[AI] info - visual impairment

Sathiyaprakash Ramdoss sathiya.ramdoss at gmail.com
Fri Aug 10 10:31:27 EDT 2007

  Hello All,
 The following information that I have pasted here looks little bit
long and  versatile. Though this info is   we bit americanized,it is
good to know.
  -- -- --
Visual Impairment, including Blindness

DISABILITY CATEGORY: Visual Impairment, including Blindness

TYPES: Partially Sighted, Low Vision, Legally Blind, Totally Blind

list of 4 items
• "Partially sighted" indicates that some type of visual problem has
resulted in a need for special education.

• "Low vision" generally refers to a severe visual impairment, not
necessarily limited to distance vision. Low vision applies to all
individuals with sight
who are unable to read the newspaper at a normal viewing distance,
even with the aid of eyeglasses or contact lenses. They use a
combination of vision
and other senses to learn, although they may require adaptations in
lighting, the size of print, and, sometimes, braille.

• "Legally blind" indicates that a person has less than 20/200 vision
in the better eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its
widest point);

• "Totally blind" students learn via Braille or other non-visual media.

list end

Visual impairment is the consequence of a functional loss of vision,
rather than the eye disorder itself. Eye disorders which can lead to
visual impairments
can include retinal degeneration, albinism, cataracts, glaucoma,
muscular problems that result in visual disturbances, corneal
disorders, diabetic retinopathy,
congenital disorders, and infection (Source: NICHCY)


Our nation's special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) defines visual impairment as follows:

            "…an impairment in vision that, even with correction,
adversely affects a child's educational performance.  The term
includes both partial sight
and blindness."

[34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.7(c) (13)]


list of 6 items
• The rate at which visual impairments occur in individuals under the
age of 18 is 12.2 per 1,000. Severe visual impairments (legally or
totally blind)
occur at a rate of .06 per 1,000.

• Globally, in 2002 more than 161 million people were visually
impaired, of whom 124 million people had low vision and 37 million
were blind. However, refractive
error as a cause of visual impairment was not included, which implies
that the actual global magnitude of visual impairment is greater.

• Worldwide for each blind person, an average of 3.4 people have low
vision, with country and regional variation ranging from 2.4 to 5.5.

• By age: Visual impairment is unequally distributed across age
groups. More than 82% of all people who are blind are 50 years of age
and older, although
they represent only 19% of the world's population. Due to the expected
number of years lived in blindness (blind years), childhood blindness
remains a
significant problem, with an estimated 1.4 million blind children below age 15.

• By gender: Available studies consistently indicate that in every
region of the world, and at all ages, females have a significantly
higher risk of being
visually impaired than males.

• Geographically: Visual impairment is not distributed uniformly
throughout the world. More than 90% of the world's visually impaired
live in developing
countries. (Source: NICHCY; WHO, 2002)

list end

CAUSES: Visual impairments are usually caused by traumatic injury like
getting hit in the eye or head with a baseball or having an automobile
or motorcycle
accident. Some babies are born with congenital blindness, which means
they are visually impaired at birth. Congenital blindness can be
inherited or caused
by an infection, like measles, that is transmitted from the mother to
the developing fetus during pregnancy.

Amblyopia (pronounced: am-blee-oh-pee-uh) develops in children before
age 7. In amblyopia, the two eyes send different messages to the
brain. The brain
then turns off or suppresses images from the non-dominant eye and
vision stops developing normally. Strabismus (misaligned or crossed
eyes) is the most
common cause of amblyopia.

Diabetic retinopathy (pronounced: reh-ton-ah-pa-thee) occurs when the
tiny blood vessels in the retina are damaged due to diabetes. At
first, small blood
vessels in the retina leak. Later, abnormal blood vessels may grow.
Symptoms are not noticeable until damage to the retina is severe,
although there may
be some blurry vision. Teens who have juvenile diabetes should be sure
to get regular eye exams because there are no early warning signs for
this condition.
Teens with diabetes should also avoid smoking, keep their blood
pressure under control, and keep their blood sugar at an even level.

Glaucoma is an increase in pressure inside the eye. The increased
pressure impairs vision by damaging the optic nerve. Glaucoma is
mostly seen in older
adults, although babies may be born with the condition. Teens are most
likely to get glaucoma as the result of a head or eye injury.

Macular degeneration (pronounced: mah-kyoo-lur dih-jeh-nuh-ray-shun)
is a gradual and progressive deterioration of the macula, the most
sensitive region
of the retina. The condition leads to progressive loss of central
vision. Sometimes macular degeneration is age-related (which means it
occurs in older
people, especially older than 60). Excessive exposure to sunlight and
smoking can increase a person's risk for macular degeneration.
Symptoms may include
increased difficulty reading or watching television or distorted
vision in which straight lines that appear wavy or objects look larger
or smaller than

Trachoma (pronounced: truh-ko-muh) occurs when a very contagious
microorganism called Chlamydia trachomatis causes inflammation in the
eye. It's often found
in poor rural countries that have overcrowded living conditions and
limited access to water and sanitation. The disease is easily spread.
For example,
children, who often get the condition first, may rub their red, sticky
eyes then touch the faces of their mothers and other children -
thereby spreading
the disease. Flies can also spread the disease. After years of
repeated trachoma infections, the inside of the eyelids can become so
scarred that they
turn inward with the eyelashes rubbing on the eyeballs. Left
untreated, this scarring can lead to vision loss and blindness. More
than 146 million people
need treatment, and trachoma is totally preventable.

(Source: kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/sight/visual_impairment.html)

Nystagmus refers to rapid involuntary movements of the eyes that may
be from side to side (horizontal nystagmus), up and down (vertical
nystagmus) or rotary.
Depending on the cause, these movements may be in both eyes or in just
one eye. The term "dancing eyes" has been used in regional dialect to
describe nystagmus.
The involuntary eye movements of nystagmus are caused by abnormal
function in the areas of the brain that control eye movements. The
exact nature of these
disorders is poorly understood. Nystagmus may be either congenital
(present at birth) or may be acquired (caused by disease or injury
later in life). Congenital
nystagmus is more common than acquired nystagmus. It is usually mild,
does not change in severity, and is not associated with any other
disorder. Affected
people are not aware of the eye movements, although they may be
noticed by a careful observer. If the movements are of large
magnitude, visual acuity (sharpness
of vision) may be less than 20/20. Surgery may improve visual acuity.
A less-common cause of nystagmus is disease or injury of the central
nervous system.
There is no therapy for most cases of congenital nystagmus.
Availability of treatment for acquired nystagmus will vary with the
cause. In most cases, except
for those caused by Dilantin or alcohol intoxication, nystagmus is

(Source for Nystagmus:  Medline Plus; U. S. Library of Medicine and
the National Institutes of Health)


Prevention of visual impairment, when possible, is related to the
cause. Prevention includes the following:

list of 6 items
• Screening for vision problems should be part of a routine checkup by
a healthcare provider. All infants and children should be screened.
This can help
detect a condition called strabismus, or so-called lazy eye, which
needs early treatment to prevent blindness. Screening for glaucoma is
very important
for people who are older than 40, especially those who are black or
have a family history of this condition.

• Controlling conditions that can lead to vision impairment. An
example of this would be diabetes. Controlling blood sugar levels has
been shown to prevent
or delay vision problems from this condition. Controlling glaucoma can
also help prevent vision loss from this condition.

• It is important to protect the eyes from foreign objects, chemicals,
and the sun, by wearing goggles, sunglasses and safety glasses where
necessary. Sunlight
can also harm the eyes, and people should never look directly at the sun.

• Following directions for proper wearing, cleaning, and storing of
the lenses, for those who wear contact lenses. People must also watch
for problems that
can be caused by the lenses. These may include corneal injuries or
corneal infections.

• Providing regular prenatal care for pregnant women to help prevent
problems in the developing baby

• Seeking early evaluation and treatment for eye infections (Source: WHO)

list end

CHARACTERISTICS:The effect of visual problems on a child's development
depends on the severity, type of loss, age at which the condition
appears, and overall
functioning level of the child. Many children who have multiple
disabilities may also have visual impairments resulting in motor,
cognitive, and/or social
developmental delays. A young child with visual impairments has little
reason to explore interesting objects in the environment and, thus,
may miss opportunities
to have experiences and to learn. This lack of exploration may
continue until learning becomes motivating or until intervention
begins. Because the child
cannot see parents or peers, he or she may be unable to imitate social
behavior or under- stand nonverbal cues. Visual disabilities can
create obstacles
to a growing child's independence (NICHCY).

MEDICAL TREATMENT: There may be ways to improve sight. Glasses and
contact lenses are the most common ways to improve vision. Children
with a lazy eye may
wear an eye patch on one eye, or may use surgery to help with weak eye
muscles. Therapists who have been trained in vision problems can
suggest exercises
that may improve some vision problems. Surgery and medication may also
be appropriate, as in glaucoma. Those who have cataracts and some
other conditions
are "cured" or improved by surgery or medications. If vision cannot be
improved, training and special devices may help the person adjust to
the impairment.

It is possible to live a nearly normal lifestyle with most visual
impairments. Many people use eyeglasses or magnifiers so they can
still perform certain
activities. To function safely, affected people may, however, need to
rely on signals other than sight. For example, some lighted signals at
a crosswalk
also make beeping sounds to indicate when it is safe to cross the
street. People who have severe vision problems or are blind can
benefit from special
devices and training. A white cane and a guide dog are familiar aids
for helping blind people function on their own. Computers are now able
to recognize
speech and can talk to the person. Keyboards with Braille symbols,
Braille books, and books on audio tape are also available

PROGNOSIS: The prognosis generally relates to the severity of the
impairment and the ability of the aids to correct it. A good low
vision exam is important
to be aware of the latest low vision aids. (Source: Health A to Z)


Children and youth with low vision have unique educational needs.
Research documents that these students often require direct
instruction by a teacher for
students with visual impairments in areas that are not typically
addressed for other students. All students who meet the criteria for
visual impairment
within their state should have a document that addresses their
individual needs. This document, called an Individualized Education
Plan (IEP), is used
to place a child in the most appropriate educational setting. A
thorough assessment for students with visual impairments is the key in
creating an adequate
IEP. And the assessment process is an essential component in
developing appropriate goals and objectives for the student.

Parents may learn that their child has VI much earlier than do parents
of children with other disabilities. Children with visual impairments
should be assessed
early in order to benefit from early intervention programs, when
applicable. Technology in the form of computers and low-vision optical
and video aids
enable many partially sighted, low vision, and blind children to
participate in regular class activities. Large print materials, books
on tape, and Braille
books are available. Students with visual impairments may need
additional help with special equipment and modifications in the
regular curriculum to emphasize
listening skills, communication, orientation and mobility,
vocation/career options, and daily living skills. Students with low
vision or those who are
legally blind may need help in using their residual vision more
efficiently and in working with special aids and materials. Students
who have visual impairments
combined with other types of disabilities have a greater need for an
interdisciplinary approach and may require greater emphasis on self
care and daily
living skills. (Sources: American Foundation for the Blind; NICHCY)

MUSIC AND VISUAL IMPAIRMENT: Resources for Helping Visually Impaired
Music Students


An overview of the music Braille system is provided for the music
educator in search of music programs and resources for visually
impaired students. Braille
music aids students in learning to read and play music, enabling the
student to read music independently, participate in ensemble groups,
or perform as
a soloist to the extent that his or her musical ability allows. A list
of organizations, information for college bound individuals and
transcription resources
are available on this site.

Music Technology Scanning, Transcription, and Translation Programs


This site highlights three main music technology programs for the
blind and visually impaired. Among these are:

SharpEye is a music scanning and recognition program, which can
produce MIDI, NIFF and SharpEye's own output files.

Toccata is a Braille music transcription program with its own
integrated music editor making it possible to view both the music
editor and a translated
Braille file through a split screen option.

Goodfeel is a Braille music translator program produced by Dancing
Dots, which converts MIDI and Lime files into Braille music.

Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity Inc.


This organization sponsors projects for the blind and visually
impaired such as the Bold Note Project and Braille Transcription
Project. The Braille transcription
project educates Braille transcribers in literary and music Braille
for the completion of projects for the Library of Service for the
Blind and Physically
Handicapped. The Bold Note project assists those with partial vision
by creating musical scores with enlarged print.


American Foundation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
800.232.5463 (Hotline)
For publications call: 800.232.3044

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit
that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's
priorities include broadening
access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools
for professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting
independent and
healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their
families with relevant and timely resources. AFB's work in these areas
is supported
by the strong presence the organization maintains in Washington, DC,
ensuring the rights and interests of people with vision loss are
represented in our
nation's public policies.

American Council of the Blind
155 15th St. N.W., Suite 1004
Washington, D.C. 20005
202.467.5081; 800.424.8666

The American Council of the Blind is the nation's leading membership
organization of blind and visually impaired people. It was founded in
1961 and incorporated
in the District of Columbia. The Council's membership numbers in the
tens of thousands. The majority of its members belong to one or more
of its 71 affiliated
organizations. There are also members-at-large. Membership is not
limited to blind or visually impaired individuals. There are many
sighted members. Legal
blindness, however, is a requirement to serve on the ACB Board of Directors

American Nystagmus Network (ANN)

The American Nystagmus Network, Inc. is a nonprofit organization
founded in 1999 to serve the needs and interests of those affected by
nystagmus. ANN seeks
to provide technical and experiential information about nystagmus and
its manifestations, but not medical advice. Information relates to a
wide range of
concerns including without limit, diagnosis, type, visual effects,
non-visual effects, tests and available treatment. It  also covers
heredity, research,
and known statistical data on nystagmus. ANN also seeks to provide
help in coping with nystagmus through the exchange of information and
ideas, guidance
and counseling. ANN not only seeks to serve those affected by
nystagmus, but also to provide useful information to persons with a
professional or personal
interest as well. These include health care providers, educators,
researchers, and other relevant private and public institutional

Blind Children's Center
4120 Marathon Street
Los Angeles, CA 90029-0159
323.664.2153; 800.222.3566

The Blind Children's Center is a family-centered agency which serves
children with visual impairments from birth to school-age. The
center-based and home-based
programs and services help the children acquire skills and build their
independence. The Center utilizes its expertise and experience to
serve families
and professionals worldwide through support services, education, and
research.  The organization was founded to serve children from birth
to school-age
who are blind or severely visually impaired. The Center's goal is to
provide a comprehensive program of specialized education and training
which will optimize
the blind or visually impaired child's development and consequent
opportunities to lead a meaningful and productive life.

National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired, Inc.
P.O. Box 317
Watertown, MA 02472-0317
617.972.7441; 800.562.6265

The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual
Impairments (NAPVI) is a non-profit organization of, by and for
parents committed to providing
support to the parents of children who have visual impairments. NAPVI
is a national organization that enables parents to find information
and resources
for their children who are blind or visually impaired, including those
with additional disabilities. NAPVI provides leadership, support, and
training to
assist parents in helping children reach their potential. NAPVI is
dedicated to: giving emotional support; initiating outreach programs;
networking; advocating
for the educational needs of children who are blind or visually impaired.

National Association for Visually Handicapped
22 West 21st Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10010

NAVH is the only non-profit health agency in the world solely
dedicated to providing assistance to those with partial vision loss
or, as we say, the "HARD
OF SEEING"(r). The organization does receive federal subsidies or
United Way funds, but rather, rely upon the contributions of Members
and Friends. Its purpose
is to work with the visually impaired so that those affected can live
with as little disruption as possible. No one is ever denied services
of any kind
if they are unable to make a donation.

National Braille Association, Inc. (NBA)
3 Townline Circle
Rochester, NY 14623-2513

The mission of the National Braille Association, Inc. is to provide
continuing education to those who prepare Braille, and to provide
Braille materials
to persons who are visually impaired. Among its resources is a link
which is a gateway many useful websites for Braille.

Prevent Blindness America
500 E. Remington Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173
847.843.2020; 800.221.3004

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness America is the nation's leading
volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting
blindness and saving
sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent
Blindness America touches the lives of millions of people each year.
The organization carries
out important roles such as screening, providing educational programs,
advocacy, research, and training for screening instructors.


National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20542
1-800-424-8567 Toll-Free
(202) 707-0712 FAX

A free national library program of braille and recorded materials for
blind and physically handicapped persons is administered by the
National Library Service
for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress.
Under a special provision of the U.S. copyright law and with the
permission of authors
and publishers of works not covered by the provision, NLS selects and
produces full-length books and magazines in braille and recorded
formats. Reading
materials are distributed to a cooperating network of regional and
subregional (local) libraries where they are circulated to eligible
borrowers. Reading
materials and playback machines are sent to borrowers and returned to
libraries by postage-free mail. Braille books, magazines, and music
materials are
also made available on the Internet through Web-Braille. Established
by an act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was
expanded in 1952
to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, and again in
1966 to include individuals with other physical impairments that
prevent the reading
of standard print.

Music section: The special music collection consists of more than
30,000 braille and large-print music scores, texts, and instructional
recordings about
music and musicians on cassette. Persons interested in music materials
may receive them directly from the Music Section of NLS. The
collection consists
of scores in braille and large print; textbooks and books about music
in braille and large print; music appreciation cassettes, including
interviews and
opera lectures; and self-instructional cassettes for voice, piano,
organ, electronic keyboard, guitar, recorder, accordion, banjo,
harmonica, and other
instruments. Braille scores and books are also available on the Internet.

National Eye Institute

This site is a database of resources for the blind and visually
impaired. It lists organizations whose primary purposes are to provide
those having visual
impairments with educational programs, financial assistance,
healthcare information, and employment options. News concerning the
blind and visually impaired
community are also available, so is information on current research,
legislation, and conventions.

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, a nonprofit volunteer
organization, is the nation's educational library serving people who
cannot effectively read standard
print because of visual impairment, dyslexia, or other physical
disability. Our mission is to create opportunities for individual
success by providing,
and promoting the effective use of, accessible educational materials.
Our vision is for all people to have equal access to the printed word.

Resource Guide for Individuals with Visual Difficulties and Impairments
About Visual Difficulties and Impairments

Highlighted here are some of the many options available for
individuals with vision difficulties to modify their computer displays
and appearance so it
is more legible, or receive information through sound or touch. Those
who are visually impaired cannot use a computer monitor and but have
the option to
receive information from their computers through hearing or touch
offered through screen readers and Braille displays. Assistive
technology products compatible
with Microsoft(r) Windows(r) operating systems, made by independent
assistive technology manufacturers, are included in the assistive
technology catalog.


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