Low Vision Student's Guide for Academics

How to communicate with Students with Low Vision

  1. Some students with low vision will meet with Student Equity and Disability Support and develop an Academic Adjustment Plan (AAP). This is intended to assist staff by outlining the individual's need and any modifications they may require.
  2. Students will normally communicate AAPs via email or verbally in class, depending on how confident the student is.
  3. If you are unsure about any elements of the Academic Adjustment Plan, you can reach out and discuss them with the student.
  4. AAPs are reasonably limited in the information that they offer and so it can help if you make students aware that they can reach out if they want to discuss things further. A lot of students don't think that they can talk to teaching staff directly about their situation and so it helps if teaching staff take the first step in opening the lines of communication.
  5. Presenting information about AAPs in the first class can be useful for students who don't know about it or have recently acquired condition.
  6. As far as possible, do not single us out in front of others. Doing this can often be well meaning but has an isolating affect on the student. For example, if you are making the class aware of AAPs, don’t do so by asking students to raise their hand if they have them.
  7. Please try to remember to turn your mic off if talking to students about sensitive topics after a lecture.

Student adjusting a computer display
Don’t expect that we will be able to read content at a distance.

You are shooting yourself in the foot if you have to compete for attention with your own slides.

Tips for making Classes accessible

  1. Consider your teaching materials and if there are ways to tweak them to be more inclusive.
    • If you are using a whiteboard, are you also verbally describing what you are writing?
    • If you are using handouts, are they available digitally?
  2. When asking students to go to external websites, such as live polling, dont expect us to be able to read URLs on slides.
  3. Wherever possible, provide slides before class, with enough time so that a student can open them before attending class. We cannot switch focus between slides and the speaker quickly, it takes us about three or four times longer than others to figure out what I’m looking at. So, if we can be prepared in advance it can be a huge help.
  4. When using slides in class, try to minimise the information on the slide. You are shooting yourself in the foot if you have to compete for attention with your own slides. As a guide, you should have a similar amount of information on your slides as what you are saying. If you have quotes or excerpts, read them aloud. Don’t expect that we will be able to read content at a distance.
  5. Think about using clear fonts and high contrast before you think about making things pretty. You can do both, but if you need to pick one, we would rather the information than a colourful confusion of images and text.

Assistive Technologies

    Assistive technologies that students with low vision may use include:
  • Screen magnification
  • Screen reader
  • Dark mode
  • High contrast
  • Text to speech
  • Dictation
  • PDF to Word converter

About this Guide

This Guide has been written by University of Melbourne students.

It is intended to provide academics with a student perspective on how their condition affects their studies at the University.