Supporting Students With Sight Loss In A Geography Class

Challenges

There are five themes of geography: Place, Location, Human-Environmental Interaction, Movement and Regions. Although maps and the use of maps play an important role in geography; it is possible to teach geography to students with sight loss.

Students with sight loss have different schema than sighted students so the materials that need to be used for them to understand simple concepts need modifications.

Improving Learning and Experiences

As a teacher in a mainstream classroom with students with sight loss in your classroom there are several things that you should consider when providing accommodations for your students. Every resource or materials that you are planning on using should be considered individually and evaluated for the sight impaired students in your class.

Some accommodations are simple such as:
 Enlarging diagrams
 Using larger font size for text and labels
 Providing students with the opportunity to view videos before screening in class
 Choosing Videos with lots of dialogue and descriptive narratives

Other accommodations may require a little more thought such as modifying handouts or other materials. By simplifying a diagram and reducing the amount of text a students with sight loss may by able to better use it. Photos may also need to be adjusted to make them more beneficial for other students. A teacher may need to add a description to a photo or use a simple drawing with less detail or background information. Having another child describe what they see to the entire class may provide visual impaired students with support and help sighted students increase their descriptive abilities.

Using Maps

Maps place an important role in the teaching of geography. They help students understand the connection of one place to another. Maps can be difficult to use for the sight impaired. The closest and the amount of information on a map make it impossible to distinguish characteristics or pick out details on a map.
Using 3-D Maps that students can manipulate through touch is one way to have students use maps effectively. Students can use modeling clay to create maps that can be manipulated, where shaped and texture help students understand the map as opposed to color.
Teachers from students with sight loss can create learning experiences for their students but it will require next effort. Schools may not have the resources readily available but teachers can create and make adjustments to materials for them.

Footnotes

1.Snowden, Stuart (2003) Teaching geography to pupils with sight loss: Teaching Geography p.233-240.
2.Posted by Angela Ramsey-Lockhart