Child learning with light

Considering Light When Utilizing Technology

What was once thought as non-purposeful gazing at light has now shown to be an important element in CVIers’ daily routines. Light can still be a distractor for our learners, but it also has a purpose. Learners with CVI have shown an ability to utilize light to access their functional vision. In either case, light will remain an important element for learners with CVI. 

Dr. Christine Roman Lantzy’s CVI Range score places students in what she refers to as one of the three Phases of CVI; Phase I, II, or III. Light can be used differently across these three phases. Light as a distractor can easily be forgotten after a learner is out of Phase I. Whether it be a bright light in the room, the sun shining in through the window, or a bright toy across the room, IEP teams should be mindful of various light sources. Consider where the lights are and observe how and if the lights impact the learner’s ability to locate/interact with visual targets.

One of our low tech options to support a learner’s need for light can be a light box or a flashlight. Visual targets can be placed on a light box with an occluder to block unnecessary light. Flashlights can be used by shining the light from behind the student on to the visual target.

Using Technology to Help Learners

More often, we are using technology to help our learners gain access to their curriculum. Various tablets and computers are backlit and offer a natural way to utilize light within technology to support your learner. The backlighting acts similar to the use of a light box. Unlike a lightbox, with technology, IEP teams are able to customize so many more details of the target to ensure it meets their learner’s needs.

Educators have many options to create accessible content; CViConnect, BoomCards, or presentations (Google Slides, Powerpoint, Keynote), etc. In addition to adding photographic images, teams can use these programs, or other similar options, to add special effects to utilize light. Effects such as fireworks and sparklers can utilize light, color, and movement. 

Using Special Effects and Background

By adding special effects when the screen is touched, light can be used to increase a learner’s hand eye coordination. For our learners in Phase I, these light effects can also be used during instruction to gain and maintain visual attention. Adding special effects briefly to a presentation for a learner in Phase II or III can be used to draw our learner’s attention to a specific part of the screen or a salient feature on a target. 

Teams should consider the background when truly making sure to utilize light. When considering backgrounds, we typically only think of the color that offers the most high contrast. While this is still very important, we also have to balance the amount of light coming from the background. A white background will emit more light than a black background. We want to offer a visible target, but be mindful that our learner could potentially be distracted by a bright white light too.  

When it comes to all accommodations, there isn’t a simple yes or no answer.  Each of these edits must be considered on an individual basis for what each learner needs.

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