Frequently Asked Questions: This page contains answers to common questions
of students and parents.
- Why don't blind students go to a school for the blind?
- Can students who read braille read as fast as students who read print?
- Can blind people see in their dreams?
- Do teachers for the visually impaired learn sign language?
- Why do some blind people twist their heads back and forth and rock?
- Do people with albinism see better in the dark?
- Will a guide dog take you where you need to go?
- How often should eye exams be done?
- What is wrong with the eyes of a person with dyslexia?
- Why is it that some kids are considered blind when they can see something?
- What is light perception?
- Can glass eyes help a person to see?
- How do kids with visual impairments read their lessons?
- How can blind students participate in computer work in the class?
- Do you have any students who will be able to drive to high school?
- How should I talk to a blind or visually impaired student?
- Why doesn't braille look like print alphabets?
- How do people without sight access the computer?
- Do people who are blind go to movies and watch TV?
- Are blind students as smart as sighted children?
- Is it possible for blind children to walk to school?
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
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 school for that reason.
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 suppose 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 WalMart!" then you are not a good
candidate for a guide dog. You should know your way to WalMart
and use the dog to detect when it's safe to cross the avenue at
the traffic light, etc.
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 MD,
Batten's and Stargardt's may need checking on every 4 months to 6
months. 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.
What is wrong with the eyes of a person with dyslexia?
Usually nothing. 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. I have more
about dyslexia at my "Definitions" page at http://www.kathyskids.org/aboutus.html.
Scroll to the word and click on it to get to another site about
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/partially
seeing 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
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.
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!
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 or a student may
have textbooks read to him/her. 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.
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.
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.
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 yourspeech. 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-- you should consider
being as specific as well.
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 too much space. Braille
invented a system based on six cells with raised dots arrranged
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: http://www.loc.gov/nls/bds/card.html
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.
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
thisservice. 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."
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
Is it possible for blind children to walk to school?