In the first part of this blog you’ll find guidelines for adapting your classroom for blind and partially sighted pupils.
It is important to try and keep the classroom layout as static as possible and if you do make changes to the layout that you let the children experience that change and show them where you have moved things to. Also to try and minimise the amount of moving around from table to table and teach specific routes to the carpet/blackboard etc.
Your pupil with vision impairment does need to learn to navigate unfamiliar areas but it is important that their immediate learning environment stays as unchanged as possible. This reduces their stress and allows them to learn better, it also gives them confidence to move around independently. If environments are always changing and have unexpected obstacles to negotiate all the time the pupil will become more reliant on others and ultimately less proactive in their mobility.
Be aware of the social needs of your pupil. As it is not a good idea to keep moving the pupil with vision impairment from table to table, especially if their desk has a lot of assistive equipment, you can vary the other pupils working on the table to allow for new friends to be made and a different mix of personalities.
It is also a good idea to let the pupil work in a space away from their normal seat and sometimes without all their equipment. This obviously involves devising a task where the fixed supports are less necessary but also gives them the freedom to be like everyone else for a moment.
A slant (or sloping) board helps to provide a better working angle for pupils with vision impairment, but not using their slanting board occasionally, depending on the type and duration of task, is ok.
"As a primary teacher myself, especially mostly in the infant department, it is hard not to make the classroom very visually stimulating. It is not possible to make everything perfect for the vision impaired pupil but be aware that a visually busy environment (visually or spatially) is an exhausting one. It is important to consider as much as possible ‘why’ something is going on the wall or in the room and how necessary it is."
Sally Paterson, Learning Hub manager
Don't position a pupil with vision impairment facing the windows as the glare can cause problems, and try not to teach with the windows or a main light source behind you. Be aware of the way the light coming into the room affects the board/walls etc.
Want to learn more? Try our Guidelines for Blind and Partially Sighted Pupils.
In part two of this blog we will finish off our guidelines for adapting the classroom for pupils with vision impairment.