Lack of vision, in itself, does not inhibit learning, but lack of opportunity to function does. If you can't take the child to the world, bring the world to the child.
- Be alert for situations in which the visually impaired child may have had little or no experiences, or for which the child has no prior reference. Common examples are foods in altered form (e.g., eggs that are fresh, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, scrambled; dried corn, corn-on-the-cob, popcorn; watermelon in neat, de-seeded chunks vs slices with seeds), sources of materials (e.g., wood comes from trees - trees are wood; ice, steam, and condensation are all forms of water; milk comes from cows; ingredients in a cookie recipe), occupations (what people do), and "what happens when".
- Avoid using isolation (e.g., a "time out" room) as punishment except as a last resort. The child with a severe visual impairment may feel abandoned if he/she cannot at least hear your voice. Isolation may also act as a negative reinforcement for some visually impaired children with underdeveloped social skills. For young children, the existence of a visual impairment is frequently an inherently isolating factor. A major focus for children with visual impairments is to encourage them to interact with people and the environment, not to be isolated.
- Critical to the visually impaired child is his/her inability to observe the results of actions ("what happens when..."). Help to alleviate this potential problem by providing verbal, tactual and concrete experiences. Motoric experience/development teaches spatial orientation and spatial imagery.
- "Motor" the visually impaired child through actions, to teach him/her the imitation of movement. Use hand-over-hand, arm-to-arm or leg-to-leg motion to help communicate.
- Use play as a teaching technique, but you may have to teach the visually impaired child how to play. Use real things; manipulate objects; structure experiences to permit the child to discover for himself/herself "what happens if..." You can't play until you have mental imagery, which is acquired through experience.
- Representations of things (pictures, models, etc.) must follow concrete experience and they precede mental imagery.
- Language is the manipulation of symbolic representations (words). Echolalia is speech without language; verbalisms are a kind of echolalia.
- Provide an explanation of what will happen next; because the child cannot see visual cues, she/he may be unaware of activities to follow.
- If there are visitors (e.g., observers) in the classroom, make a casual statement to this effect (e.g., "We have some visitors today who want to see how nicely we work.