Behold! The power of communicating clearly at the beginning of a hectic school year. If you have been in the field as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Instructor for even one year, you may have noticed that educational teams are buzzing with enthusiasm in the Fall and eager to pave the way to success for our students with special needs. Of course, it can be so busy that sometimes teachers forget how important it is to implement modifications to their teaching styles and materials. You might have found yourself reminding teachers around winter time that your student can’t see beyond arm’s reach so they should be using their CCTV, or that your student needs protective eyewear in PE because they are at risk of retinal detachment, or that they are probably refusing to do their homework because it is in 12 point font on fuchsia paper...and that is basically the opposite of what they need.
While the Vision at a Glance Template does not promise to eliminate these challenges, it has a solid shot at reducing them greatly. After customizing it to reflect the visual needs of your student, bring this to the initial evaluation, each annual IEP, every in-service, and keep copies in your folder for each consultation with teachers. If possible, fill it out with your student and have them pass it out to all of their teachers. This is the easiest and most efficient way to share information with a large team and keep the student’s needs on their mind in an easy-to-reference way. Planning on retiring, changing caseloads or taking a leave? This is helpful to fellow TVI/O&Ms too.
Below you will find additional details on how to fill this template out in an effective way, but of course feel free to add and remove information as it pertains to your student. We individualize lessons to fit the needs of our students, so why not individualize our paperwork too?
Simply input the name of your student, their grade, and the names of their TVI, O&M, and Case Manager.
This is where you indicate the condition (cause for visual impairment) along with a description of what it is. Very few people know what “anisometropia” means! It is important to also provide visual acuity and any other necessary information regarding visual fields, light perception/sensitivity, retinal detachment, and if they are supposed to wear glasses. I like to include a brief statement about how this visual impairment impacts their school experience overall.
Accommodations and Modifications
This heading includes 4 essential parts: Tools, Instruction, Environments, and Homework & Assessments.
- Tools: I have found it beneficial to break this section into 2 separate sections of bullet points- one for tools/strategies that should always be used, and one for tools/strategies that may not be used frequently but should always be available if needed. This helps teachers understand what you expect your student to use daily, and what teachers may expect to see in their classrooms from time to time. Side note: always take the time to give teachers a run-through of the tools and how they are used. In general, they are much more likely to enforce using them if they understand them. They will also do wonders to help your students build excitement and positivity about their tools.
- Instruction: This is where you list the important modifications and adjustments that teachers can make to their teaching styles/routines/requirements to support the learning of your students.
- Environments: Some modifications need to be made to the environment in order to best suit the needs of our students, both within the classroom and/or school. Here are some examples of environmental accommodations that you might put in this section: Allow student to leave class 2 minutes early, preferential seating in the front row on the left side, human guide for field trips and emergency drills, red tape at landings on staircase, etc.
- Homework & Assessments: This section is where you list important information about homework/classwork/exam expectations (i.e. no bubble sheets, extended time, etc).
I have found that teachers are eager to know how involved we will be, especially after we give them a list of student needs! This is the part where you briefly explain how often the student will be visited by a TVI or O&M Instructor. If these services are provided by different instructors, see if you can consolidate this information onto one sheet. It is so important to share classroom-related vision goals with teachers. They can help support the student as they work towards their goals. If you created a goal for the student to use their CCTV without any prompting, don’t you think a classroom teacher should know that? Of course! And they might even collect your data for you! ;) If you know what days/times you will be providing services you can put that information here, but I tend to leave that out since my schedule seems to change when the winds shift.
Questions or Concerns
Finally, always include your contact information so that you can be reached as questions arise throughout the year.
When editing this document on Google Docs, you can click on the picture of my handsome son, Thor, and a dropdown menu to “replace image” appears. You can upload a photo of the student (with the proper permissions) or delete the photo if you do not wish to include it. I have to say, it adds a nice flair at IEP meetings or at the beginning of the year! Who doesn’t want to see their adorable student while they think about all of the wonderful ways they will accommodate for them?
Once more, here is the link to the Vision at a Glance Template. Simply make a copy of the Google Doc and it is yours to use and change as it suits the unique individuals you serve.