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Adaptations for learners with Cortical Visual Impairment at home

At a glance Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a neurological impairment that impacts an individual’s visual functioning. Occurs at a high rate among children with multiple disabilities, children with Cerebral Palsy, and children with developmental disabilities.  Vision can range from a mild to a profound visual impairment.

A child sits at a table smiling and turns the page on a workbook that's propped up in front of him.

At a glance

  • Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a neurological impairment that impacts an individual’s visual functioning.
  • Occurs at a high rate among children with multiple disabilities, children with Cerebral Palsy, and children with developmental disabilities. 
  • Vision can range from a mild to a profound visual impairment. 
  • With the appropriate assessment and intervention, the visual functioning of a child with CVI can often improve.
  • The following suggestions are helpful tips, however, you should additionally consider reviewing The 10 Characteristics (Roman-Lantzy, 2018) to guide your decision making. 

Adaptations for the home environment

Simplification of the environment

  • Control the amount of visual clutter in view. For example, experiment with placing your child’s desk or table in a less busy area of the house.
  • Eliminate background noise by turning off televisions, radios, or appliances that make a lot of noise during dedicated work times.
  • All children, but especially children with CVI, need breaks from screen time. Provide your child with regular visual breaks throughout the day.
  • If possible, consider using a dark blanket or towel to block stimulating backgrounds. 

Illumination

  • If possible, position your child with his or her back to the window.
  • Use lighting to your advantage! If there is too much natural light or glare, consider bringing the shades down or using an old blanket to cover the window. 
  • To encourage attention or looking, illuminate the items you do want your child to attend to. If you have a flashlight, you can use it as a spot light when showing materials or objects to encourage visual attention from your child. 
  • When using laminated materials, adjust the position of the item to minimize the amount of glare.

Materials

  • Limit the amount of items on the kitchen table during activities (i.e. mealtime, arts and craft, school work).
  • Simplify! Select learning materials (i.e. puzzles, worksheets) that are less visually complex or “busy”.
  • If your child has preferred colors (i.e. red, yellow, etc.), consider outlining materials in those colors.
  • Create high contrast materials by placing them on a black piece of construction paper, dark blanket, or towel. 

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