3 individuals with different abilities are walking in the city, sun is shining. They are smiling, with one arm in the air. Image by storyset on Freepik

Have you ever wanted to be supportive to someone with a visual impairment, but you didn't know where to start or you were afraid of making a mistake?

Don't let a lack of knowledge, worries, and fears stop you from being supportive. Explore how you can help someone with a visual impairment, whether you're a parent or educator. 🙂

What does it mean to be visually impaired?

An eye doctor is performing an eye test in an office with special equipment. The woman-presenting patient looks in glass. Image by storyset on Freepik

As of 2020, the World Health Organization defines a person as visually impaired and blind if their visual acuity (VA) is less than 3/60 in the eye with the best vision.

A VA of 3/60 means that a person can see at 3 feet what a person without a visual impairment can see at 60 feet.

"Visually impaired" is a general umbrella term that includes people that are:

  • Partially sighted

  • Low vision

  • Legally blind

  • Totally blind

Note: Depending on the country, these terms differ. For example, the United Kingdom (UK) uses "severely sight impaired" instead of blind.

What challenges do the visually impaired face?

Two vision-impaired presenting people with walking sticks and sunglasses are at a city crosswalk about to cross the street. Image by storyset on Freepik

A person with a vision impairment might have the following everyday challenges:

  • Inability to drive safely to family events, school, work, and more

  • Learning how to read braille and finding braille novels, books, or media

  • Difficulties manipulating objects,like replacing smoke detector batteries

  • Trouble recognizing familiar people from their face or voice alone

  • Reading important safety information on medication labels or street signs

4 BIPOC students are reading braille books in their own way. The braille alphabet is in the center of the image. Image by storyset on Freepik

A learner with a vision impairment might struggle in-class with:

  • Eye fatigue when trying to focus and understand surroundings

  • Self acceptance in learning differentlythan peers

  • Sensitivity to light from fluorescent room lighting causing eye-strain

  • Bumping into things, such as other classmates, desks, trashcans, and bags

  • Not being able to see distant objects, such as board notes, classmates, and videos

What other issues might the visually impaired experience?

A feminine-presenting student with glasses on is carrying a book and avoiding social situations with a worried face outside. Image by storyset on Freepik

Learners with vision impairments are more likely to experience:

  • Low self esteem from not sharing visual experiences with sighted peers

  • Lack of motivation to learn in class, socialize, or try new things

  • Bullying from others that do not understand their challenges

  • Isolation from social situations to avoid negative comments

A feminine-presenting teenager with a bob haircut is holding their arms with a overwhelmed face with racing thoughts above. Image by storyset on Freepik

The emotional impact of feeling worthless, lonely, and worried about not being good enough as a learner with a visual impairment can lead to:

  • dropping out of school

  • unemployment during adulthood

  • self isolation from society

Wherever possible, it's critical to show your support by making the best referrals to prevent your learner from future setbacks.

How do you support learners with a vision impairment?

A masculine-presenting teacher in female body is supporting masculine-presenting student by reading book out-loud nearby. Image by storyset on Freepik

If you're a teacher, be supportive in-class and:

  • Use clear auditory instruction and large-print materials

  • Allow verbal answersduring exams and quizzes

  • Provide recorded lessons, if possible

  • Verbalize students' preferred names to get attention

  • Give breaks in between activities to avoid fatigue

  • Directly talk to learners, not their companions

  • Keep walkways open to avoid falls

  • Don't leave them out of group work

  • Don't lower expectations of what they can or can't do

3 people of varying age and gender presentation are happily nature-walking together with their service animals and canes. Image by storyset on Freepik

If you're a parent or legal guardian, be supportive at-home by:

  • Providing clear auditory communication, verbally or recorded

  • Stay updated with medical appointments

  • Making home changesto fit specific needs

  • Adapting household chores by age

  • Treating the learner the same as their seeing peers or siblings

  • Using clocks that makes a sound at every hour

  • Seeking support groups and resourcesto build community


Anjuri (she/they) just transferred to class from India. They're squinting and having trouble with following along on the class worksheet because they're visually impaired. As a teacher, what are some ways to support this student?

Take Action

An LGBT gay masculine-presenting couple are holding a baby with a visual impairment at home while all smiling. Image by storyset on Freepik

Become the best supporter:


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte