"When Is Seeing, Not Believing?"

02 Nov

It turns out that everyone has a blind spot in their vision, known as the physiological blind spot, "blind point", or punctum caecum. 

In medical terms it is the place in our visual field that corresponds to the lack of light-detecting photoreceptor cells on the optic disc of our retinas. 

All vertebrates have this blind spot. 

To deal with it, we use a process based on surrounding details and feedback from the other eye for our brain to fill in the missing visual information. 

It is assumed that our brains then tell us to believe, what we are seeing.

Blindness/Low Vision


The following terms are used in an educational context to describe students with visual disabilities:

● "Totally blind" students learn via braille or other non visual media.

● "Legally blind" indicates that a student has less than 20/200 vision in the

more functional eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its

widest point).

● "Low vision" refers to a severe vision loss in distance and near vision.

Students use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, and they may require adaptations in lighting or the print size, and, in some cases,


Considerations and Instructional Strategies:

● If needed, introduce yourself at the beginning of a conversation and notify the student when you are leaving the room.

● Nonverbal cues depend on good visual acuity. Verbally acknowledging key points in the conversation facilitates the communication process.

● A student may use a guide dog or white cane for mobility assistance. A guide dog is a working animal and should not be petted.

● When giving directions, be clear: say “left” or “right,” “step up,” or “step down.” 

Let the student know where obstacles are; for example, “The chair is to your left” or “The stairs start in about three steps.”

● When guiding or walking with a student, verbally offer your elbow instead of grabbing his or hers.

● Allow the student to determine the most ideal seating location so he or she can see, hear and, if

possible, touch as much of the presented material as possible.

● Discuss special needs for field trips or other out-of-class activities well in advance.

● Assist the student in labeling lab materials so that they are easily identifiable.

● Familiarize the student with the layout of the classroom or laboratory, noting the closest exits and locating emergency equipment.

● Ask the student if he or she will need assistance during an emergency evacuation, and assist in making a plan if necessary.

Accommodations may include:

● Reading aloud materials from overheads, blackboards or handouts

● Verbal description of class activity, such as when a show of hands is requested, stating how many hands were raised

● Tape recorders, laptop computers or slates and styluses for note taking

● A lab assistant

● Developing reading lists and syllabi in advance to permit time for transfer to alternate formats

● Use of black print on white or pale yellow paper to allow for maximum

visual contrast

● Advanced notice of class schedule and/or room changes

● Adapting computer for features such as large print, speech synthesizer, and braille printer output

● Alternative test formats such as taped, large print or braille; use of readers, scribes, tape recorded

responses, extended time, adapted computer or closed circuit TV

● Extra time to complete tests when adaptive technology or a reader/scribe is required

● Class assignments available in electronic format, such as computer disk, to allow access by

computers equipped with voice synthesizers or braille output devices

● Assistive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)

● Raised line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials

● Videos with audio description

● Accessible websites

Is it not presumptuous of us to discount, that the process of visual extrapolation may be occurring simultaneously with our other senses? 

The sensitivity of touch, the subtle acuity of hearing, the multitudes of aromas, the uncanny sense of depth and motion must all

assist our brains to develop our entire sensory experience. 

Isn’t it this entire experience, that informs our perception of reality?

Best wishes until next week,

Cheryl Lynn Peele

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