CVI 101: Educating Children with CVI

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a brain-based visual impairment. That means the eye itself is healthy, but the eye’s neurological connection to the brain doesn’t work properly. It is the leading cause of visual impairment in children in the developing world, including the United States, and it often presents with other neurological disorders. Researchers suspect there are a large number of children with multiple disabilities who have CVI but have not yet been diagnosed.

Children with CVI may appear to have variable vision that changes by the day or even the minute. They are often attracted to light, brightly-colored red or yellow objects and shiny or reflective surfaces. They may also focus on things that move, like the family pet. Contrast and lack of clutter can help children with CVI focus, so teachers and parents may put up black boxes or boards to eliminate distractions while they’re learning.

The techniques for instructing and providing intervention services for a child with CVI differ greatly than those for children with other types of blindness and visual impairments. Children with CVI have the potential to improve their use of vision if they are evaluated and taught with the CVI Range© techniques.

The CVI Range©: Designed to Improve Use of Vision

The CVI Range© was developed by Dr. Christine Roman. It is a unique assessment tool to evaluate a child’s current use of vision and track progress.

There are three levels of CVI: Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3. In Phase 1, the goal is to build visual behaviors – getting children to look at things in their environment. In Phase 2, the goal is to integrate vision with function. That means getting the child to identify objects in their environment and start reaching out and using those items. Phase 3 focuses on higher-level visual skills. At this stage, children are regularly using their vision to interact in their environment. The focus turns to more complicated visual skills like distance and spatial recognition.

There is a critical need for CVI-specific training. Most teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs), other educators and related services providers have not received training in intervention methods for CVI.  While it continues to be important that every child with a visual impairment have a teacher of the visually impaired assigned to them, it is equally important that a member of the educational team has proven expertise in CVI.   

In partnership with Dr. Roman, Perkins eLearning offers both in-person trainings and online classes on the basics of CVI, as well as the CVI Range© assessment tools and techniques. 

*Please note:  while Perkins believes that all children with CVI should have an educational team member who has received the Perkins-Roman CVI Endorsement,  this should not replace the teacher of the visually impaired.  A student with visual impairments should have a TVI on his/her team. 

The Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement: Mastery of Essential Teaching Techniques

The Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement recognizes educators and related services providers who go through a rigorous skills and knowledge test, as well as a video case study test, on the CVI Range©.

Through this endorsement, parents and school administrators can find a directory of specialists who can best help their children succeed.

Educators or related services providers who don’t yet have the skills or experience for the full endorsement can receive micro-credentials for demonstrating mastery of different phases of the CVI Range©. These digital representations of your achievements can be used in an email signature or on a LinkedIn page to demonstrate your skill set.

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