Developmental Disabilities

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Techniques for Infants and Toddlers with Visual Impairment - Application of Sighted Standard

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Application of a Sighted Standard

by Alycyn Ferrell and Sharon A. Raver

While it is generally thought that infants with visual impairment are delayed in several areas of development, that delay exists only when children are compared to others without the disability. There is little evidence that infants with visual impairment experience the environment and the people around them in the same way as sighted infants. In fact, evidence seems to indicate that their experiences may be totally different (Santin & Simmons, 1977). For example, does the touch and taste of a banana produce the same concept as the sight and taste of a banana? Or does the sound of a mother’s voice produce the same concept as the sight of her face? Bose (1979) identifies 62 curricular concerns,  and, little is known about the coordination of the senses. It is not known, for instance, if the sound of a squeeze toy produces the same concept for the visually impaired child when the child holds it or if someone else holds it.

Yet, realistically, infants with visual impairment live in a visual world. There parents, peers, and teachers are usually sighted., They are evaluated with instruments normed on a sighted population. Even if future research demonstrates that applying a sighted standard to infants with visual impairment is wrong, the fact remains that presently there is no alternative.

In 1989, Dr. Turben received funding that enabled the Cleveland Sight Center to initiate the first large-scale, family-centered Children's Services Program in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Turben worked for Lake County Early Intervention Collaborative Group in 1988-89 as the consultant who prepared the County Needs Assessment and assisted the collaborative in the preparation of the 1988-89 Lake County Early Intervention Collaborative Plan, which launched family collaboratives as a network of families with children who had disabilities.
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