Visual Impairment Glossary

Vision impairment and blindness, its causes, and assistive resources come with a huge range of terminology. Browse our glossary to learn the meanings of these terms. 

Fingers type on a BrailleNote touch
Browse the glossary using this index

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This allows a student to write a paper in braille on a refreshable braille device, convert to ink print in Duxbury, and export to Word with all the emphasis of the original braille showing up in the Word file.



This refers to the ability of humans to detect objects in their environment by sensing echoes coming from those objects. By creating sounds – like tapping canes, stomping their foot, snapping their fingers, or making clicking noises with their mouths – people with this training are able to know where they are in space by interpreting the sound waves reflected back to them from objects around them, accurately identifying their location and size. This ability is used by some visually impaired people to navigate within their environment using auditory rather than visual cues.


Using braille translation software, a document can be embossed (printed) using an embossing machine. Embossers usually need special braille paper which is thicker and more expensive than normal paper. Embossers can be either one-sided or two-sided printers.


Fine Motor Activities

Fine motor skills are those that encourage a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. The development of these skills allows someone to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, and buttoning.

Functional Vision

A person’s ability to use vision in activities of daily living.


Gooseneck switch

Flat round switch mounted on a flexible arm

Gooseneck Swtich

A switch mounted on a flexible arm

Gross Motor Activities

Gross motor skills are movements involving the large muscles of the body. The development of gross motor skills starts as soon as a child is born. A visually impaired child often needs support to make sure these skills are developed.


Heat Fuser

A heat machine used in conjunction with Zytex2 paper to produce tactile diagrams. The printed diagram is passed through the heat fuser causing the black ink to swell up and form raised lines which can be examined using the hands.


Independent Living Skills

Independent living skills are skills necessary to live as independently as possible. Skills may include housekeeping, cooking, time management, shopping, laundry, and budgeting.

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