CVI Strategies - Phase I

  • From Strategies to See 

    Level 1

    Students who benefit from Level 1 Strategies are generally just starting to use their vision.  They often alert to light (or light sources), single – brightly colored objects, slow-moving targets, and bright walls.  Environmental and sensory competing input often needs to be eliminated (or at least reduced) when the student is trying to use his/her vision.  The visual target often needs to be close, within arm’s reach and usually, the student needs the viewing array limited to one or possibly 2, widely spaced targets only.

    Environmental and Sensory Input

    • Reduce auditory distractions when visual learning is taking place
    • Reduce tactical distractions when visual learning is taking place, including students
    • Reduce or eliminate visual distractions
    • Use a white or black cloth to cover distracting background items. 
    • Walls and bulletin boards should be simple and free from clutter. 
    • Carpets should be plain, with no pattern. 
    • Turn the student away from sunlight streaming through windows or blinds. 
    • Avoid bright sparkling or flashy jewelry
    • The teacher should wear plain colored clothing, preferably black (or a black smock).
    • Eliminate strong smelling odors or harsh perfumes. 
    • Maintain a comfortable room temperature.
    • Reduce or eliminate oral distractions such as finger sucking or the use of a pacifier.

    Near/Middle/Distance Viewing

    • Visual targets presented at near or no more than 12 to 36 inches away.
    • Use of a custom-made slant board, reading stand, felt-covered tri-fold board or angled dry erase board are helpful in bringing targets into the near visual field (and also creates contrast).
    • Present visual targets in the preferred, near visual field.
    • Raise targets up to eye height in the near visual field.
    • Allow the student to get close.
    • Adding movement will help the student visually attend for a longer period of time.

    Visual Target

    • Use single-colored objects.
    • Pair visual target with movement (i.e. a solid colored slinky), especially in the peripheral fields.
    • Use visual targets with light qualities, either SpotLIGHTed or lighted within.
    • Use visual targets with reflective qualities (i.e. a mylar pom pom).
    • Use visual targets that have movement qualities (i.e. slow-moving slinky).
    • Present one visual target at a time.
    • Use real objects.
    • Present real objects against high color contrast (light-colored foods against dark plates with a contrasting background color)
    • Watch for subtle response cues to visual targets, including shifts of gaze or body position, and changes in breathing patterns.
    • Use color:
    • Keep the color of common objects consistent until an association is established (if the student is attracted to blue, use a blue cup during meals; at school, and at home)
    • Bright, primary colors or fluorescent colors often work best; red, yellow, purple and orange often work well.

    Spatial Window of Visual Attention or Visual Array

    • One or no more than two visual targets at a time. 
    • Wide separation between the two targets.
    • Worksurface should be free of visual clutter.  This includes cell phones (and turning off the ringer so the auditory does not distract the student), car keys, and other miscellaneous items.
    •     The work surface behind the target should be a solid contrasting color.


    • Teachers should wear plain colored clothing that creates contrast behind the target being presented.
    • Wearing a black smock or black apron works well.
    • Use a black cloth or king-size black sheet to cover distracting items in the background. 
    • Use a black felt board when targets need a Velcro compatible background.
    • Using a white cloth or white sheet will also create contrast for darker targets.
    • Create a “CVI Den” to reduce visual distractions and create contrast. 
    • Do not present objects or materials in front of busy patterns with complex colors.

    Preferred Visual Field

    • Generally, do not present targets in their central field of view.
    • Some students may have difficulties when targets are presented in their higher or lower field of view. 
    • To look at an item towards their left side, a student may need to turn their head far left. Work with the teacher of visually impaired to determine a student's preference.
    • A student may need movement or light to want to see items on their non-preferred side.


    • Provide additional, supplementary light shining on the target of interest; 100 LED bright flashlights work well or flashlights with at least 250 lumens.
    • Use SpotLIGHTing Techniques - light from behind students' shoulders.
    • Shine a light on the target of interest without attracting the student’s attention to the light source.
    • Do not shine a bright light into the eyes of the student, only on the target.
    • Desk lights to shine on targets and workspace
    • Lightboxes and other lighted toys/targets are beneficial.
    • Perkins LightAide has been found to be very motivating for students who have CVI.
    • Brightly colored, lighted balls to attract attention. 
    • Dim the overhead lights and reduce natural light coming through windows.