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Reply To: Advice for assessing a child with visual impairment

Helen Smith

Hi Anisa,
I used to work in a special school for students with visual impairment. I tended to use a lot of informal assessment, with objects.
When assessing try to keep the objects you are using in consistent places as much as possible to help the pupil know where things are. That can help to speed up the assessment and reduce the memory load. Direct them or guide their hand to feel all the objects first before asking your question. For some children it was helpful to have each item in a box to make it easier for them to locate them. Use real objects where possible, eg. keep in mind that a small plastic cow feels very much like a small plastic sheep.

Sometimes I would use a formal assessment as a guide for what I would assess informally eg. the TROG was quite adaptable for this. For example the reversible sentences on the TROG can be assessed with objects. For the item ‘The cow is chased by the girl’, I would have a toy cow, a toy girl and a toy sheep. I would check before I ask the question that they know what all the items are, then I would give the instruction to see if they can make the figures act it out. You obviously don’t get a standard score, but can gather useful information.

I found the Canterbury and Thannet Verbal Reasoning Assessment was useful for verbal reasoning skills as the vast majority is verbally presented. These are presented at age levels too, so give some guide of the age of their verbal reasoning skills.

I also adapted the Peter and the Cat Narrative Assessment by have objects from the story (tree, boy, cat, hose, ladder etc). They felt the toys while I acted out the story with them and I told the story. Then for them to retell the story, I would use the objects to act it out again as a prompt instead of the picture book.

There are also a couple of CELF subtests which are verbally presented: sentence repetition, listening to paragraphs

That’s all I can think of for now, but if anything else comes to mind I’ll let you know.

Hope that helps