Adaptations for Learners with Cortical Visual Impairment at Home

Close up of partial view of 3 x 3 red grid set into a black board. Red and blue peg are velcroed to the board. Bella's hand is s

A child works on CVI activities.

May 19, 2020

At a Glance

  • Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a neurological impairment that impacts an individual’s visual functioning.

  • Occurs at a high rate among children with multiple disabilities, children with Cerebral Palsy, and children with developmental disabilities. 

  • Vision can range from a mild to a profound visual impairment. 

  • With the appropriate assessment and intervention, the visual functioning of a child with CVI can often improve.

  • The following suggestions are helpful tips, however, you should additionally consider reviewing The 10 Characteristics (Roman-Lantzy, 2018) to guide your decision making. 

Adaptations for the Home Environment

Simplification of the Environment

  • Control the amount of visual clutter in view. For example, experiment with placing your child’s desk or table in a less busy area of the house.

  • Eliminate background noise by turning off televisions, radios, or appliances that make a lot of noise during dedicated work times.

  • All children, but especially children with CVI, need breaks from screen time. Provide your child with regular visual breaks throughout the day.

  • If possible, consider using a dark blanket or towel to block stimulating backgrounds. 


  • If possible, position your child with his or her back to the window.

  • Use lighting to your advantage! If there is too much natural light or glare, consider bringing the shades down or using an old blanket to cover the window. 

  • To encourage attention or looking, illuminate the items you do want your child to attend to. If you have a flashlight, you can use it as a spot light when showing materials or objects to encourage visual attention from your child. 

  • When using laminated materials, adjust the position of the item to minimize the amount of glare.


  • Limit the amount of items on the kitchen table during activities (i.e. mealtime, arts and craft, school work).

  • Simplify! Select learning materials (i.e. puzzles, worksheets) that are less visually complex or "busy".

  • If your child has preferred colors (i.e. red, yellow, etc.), consider outlining materials in those colors.

  • Create high contrast materials by placing them on a black piece of construction paper, dark blanket, or towel. 

More Resources

Literacy Activities for the KY Deafblind Derby Dash

Make Your Own Experience Baggie

Reducing Visual Complexity in Books