Vision impairments can result from a variety of causes, including congenital conditions, injury, eye disease, and brain trauma, or as the result of other conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Few Ball State students are totally blind, but the adaptations and accommodations needed by blind people can be applied to all students with vision impairments. Most visually impaired students use a combination of accommodations for class participation and learning needs, including books on tape, e-text, or voice synthesizing computers, optical scanners, readers, and Braille. Visually Impaired StudentsMost students with visual impairments use a combination of techniques for dealing with visual materials, including readers, tape-recorded books and lectures and, sometimes, Braille materials. Students may use raised-line drawings of diagrams, charts, illustrations, relief maps, and three-dimensional models. Technology has made available other aids for blind people, including talking calculators, computers with speech output, as well as Braille printers and computers. Not all totally blind students can or wish to read Braille. Even students who have good Braille skills are usually confronted with a shortage of materials produced in Braille. Most visually impaired college students use accessible audio or e-books. Some visually impaired students take their own notes in class using a Perkins Brailler or a computer or they get copies of notes from classmates via email after class. Either way, the process of reading and studying requires more time for a blind student than for a sighted student. When a visually impaired student is present in the classroom, it is helpful for the faculty member to verbalize as much as possible and to provide tactile experiences when possible. Describing written elements aloud in class will benefit all auditory learners, not just students with disabilities. Sitting in the front of the room, having large print on the chalkboard, or using enlarged print on an overhead projector may assist visually impaired students. Overheads can also be reproduced on copy machines. However, the capacity to read printed materials depends greatly on such conditions as the degree of contrast, brightness, and color. It is preferable that the student and faculty member discuss what methods, techniques, or devices may be used to maximum advantage.
Some blind students use guide dogs that are specifically trained and usually well disciplined. Most of the time the guide dog will lie quietly under or beside the table or desk. The greatest disruption a faculty member might expect may be an occasional yawn, stretch, or low moan at the sound of a siren. As tempting as it might be to pet a guide dog, it is important to remember that the dog is responsible for guiding its owner and should not be distracted from the duty while in harness (and therefore working). Test accommodations are another concern for visually impaired students. Such adaptations may include a large print test, use of closed circuit magnifiers (available in RB 168 or the Learning Center), a reader, a scribe, or a word processor. Many visually impaired students cannot see well enough to use a computerized answer sheet and will need to write answers on a separate sheet for someone else to record on the answer sheet. Partially sighted students will usually need extra time on their test, especially if they are reading the test themselves. The Disability Services office and the Learning Center can help faculty members plan appropriate instructional test accommodations. Suggested Classroom Accommodations
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