Many schools are in the process of determining whether schools will re-open in the fall or not. Many schools are planning scenarios for opening, remote instruction or hybrid instruction. Parents are also making decisions about what is best for their children. Just as we plan and shop for classroom school supplies before school starts, we also need to plan for supplies for the possibility of remote instruction. So what kind of learning environment does your student/child with VIB need at home to support remote instruction?
Each student should have an established, quiet, place to learn. Some students may need to be in a room with adult supervision while other students may be self-motivated and work best in a separate room. Siblings may work in the same room or may need to be separated. While each student is unique, here are some general things to carefully consider when setting up a learning space at home.
- Established, dedicated place for school work
Appropriate-sized table or desk (this is especially true for young students and braille students!)
- Feet should firmly touch the ground
- 90 degree angle of elbows when hands are on the keys
- Comfortable chair at the right height!
- Large table surface with space for magnifiers, various devices, braille textbooks, etc.
Organized placement of supplies within easy reach
- Ideally, these supplies are maintained in an established place and not moved each day
- Nearby bookshelf or organizational container for textbooks and larger supplies
Strong internet connection that can withstand multiple devices at once (ideally wireless)
- Wifi boosters if more than 100 feet from Wifi router box (to improve internet connection)
- Nearby power strip and chargers to recharge all devices
- Headphones for online meetings (and/or earbuds are important if student is using a screen reader with other people in the room!)
Lighting (including adjustable task lighting)
- Consider what light fixture, type of light bulb and placement of light(s)
- Consider windows: glare, shades/curtains and seating in relationship to windows
- Some students benefit from being able to print or emboss some of their work, even if it is just to proudly show their work on the refrigerator! (optional!)
Fidget items for students who have trouble sitting still
- Talk with your PT/OT about ideas; some suggestions are a textured foot/seat fidget. Here is an example of a Balance Pod.
- Eliminate distractions such as TV, pets, toys, (siblings!), etc.
Also consider setting up a scheduled time for school work and expectations for completing assignments. While the school routine is important for all students, students with visual impairments who have issues with eye fatigue, headaches, etc. also need to schedule school time during the optimal time of day - typically earlier than later - to maximize their success.
Students need the right environment to help them focus on school work. Please add your suggestions to this list in the comments below, along with ideas of "must have" school supplies for remote instruction for students with VIB!