Teacher with students in a classroom

Tips for Modifying the Learning Environment for Children with Visual Impairments and Additional Disabilities

Review classroom modifications to meet your students' individual needs at the beginning of every school year.

The beginning of the school year is a great time to revisit how the classroom is modified to meet your students’ individual needs. Below are some tips around Organization, Illumination, and Selection and Adaptation of Materials to help you prepare for the year ahead.


  1. Organize the classroom by dividing it according to subjects areas, such as music, work or snack areas, using furniture, rugs and colored tape.
  2. Arrange the furniture so that it is not placed haphazardly throughout the room and is consistently in the same location.
  3. Designate places for materials and toys within their defined learning areas.
  4. Be consistent about returning materials to their designated space.
  5. Reduce the amount of visual clutter in the classroom. If there are open shelves, eliminate distractions by covering the shelf unit with a solid-colored cloth.


  1. Use curtains and blinds on windows to control the level of illumination at different times of the day and to avoid glare.
  2. Use non-reflective surfaces to eliminate glare from overhead lighting.
  3. Use individual lighting to focus on a specific task.
  4. Seat a student with his or her back to the window to reduce distractions and discomfort from the light.

Selection and Adaptation of Materials

  1. Use visual and tactual symbols or signs along the child’s route to provide cues for orientation and mobility purposes.
  2. Use contrasting colors for all activities.
  3. Avoid using a patterned background such as a flowery or checkered tablecloth for work surfaces.
  4. Enhance toys that are not visually stimulating with colored tape to provide more contrast.
  5. Outline materials with a contrasting color. For example, try outlining the indentation of a puzzle with a black marker.


Cluttered classroomAdapting Environments for Individuals with Vision Loss
In this webcast, Darick Wright speaks about adapting the environment to help maximize the use of vision. He provides guidelines for environmental modifications and evaluation to improve contrast and lighting and reduce visual clutter and glare for individuals with vision loss.
Cover of How We See ItHow We See It: A Basic Guide to Low Vision
This guide provides a basis for understanding low vision in children, including different categories of vision loss and how it may affect functioning. It also offers common environmental adaptations and practical information in preparing children for low vision examinations.
Teacher with young child
Suggestions for Modifying the Home and School Environment
This handbook is designed for parents and teachers of children with dual sensory impairments and other physical limitations. It contains practical, affordable and easily implemented suggestions for enhancing a child’s learning and mobility by making the environment more visible.
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