This April is our second annual CVI Literacy Awareness Month. When it comes to “visual impairment” most people think of two things: the eye, and braille. Cortical visual impairment (CVI) is different on both fronts. CVI is a brain based condition, not an eye condition. And most children and people with CVI are not braille learners. The critical difference with respect to both issues is that with CVI, vision can improve. Children with CVI may not be braille learners, but their literacy needs are just as unique.
For children with CVI, “Literacy begins when they look,” as Christine Roman puts it. Literacy may be that black page board book with carefully cut out photos of a child’s own toys, one per page. Or the book created on a tablet, with backlighting to promote visual attention and minimize visual fatigue (Roman). CVI literacy means thoughtful teaching of salient features, every time a child learns about a new object, letter of the alphabet, or word. Literacy might mean using tactile letters to form words and reinforce visual learning. And let’s not forget to make literacy meaningful for our CVI learners, who have limited visual access to the world around them.
Below is a short compilation of resources on CVI literacy. Most of these can also be found on the Learn About CVI page all the time. On Facebook, we will continue sharing resources on CVI literacy throughout the month of April. You should also feel free to share your ideas and approaches to literacy.
Cortical Visual Impairment: CVI Advanced Principles, by Christine Roman-Lantzy. Dr Roman’s most recent publication includes a chapter on literacy, A Path to Literacy for Students Who Have CVI.
Paths to Literacy by Perkins School for the Blind is a great place to search for resources on CVI literacy.
Phase III CVI by Christine Roman-Lantzy. Dr Roman discusses Phase III CVI, including CVI literacy, in this video produced by the West Virginia Department of Education. This is one of many CVI topics you can find on their website.
Salient features dictionary by Matt Tietjen and the CVI Collaborative. Learning to identify the salient features of objects, places and people is critical for children who have CVI. A salient features dictionary helps ensure that everybody who works with your child uses the same, consistent language.
Word bubble tool. A tool designed to assist in literacy education for students with CVI (cortical visual impairment). The tight red outline around the word emphasizes the word shape, and paired with teaching the salient features of letters and words. Based on the method created by Christine Roman-Lantzy.
And don’t forget you can always find blog posts on CVI literacy at StartSeeingCVI. #CVILiteracyAwarenessMonth