education Credits.
HSPS courses are available to anyone who works directly with blind or visually impaired individuals in a work, school or community setting, whether as a paid employee or volunteer. Students currently enrolled in a college or university program preparing for a career in the blindness fieled may apply for enrollment, as well. The Hadley School for the Blind has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the accrediting Commissions of the Distance Education and Training Council, North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Hadley is a fully-accredited member of each association."
include Braille, adjusting to vision loss, developing social skills, guide dogs, living independently, business and careers, finding employment, Internet skills, and much more.
"This site brings together the range of web-based content available through Perkins School for the Blind for teachers, families, and others interested in the education of children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with deafblindness or additional disabilities. [It offers] continuing education credit for professional development through a number of these online vehicles, and many of the sites are interactive."
Organizations for Rehabilitation Professionals
Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
"Teachers of students with visual impairments (or VI teachers) are specialized teachers with unique competencies to meet the diverse needs of students with visual impairments. VI teachers work within the special education system, but address the unique needs of children with visual impairments. In addition to working with the children (usually in a one-to-one relationship), VI teachers work closely with other teachers, parents, other people and organizations in the community. VI teachers are specialists at translating medical information into educational practices. VI teachers understand basic diagnostic information about vision, and visual impairments. They take information on a student's visual diagnosis, conduct a functional vision evaluation, and a learning media assessment. Based on those sources of information develop a plan to best teach the student and work with others to address instructional needs. These needs will include basic core curriculum and student-specific needs." The site also provides links to conferences, online courses, degree programs, professional publications and seminars, and much more for professionals in the fields of rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired. There is also a general discussion list, AERNET.
Degree Programs for Teaching the Blind and Visually Impaired
A list of four-year degree programs offered by colleges in the United States for the teaching of the blind and visually impaired. Includes "vision programs" as well as programs in orientation and mobility instruction, deaf-blind education, rehabilitation counseling, etc. Contact information is provided for each school.
Council for Exceptional Children Division on Visual Impairments (DVI)
The organization provides sample articles from its professional journal, educational resources, and legislative information of interest to its members.
California Association of Orientation and Mobility Specialists
CAOMS is a non-profit statewide organization whose mission is to facilitate professional growth and to support the role of Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Specialists in the rehabilitation and education of individuals who have visual impairments. Founded in 1966, CAOMS hosts an annual statewide conference. Membership consists primarily of credentialed O&M Specialists, students, and associates. The site features a text only option.
New and Featured Books - American Foundation for the Blind
The American Foundation for the Blind provides a number of excellent publications and teaching materials at its Web site. Of special importance is The Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, which contains professionally refereed articles, commentary, calendar of professional events, discussion of new techniques in the field, and much more.
California Association of Resource Specialists
The California Association of Resource Specialists is the only organization whose sole purpose is to represent the unique needs of resource specialists and other special education teachers. While a California entity, it is a resource of potential value to professionals in other states. Paradoxically, however, the site is not as screen-reader friendly as it might be.
Vision Education Alberta
This excellent Canadian site offers a wealth of useful information for teachers, parents, and students. When last examined, a number of the internal pages seemed to be down, however.
Teaching the Blind and Visually Impaired
This article describes the basics of teaching in the field of the education of the visually impaired. Outlines educational qualifications, advantages, disadvantages, and rewards.
Orientation and Mobility
A list of four-year colleges offering degrees in orientation and mobility instruction.
Learning Through Listening: Lesson Plans
This site, hosted by Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, is for educators in grades K-12. Its purpose is to provide quick access to lessons and information that focus on developing listening skills and meeting the needs of diverse learners. The content on this site has either been written by educators or reviewed by educators for its practicality and applicability. Includes lesson plans.
Large print Reviews
The purpose of Large Print Reviews is to provide reviews of large print and audio books, as well as reviews of low vision aids, such as magnifiers and screen readers. In addition the authors hope to build a comprehensive list of links to aid those who must deal with a visual impairment.
The Blind Readers’ Page
This site is a guide to sources of information in alternative formats (Braille, recorded cassettes, large print, e-texts, and web audio) accessible by people with print disabilities--those with visual and physical disabilities as well as dyslexia. It is also a guide to information about blindness, visual impairment and other physical disabilities, with a special collection of Wisconsin resources. There are about 2,300 individual links, all evaluated, annotated and organized by subject.
National Braille Association
The mission of the National Braille Association, Inc. is to provide continuing education to those who prepare Braille, and to provide Braille materials to persons who are visually impaired. Of special interest is a link to other organizations dealing with Braille.
Louis Braille Bicentennial
Developed for the bicentennial of the birth of Louis Braille. This site celebrates the 200th anniversary of Braille's birth by providing images of panels and text from a Braille bicentennial traveling exhibit, excerpts from a book about Braille, listing of international Braille events, and links to related sites. From National Braille Press.
Hosted by the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom, this site presents the biography of Louis Braille as well as an explanation of the system for writing he developed. Includes additional resources on Braille.
Selected Anomalies and Diseases of the Eye
A collection of links to information on eye diseases and anomalies for the Teacher of the Visually disabled, who may need a rapid reference for consultative and interpretive purposes. This is a web-based reference work. Each page includes related websites for additional information.
Medical Resources, for parents and teachers of blind and visually impaired children
This site features a searchable database of abstracts from articles in current and past issues of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, including topics about the latest advances in ophthalmic surgical techniques or recent research findings. A one-time registration is required, but access is free. Browseable and accessible.
Eye Disease Simulations [NEI Photos, Images, and Videos]
A creative and interesting site from the National Eye Institute which provides photos, images, and videos to demonstrate how different scenes might be viewed by a person with various eye conditions.
Multiple Disabilities and Vision Loss
Teaching Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments
This site focuses on instructional strategies and resources for the teacher of the multiple impaired. Topics covered include social skills, nonverbal cues, activities, assessment, and much more.
Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults (HKNC) offers intensive and comprehensive rehabilitation training to individuals who are deaf-blind. The rehabilitation and personal adjustment training program at HKNC's headquarters in Sands Point, New York provides evaluation and training in communication skills, adaptive technology, orientation and mobility, independent living, work experience, and other support services. Field Services include ten regional offices, and more than forty affiliated programs, a national training team, technical assistance center, and older adult’s program.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following links from
DO-IT: Disabilities, Opportunities, Internet Working, and Technology
are excellent and may be especially valuable. While designed for the post-secondary environment, some of this material is still applicable for K-12 instruction. It is referenced here with permission because it is easily the best and most thorough discussion of these issues we have found available.
- How can foreign language courses be made more accessible for blind students?
- How can math and science documents be made more accessible to visually impaired students?
- How can students who are blind make measurements in a science lab?
- How can musicians who are blind make use of computers to notate, read and record music?
- If a postsecondary student's accommodations include extra exam time must the professor allow the student to take the exam outside of the classroom?
- If a student with a disability qualifies for accommodations in high school, must they receive the same accommodations in college?
- Is it appropriate for an instructor to ask about the extent and type of a student's vision loss?
- Are there electronic mentoring programs for students with disabilities and, if so, how would I learn about them?
- Are there guidelines for creating accessible math?
There are a number of additional options not discussed in this article. You may want to consult our pages on
Math and Statistics
Specialized Tools for Math and Science
- Are there graphic and scientific calculators that can be used by the blind?
Again, the answer to this question is more complicated than indicated here, but this is an excellent place to begin.
- Are there screen readers that can read math equations?
While the article is helpful, the real question to ask is: "How easy is it for screen readers to read math equations and what do they do well and what do they do poorly?"
- How can I locate a scientist in the field I am interested in with vision loss?
- In a postsecondary setting, who is responsible for providing Braille translation?
This is also an excellent introduction on how to best interact and make use of the disabled student services office on your campus.
- College: You Can Do It!
An excellent online brochure with special sections on preparing for college, attending college, and transitioning out of college. Clear, specific, and highly practical advice.
- Are postsecondary institutions required to purchase adaptive software for a specific course if only one student needs it?
- What Are Tactile Graphics?
"Tactile graphics, sometimes referred to as the haptic sensory modality, deliver information through touch. They often accompany Braille textbooks to convey content in maps, charts, building layouts, schematic diagrams, and images of geometric figures. Tactile graphics are often handmade by Braille transcribers as part of Braille textbook production. In some cases, the creation of tactile graphics is facilitated by automated processes using various software applications. Some methods used to create tactile graphics are described" in this article.
- Web Access: A Case Study on Making Content Accessible to a Student who is Blind
A brief, but highly informative, description of how a blind graduate student in atmospheric sciences developed techniques for accessing material on a web site used by his department that was otherwise inaccessible.
- What are examples of accommodations for students with low vision in science labs?
A good, practical list of things that can be done to make science labs more accessible. Most of these ideas are relatively simple and inexpensive.
- What are some guidelines for creating overhead transparencies that are easier for students to see?
- What are some hints for communicating with individuals who have disabilities?
- Working Together: K12 Teachers and Students with Disabilities
This introduction written for general classroom teachers on what to consider when presented with a disabled student in their class is especially good at explaining legal issues and the meaning of accommodation as well as some possible types of accommodation for a blind or visually impaired child.
- What statement can I put on my syllabus for students with disabilities?
- When requested, why is it important that I provide a reading list to the disability services office prior to the start of a term?
- Where can I find a list of publisher contacts to request electronic text formats?
- Where can I find electronic text versions of books for students who have visual impairments or other print disabilities?
- Why is it important that students with disabilities take precollege mathematics and science courses?
This is an especially important article since it discusses the correlation between success in middle and high-school math and success on the post-secondary level.
- How can blind or visually impaired students get accommodations for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, and other standardized graduate or professional entrance exams?
You may also want to consult
Organizations providing assistance
Computers and Assistive Technology
Legal and governmental resources
Specialized Tools for Math and Science
on this site for additional information.
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