Visual impairments have a real effect on learning in the classroom. These children typically qualify for special education services but may still struggle to learn adequately. So much of a child’s learning is typically done through the sense of sight. In fact, researchers have estimated that 90% of a child’s learning comes through sight. This is called incidental learning.
Special needs children who struggle with visual impairments are only able to learn through their other four senses, which include hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Hearing and touching are the ones that are most often used in the classroom. However, in most cases, these children will need to have one-on-one time with a teacher and will need to use different instructional materials that integrate touch. For example, a topographical globe will help during a geography lesson while hearing bird songs will help in a lesson on science.
These children will be unable to observe science experiments, to read words on a page, to watch a television program or to see pictures in their history books. However, they will be able to hear verbal explanations, and they will be able to touch objects to help them learn about math.
Special needs children with visual impairments should have IEPs drawn up every school year to address their learning needs. Parents who are concerned about what the IEP addresses can consult with an attorney from Newman Aaronson Vanaman who specializes in special education law. Often, with some discussion, the school, parents, and child will be able to negotiate a new IEP that addresses all of the concerns.