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SMC|Student Services|Disability Resources|Visual Disabilities

Visual Disabilities

Just as people have varying degrees of hearing impairments, the ability to see may exist
anywhere along a continuum from sighted to blind. Within the range of visual impairment, it
is uncommon for someone to be completely without any vision. The amount of usable sight
varies from person to person, and visual acuity may change under differing light conditions.
Vision is measured in terms of how MUCH can be seen (field of vision), and how CLEARLY it
can be seen (visual acuity).

Legal Blindness consists of having less than 10% of "normal" visual acuity in both eyes
(20/200 vision or less), and/or 20% or less of normal peripheral vision in both eyes (i.e.
the person, while wearing glasses, can see less at 20 feet than a person with normal vision
can see at 200 feet).

Low Vision or Partially Sighted means having visual acuity and/or field or vision that is
less than normal, even with corrective glasses, or having a severe visual limitation in only
one eye. Vision that is limited to a narrow angle in the center of the field of vision
sometimes is called tunnel vision.

Visual disabilities are so varied that it is often difficult to detect such a student in the
classroom or on the 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.

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 college buildings, including laboratories, food
services areas, classrooms and administrative offices.

Other students may use white canes, and a few use special electronic sensing devices to
enhance mobility. Special considerations may be needed for the student who is visually
impaired when a class is moved to a new location, when a group goes on a field trip, or when
the furnishings in a room are moved for a special program.