Tips for teachers
Your student and their family will understand that you cannot be expected to manage your classes entirely around the needs of one individual. However these few simple steps from teachers (and support staff) can make all the difference to the way the condition impacts their life and education.
Though primarily written for schoolteachers, much of this information is relevant in higher education establishments. Universities and colleges will have their own dedicated support staff or groups for students with disabilities and should be consulted.
- Learn about the condition and to understand the current level of visual impairment in your student.
- Remember that your very best source of information about how to best help is your student; ask them what they need, how they work at home, what is difficult, and what works.
- Ensure that referrals are readily made if appropriate, not just to your SEN specialist but to those responsible for pastoral care, counsellors and others able to provide practical assistance.
- Ensure that your classroom and your materials are fully accessible to students with a visual impairment. For example, use large print where appropriate, sans-serif fonts, highly contrasting colours, and clear bold diagrams.
- Enquire if IT needs can be met through specialist speech to text software or if colour inverted screens might help.
- Consider the layout of the classroom that is most helpful for their individual needs.
- Ensure that your support staff and others know about the condition
- Liaise with the student’s parents as appropriate to ensure a consistency of approach between the home and learning environments.
- Provide information by voice as well as in writing, for example by reading the words on your blackboard out loud.
- Allow your student to sit wherever in the classroom is best for their level of sight loss. This might be right at the back, where tunnel vision can be used most effectively, or right at the front, in order to see things close up. It may vary, so facilitate this in every lesson.
- Keep floors clear and other reduce hazards like trailing cables around the classroom.
- Be mindful that the student’s condition is progressive and their needs may evolve quickly.
- Ask your student or their parents if more appropriate if they are aware of Retina UK and other national and local charities and organisations.