By Anne L. Corn, EdD

There are literally hundreds of optical devices that a low vision specialist may prescribe. When determining the right devices for children, however, factors beyond the right prescription must be taken into consideration. Below are five such issues to keep in mind:

Motivation Is Key

Optical devices can allow children who are visually impaired to participate in activities requiring detail vision. With a monocular, for example, a child can sit with her classmates while her teacher reads a picture story. Older students can read bulletin board postings that are not available in large print.

Appearance Makes a Difference

Children want to fit in their peer group and may feel self-conscious using "obvious" devices. Hand-held magnifiers and monoculars should be chosen with appearance in mind. Encourage young children to decorate their devices and carrying cases. Children may also need to discuss their feelings about looking different to maximize comfort levels.

Duration of Activity Affects Skills

Begin with activities of short duration, such as reading a wristwatch or an item on a menu, to help children get started using near vision devices. Learning to use a device well before it's needed in the classroom is helpful.

Quick Retrieval of Devices and Coordination Are Important

Children should be taught good mechanical skills, including one-hand focusing of monoculars, as well as how to change the angle of a hand-held magnifier to accommodate light and comfort.

Anne L. Corn, EdD, is Professor of Special Education, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

Source: Lighthouse International's EnVision newsletter.



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