Student Greetings and Interactions

Authors: Wendy Montgomery, M.A.T. (Trinity University) with Supportive Information from Elmwood Visual Resource Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand

Vision impairment does not affect what a student can learn as much as the way a student learns and processes information (Friend & Bursuck, 1999; Turnbull, Turnbull, Shank  & Smith, 2004).   Turnbull et al. (2004) state that “In general, educators should expect students to master the same content and meet the same performance standards as students with vision, even though the students with vision impairments may use adapted methods to access the curriculum and demonstrate these standards” (p. 469).  By providing the appropriate accommodations and making adaptations to the curriculum and instruction, it is possible to create equal opportunities for students with vision impairments to access the curriculum.

This chapter has been divided into sections that provide a range of general strategies teachers may wish to use when setting up their classroom, and developing class procedures to accommodate a student with a vision impairment or a student who is blind.  

Greeting and Involvement

  • When entering a room or approaching a student with a Vision Impairment, always address the student and identify yourself. The Alberta Department of Education suggests, “Hi_name____, it’s _name____.” Model this behavior for younger children and establish it as a class procedure, even after the student has learned your voice (1996, p. 59).
  • If the student approaches you initially, say "Hello." He or she may not realize you are there until you speak.   Then, say immediately "This is _name____.”       A-3.  Even if the student has some residual vision, s/he may not be able to recognize you visually.  S/He may not be able to recognize your voice as its not always easy to recognize someone by voice only.  As you and the student become acquainted s/he may let you know that your voice is recognizable, after which you need not say your name each time you meet (American Foundation for the Blind [AFB], 2005c).

  • If you want the student’s attention, say his/her name (Keller, 2004). If you do not know the student’s name, ask (AFB, 2005c).

  • It is necessary to ask permission if touching a student with vision Impairment.  Explain to the student what is happening (Sewell, 2005). 

  • Play games with the class or arrange activities that do not require vision.  Such activities can help the student learn to pair classmates’ names with their voices (Alberta Dept. of Education [ADE], 1996).

  • If you are handing or placing something near to a student with vision impairment, tell the student precisely where you have put it. Use such phrases as “in front of,” “to your left,” and “opposite” (Sewell, 2005) in relation to the student's body orientation (Keller, 2004, General Courtesy).

  • When describing things, be specific.  Use such phrases as "as big as," "smaller than", "wider than," "rough," "smooth," "similar to," "something like," or "shaped like" with relation to things that are familiar to the student.  Avoid use of terms such as “here” and “there” when describing the position of an object or person.  Use phrases such as “in front of,” “to your left,” and “opposite” in relation to the student's body orientation. You can use such terms as “look” and “see” (ADE, 1996, p. 10).

  • Use verbal praise and disapproval or use tactile reinforcers, such as “a reassuring hand on the shoulder,” since facial expressions and body language might not be readily apparent to the student (ADE, 1996, p. 10).

  • Always excuse yourself when you leave. The student may not be able to see or hear you leave (Sewell, 2005).