Swarnalakshmi.M.R, M.Optom

Assistant Professor, Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, India


Pupils with visual impairments, such as those who are blind or have low vision, need specialised educational programming to meet their specific needs. For pupils who are blind or visually impaired, special education experts provide educational instruction, training, and supportive services. (1) This blog discusses the role of special education needs in various impaired learners, functional vision evaluation and training them to use their vision effectively.

Need for Special Education Professionals

  • Communication Interaction
  • Sensory and/or Physical, Cognition and Learning
  • Behaviour
  • Emotional and Social Development

Roles of education and rehabilitation specialists (2)

After completing the individual’s low vision examination and functional vision assessment, the education or rehabilitation specialist compiles the results to create a profile of the range of individual needs, set priorities for addressing those needs, and determine ways to meet them.

Teaching Compensatory Methods(2)

Instruction in compensatory approaches falls into two categories:

  • Training to improve visual skills, and
  • Training to use and integrate information from different sensory systems.

These guidelines apply to both children and adults.

Different types of Impaired Learners (3)

A. Visually Impaired Learners

Fujiyoshi et al. developed a testing method that includes a digital audio player and document structure diagrams for newly blind users who struggle with Braille or print.(4) Westin created the real-time 3D visual game “Terraformers,” which is accessible by blind and low vision people. (5)  Raisamo et al. developed a multimodal computer system for preschool and primary school pupils to aid with conceptual learning (Figure 1). (6)  Choi and Walker developed the Digitizer Aural Graph, a sonification software tool that allows users to take an optical input device (e.g., a webcam) image of a line graph and then hear an aural graph of the digitised graph image. (7)

Figure 1 : Multimodal computer aided- learning system for preschool and primary school pupils
Image courtesy: http://www.ifp.illinois.edu/~zhzeng/Multimodal Computer System_files/image.jpg

B. Learners with Motor Impairments 

Chen et al. developed the CAT system, a computerised assessment instrument that assesses a student’s pointing and selecting abilities and they also developed a combined electromyogram and eye-gaze monitoring pointer control system (Figure 2) (8), for people with motor impairments. Hornof and Cavender developed the ‘Eye Draw’ software. They combined with an eye tracking device, operated on a computer; the programme allows people with severe motor disabilities to draw with their eyes. (9)

Figure 2: Electromyogram and eye-gaze monitoring pointer control
Image courtesy: https://www.rehab.research.va.gov/jour/08/45/1/images/chinf04.jpg

C. Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a subset of the ‘Developmental Disorders’ category. ASD is a collection of developmental issues that impact social and communication abilities. Vera et al. (2007) addressed the use of ‘Real Time’ visual applications as intervention tools in the educational process for students with learning disabilities. Their primary characteristics are the use of 3D visuals, the user just needs a computer (with screen, keyboard, mouse, and joystick), and he or she may readily interact with the tool. Tseng and Yi-Luen Do  established the Facial Expression Wonderland (FEW) programme to help ASD learners enhance their facial expression detection skills. (10)


This blog discusses the scope of various learning strategies for impaired learners, the variety of manifestations of special education needs, and its contribution to curriculum and autonomous student learning. It has a significant impact on how therapists, special educators, and others should be trained. With the use of diagnostic tools, they can use various learning strategies, which could make it easier to learn.



  1. Kelly, S. M. (2015). Role of vision specialists in special services. In Interdisciplinary Connections to Special Education: Key Related Professionals Involved(Vol. 30, pp. 197-211). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  2. Lueck, A. H. (1997). The role of education and rehabilitation specialists in the comprehensive low vision care process. Journal of visual impairment & Blindness91(5), 423-434.
  3. Drigas, A., & Rodi, E. I. (2013). Special education and ICTs. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (Online)8(2), 41.
  4. Fujiyoshi, M., Fujiyoshi, A., & Aomatsu, T. (2010). New testing method for the dyslexic and the newly blind with a digital audio player and document structure diagrams. In Computers Helping People with Special Needs: 12th International Conference, ICCHP 2010, Vienna, Austria, July 14-16, 2010. Proceedings 12(pp. 116-123). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  5. Westin, T. (2004, September). Game accessibility case study: Terraformers–a real-time 3D graphic game. In Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies, ICDVRAT.
  6. Raisamo, R., Hippula, A., Patomaki, S., Tuominen, E., Pasto, V., & Hasu, M. (2006). Testing usability of multimodal applications with visually impaired children. IEEE MultiMedia13(3), 70-76.
  7. Choi, S. H., & Walker, B. N. (2010). Digitizer auditory graph: making graphs accessible to the visually impaired. In CHI’10 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems(pp. 3445-3450).
  8. Huang, C. N., Chen, C. H., & Chung, H. Y. (2006). Application of facial electromyography in computer mouse access for people with disabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation28(4), 231-237.
  9. Hornof, A. J., & Cavender, A. (2005, April). EyeDraw: enabling children with severe motor impairments to draw with their eyes. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems(pp. 161-170).
  10. Tseng, R. Y., & Do, E. Y. L. (2010, November). Facial expression wonderland (FEW) a novel design prototype of information and computer technology (ICT) for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In Proceedings of the 1st ACM international health informatics symposium(pp. 464-468).