Providing Learning Support for Blind or Visually Impaired Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities

The Available Options

General resources and assistance

Blind and visually impaired students have for many years made use of various kinds of aid to help them in their studies. Among the more popular are the following:

Long cane — Widely used by blind people to navigate the outdoors environment. Its main drawbacks ares that users are unable to maintain a straight travel path without some form of external feedback, and cannot normally detect hazards above waist height (Heyes, no date, a). (See also the travel and mobility aids documents.)

Guide dog — Excellent in helping blind people to navigate often complex (e.g. urban) environments while avoiding obstacles. (See also the travel, mobility aids and guide dogs documents.)

Large print — Valuable for anyone with reduced vision or poor visual acuity. Most libraries stock large print versions of popular titles, but more specialist material has to be specifically converted into the format. With the advent of low-cost PCs and laser printers, it is relatively easy for students to produce large print versions from original digital sources. (See also the handouts document.)

Audiotape — Useful supplement to note-taking in lectures, seminars, guest presentations and interviews. (See also the lectures and laboratories document.)

Peer note-taking — Particularly useful in field situations where the blind or visually disabled student is attending to other tasks, such as interviewing. (See the buddies and lectures and laboratories documents.)

The companion document on Assistive Technology describes some of the more recently developed aids which are available to visually impaired students, especially those which are digital or computer-based.

Page updated 14 December 2001

GDN pages maintained by Phil Gravestock