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Visual Impairment and Blindness
What are Visual Impairment and Blindness?
A visual impairment is vision that even with correction adversely affects an individual’s life. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. Partial sight can refer to low vision (cannot read at a normal reading distance even with corrective lenses). Blindness can refer to being legally blind (less than 20/200 vision in the better eye), a limited field of vision, or total blindness (no sight).
What are the Characteristics of Visual Impairment and Blindness?
Children with a visual impairment including blindness are often delayed in other developmental milestones. Their developmental course will depend on the severity, type of vision loss, and the age at onset of visual impairment. For example, those individuals who have more severe vision loss at earlier ages may experience more developmental difficulties because of not having the benefit of normal sight. Social understanding and developing meaningful social interactions may be hindered because it may be harder to read and give social signals (i.e., facial expression recognition and imitation, eye contact, etc.). Young children with visual impairment including blindness may not explore their environment on their own and therefore may miss opportunities for incidental learning during the developmental years through modeling and imitation. Despite these early disadvantages, the initial lags that these children experience may dissipate over time. Children often learn to compensate for their visual impairment. They may achieve levels of intellectual and educational functioning similar to their sighted peers.
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