Visual impairments are disorders in the function of the eye as manifested by at least one of the following:
- Visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye after the best possible correction.
- A peripheral field so constricted that it affects one’s ability to function in an educational setting.
- A progressive loss of vision which may affect one’s ability to function in an educational setting.
Visual disabilities are so varied that it is often difficult to detect such a student in the classroom or on campus. The student may appear to get around without assistance, read texts, and/or even take notes from the chalkboard. However, in most cases some form of assistance is needed.
A legally blind person is one whose vision, while wearing corrective lenses, does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye, or whose visual field is less than an angle of 20 degrees. Ninety percent of individuals who are identified as legally blind have some useful vision or light perception. Total darkness is rare.
Some students use aids such as guide dogs. These dogs are trained to move at the direction of their masters and are well disciplined to function in group settings. It is important to note that guide dogs are not to be petted or distracted in any way while they are on duty. Guide dogs are allowed by law in all University buildings, including laboratories, food service areas, classrooms, and administrative offices.
Other students may use white canes, and few use special electronic sensing devices to enhance mobility.
Special considerations may be needed for the visually impaired student when:
- A class is moved to a new location,
- when a group goes on a field trip,
- or when the furnishings in the room are moved for a special program.
Note: All disability related information including medical documentation, educational correspondence, and educational accommodation records are considered confidential. The University of Texas and SSD have an obligation to maintain the confidentiality of such documentation.