What Can be Done to Help Children with Albinism in School?
Most children with albinism should function in a mainstream classroom environment, provided the school gives specific attention to their special needs for vision. Contact with the school system should begin well before kindergarten, since school systems provide preschool services to children with disabilities. Preschool evaluations allow parents and teachers to form an Individual Education Plan for the child. The use of Braille is not necessary, and, if a trial of Braille is given, children with albinism
will read the dots visually.
Children with albinism often prefer to read with a head tilt and usually hold the page close to the eyes. Occasionally it can be difficult to get them to use their glasses, as they do not notice significant improvement in their vision when glasses are used. furthermore, use of glasses or books with large print can be difficult because of peer pressure. Various classroom aids help children with albinism:
- Large-type textbooks: The school can usually obtain large type editions from the publishers of their regular textbooks. Because children. with albinism often have difficulty keeping track of their place on the page while shifting back and forth between a textbook and a worksheet, it may help to allow them to write in the textbook. http://largeprintexperts.com/
- Worksheets may need to be copied on a machine that enlarges print size. Children with albinism do not always need large-type materials, however, and large type should not substitute for poor optical visual aids. Use of audio tapes may be preferable to voluminous reading.
- Copies of the teacher’s board notes: The child with low vision can read the notes close-up while classmates read the board.
- Various optic devices: Hand-held monoculars, telescopic lenses mounted over eyeglasses, video enlargement machines (closed circuit TV), and other types of magnifiers may help some people with albinism.
- Computers: Children with albinism should begin key-boarding skills early, since computers with software for large character screen display can help greatly with writing projects. This is also available for tablets and cellphones.
Prescription of appropriate classroom visual aids requires teamwork of the student, parent, classroom teacher, vision resources teacher, and an optometrist or ophthalmologist experienced in working with persons with low vision. When a child turns three usually parents are able to work with the school board to develop an Individualized Education Plan that will help address low vision needs in a structured learning environment. Prior to age three most states facilitate funding for early intervention programs that focus on developmental disabilities such as low vision and delays which result from it.
Some of these same measures may be taken for college students and adapting to low vision needs in a career setting. Many large employers may have or be willing to get an accessibility coordinator to assist with procuring assistive technology and making the work place more diversified. Many college campuses have disability services which may already be familiar with necessary procedures for accommodations.
The American Foundation for the Blind (15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011) maintains a directory of low vision clinics in the United State