Eastern Michigan University

Visual Impairments

A visual impairment describes vision loss, resulting in either impaired vision or a complete lack of sight. Visual impairments may be categorized as partially-sighted, low vision, legally blind or completely blind.

Examples of eye disorders that can lead to visual impairments include:

  • Retinal Degeneration
  • Albinism
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscular problems
  • Corneal disorders
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Congenital disorders
  • Infection
Students with Visual Impairments may exhibit or experience the following:
  • Conditions where symptoms intensify as time passes and may lead to an increased need for accommodations
  • Mobility issues
  • Feelings of isolation, frustration, etc.
Impact of the Environment on the Disability

Students with Visual Impairments will likely perform best in courses that incorporate the following elements, which may also benefit other students:

  • Textbook information is submitted to the EMU Bookstore at least six weeks prior to the start of the semester. This will greatly help the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to provide alternative formats of textbooks to students in a timely fashion or for students to locate it on their own, if possible.
  • Handouts, syllabi, articles, coursepacks, etc. provided in accessible, digital formats. Students can use screen readers and/or magnification software to view such documents.
  • Written descriptions of both content and purpose of any pictures that are used in class handouts (to use with a screen reader)
  • Verbal descriptions of any visual materials used in class and/or what is written on the board
  • Regularly-scheduled office hours - the Disability Resource Center encourages students with visual impairments to seek out their faculty during regularly scheduled office hours to clarify assignments or any items that they missed in class or assignments

When the environment and the disability are not compatible, students with Medical Disabilities commonly receive any or all of the following accommodations:

  • Handouts, examinations, syllabi, etc. in student's preferred large font size
  • Test reader and/or use of text-to-speech software
  • Test scribe and/or use of speech-to-text software
  • Alternative media provided by the Disability Resource Center. For example, textbooks provided in audio or Braille format or in a PDF file that the student can magnify with computer software.
  • Use of a guide dog
  • Note-taker and/or permission to tape record in order to capture all relevant lecture material
  • Preferential seating in order to accurately see the board and/or presentation materials
Sources and Additional Information
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