Thursday, 31 January 2019

Tips for Supporting a Student who is Blind or Partially Sighted

Blog by Anu Pala
Embarking on post secondary studies can be challenging for any student, but when the student is blind or partially sighted, navigating the system can be even more challenging. Providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment will help to set up the student for success.

The following tips will help faculty, staff, and instructors support students with vision loss. Remember that each student’s experience is unique, so what works for one may not necessarily work for another. When in doubt, ask!

Personal Interaction

Be open to connecting with your student prior to or at the beginning of the course.

When greeting a totally blind student, be sure to use their first name so that they knows you are talking to them. Also identify yourself as the student may not recognize your voice.

Take the time to educate yourself about some common eye conditions as this will give you a greater understanding of what a person with vision loss experiences, and ask the student to describe how they see.

When guiding a student to a seat, offer your elbow for sighted guide and walk a step or two ahead rather than guiding them in front of you.

Ensure that you have established a method of communication between you and your student for receiving assignments or other material in electronic format, if not through MOODLE.


Try to confirm the textbook and reading materials well in advance of the start of course and send it to the Program Associate. This is vital for Accessibility Services to ensure that the reading materials are available in a format that is accessible to the student.

Use high contrast in your PowerPoint presentations.

When using visuals in presentations in class, take the time to describe them out loud so that the student with vision loss understands what everyone else is looking at.

When writing on the board, ensure that you verbalize what is being written so that the student can follow along.

When using videos that do not have dialog, ensure that you describe any important elements to the student afterwards or in advance.

Anu presented a workshop that delved into some of the common challenges faced by students with vision loss, and examined ways to foster inclusion and to provide practical tools to support students online and in the classroom, as well as reviewed a variety of assistive technologies and apps used by blind and partially sighted people.

Topics discussed:
  • Common myths and stereotypes about people living with vision loss
  • Common challenges students with vision loss experience online and on campus
  • Tips on providing a positive experience for the professor and the student
  • Sighted guide technique
  • Popular assistive technologies and apps
Watch or listen to the recorded workshop here.

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