FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions: This page contains answers to common questions
of students and parents.
  1. Why don't blind students go to a school for the blind?
  2. Can students who read braille read as fast as students who read print?
  3. Can blind people see in their dreams?
  4. Do teachers for the visually impaired learn sign language?
  5. Why do some blind people twist their heads back and forth and rock?
  6. Do people with albinism see better in the dark?
  7. Will a guide dog take you where you need to go?
  8. How often should eye exams be done?
  9. What is wrong with the eyes of a person with dyslexia?
  10. Why is it that some kids are considered blind when they can see something?
  11. What is light perception?
  12. Can glass eyes help a person to see?
  13. How do kids with visual impairments read their lessons?
  14. How can blind students participate in computer work in the class?
  15. Do you have any students who will be able to drive to high school?
  16. How should I talk to a blind or visually impaired student?
  17. Why doesn't braille look like print alphabets?
  18. How do people without sight access the computer?
  19. Do people who are blind go to movies and watch TV?
  20. Are blind students as smart as sighted children?
  21. Is it possible for blind children to walk to school?
  22. What is cortical visual impairment?
  23. Is it okay to touch a guide dog?



Why don't blind students go to a school for the blind?

All students have the right to go to a school in their neighborhood to earn a free public education in the "least restrictive environment."
The law says that parents have a right to send their children to their neighborhood schools with accommodations/modifications, services made for the student's disability. Refer to Public Law 94-142. Some people prefer special schools and some do not. Then there are some parishes or counties that cannot support the special equipment, materials and personnel to support a child with the special needs of a child with visual impairments and they can suggest a state/residential school for that reason.


https://nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/fr/fr15/Issue3/f150302.html
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Can students who read braille read as fast as students who read print?

That question is debatable and depends upon the reader. Braille readers are usually given a little more time for reading--usually 1 1/2 to 1/2 times more time for testing. But there are some readers of braille who are able to read as fast with their fingers as some people do with their eyes! One reason is because they have not been told they are supposed to read any slower! It also depends on when a person learns to read braille. If the reader learns it as the first reading medium as a youngster then he/she is more likely to be a faster braille reader than one who learned it at a later age with print as the first reading medium.
http://svrc.vic.edu.au/curriculum/braille-speed/

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Can blind people see in their dreams?

That depends. Our dreams come from experiences and if one has never experienced sight one does not "see" objects in dreams like sighted people. However, those who became blind after being able to see may have dreams where they can see things as they did when they were sighted.

http://www.afb.org/forum/general-questions-about-blindness/do-blind-people-see-in-their-dreams-do-they-see-in-color/12
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Do teachers for the visually impaired learn sign language?

Sometimes. Sign language is for people with hearing impairments or speech impairment that require they speak using their hands.
Sometimes our children with visual differences may have hearing or speech problems that require that a teacher know sign language. Sometimes people who ask confuse visual impairments with hearing impairments. Generally we think of those with vision differences as those who need large print or braille while those with hearing/speech problems need sign language to communicate. I had to learn a little sign language when working with my deaf/blind students and for some of my children who could hear but not speak.
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Why do some blind people twist their heads back and forth and rock?

Those mannerisms are called "blindisms." They come from not being aware of one's body in space when one cannot see. There is an interesting article about blindisms at this link:

http://blindchildrensfund.org/for-families/tips-for-parents/blindisms-strange-behaviors-that-have-meaning/
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Do people with albinism see better in the dark?

Light is needed for the process of vision to be complete--so that is an old wives' tale. Usually children with albinism have lack of pigment in their eyes as well and sometimes refractive issues, which allow more light to enter the eye and make their eyes more sensitive to bright light and glare, but still they need light to see. To learn more about albinism a good site to visit is the NOAH web site at http://www.albinism.org.
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Will a guide dog take you where you need to go?

A guide dog's purpose is not to lead the owner anywhere. The dog is a tool like a white cane is a tool. While the cane is used to detect drop-offs and hazards the dog does a more detailed version of the same thing. The person using the tool should not be lax in his/her orientation and mobility (O&M) skills. In fact, that person, to be eligible to own a guide dog, should be better than most in O&M skills. So if you are looking to be able to tell the dog "Hey, Rover, take me to Wal-Mart!" then you are not a good candidate for a guide dog. You should know your way to Wal-Mart and use the dog to detect when it's safe to cross the avenue at the traffic light, etc.
http://www.guidedogsofamerica.org/1/programs/application-process/
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How often should eye exams be done?

That depends on individual eye/health conditions. People with normal health and vision can possibly see the eye doctor every 2-3 years until they reach the age of presbyopia--about in their late 30's to early 40's. I'm very astigmatic with presbyopia so I see my eye doctor annually. Diabetics may be asked to get checked every six months and other deteriorating conditions such as macular degeneration (MD), Batten's disease and Stargardt's may need checking on every 4 months to 6months. In case of conditions as these and others it is best to ask the doctor how often it is best to see the individual case.
http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/visit-eye-doctor#1
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What is wrong with the eyes of a person with dyslexia?

Usually nothing is wrong with the eyes of a person who is dyslexic. Dyslexia is not a condition of the eye. It is a perceptual difference. For example, the eyes can be 20/20 but the sight message gets scrambled when it gets to the brain. The International Dyslexia Association has excellent information on this subject.
https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-basics/

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Why is it that some kids are considered blind when they can see something?

All of my students are labeled as "Visually Impaired." What determines if they are visually impaired/blind or visually impaired/partiallyseeing is a number. Beyond a certain number for visual acuity a child is considered blind even though he/she may have some sight. Total blindness is quite rare unless the child has very underdeveloped eyes or no eyes. The Pupil Appraisal handbook qualifies blindness as "20/200 or less distance and/or near acuity" and partial sight is "20/70 or less distance and/or near acuity."
http://www.visionaware.org/info/your-eye-condition/eye-health/low-vision/low-vision-terms-and-descriptions/1235
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What is light perception?

That has to do with only having enough vision to be able to tell if it is light or dark. On eye reports you will see where the doctor has written "LP" and sometimes "FC" for finger count.
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Can glass eyes help a person to see?

Glass eyes refer to prosthetic or fake eyes. Blind people with underdeveloped or no eyes are provided with prosthetic eyes for appearance sake. Technology has not yet developed to make prosthetic eye provide sight but that day seems to be arriving as scientists have devised implants that have been tested on cats. The "bionic eye" my soon be possible!
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How do kids with visual impairments read their lessons?

That depends on the student's visual acuity. Some text books are printed in large print or in Braille. There are also some books on CD, digital books, talking books, or a student may have textbooks read to him/her. Some students read braille in certain situations and large print in others. These are called “dual media readers.” There are digital books available on line through special services for non-print readers. The visual impairments teacher/specialist usually knows what medium the student needs for reading and gets these books for his/her students so they can have the same material as their sighted classmates.
http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/topic/dual-media/overview
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How can blind students participate in computer work in the class?

Students with visual impairments use the accessibility programs already installed in Windows. Those with low vision know how to adjust the view, font and contrast to their best advantage. There is also a program called ZoomText (C) which will enlarge the view further. For totally blind students there are screen reader programs such as JAWS which talk.
They are taught to use key commands instead of the mouse to access almost everything on the computer that a sighted student can. I have former students with no vision who use varying versions of JAWS to send emails to me all the time. There are also braille keyboards which can take the place of the print. Check out the web site for the company known as "Freedom Scientific" for some of the technology that is available to computer users with visual impairments. Apple products have a built-in screen reader called Voice Over. However, a reader without vision should be versed in both systems.
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Do you have any students who will be able to drive to high school?

I have a few former students who drive and I have been concerned.
But when they qualified for services the visual acuity requirements were different. My present students are either qualified for partial sight (low vision) or legally blind and cannot drive legally as the department of motor vehicles has vision stipulations which disqualify them from acquiring driver's licenses
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How should I talk to a blind or visually impaired student?

The same way as you would to a sighted student. Totally blind people use the words "see" and "saw" the same way you do so you don't need to change your speech. Instead of referring to things they cannot see as "this" or "that", say what you're talking about: "This table" or "that book." If you are out of the range of vision for someone with low vision--such as teacher at a chalkboard/dry erase board-- you should consider being as specific as well.
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Why doesn't braille look like print alphabets?

Before Louis Braille invented the raised dot method used today, raised print letters were used. They were found to be difficult and slow to read and books took up far too much space. Braille invented a system based on six cells with raised dots arranged in various ways within the cell. Thus the raised dots are not meant to look or feel like print letters. Go to this link to see the cell system: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448811919086239309/
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How do people without sight access the computer?

Usually students who are blind learn the computer keyboard in
elementary school sometimes after learning braille and
sometimes as they are in the final stages around grade 2.5 or
3. Sometimes AS they are learning braille. They learn how to
use certain key commands instead of the mouse with a screen
reader which reads everything the sighted would see on the
monitor. To see an example of one of the most used screen
readers go to www.freedomscientific and search for JAWS.
Newer computers now have some speech capability
in the accessibilities tools (Microsoft Narrator, for instance).
There are also some free downloadable screenreaders.
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Do people who are blind go to movies and watch TV?

YES! Sometimes friends and family will fill in what's happening during the
action parts but now there are descriptive videos and TV as there are
captioned movies and TV for the deaf. Some local movie theaters have
this service. For TV there is a special device to attach to the TV.
For ordering descriptive videos one can check the state library's blind and
physically handicapped section or do an on line search under "descriptive
videos for the blind." Streaming services such as Netflix often have descriptive movies and TV shows.
http://www.acb.org/adp/tv.html
http://www.acb.org/adp/netflixad.html
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Are blind students as smart as sighted children?

That depends. Vision hasn't much to do with intelligence. I know some blind students who do much better in school than their sighted counterparts as well as some who do not. I know of some very gifted students who are totally blind as well as some who are very severely disabled.
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Is it possible for blind children to walk to school?

Most certainly.
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What is cortical visual impairment?

According to the American Foundation for the blind "Cortical visual impairment (CVI), and cerebral visual impairment (CVI), are terms often used to describe visual impairment that occurs because of injury or damage to the brain, as are neurological vision loss, brain-damage-related visual impairment, and vision loss due to traumatic brain injury (TBI)."
I like to explain it to my teachers like this: The eyes may be perfectly formed and appear flawless but the brain cannot alway process the information to let the child know what his/her eyes are "seeing."
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Is it okay to touch a guide dog?

One should ask to touch a guide dog. Remember, the dog is a working dog. If the harness is being used, then the dog is working and should not be distracted. If the harness is off or down, ask the owner if it is okay.
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