The term ‘visual impairment’ is used for a number of different vision problems which may be present at birth or acquired later. People may be partially sighted or severely sight impaired. Common ‘reduced vision’ problems (like low levels of short-sightedness) corrected by wearing glasses are not included. (However, young children may show some delayed development with language skills when a correctable problem is not recognised. Minor problems with reduced vision and hearing – both of which could be corrected – can appear to have a disproportionate effect on language development.)
Recognised characteristics of visual impairment include:
Some children have visual impairment as one feature of a multi-sensory impairment, or group of difficulties. It can occur together with, for example, learning disability, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hearing impairment, or autism. Children’s development can be affected by the complex interaction of two or more problems.
Speech and language therapists working with visual impairment will be involved with other professionals.
Visually impaired children may attend mainstream nurseries and schools, or specialist units. Therapists work with specialist teachers for visually impaired children. Therapy may begin before school entry and continue into the school years. Therapy for children with visual impairment may target some or all areas of language development (depending on need): comprehension, expressive language, speech intelligibility, and/or dyslexia. Careful modification of resources is needed, particularly when a child has more than one difficulty. Teachers and therapists need to work together.
Adults may have ‘acquired visual impairment’ following head injury or stroke. Therapists working with clients who have language difficulties after the injury may need to take account of the interaction between dysphasia and any visual impairment.
Some points you may wish to discuss with any therapist you contact:
Last updated: January 29th, 2018