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Recommendations to Enhance Vision and Vision Efficiency within the Physical Environment

When considering environmental adaptations for children with visual impairments, think about changes that will allow them to be more independent. For example, if there are no natural obstacles in the way, children will never learn to go around an obstacle. On the other hand, if there are so many things in the way that children cannot move independently, they will most likely be restricted in their movement and interaction with the environment. When adapting or changing the physical environment, consider

  • changes that increase children's independence do what makes sense versus creating an artificial environment
  • changes that will benefit all children
  • making adaptations natural versus artificial
  • whether or not children can negotiate the physical environment with familiarization versus changing the environment
  • fading adaptations to assure that children can negotiate the real world.
  • Information about how the child's visual condition affects lighting needs. More is not necessarily better; child may be light sensitive or see better in dim lighting. Dimmer switches can help control lighting.
  • Where should the lighting be positioned? Usually it is better for light to come from behind.
  • Some children need higher intensity lighting for detail vision. Task lighting can sometimes be helpful.
  • Check for glare on television and computer monitors, blackboards, laminated pictures. Alter the position of lights to control glare.
  • Contrasting colors are easier to see. Provide a contrasting colored background to visually emphasize objects, resources, activities, etc.
Size and distance
  • Increase the magnification of objects by bringing them closer or by increasing the size. Allow children to bring materials as close as they need to and allow them to be close to you, materials, or activities such as circle time.
Positioning of materials
  • Position materials within the visual range of the child. If the children need to hold materials close to see, place the materials on a slant board, wedge, or higher surface so that the child does not have to hold his head down to see. If children use equipment such as a side lier, position materials in the visual field.
  • The speed of objects as they pass through the visual field affects children's ability to see. A rolling ball may move too fast for the child to fixate and follow; a balloon of the same size moving slowly may be easier for the child to follow.

Brown, C. (2003). Recommendations to enhance vision and vision efficiency within the physical environment. Chapel Hill, NC: Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairments, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-CH.

Visual Conditions Module 06/30/04

S4 Handout M

EIVI-FPG Child Development Institute