The CVI AAC Matrix

Determine a course of action for selecting and adapting an accessible communication system for students with CVI


The AAC/CVI Matrix is an instrument designed for educational teams and families to match a student’s CVI Range score (by Phase) with their current expressive language levels (based on the Communication Matrix) in order to determine a course of action for selecting and adapting an accessible communication system. Points included in the chart are considerations based on the needs in each area, not strict guidelines. CVI intervention is guided by Phase, but there is no “one size fits all” approach.

Visual adaptations are unique to each student’s needs, based on the impact of CVI Characteristics on visual functioning. Expressive communication intervention is guided by the student’s current levels of expressive/symbolic communication. It is important to consider that language for children with complex communication needs does not always develop in a linear fashion following typical development. Students may have skills that are scattered across different levels and functions of communication, and it may be relevant to consider goals and the use of AAC across more than one level of communication. For example, a student may use unconventional communication behaviors to refuse, while utilizing tangible symbols to request, and may have an emerging use of individual signs or spoken words for social communication.

Students with cortical visual impairment and complex communication needs including those who have additional/multiple disabilities often require the development of individualized, multimodal communication programs to support their expressive communication and access to information and interactions throughout the day. Professionals working with these students require a holistic understanding of communication development and assessment, and knowledge of unique techniques and approaches that apply to this diverse group of students. This session will focus on an overview of CVI adaptations to multi-modal AAC including no-tech, light-tech, and high-tech communication systems. A new resource for supporting teams in developing appropriate communication systems for students with CVI will be shared with participants, The AAC/CVI Matrix (Russell & Willis, 2020).

How to earn credits

To earn professional development credits for this experience, use the “Earn Credits” button to register and then complete an assessment based on the presented material.

Meet the Presenters

Christopher Russell
Christopher Russell
Christopher Russell is the Project Coordinator for the New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative, and has experience as a classroom teacher and Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) working with children who have visual impairments and additional disabilities including deaf-blindness. Chris presents widely in NY and nationally on educational implications of deaf-blindness, cortical visual impairment, curriculum adaptations, and communication development for children with pre-symbolic communication. He has the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement and serves as co-instructor with Dr. Roman on the Perkins E-Learning CVI and CVI: Phase III courses.
Jennifer Willis
Teacher of the Deaf
Jennifer Willis has worked with children who have dual sensory impairment since 2003, initially as an intervener working with deafblind students, and then as a Teacher of the Deaf for nine years at the Maryland School for the Deaf. She served children in the birth-to-5 years population and their families, with a special focus on children with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. Jen holds a certification in special education and early childhood education, and has extensive training related to supporting children who are deaf or hard of hearing with additional needs. In addition, she has many years of experience working with children who have cortical visual impairment and has earned the Perkins/Roman CVI Range Endorsement. In her role as Project Coordinator for CBSS, Jen delivers state-wide training, technical assistance, and coaching to parents, school teams, and related service providers regarding the educational impacts of deafblindness, CVI, curriculum modifications, and communication development for children with complex communication needs.
Approximately one hour
2 Continuing Education
2 Professional Development
$55 - Earn credits