At the risk of a some possible repetition allow me to emphasise and expand on the following points about modifying a worksheet for a visually impaired child.
More on Pictures and Photos
Photos taken in the classroom are not always the best quality. Yet for a visually impaired child image quality is really important. Therefore it is worth taking the time and effort to improve certain features of a photo taken in school. A simple (free) photo-editing programme will be useful here. What needs to be done:
- increase the contrast between light and dark areas
- increase the brightness of dark areas
- increase the detail in the shadows
- increase the highlights
- don’t bunch photos together in a cluttered collage but separate them out and surround each one with a border.
- Enlarge the photos so important details like children’s faces are clear.
Drawn images taken from a book can be equally difficult to distinguish, especially if they are photocopied. One image I looked at in an exercise book for instance was of a dark blue wave against a dark sky, with a tiny spark of lightning flashing across the sky and a human speck someone in the scene. It expressed a storm at sea, but was very hard to separate out the details. With the picture went some similes on the subject of storms and waves. With such a picture it might be best to start with a different image, either from the Internet or drawn if necessary. Enlarge the image so that small details are clear. If necessary only have one picture that is really clear instead of two or three pictures that are not clear. The key thing is to consider what is essential for the child to know. Images are illustrative and it is not always vital to have more than one.
Allow me to repeat this point: please avoid placing text on a picture or indeed any sort of busy background. This is bad practice and makes text very hard to read.
The colour of the paper used for text can also be quite crucial. With our student the colour yellow seems to work well so paper is usually yellow. But for others it may be a pastel colour. One student cannot read black text on a white background. So each child is different and needs to be assessed in this respect.
The following points are also worth considering:
1. The support assistant’s role is increasingly one of adaptation. Especially as the curriculum becomes more advanced and the child becomes more independent, less reliant on the adult support the assistant working with the child will spend more and more time making resources and preparing work in advance. Therefore advanced planning is essential to his/her role: planning with the class teacher and planning resources to supplement the curriculum in one-to-one sessions. Access skills like touch typing will become more and more important as the LSA spends more and more time training the child to become proficient in keyboard skills.
2. For this reason it is important that the balance of work reflects this role. I suggest that a minimum of 25% of the LSA’s time is spent with resource making. Often it may be more than this.
3. When re-formatting a page and enlarging text boxes sometimes the enlargement messes up the formatting. Some programmes like MS Publisher are especially bad like this. So to avoid this you can reduce the amount on the page and enlarge what is left clearly. In this case ‘less is more’. Also please note that elaborate borders are not essential; you can profitably remove the pretty penguin borders around the edge of a page of a worksheet and thereby create much more space for a decent A4 enlargement.
4. When entering guidelines for handwriting it helps to make all the lines darker; where necessary enter a space between each line of writing or as it may be each set of 3-guidelines. On the other hand a simple pencil line can be adequate where the child has to trace over a letter in black pen.