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- Teaching Students With Sight Loss at Third Level
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Summary: Here are some helpful hints to make your lecture more accessible to students with sight loss.
- Make your booklist available as early as possible so that the textbooks can be produced in the student’s preferred format. Produce a reading list of essential textbooks or specific chapters of books so that the student can have these made accessible to them in advance of the college year.
- Inform the student of any timetable or room changes well in advance.
- Give a quick overview of the main topics to be covered at the beginning of the lecture to help students organise the information logically.
- Speak clearly.
- If you are showing a video, discuss alternative ways of imparting the same information to the student with sight loss.
- Allow the student to record your lecture.
- Make lecture notes, handouts and overheads available to the student in electronic format or at least in advance of the lecture to allow time for them to be recorded, enlarged, scanned into the student’s computer or transcribed into Braille.
- Ensure that notes and printed materials are clearly produced so that they can be more easily read, scanned or magnified. Lecture notes and handouts should have a clear plain font type, for example Arial, and a large font, minimum size 14. Handouts should use paper with a matt finish to reduce reflection and glare.
- Produce large, clear, bold diagrams with a strong contrast in colour between the diagram and the paper.
- Make lecture notes available electronically via email or on the internet so that the student can access them using screen-reading or magnification software on their computer.
- Allow additional time to deliver assignments as students with sight loss may take extra time to read written material.
- Encourage other students to aid and support their colleague.
- If in doubt about anything, ask the student.
Figures, maps and diagrams
Many people with sight loss can benefit from visual material such as figures, maps, diagrams, graphs, tables and pictures. Below are some guidelines to assist you in their usage.
Describe the diagram verbally or record your description onto tape.
Ensure that appropriate lighting is used to assist people to see more clearly. Produce large, bold, clear diagrams with a strong contrasting colour between the print and the paper. The lines in a flow chart or illustration should be thick, dark and clear. Prescribed magnifiers can assist students to magnify the diagram.
Some two-dimensional diagrams such as bar graphs and pie charts may be suitable for reproducing as tactile diagrams. A tactile diagram is a raised diagram designed for touching rather than seeing. It uses raised lines and shapes, textures and labels, which can be explored through touch.
- Detailed diagrams are difficult to see and interpret. Re-draw the original diagram to include only essential details.
- Lines less than one and a half millimetres apart are difficult to distinguish.
- Do not try for exact scale – it will not work on a tactile diagram.
- Label the essentials by keeping labels close to the line they refer to. Do not relate labels to lines by arrows.
- Be aware that several tactile diagrams may be needed to deal with one printed one.
- Tactile diagrams are best used with a key and a detailed description to provide context and detail about the diagram.
Iris Intermedia is a Swedish organisation that can produce specialist tactile graphics.
Disability Support Service
The disability support service within your college aims to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the wide range of experiences that college life has to offer. They encourage students to disclose their disability and make contact with their service so that they can assist students by meeting their specific requirements. It is up to the student how much contact they have with the disability support service.
How NCBI Can Help Students
- Our library and media conversion service converts written material and textbooks into Braille and audio formats.
- Our technology service offers advice on a range of magnification and speech software to make information accessible.
- Our employment advice service assists students experiencing sight loss with career guidance and employment opportunities.
- We can also help students with sight loss to live independent lives by enabling them to carry out everyday tasks and move around safely and independently. See our mobility training service.
- Our community resource service aims to provide emotional and practical support to meet the individual needs of students living with sight loss.
AHEAD, the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability, is a non-profit organisation working to promote full access to and participation in third level education for students with disabilities in Ireland.