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Promising practices and CVI

Until we have more research, many interventions used for kids with CVI are known as promising practices. Here's how to think about what works.

A young girl painting

As the parent of a child with Cortical Visual Impairment/Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI), you know that time is of the essence: What’s the best way for my kid to access his learning? What needs to be in place immediately to ensure progress? What are some quick tips and strategies? And which evaluations, assessments, and interventions work best for my child with CVI?

But when it comes to CVI, parents and educators have a challenge. We’re learning new things about CVI all the time. We don’t have a long history of best practices, bolstered by years of evidence. There are lots of strategies and approaches, but we don’t yet fully know why they work and who benefits most. We need more research.

This is partly because every child with CVI is so unique. No two experiences are exactly alike. You may see strategy suggestions, programs, CVI iPad applications, or YouTube videos shared for children with CVI, but do they match your child’s individual skills and needs? They might not.

We know that for kids with CVI, it’s all about access. At every turn, professionals need to consider the environment, physical positioning, materials, presentation, and instructional methodologies that match each child’s unique visual profile.

Just the same, there are some strategies that work for many kids with CVI; for example, reducing the complexity and clutter in the environment or using familiar items to support the development of concepts. But it’s also important to know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. A literacy intervention that might work with one kid might not work with another. CVI professionals are constantly iterating and innovating.

In education, you often hear about evidence-based practices. These are practices that are supported by robust, well-designed, and peer-reviewed research studies. At the moment, many interventions used for kids with CVI are known as promising practices instead. These practices need to be applied carefully, with their effectiveness determined through measurable results and successful outcomes, as supported through data collection. For some of those promising practices—even if not bolstered by a wide swath of research evidence—the effectiveness can be extrapolated and generalized across the CVI population. Here’s what we do know:

For CVI, a promising practice should be:
And there are certain areas where we can apply promising practices across the board. They include:

It’s important to consider the range of promising practices being explored for children with CVI. There are no blanket solutions. Among many things, your teacher of the visually impared (TVI) should think about:

To that end, it’s important to regularly check in with your TVI or additional team members to discuss the rationale behind their strategies. Don’t be afraid. There’s nothing wrong with advocating for your child.

When meeting with your TVI, make sure to discuss:

Most of all, it’s important to collaborate with your team on promising practices. Here’s how.

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