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Visual Impairments


Visual impairments are disorders in the function of the eyes that cannot be adequately corrected. Students who are blind or visually impaired vary considerably in their functional limitations. Some students have no vision; others are able to see large forms; others can see print if magnified; and still others have tunnel vision with no peripheral vision or the reverse. Furthermore, some students with visual impairments use Braille, and some have little or no knowledge of Braille. Most students use a variety of accommodations, technologies, and compensatory strategies.

Students who are blind or visually impaired are constantly challenged by classroom instructional strategies. Although they can easily hear lectures and discussions, it can be difficult to access class syllabi, textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, maps, videos, written exams, and demonstrations. A large part of traditional learning is visual, and classroom instruction must be accessible to every student.

Possible Student Characteristics

  • Struggle with glare or reduced lighting
  • Difficulty learning visual concepts
  • Difficulty getting to class because of transportation issues
  • May depend on a service animal


Before the Semester Starts: It is important to meet with the student prior to the first day of class to discuss their accommodations. Generally, this meeting is initiated by the student or by Student Disability Services (SDS). This is a good time to find out what format the student will use to access course materials, such as Braille, digital text, or large print.

Course Material to Be Used: Provide a list of books and materials you will use over the semester as early as possible so that SDS can obtain the material in an alternate format.

Orientation to Classroom: Consider asking the student if he/she would like an orientation to the physical layout of the room, with locations of steps, furniture, lecture position, low-hanging objects, or any other obstacles.

Importance of Language in the Classroom: Use descriptive language and read aloud anything that is presented for the class to read, such as PowerPoint slides. Ask students to identify themselves during classroom discussions.

Visual Material in an Alternate Format: It is important that all students have access to course materials at the same time. When using the board at the front of the class, be sure to say out loud what you are writing. Charts, graphs, maps, and other visual representations used in class should have verbal descriptions and/or be converted to an auditory or tactile representation. If the student needs handouts and reading materials in Braille, or another format that you cannot offer, or if you are not sure that course videos are accessible, coordinate with SDS as early as possible.

Videos with Audio Descriptions: Consider access for the student who is blind or visually impaired when you are showing a video in class. If available, get a copy of the video in audio-described format, which allows the student to hear descriptions of what the rest of the class is seeing. To have audio descriptions added to the video, contact SDS. You can also have another student in class quietly explain what is being shown on the screen.

Test Accommodations: Coordinate testing arrangements with SDS, and provide exam materials in advance. Accommodations may include assistive technology, a reader/scribe, Braille, or enlarged text.

Lab Assistance: Students who are blind or visually impaired may need a lab assistant or lab partner, and will benefit from your assistance in identifying one.

Service Dogs: Students who are blind may use a service dog. Service dogs must be allowed in all classes. Keep in mind that these are working animals. Do not feed or pet a service dog, as this will distract it from its job.

UNG follows Section 508 Standards and WCAG 2.0 for web accessibility. If you require the content on this web page in another format, please contact the ADA Coordinator.

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