The What’s the Complexity Framework: Designing a visually accessible school day for the child with CVI

Use the “What’s the Complexity” Framework to design a visually accessible school day for children with CVI.

Use the “What’s the Complexity” Framework to design a visually accessible school day for children with CVI.

This course addresses the, “Now what?” question that many of us face as educators and family members. Learning about CVI and its diverse variety of manifestations is an important first step, and the first few weeks of this course will focus on deepening our understanding of CVI. However, the primary theme of this course is on the practical, systematic things we can do to guide teams in implementing this knowledge throughout the school day in order to give students true access.

In the beginning of the course, participants will move toward an advanced understanding of how CVI can impact a person’s ability to process the environments and curriculum materials throughout a typical school day. In order to explore the ways in which CVI can impact a child’s behavior and access to education, we will be integrating both the literature from the “Cortical Visual Impairment” and the “Cerebral Visual Impairment” schools of thought.

Next, participants will learn how to use The What’s the Complexity Framework in order to evaluate the complexity of school environments, tasks and materials and to guide educational teams in creating more visually accessible, appropriate learning activities for children with CVI.

In addition to learning how to rate the complexity level of a particular environment or education task, we will also emphasize the importance of balancing the complexity of the environment and task in each activity, managing cumulative complexity and visual fatigue throughout the school day, assessing interpretation of two-dimensional images, and providing direct instruction in salient features.

Course objectives

Participants will:

  • Identify the main barriers to visual access throughout the school day for children with CVI
  • Explain many of the ways in which CVI can impact a student’s access to the visual world and, more specifically the school environment.
  • Explain how inappropriate visual demands can affect the behavior of children with CVI
  • Assess a child’s ability to interpret two-dimensional images
  • Describe the ways in which the ideas and strategies from the literature on cortical visual impairment and cerebral visual impairment relate to and complement one another
  • Design interventions for math and literacy instruction
  • Complete a What’s the Complexity Assessment for one of their own students (can be a current student, past student or a hypothetical student).
  •  Describe the three phases of parent-professional collaboration according to Fialka and colleagues
  • Work with families to create a collaboration system that is unique to that families values and preferences
  • Describe a collaboration system for helping a student have a voice in their own accommodations and interventions.

Required text

“What’s the Complexity” will use selected chapters from:

  •  Lueck & Dutton (2015). Vision & the Brain: Understanding Cerebral Visual Impairment in Children. American Printing House for the Blind. Louisville, KY.  Available through APH and
  • Fialka, Janice., M, Feldman, Arlene, K, Mikus, Karen, C. (2012). Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children with Disabilities: A Dance that Matters. Revised Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press . Available through Corwin and

Other payment option

To pay by purchase order, choose the purchase order option during checkout. Contact Perkins eLearning at [email protected] for any questions.

What people are saying about this course…

“The What’s the Complexity Framework course provided exciting, new and innovative ideas and tools that I can and will use to evaluate the complexity of school environments, tasks and materials for my students with CVI to guide educational teams in creating more visually accessible and appropriate activities.

“The instructor was passionate about both what was taught and how it was taught. The value in being exposed to the material in this class is profound and will stay with me throughout the remainder of my career teaching students with CVI!”
~~ Angela, TVI

“Matt has a wealth of knowledge and resources!
I was not new to CVI, but learned about balancing the students day. The wealth of information and explanation of tools was extremely helpful.”
~~ Shannon, TVI

“I can’t express my excitement about having a path to navigate to help my two therapeutic day schools update their practice to better serve our students with CVI. I already have a staff wide PD scheduled…to share all of the new information!”
~~ Melissa, TVI


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Meet the Presenters

Matt Tietjen, M.Ed., CTVI
Matt Tietjen is an education consultant and teacher of students with visual impairments. Matt earned his undergraduate degree at Cornell University. He became certified in special education certification at Southern Connecticut State University. He received his certification in teaching students with visual impairments from UMASS Boston, where he also earned his Master’s in Education. Matt specializes in working with children who have cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI). He developed the What’s the Complexity Framework (APH Press) out of his conviction that children with CVI deserve a visually accessible school day. Matt is passionate about teaching families and educators about CVI and partnering with them to create person-centered educational programs. Matt’s What’s the Complexity Framework appears as Chapter 4 in “Cortical Visual Impairment: Advanced Principles,” edited by Christine Roman-Lantzy. Matt presents internationally on CVI and teaches CVI graduate courses through UMASS Boston, Perkins School for the Blind, and Fitchburg State University. Matt, along with two co-authors, is currently writing a book on academic accommodations for students with CVI (Perkins Publications).

Matt Tietjen has been paid by Perkins to be the instructor for this class. He does not have nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

Some publications or products used in this course are produced, manufactured, or resold by Perkins.

Perkins School for the Blind is approved by the Continuing Education board of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to provide continuing education activities in speech-language pathology and audiology. See the course information for number of ASHA CEUs, instructional level, and content area. ASHA CE Provider approval does not imply endorsement of course content, specific products, or clinical procedures.

Read or listen to an interview with Matt.

ASHA CE Approved Provider

Perkins School for the Blind is an AOTA Approved Provider of professional development. Course approval ID# 02955. This course is offered at 3.3 CEUs, intermediate level, OT service delivery. The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.

Multiple weeks
3 Graduate
40 Continuing Education
40 Professional Development
3.3 ASHA
3.3 AOTA
$475 - Regular Price