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Resource developed by Mary Siggs, Speech and Language Therapist, Royal Blind School

A visual impairment may affect communication skills in the following ways:

  • A therapist and child with vision impairment and complex needs play on the grass outsideA lot of meaning is conveyed by non verbal means e.g. body language, facial expressions, gesture etc. A child who is blind or partially sighted will miss out on all this information.
  • The child doesn’t always know when they are being spoken to until they hear their name.
  • It is difficult for the child to attract others attention and keep them talking when they can’t see. They may always wait for others to talk to them first.
  • The child doesn’t always know what others are talking about, making it difficult to join in conversations.
  • The child doesn’t always know to ask for things, as they cannot see what is there.
  • It is difficult to make choices when you don’t know what the choices are.
  • Humour can be difficult to understand when you can’t see others facial expressions and body language.
  • It takes longer to process information when you miss out on all the visual cues. Remember to give TIME to think and respond.

Some strategies to use when communicating with visually impaired people:

    Teacher talking to visually impaired boy on climbing wall
  • Always use the child’s name at the beginning so they know you are talking to them.
  • Always tell them who you are – don’t assume they will recognize your voice.
  • Tell them what is going to happen before it happens.
  • Use clear and specific language, naming people and things. They will not know what you have beside you/ are holding etc.
  • Give TIME to respond. It is difficult to know when it’s your turn to speak when you can’t see what is happening.
  • Give child opportunities to use touch and hearing if they need to and the TIME to do so.
  • Remember it will be easiest for the child to work in a quiet environment.
  • If the child has vision make sure you are sitting/standing where they can see you.

Learn More

Learn communication techniques you can use with young people with visual impairment in our video on Social Introduction Skills

Find out about Canaan Barrie On-Body Signing

Last modified: Thursday, 31 May 2018, 2:47 PM