Teaching learners with vision impairment: an analysis of evidence-based practice

McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Hewett, R., Lynch, P. and Thistlethwaite, J. (2020) Teaching learners with vision impairment: an analysis of evidence-based practice. In: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Series: Oxford research encyclopedias. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190264093 (doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.013.1233)

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Vision impairment is a broad term that captures a wide range of reduction in visual function and includes ocular and cerebral conditions. Learners with vision impairment are a heterogeneous population within which there is a wide spectrum of characteristics, ability, and needs. The profile of these characteristics, including the nature and cause of the vision impairment, varies between countries: in high-income countries it is common for childhood vision impairment to coexist with other disabilities, including learning disabilities; in many low-income countries, higher numbers of children with vision impairment (where known) have either conditions associated with poverty and poor public health or refractive errors that could be corrected with corrective lenses. These differences have an important bearing upon the appropriate educational, social and/or health intervention. Childhood vision impairment is associated with particular developmental and educational needs which are primarily linked to reduced access to learning opportunities, such as limited opportunities to explore their environment, learn through incidental experiences, and develop motor skills by observing and copying others. Key educational responses to these access needs suggest that educational input tends to be in two complementary forms: (a) access to learning emphasizes environment adjustment and accessible/universal approaches to teaching; (b) learning to access emphasizes targeted teaching provision supporting the child or young person to learn independence skills and develop personal agency to facilitate independent learning and social inclusion (and this includes specialist interventions such as mobility training, access technology, and low vison training). It is recognized that practitioners involved in supporting this educational access must pay particular attention to balancing these approaches. Therefore, they must seek to target longer-term educational outcomes (associated with learning to access) as well as immediate access needs (associated with access to learning). Equitable teaching approaches for learners with vision impairment should explicitly focus on promoting a “balanced curriculum” throughout a given educational timeline to ensure that learners can participate within education as well as have opportunities to develop educational outcomes needed to succeed later in life. Specialist practitioners have a central role in overseeing such development, facilitating the progressive nature of curriculum access with an increased emphasis on promoting learning to access. A bioecological systems perspective provides a powerful lens through which to analyze the various influences on achieving such a balance within different national and societal contexts. This perspective provides opportunities to consider implications within, and between, contexts and settings to ensure all learners with vision impairment have equitable opportunities to education through a holistic and lifelong learning perspective and are therefore suitably prepared for life within and outside school.

Item Type:Book Sections (Encyclopaedia entry)
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lynch, Dr Paul
Authors: McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Hewett, R., Lynch, P., and Thistlethwaite, J.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Culture, Literacies, Inclusion & Pedagogy
Publisher:Oxford University Press
Published Online:27 October 2020

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