Accommodations are an essential part of your child’s IEP. They’re supports and changes that remove barriers to learning, and outline how educators will adjust your child’s environment to maximize learning and reduce fatigue. Accommodations allow for equal access to the curriculum and learning environment.
No two kids with CVI are alike. Accommodations are specific to each child, but they should always be targeted to CVI and should always address: How will your child use visual and compensatory skills to access learning and engage in specific activities throughout the day?
Assessment data drives the development of accommodations and supports for your child’s IEP.
Accommodations should reflect need areas identified by assessment and integrate your child’s CVI visual behaviors. It’s helpful to organize your child’s accommodations by type. For example, how learning is presented (presentation), how your student shows what they know (response), changes in their learning environment (setting), and time for task completion or timing of the day (timing and scheduling). You’ll notice a more detailed organizational structure of CVI accommodations below.
Here’s an overview of general CVI accommodations created by the Perkins CVI Assessment Team and based on multiple perspectives in the field. Your list might differ, compiled in conjunction with your child’s learning team. That’s OK!
Click on the links below to find examples of accommodations and supports for each category.
Create an accessible school day by evaluating each activity in your child’s day, consider CVI strategies and interventions embedded in each activity, and take into account each visual behavior. Your child’s school day should:
Supportive seating and positioning are likely to increase your child’s visual attentiveness and sensory skill use, as well as engagement in the learning process. Where and how is your child positioned during learning activities? What’s the most optimal seat in the classroom during whole-class instruction, lunchtime, and specials to support access to instruction?
Your child should be fully physically supported for vision-based activities. This may include wheelchair, stander, or any other equipment adaptations required (armrests, footrests, stool) as well as in any other position deemed safe by your physical therapist and occupational therapist.
Learning materials should be positioned in your child’s most accessible visual field (right, left, upper, lower). Your child must be permitted to alter their seating position to accommodate their visual field.
Your child may need to face away from light sources during visual tasks: side lighting from windows and lamps, overhead lighting from ceiling and skylights. Reflected light on learning materials and devices may need to be controlled.
Your child may need to face away from distracting motion (people or objects) in their central and peripheral visual fields.
Your child may need to face away from visual clutter (wall decorations, bulletin boards, bookshelves, messy stacks of items) and face a simple, plain background during learning activities.
Many kids with CVI have face blindness, difficulty looking at faces and facial recognition, and interpretation of facial expressions. There must be accommodations that provide your child access to both adults and peers in the school setting.
Visible features may need to be pointed out to your child (for example, glasses, hair color, and shape). For example, “Today ___ is wearing a red shirt.” The visual attributes of others, including peers, should be pointed out, too. For example, “Carmen, join Zoe, who’s wearing a bright pink shirt today.”
Your child should be informed who’s in the room with them (especially if others are at a distance) and what they are doing.
Your child should be provided with verbal information during social situations. For example, “Your friend is waiting outside the classroom in her green coat.”
If photographs of people are accessible, your child’s educator might:
For many kids with CVI, a quiet and visually simple environment is optimal for learning. Distracting light, movement, noise, even temperature can overload their brain and make learning and vision use inaccessible. How can their learning environment be made fully accessible? What’s required to ensure safe navigation in all settings across the school day?
Your child’s educator might:
Your child should be monitored at all times for safety and changes of depth. An educator might:
A school team might:
If your child has difficulty with the perception of movement toward them (speed, direction, distance), educators should ensure safety in activities such as gym class, out-of-class activities, or travel through the community.
Your child needs a learning environment with reduced visual clutter: plain walls and minimal decor; solid-color carpet or floor; reduced number of items on shelves, bookcases, or shared surfaces. Storage and organizational systems in the classroom can help reduce clutter.
A classroom should have predictable places for personal items, resources, and learning materials so your child knows where to find and return things.
Educators should wear dark, plain-colored shirts so their clothing doesn’t create visual clutter for your child.
Your child’s learning environment may need to be quiet with low levels of background noise.
Your child should be allowed separate/early arrival to destinations when environments are quieter. They should be allowed to visit busy places at quieter times and transition between classes shortly before or following the bell to avoid navigation in highly busy environments.
Your child’s learning environments may need controlled sources of light; this includes natural and artificial lighting positioned overhead or laterally. This will allow light input to be increased or reduced when necessary.
Educators should pay attention to orientation and mobility. For example, they may use an object (or photograph of the object, if it’s familiar) of one aspect of a destination or activity. So, if they’re heading to the lunchroom, they could represent it with a photo of the exact spoon your child uses there.
When there are sounds within the environment, an educator should tell your child what they are and, if possible, bring them to the source to build upon their visual and auditory memory.
They might also use large, shiny, colored, and consistent destination indicators on locations that can be seen at certain distances.
Learning media (or the material used for learning tasks) is critical for educational access. Results from your child’s learning media assessment (LMA) and CVI assessments will show the most accessible learning media for literacy, numeracy, and writing. Depending on assessment results, accommodations should include considerations for 3D/real objects, 2D (photographs versus illustrations; color versus black and white), font style, size, color, contrast, and spacing (between letters, words, sentences).
Depending on your child’s learning needs, educators might:
Your child’s materials should contrast in color with the surface area; for example, a brightly saturated color against a plain, dark background.
Educators should use highly saturated colors to draw and sustain your child’s visual attention. They may also use color to highlight areas of importance on 3D/2D materials for instruction in visual attributes.
Edges of bins, containers, and work surfaces may need to be colored to show boundaries and support visual-motor skills.
Educators should avoid glare on learning materials and tech devices. Glare may disrupt your child’s visual attention and recognition. Using matte or non-glossy laminate is preferable.
Backlit 3D and 2D materials might also support visual attention and recognition, as do objects that have an element of light.
Your child may need to use shiny materials to draw and sustain their visual attention.
Meaningful and systematic instruction must go along with accessible learning materials. Many kids with CVI don’t have access to incidental learning, which must be directly taught and incorporated into all learning tasks. Presentation of materials should consider reduced clutter, increased spacing, use of color and light, sensory inputs, visual field abilities, and visual-motor skills.
Your child’s educator should:
Visual information should be reinforced and integrated into meaningful routines and activities for your child. Visual experiences that are motivating and paired with reinforcement are more likely to increase learning and engagement. Your child’s educator should present tasks or demands one at a time.
Your child’s educator should:
Your child’s school team may need to:
School teams may need to:
School teams may need to:
School teams may need to:
When using movement to draw visual attention to an object or smaller details, educators may need to place the object slightly in front and off to the side and slowly move it, without noise, in a small area of space. They should allow time for your child to visually fixate.
Educators may need to use reduced visual clutter, movement of objects, lighted objects, or shiny elements to gain your child’s visual attention and increase the ability of controlled visual-motor skills.
If your child uses an AAC device, their team should standardize locations of photographs/words so that your home device looks exactly the same as their school device.
This list is meant to inspire discussion and inquiry about the best accommodations for your child. Access is individual. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for children with CVI. Accommodations must be individualized based on comprehensive assessment results and meet the needs of the whole child.