Math modification for CVI

My son is in Phase III CVI (Roman-Lantzy) and attends first grade, in the general education classroom. Schools love to use worksheets for kids to practice math, time telling, word matching, etc. For students with CVI, and their parents, the worksheets are a constant challenge to modify. When modifying for students with CVI, consider the following questions. What is the overall concept being taught? What are the essential elements? Is it critical that a student with CVI spend his visual energy identifying an abstract black and white line drawing? Or is there a different way to teach the concept?

Math modification for CVI
Math modification for CVI

The current math unit is about shapes and the math worksheet pictured recently came home with my son. Short of using manipulatives, my thought was to reduce the complexity of array by covering half of the shape (Roman-Lantzy), and counting in smaller, less visually complex sections (and covering the text at top along with that). In addition we would use preferred color (Roman-Lantzy), yellow, to highlight the word for each shape. The worksheet is on standard letter size paper. Note that the modification is not about enlarging.

In addition to using masking to reduce visual complexity, TVI Matt Tietjen* made the following suggestion:

This is a tricky one! There are a few possible ways to do this. I like the idea of showing part of the worksheet at a time to minimize complexity and I have some other thoughts. Thinking of the vision of a student in Phase III CVI (Roman), here is what I would try first.

– Make four (4) copies of the worksheet if possible, one for each shape. Or take four pictures of it on an iPad or other tablet device.

"find all the triangles"
“find all the triangles”

– On each page, I would focus on just one type of shape (triangles, circles, squares, or rectangles) and ask the student to go through that page and “find all the triangles” and trace each one as he finds it with a colored marker. By tracing each shape as he goes, he is visually “marking” each one that he has already found, which should minimize the visual search load as he continues to search for more triangles (complexity of array, Roman). During this search, you would also use masking to show only part of the worksheet at a time, as originally suggested.

– Once the student is finished finding and highlighting all the triangles on the first piece of paper, he could move onto the next copy of the worksheet and look for only the squares, again marking them as he goes. Repeat the same steps using the other worksheet copies to find squares and rectangles.

iPad "markup" feature
iPad “markup” feature

To do this using an iPad, you could just take four pictures of the worksheet and the student could use the “markup” feature in the native photos application to highlight each shape as he finds it.

This could be one strategy to try if the student has difficulty counting all of the shapes on one sheet.

Thank you, Matt!

*Matt Tietjen is a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) working in Connecticut and author of What’s the Complexity, a framework for designing an accessible school day for students who have cortical visual impairment (CVI), based on the work of Christine Roman-Lantzy and the CVI Range.

CVI Parents have three problems

CVI Parents have three problems
CVI Parents have three problems, photo by Patricia Harrington Simanek

My son was diagnosed with cortical visual impairment (CVI) as a newborn in 2011, before he came home from the children’s hospital neonatal intensive care unit. Like many kids who have CVI, he had a stroke. Or more specifically, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, HIE. His birth experience meant absorbing the diagnoses of infant stroke and CVI, as well as the great unknown that goes along with that, because CVI is not a stand alone diagnosis. The doctors, neurologists, called it cortical blindness. This was a day or two after hearing the heart breaking words infant stroke for the first time, a phrase that is not comprehensible in the moment. Cortical blindness, the neurologist said. Because his impairment involves the brain, and not the eye itself, there is nothing you can do. Instead the doctor should have said, Because his visual impairment involves the brain – there is so much you can do. This should be the message to all parents whose child receives a diagnosis of CVI. Continue reading “CVI Parents have three problems”

Return to Wonderland

Originally published November 12, 2013

Pittsburgh Zoo

In the weeks leading up to our October appointment with Christine Roman-Lantzy, I debated going. Jasper’s developmental Renaissance, which began in early summer, was still going. Global improvements in communication, speech, feeding, auditory processing, and vision. Another new mom once said to me, “My baby changes so much every day, he’s constantly learning something new!” At the time, Jasper was about a year old, and doing Ok, but the words struck me. Changes so much… every day?? I had no idea what that meant. My experience was different from that of other new moms. Continue reading “Return to Wonderland”

Access makes a world of difference

Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

Thinking about visual access in terms of the arts can feel overwhelming. How can a child who has cortical visual impairment (CVI) possibly have access to and enjoyment of, an arts experience? On a recent outing to our local children’s theatre, it hit home how visual access makes a world difference for a child who has CVI. Continue reading “Access makes a world of difference”