Home » Academics » Academic Support Services » Learning Accommodations » Information Regarding Specific Disabilities » Partially Sighted Students

Partially Sighted Students

Legally Blind

Legally blind is defined as visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of corrective lenses.

Partially Sighted

Partially sighted – measurable vision; between 70 and 80 per cent of all legally blind persons in the United States can perhaps be better described as “partially sighted”.

Methods the Partially Sighted Student Meets the Challenge of Disability
  • Relying on the use of readers
  • Audio-taped texts
  • Raised line drawings
  • Large print books
  • A closed-circuit TV magnifier or other magnifying device. Magnification software such as Zoom Text Extra Level II has both screen magnification and screen reading capabilities which makes computing accessible to students who are partially sighted.
  • Large-print typewriter or large computer font for papers
  • Class note-taking by printing very large with a felt-tip pen or marker
  • Recording lectures for later use
  • A portable word processor called Alpha Smart may also be used for notetaking purposes, depending on the student’s keyboarding skills.
Two Basic Difficulties the Partially Sighted Student Confronts that the Blind Student Does Not:
  1. The partially sighted student is sometimes viewed by instructors and classmates as “faking it.”
  2. Because most partially sighted students do not use white canes for travel and because most are able to get around much like everyone else, people have difficulty believing that the student needs to use adaptive methods when using printed materials.

    One partially sighted student commented that, having been observed playing Frisbee by one of her instructors, she was sure the instructor would no longer believe she was partially sighted. As the student explained, she had more peripheral than central vision and was able to see a red Frisbee; were any other color Frisbee used, she would not see it well enough to play. More to the point, playing Frisbee and reading a printed page present quite different visual requirements, the distinction between which is often difficult to understand for the fully sighted individual.

  3. The partially sighted student experiences another difficulty that has a more subtle effect and can be troublesome: that is the psychological response that large print evokes in the sighted reader.
  4. Such handwritten communications tend to give the reader the idea that “a child has written this.” Needless to say, this may lead to the conclusion that a student with this kind of handwriting is immature or childish, and that the written communication is less than sophisticated. Even when the student uses a large print font this can still be a problem.

    In addition, the assumption is sometimes made that the student is merely trying to make an assignment appear longer, as in the case of a term paper of a required length. When the number of words instead of pages required is stated, this is not a problem.

Potential difficulties can be alleviated if the student and professor discuss the student’s needs early in the term with:
  • Large print on the chalkboard
  • a seat at the front of the class
  • the use of enlarged print on an overhead projector
    may all assist a partially sighted student

However, the capacity to read printed materials depends so greatly on conditions such as the degree of contrast, brightness, and color that it is preferable that the student and instructor discuss what methods, techniques, or devices may be used to maximum advantage. In classes where many diagrams and illustrations are used, the professor may wish to provide handouts to the class or the student may wish to obtain a notetaker.

If you need handouts enlarged for a student in your class, please contact the Learning Accommodations Center if you do not have facilities to do this yourself at Voice: 978-556-3654