Disability-Specific Resources: Blind / Visually Impaired

The most common forms of vision impairment are errors of refraction -- the way light rays are focused inside the eye so images can be transmitted to the brain. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are examples of refractive disorders and often occur when the eyes are otherwise healthy. Refractive errors are correctable usually with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery, such as LASIK.  Other vision problems may be related to eye disease. Retinal detachment, macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma are disorders of the functional eye and its processing units. These problems can lead to blurry or defective vision. The goals of treatment depend on the eye disease and may include restoring vision, halting vision loss, and preserving remaining eyesight.

The major challenge facing students who are blind or visually impaired is the overwhelming amount of printed material they are expected to read including: textbooks, class outlines, Moodle readings, class schedules, bibliographies, campus newspapers, posters, exams, etc.  Students who are blind read accessible (text-based documents) with screen reading software while students who are visually impaired may use screen magnification software (with or without speech) to read documents.  Students with vision loss may also use Braille, tactile graphics, raised-line drawings, large print, closed-circuit TV (CCTV), or other magnification devices.

Courses that are extremely "visual" by nature can be accommodated for the student who is blind; however, it should not automatically be assumed that this will be necessary.  Conversations between the student and the professor can lead to new and exciting instructional techniques that can benefit the entire class.  It is imperative that the student and professor discuss the student's needs early in the semester.        

Tips for Instructors:

  • Adopt textbook(s) in a timely manner (by the due date communicated by the Humboldt Bookstore)
  • Ensure supplemental readings (readings posted to Canvas or your website) are accessible.  The Accessibility Resources Center (ARC) can assist you!  
  • Use descriptive language.  Avoid using the words, "this, that, there, here".  The phrase, "the sum of this plus that equals this" will not mean anything to the student who is blind.  Instead, use the phrase, "the sum of 4 plus 2 equals six".


Vision Loss Simulators:

Additional Resources:



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