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Blind and Low Vision Education Discussion Day

These two sessions will provide opportunities for learning and discussion.
Mary-Rose with vision loss jumping for joy

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Key Details

Course Code
Start Date
30 January 2024
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Course Information

Session 1: (9:00-12:00) The development of a functionally representative framework to assess and support students with a vision impairment through education

All students have equal rights to a quality education and learning, however, for students with a vision impairment, access to class materials and therefore educational outcomes can be negatively impacted by their vision impairment. Previous studies have demonstrated that students with a vision impairment do not perform at the same level as their normally sighted peers with respect to reading, in terms of speed but not overall ability, and early intervention can support improved educational outcomes.

Vision function is the measurement of the working ability of the eyes and visual system that can be assessed, with measures of high and low contrast visual acuity, visual fields, and ocular motor balance. Functional vision describes the way in which the eyes and vision perform during visually guided tasks, such as reading, watching television, or playing sports. Support for children with a vision impairment, within the classroom environment, is typically based upon measures of vision function, which do not truly reflect of the student's actual visual ability.

This study investigated the functional visual capabilities of students with vision impairment within their educational environment in South Australia, challenging the existing reliance on visual acuity as a proxy for functional vision in classroom settings. This presentation will question the adequacy of visual acuity to fully capturing a student's functional vision in the classroom.

The presentation highlights the complexity of childhood vision impairment and the functional impact, which varies depending on the cause of vision loss and environmental conditions. This can result in significant challenges understanding the functional implications of vision impairment within a classroom environment. From these findings a new and comprehensive assessment framework to tailor classroom support around an individual's functional vision, thereby enhancing curriculum accessibility is proposed. This framework, incorporating a holistic approach by integrating reading performance, visual search, visual processing, and the impact of pathologies like nystagmus. It also includes educational interventions to increase students' understanding of their vision impairment, empowering them to advocate for themselves.

The outcome of this work is impactful. For educators and vision specialists, it provides a comprehensive tool for assessing and supporting students with a vision impairment. For policymakers, it presents empirical evidence to reconsider existing guidelines and practices. Most importantly, for students with VI, it promises a more inclusive and equitable educational experience, ensuring that their unique visual needs are understood and adequately addressed in the classroom.

Session 2: 12:30-3:00 Using the information in vision reports to support a student's functional vision/ Collaboration and Consultation with mainstream peers

The first section of this session will focus on vision reports: Almost by default, clinical vision reports have become a reference point for understanding what and how a student uses their vision, and also what support students are entitled to. But anyone who has spent time with students with vision impairment knows that clinical vision reports may provide a baseline measure for a student’s visual function, but contribute little to an understanding of a student’s functional vision - or how they use their vision in a sustained and meaningful way. This presentation will help teachers understand the sometimes mysterious ways of reporting in clinical vision reports, and also provide guidance on a student’s functional application of their vision. Practical suggestions for teachers in classroom situations will also be provided.

The second section will provide strategies and techniques to collaborate and consult with mainstream peers. Opportunities for questions, discussions and mediated networking will be provided.

Purchasing an all-day ticket will include lunch. Morning and afternoon tea will be provided for individual sessions. We are offering a bulk purchase deal so if you are registering 4 or more participants please contact me first:



Australian Hearing Hub (Macquarie University)

Ground floor
16 University Avenue, Macquarie University
Macquarie Park
NSW 2109


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