The learning media assessment is another key assessment conducted by the teacher of students with visual impairments. It is used to find out which senses your child uses most to get information from the environment. Once this is known, decisions can be made about which method or methods your child should use for learning and literacy. For example, if your child uses her sense of touch primarily and most often to explore the environment, it may be recommended that she learn braille for reading and writing. Some teachers of students with visual impairments combine both the functional vision assessment and learning media assessment into one process.

After reviewing your child’s records, the teacher of students with visual impairments observes your child in a variety of activities. For each of your child’s behaviors that the teacher observes, he or she will note which sense (touch, vision, or hearing) your child uses primarily and what additional sense she uses, if any. For example, if your child is exploring a brightly colored toy, she might spend most of her time feeling around the surface but occasionally hold the toy up close to her left eye. The teacher, in this case, would note that the primary sense used in this activity was touch, and the secondary sense was vision.

Your child’s educational team can use the information from this important assessment to decide the best learning medium—the method or methods she will use to perform essential tasks such as reading and writing and otherwise obtain information—for your child. These might include

  • Regular print
  • Regular print with low vision devices
  • Large print
  • Braille
  • Audio materials to supplement one of the other methods

(See “Overview of Alternate Media” for more information about alternate learning media.)

If your child is already reading and writing, the teacher of students with visual impairments will also examine your child’s literacy activities—the way in which she reads and writes—as part of the learning media assessment as well as the materials, or literacy media, that she uses. For example, in math class, does she use pen and paper or a braillewriter to complete her assignment? The teacher may also assess your child’s reading speed, the degree of fatigue she may experience when reading, and how well she understands what she is reading. Based on this information, the teacher can make recommendations, such as whether your child would benefit from learning braille or from learning how to use a particular low vision device.

It’s important that you receive a copy of your child’s learning media assessment report for your records. If you don’t agree with the teacher’s conclusions or recommended changes in the way your child learns reading and writing skills, you can talk to the teacher about other approaches and discuss it with other members of the educational team.