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The Process of Completing a Functional Vision Assessment for Infants and Toddlers with Visual Impairments

  1. Review medical records. The analysis of available medical information provides the foundation for subsequent observations and assessment. The clinical eye report should provide a diagnosis that suggests particular visual behaviors to observe. The prognosis may provide direction for intervention.
  2. Interview caregivers and other early intervention team members. Ask family members about their concerns and collect observational information from caregivers and other team members.
  3. Natural observation. Observe the child during natural routines in different settings. List the routine and describe its context, such as:
    • physical environment,
    • visual stimuli,
    • properties of objects, or
    • social environment.

Describe the child's visual and other sensory behaviors. Refer to the assessment of visual abilities when describing visual function.

Routine and ContextObservation
Meal time

Story sharing

Indoor play

Outdoor play

4. Assessment of visual abilities and behaviors. Using this table, place an (X) before each item that you assess. Describe the response in detail.

___External ocular status.

___Appearance of the eyes


___Pupillary reflex

___Blink reflex
___Alignment and ocular motility

___Light reflection

___Vestibulo-ocular response
___Oculomotor skills





___Shifting gaze

___Eye-hand coordination
___Near/Intermediate responses (within 3 feet). Note whether the child tried to move closer to materials or whether he or she tilts or turns the head in trying to view objects. Observations may also include the child's ability to locate dropped objects and the ability to match developmentally appropriate objects or pictures.
___Distance responses (beyond 3 feet). Document the child's ability to see detail when the object is not within touching distance
___Visual field Note any head tilts or turns, failure to reach for toys in certain visual quadrants, or unusual movements or postures.


___Visual perceptual skills

___Depth perception

___Visual closure

___Visual discrimination

___Visual association

___Visual memory

___Visual sequencing

___Figure-ground discrimination

___Spatial relationships
___Special visual behaviors (e.g., photophobia, selective responses)
___Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand flapping, head swaying, eye pressing)
___Use of corrective lenses (e.g., avoiding use, looking over or under the lenses)
___Orientation and mobility (e.g., postural adaptations, anticipation of obstacles, adaptation to surface changes, reaction to various illumination and contrast)

Murphy, J.L. (2004). The process of completing a functional vision assessment for infants and toddlers with visual impairments. Chapel Hill, NC: Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairments, FPG Child Development Institute, UNC-CH.

For a more comprehensive assessment of visual function in infants and children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities, refer to:

Langley, M.B. (1998). ISAVE: Individualized systematic assessment of visualefficiency.Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.


Visual Conditions Module 06/06/04

S4 Handout B

EIVI-FPG Child Development Institute