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The ability of the eye to adjust its focus for seeing at different distances by changing the shape of the lens through action of the ciliary muscle.
Arrangements, techniques and materials that change how a child is taught or tested, such as the use of large print or braille materials, or extra time allotted for taking a test.
Activities of daily living (ADL)
The routine activities that an individual must be able to do in order to live independently, such as dressing, preparing and eating food, and so forth.
Adapted materials
Materials such as texts, lessons, and other print reading matter that have been prepared in formats such as braille, large print, or electronic files for use by people who are visually impaired.
Adventitious visual impairment
Loss or impairment of vision that occurs after birth, usually as a result of an accident or disease.
Alternate media
Formats other than regular print for the presentation of information that can be used by people who are blind or visually impaired, such as braille, large print, or audio recordings.
American Sign Language (ASL)
The formal and abstract language of people who are deaf in the United States. A visual-spatial language of hand shapes, positions, and movements, with its own unique syntax, semantics, and pragmatic functions.
Area Agency on Aging
A regional agency established by the Older Americans Act of 1965 to coordinate services to older individuals in a particular area.
For educational purposes, the process used to determine a student’s current needs and skill levels.
Assisted living facilities
Independent living arrangements that provide certain services on the premises so that older people or individuals with disabilities are able to live on their own.
Assistive technology
Equipment, especially electronic devices and computer hardware and software, that helps people who are blind or visually impaired obtain information and communicate; includes closed-circuit televisions, braille translation software, braille embossers, screen readers combined with a speech synthesizer, screen-enlargement software, and refreshable braille displays. Also known as adaptive technology or access technology.
Assistive technology assessment
The process used to determine what technology tools a student needs to perform successfully his or her current and future educational tasks.
A book read aloud and recorded on cassette or other format. See also <a href=”#Talking Book”Talking Book.
Description and explanation of visual events in a performance–such as a film, television program, or play–to present them to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. See also Videodescription.
The profession dealing with hearing impairment.
Augmentative communication device
Any aid that supplements existing vocal or verbal communication (may be simple and inexpensive or highly technological). Return to the Top
A tactile system for reading and writing, based on a cell-like structure made up of six raised dots used in various arrangements to represent printed letters. A system of raised dots based on a structure of cells that enables functionally blind persons to read and write.
Braille access system
Computer hardware or software that uses braille for input and/or output.
Braille embosser
An electronic braille printer that connects to a computer and prints (embosses) braille on paper.
A machine similar to a typewriter that is used to write or emboss braille. Return to the Top
Center-based services
Services provided at an agency, rather than in an individual’s home. Also known as center-based programs.
Child Find
A process mandated by federal legislation (see Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) to identify children with disabilities or at risk of developmental delays and provide them with early assistance and services.
CHARGE association
A diagnostic label for a pattern of congenital anomalies—coloboma, heart defect, choneal atresia, retarded growth and development and abnormalities of the central nervous system, genital hypoplasia, and anomalies or malformation of the ears and hearing impairment.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV)
A device that magnifies print or pictures using a camera to project an image onto a television screen or computer monitor. Also known as a video magnifier.
Communication board
A flat surface with a set of pictures or tangible symbols. A child conveys a specific message by touching or pointing to a representative picture or symbol. The board may contain a single picture or symbol representing a preferred activity. Also known as a picture board.
Contrast sensitivity
The ability to detect differences in grayness and background.
Core curriculum
The general education curriculum that all students in public schools are expected to master, including language arts, science, mathematics, and social studies. Return to the Top
Daily living skills
Abilities (such as methods for personal grooming, household management, and communication) that individuals need to be able to perform tasks for living independently; the routine activities necessary to live independently. Also known as activities of daily living (ADL).
Concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which may present unique communication, learning, developmental, orientation and mobility, and social needs.
Delayed visual maturation (DVM)
A condition in which visual development is delayed so a child will seem to be visually impaired. Nystagmus may be present and the delay may be related to abnormalities in the anterior visual pathway. Visual function generally develops at 6-24 months and continues to improve until 2-3 years.
Depth perception
The ability to detect the relative spatial location of objects, some of which are nearer the observer than are others.
Developmental delay
Performance below the level that is expected for a given age, as in cognitive, communication, motor, sensory, and social abilities.
Direct service
Services provided by a professional directly to an individual, as opposed to the provision of information and referral of the individual elsewhere for services or assistance.
Dog guide
A specially trained dog that assists a person who is blind or visually impaired in orientation and mobility. Dog guides can learn to respond to commands and to judge when doing so would endanger the owner.
Due process
The legal procedure required for school districts to address a parent’s or guardian’s concerns or disagreements with the educational program of a child who is receiving special education, as specified under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Return to the Top
Early intervention
Intervening in a child’s development to provide support at an early time in his or her life.
Early interventionist
A professional who works with infants from birth through age 3 who have disabilities and their families.
Electronic notetaker
A portable device with a braille or typewriter keyboard for input, and output in braille and/or speech, that interfaces with a computer, and may also function as a personal digital assistant. Also known as a portable notetaker; personal digital assistant (PDA); braille notetaker.
Electronic travel aid
See Mobility aid, electronic.
To print material in raised form; specifically, to print in braille.
A surgical procedure consisting of removal of the entire eyeball.
Expanded core curriculum (ECC)
A curriculum that covers the unique, disability-specific skills, such as independent living skills and orientation and mobility skills, that students with visual impairments need to acquire and master to compensate for vision loss and live independently and productively. Return to the Top
Forced-choice preferential looking test
A means of testing the vision of nonverbal or preverbal children in which patterned stimuli are presented to the right or left, and the movement of the individual’s eyes is noted. Also known as Teller acuity cards.
Functional vision
A degree of vision sufficient to be of use in performing a given task, such as reading or sewing.
Functional vision assessment (FVA)
An assessment of an individual’s use of vision in a variety of tasks and settings, including measures of near and distance vision; visual fields; eye movements; and responses to specific environmental characteristics, such as light and color. The assessment report includes recommendations for instructional procedures, modifications or adaptations, and additional tests. Also known as functional vision evaluation (FVE). Return to the Top
Nonverbal communication skills; making gestures that mimic the ordinary gestures of others and using gestures to help express and emphasize the meaning of verbal or sign language.
A body movement that conveys a message, such as waving to indicate “bye-bye” or turning away to indicate “I don’t like this.” Return to the Top
Home-based services
Services provided in an individual’s home, rather than at an agency or in the community. Return to the Top
Incidental learning
Learning gained by observing persons and activities around us within our immediate environment.
See Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
See Individualized Education Program.
See <a href=”#Family Service Plan”Individual Family Service Plan.
Incidental learning
Learning gained by observing persons and activities around us within our immediate environment.
An educational philosophy that advocates placing students with disabilities in general education classrooms with children who are not disabled for all or part of the school day; often used interchangeably with mainstreaming.
Independent Living Program
A program administered by the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration that offers rehabilitation services (see Rehabilitation) to eligible clients who are not candidates for specific services that help people find and maintain a job, such as some persons who have multiple disabilities or elderly persons who are visually impaired.
Independent living services
Training in skills used in everyday life with the goal of helping an individual to live on his or her own.
Indirect service
Information, consultation, or other support provided by a professional or agency to an individual or group, as opposed to the hands-on provision of therapeutic or other services. Also, as specified on an Individualized Education Program (IEP), consultation or other support provided by a teacher or other service provider, as opposed to face-to-face instruction or therapy.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
A written plan of instruction by an educational team, which includes a student’s present levels of educational performance, annual goals, short-term objectives, specific services needed, duration of services, evaluation, and related information. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), each student receiving special education services must have such a plan.
Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
A plan for the coordination of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, similar to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) that is required for all school-age children with disabilities. A requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
The federal legislation that mandates and safeguards a free, appropriate public education for all eligible children with disabilities in the United States.
In-service training
Training, usually in the form of classes or workshops, given to workers as part of their employment.
Instructional materials center
Resource centers that provide adapted materials, such as braille textbooks, large-print books, and texts on tape, for visually impaired students in a state. Also known as instructional resource centers.
Itinerant teacher
An instructor who moves from place to place (e.g., from home to home, school to hospital, or school to school) to provide instruction and support to students with special needs. Return to the Top
Learned helplessness
Decreased motivation and responsiveness in certain situations on the basis of previous similar experiences that were unpredictable and uncontrollable. The person does not have a sense of control or competence.
Learning disability
A disorder that interferes with the ability to understand or use spoken or written language and may hinder learning because of an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations.
Learning media
The formats and methods that best enable a student who is visually impaired to learn, such as braille, closed-circuit television (CCTV), magnifiers, and audiotapes.
Learning media assessment (LMA)
An examination of a student’s ability to use general learning materials and determination of any specialized formats he or she needs to complete current and future reading and writing tasks.
Least restrictive environment (LRE)
An environment that is adapted only to the extent necessary to maximize learning for a student who is disabled; also, the setting in which a child with disabilities can be provided with an appropriate education and maximum contact with nondisabled students.
Legal blindness
Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye after best correction with conventional lenses, or a visual field of no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.
Light perception
The ability to discern the presence or absence of light, but not its source or direction.
Listening skills
The ability to absorb information aurally, especially as developed by special training.
Literacy medium
The material or method that a student uses to read and write, including print, braille, and audiotapes.
Long cane
A mobility device in the shape of a cane. Also known as a white cane.
Low vision
A visual impairment that is severe enough to interfere with everyday activities and cannot be corrected by ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses; vision that may be usable to plan and perform daily tasks.
Low vision device
A device used to improve the ability of persons with visual impairments to use their vision. Low vision devices include optical devices such as magnifiers and telescopes as well as nonoptical devices such as bold-line felt-tip markers.
Low vision evaluation
A specialized clinical examination to assess the visual abilities and needs of an individual with low vision. Also referred to as a low vision examination.
Low vision specialist
An ophthalmologist or optometrist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of people with low vision, including the prescription of optical and nonoptical devices.
Low vision therapist
A professional who performs functional vision assessments following clinical low vision examinations and implements the recommendations of the low vision rehabilitation team. The low vision therapist may provide instruction in the use of functional vision as well as in the use of low vision devices. Also known as a certified low vision therapist (CLVT). Return to the Top
A type of low vision device used to increase the size of an image based on lenses or lens systems; a magnifier may be mounted on a stand, handheld, or mounted in eyeglasses.
The placement of a student with a disability in a general education classroom with children who are not disabled for all or part of the school day; often used interchangeably with inclusion.
The act of moving or the ability to move from one’s present position to one’s desired position in another part of the environment. See also orientation.
Mobility aid
A device that gives off audible signals when objects are nearby in the environment, for use by individuals with visual impairments to move about or travel safely. Also known as electronic travel aids.
Mobility skills
A set of specific techniques and strategies to help people with visual impairments remain safe while traveling.
Changes to the standard of learning or performance, or the requirements that a student needs to meet, for a learning task, such as being taught material at a lower grade level, being tested at a lower grade level, or being taught fewer skills in the curriculum at the same grade level.
Multiply disabled
Having more than one disability. Return to the Top
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
A part of the U.S. Library of Congress that loans free reading materials on tape, on disk, or in braille through a network of libraries throughout the country to individuals who are unable to read regular print books because of a visual or physical disability.
Near vision
The use of vision to accomplish tasks, such as eating, playing with a toy, or reading, that occur within 8-12 inches of an individual.
Nemeth code
A braille code system designed for use in science and mathematics.
Nonoptical devices
Low vision devices that do not involve optics, such as high-intensity lamps or bold-lined paper. Return to the Top
Object cue
A piece of an object or an object associated with an activity or person that is used to represent the activity or person. May be used on a communication board.
Occupational therapist (OT)
A professional who uses specific activities to improve an individual’s physical, social, psychological, or intellectual development, focusing on the development of fine motor skills and perceptual abilities.
See Optical character recognition.
A physician who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the eyes and is qualified to prescribe ocular medications and to perform surgery on the eyes. He or she may also perform refractive and low vision work, including eye examinations and other vision services.
Optical character recognition (OCR)
A system used to convert printed material into computer files so it can be produced in a form (such as braille or voice output) that is useful for people with sensory losses, using a scanner interfaced with a computer.
Optical device
Any system of lenses that enhances visual function.
A health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of refractive errors and other eye conditions, and who prescribes and dispenses eyeglasses or contact lenses, as regulated by state laws. May also perform low vision examinations.
The knowledge of one’s distance and direction relative to things observed or remembered in one’s surroundings and the ability to keep track of these spatial relationships as they change during locomotion. See also Mobility.
Orientation and mobility (O&M)
The field dealing with systematic techniques by which persons who are blind or visually impaired orient themselves to their environments and move about independently. See also mobility, orientation.
Orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist
A professional who specializes in teaching travel skills to persons who are visually impaired, including the use of canes, dog guides, and electronic traveling aids, as well as the use of human guides. Also known as an O&M instructor; certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS). Return to the Top
Partial sight
A term formerly often used to indicate visual acuity of 20/70 to 20/200 but also used to describe visual impairment in which usable vision is present.
Peripheral vision
The perception of objects, motion, or color outside the direct line of vision or by other than the central retina.
Personal digital assistant (PDA)
See Electronic notetaker
Light sensitivity to an uncomfortable degree; usually symptomatic of other ocular disorders or diseases.
Physical therapist (PT)
A professional who focuses on the development, correction, and prevention of motor problems (those involving muscular movement).
Preliteracy skills
Skills that help prepare a child’s interest in and ability to read.
An instructional cue or procedure that helps a child to respond correctly. A hierarchy of prompts, from the least to the most intrusive, is a natural cue, visual-tactile cue, gestural cue, indirect verbal cue, direct verbal cue, modeling, a physical prompt, and physical guidance. Return to the Top
Radio reading service
A system that broadcasts information, such as newspaper articles, books, and consumer information, to people with visual, physical, and reading disabilities, usually operating on unused radio frequencies and requiring a special receiver.
Reading machineA computer-based device that scans printed text and converts it into synthetic speech.
Recorded book or magazine
An audiotaped version of written material. See Talking Book.
Refreshable braille display
An electronic device using small pins to display in braille the text that appears on a computer or electronic notetaker.
The process of bringing or restoring an individual to a normal or optimum state of health and constructive activity through treatment and therapy; specifically, the process of adjusting to vision loss and learning how to adapt or perform in new ways previously known skills.
Rehabilitation counselor
A rehabilitation professional who serves as coordinator or manager in a public or private rehabilitation agency for an individual who is visually impaired and who provides counseling.
Rehabilitation teacher”
A professional who teaches people with visual impairments to use adaptive skills and equipment to perform the various tasks of everyday life.
Related services
Services required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.
Resource room
A service delivery option designed to support students with visual impairments who are enrolled in a general education classroom by providing specialized instruction and support from a qualified teacher who is housed on site. Return to the Top
A device that uses a moving electronic beam to convert visual images, such as printed text or graphic images, into an electronic format that can be transmitted or converted into other formats.
Screen reader
A computer program that translates print characters on a computer screen into their sound equivalents as part of a speech output system. These sounds are then “spoken” as words by the speech synthesizer component of the system.
Screen magnification system
A computer system that electronically enlarges the characters displayed on a computer monitor.
Sensory channel
A sense through which an individual acquires information, such as vision or touch.
Sensory integration training
Instruction often provided under the supervision of an occupational therapist that helps an individual organize and integrate or process the sensations received by seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, or other senses.
Sensory instruction
Instruction that helps a person who is blind or visually impaired develop his or her other sensory abilities to be aware of the environment.
Sheltered workshop
A business that provides jobs for individuals with a disability who may need special assistance to be able to work. Also known as facility-based employment.
Slate and stylus
A portable, lightweight device used to write braille. It consists of a frame in which braille paper is placed with rows of small round indentations arranged in the shape of braille cells and a pen-like instrument used to punch indentations into the paper.
Snellen chart
The traditional eye chart whose top line consists of the letter E and which is used in routine eye examinations.
Special education
Specially designed instruction, provided at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability to receive a free and appropriate public education.
Speech output system
A computer-based system that converts text displayed as print into simulated speech.
Speech synthesizer
Part of a speech output system that provides the spoken equivalent of the print text displayed on a computer monitor.
Speech therapist
A professional in the area of communication techniques and speech and language pathology who teaches people to improve their spoken communication. Also known as a speech language pathologist (SLP); speech teacher.
State Unit on Aging
An agency established in each state under the Older Americans Act of 1965 to provide referrals for older people to local agencies–such as senior centers, home care agencies, geriatric medical practices, assistive living facilities, social work agencies, and the like- -as well as to local Area Agencies on Aging.
Synthetic speech
Reading aloud of text, such as that on a computer screen, produced by a combination of screen reader software that can read the text and a speech synthesizer that can convert that text into speech. Return to the Top
Related to or experienced through the sense of touch.
Tactile skills
The ability to explore an object systematically, enabling a person to observe all the features of that object by using his or her sense of touch.
Talking Book program
A free national library program administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress for persons with visual and physical limitations. Books and magazines are produced in braille, in electronic formats, and on recorded discs and audiocassettes and are distributed to a cooperative network of regional libraries that circulate them to eligible borrowers. The program also lends the devices on which the recordings are played.
Talking Book
A book or other reading material read aloud and recorded for a blind or visually impaired listener to play back, usually on specially designed equipment, which may be in disk or cassette tape format; an audiobook recorded for listeners who are print disabled.
Talking Book machine
A specialized device for playing talking books.
Tangible symbol
An object, a piece of an object, or an abstract concrete form that is used as a referent for a person, place, or activity. May be used on a communication board.
Teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI)
A specially trained and certified teacher who is qualified to teach special skills to students with visual impairments. Also known as a vision teacher; blind teacher; braille teacher; vision consultant; VI teacher.
A low vision device that uses lenses or lens systems to make small objects appear closer and larger.
Touch cue
A communication method that conveys a message to a child by touching him or her in a consistent way.
Transition Individualized Education Program
A program, written for a student age 16 and older, that addresses the need for transitional services in the areas of employment, education and training, leisure and recreation, and living arrangements. It details proposed activities to achieve desired outcomes, establishes timetables for reaching these goals, and assigns responsibility for providing support to the agencies and individuals responsible for following through on each activity. Also known as an Individualized Transition Plan (ITP). See also Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Transition services
Assistance, instruction, and planning for an individual who is making a change to a different type of environment and from one system of services to another. Transitional services are required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for toddlers who are moving from early intervention services to preschool or other appropriate services; and for young adults who are moving from school to community living and employment or from secondary school to higher education. Return to the Top
Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of (formerly the U.S. Veterans Administration)
Vending stand training
Training to operate a vending stand as part of the Vending Facility Program for Persons Who Are Blind, instituted by the Randolph-Sheppard Act, which gives persons who are blind priority in running vending facilities on federal property as a way to support themselves.
Description and explanation of visual events in a recorded program–such as a television program or videotaped film–usually recorded as part of the program, to present them to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. See also Audiodescription.
Video magnifier
A computer-based device for magnifying images and projecting them on a computer screen. See also Closed-circuit television.
Visual acuity
The sharpness or clearness of a person’s vision; how much detail a person can see, usually measured by a standard eye chart.
Visual acuity test
An assessment of detailed central vision; infants are tested by ascertaining pupillary responses to light and later, light fixation reflexes; subsequent assessments include the standard Snellen Chart and other charts.
Visual cluster
A combination of images and background that provides distracting details for some individuals who have figure-ground difficulties, that is, cannot select a single object from the background.
Visual efficiency
The degree to which specific visual tasks can be performed with ease, comfort, and minimum time, contingent on personal and environmental variables; the extent to which available vision is used effectively.
Visual field
The area that can be seen when looking straight ahead, measured in degrees from the fixation point.
Visual fixation
The direction of the eye toward an object to be viewed.
Visual impairment
Any degree of vision loss that affects a person’s ability to perform the tasks of daily life.
Vocational rehabilitation (VR)
A system of services that evaluates personal, work, and work-related traits and is designed to result in the individual’s optimal placement in employment. Return to the Top