Adapting lessons for children with vision impairment: Part two

Post date: 
Friday, 29 July 2016
Photo of the resources and adapted work

In part two of Insight’s three-part series, Anna Pilson, a QTVI from Sheffield Vision Support Service, shares how they approached modifying classwork for two Year 9 maths students.

The key role of a qualified teacher of children with vision impairment (QTVI) is to provide support to children with vision impairment (VI) so they have access to the curriculum effectively. Sheffield Vision Support Service supports children with VI from birth to 25 years of age. The service visits schools across the city to provide bespoke modification of learning resources, mainstream staff training, specialist teaching and in-class support.

Simran and Qurat-ul-ain’s story

Both girls are currently Year 9 pupils. Simran has central vision impairment, so she finds it difficult to see small print and also struggles with bright lighting, which makes her squint.
Qurat-ul-ain’s vision is deteriorating and she now uses large print resources, which are at least font size 48, although she finds lots of visual information tiring. She is beginning to learn braille, having daily lessons from a QTVI. However, in the past she has been reluctant to use touch to access lesson materials.
Simran and Qurat-ul-ain sometimes struggle to retain information and keep up with mainstream lesson pace. This means they can miss information and the opportunities to practice to achieve mastery of a task. Both are working at around the equivalent of an old National Curriculum Level 2/3 in Maths, which is lower than a lot of their peers

The original task

The mainstream maths teacher had planned to do a series of lessons on angles, involving identifying whether they were acute or obtuse, and measuring and drawing them correctly. Because the mainstream teacher communicated this plan with the QTVI in advance, the QTVI was able to make sure she did some pre-teaching with the pupils on the topic.
Both pupils have a reduced mainstream lesson timetable so they have time for the extra curriculum provided by Sheffield Vision Support Staff at the school. An additional timetable is usually personalised to suit individual needs. Pupils may have sessions in mobility, independent living, social and emotional development, reinforcement/pre-teaching of mainstream subjects, and learning braille or ICT skills such as touch typing. These sessions are crucial to supporting the child holistically so they can become independent in school and at home.

Adapting resources

The QTVI felt it was important to support Qurat-ul-ain's tactile development in a way that was not too overt, to combat her initial reluctance to use tactile formats, such as raised diagrams. So she presented work in dual format of large print and tactile diagrams. This also meant that the pupils could work together and Simran could gain confidence in her maths skills by offering peer support to Qurat-ul-ain.
The work was originally from a textbook, but the print was too small for either girl to access. Each diagram was enlarged and given thicker and longer lines, so they extended past the end of the tactile protractors the pupils would use. Then they were put through a Zychem machine, which by heating ink on a special type of paper, makes diagrams raised and accessible via touch. Additionally, the layout of the pictures was quite busy and cluttered, so each image was presented on a separate piece of paper. This helped to make sure that the pupils did not get confused which diagram they were working on.
The QTVI also altered the orientation of the images so the angles were presented to same way up.

This seemingly simple modification had a huge impact because the pupils knew exactly how to place and orientate their protractors. The girls gained confidence because they were working consistently and so their skills embedded more quickly.

This kind of information is added to our service's Pupil Work Preparation form, which is a working document that outlines pupil's formatting preferences for their classwork. Now staff preparing work in future will know how to best to present information on angles for these individual children.

Accessing the lesson

The QTVI approached the lesson in a step-by-step manner, building on from basic skills to achieve the higher level objectives of measuring and drawing angles.
The session began with tracking fingers along the diagram, to demonstrate knowledge of where the angle was and therefore where to place the protractor.

It is easy to assume that pupils have certain skills already, but this demonstrates how important it is to begin learning processes from a basic level so the child with VI understands all stages of the process. Even if this proves to be a recap rather than new knowledge and information, it is still valuable.

Once the pupils were secure in placing their equipment correctly, they began to measure the angles. Qurat-ul-ain counted the tactile notches on her protractor and Simran used a large print version that was made of transparent acetate. The QTVI gave Simran two versions of the protractor, so that she could choose which one was best.
Contrary to expectation, Simran chose a protractor that seemed less effective than the other due to less numbering and more lines. She explained that because it had more increments, it made it easier for her to locate the measurement and could use her multiplication skills to work out the missing numbers.

This demonstrates how important it is to give pupils the opportunity to make their own choices about equipment and format, so in future they are able to self-advocate for their needs and make independent learning decisions.

In summary…
Pre-teaching is especially important for maths pupils who use tactile diagrams, so they can overcome the time constraints posed by lesson pace.
Teaching outside the mainstream classroom provides opportunities to learn and practice skills step-by-step. This is crucial to make sure that students learn the skills required to be independent within the class setting.
Learning should not be seen to take place in isolated opportunities, but rather as a process that is built on consistently.

Part three: Year 10 science students


Further information

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