What is a Vision Impairment?

AccessAbility Services What is a Vision Impairment?

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Students with a Vision Impairment - A Guide for Staff


A vision impairment is any diagnosed condition of the eye or visual system and includes a range of difficulties up to and including being blind.


The most common causes of vision impairment include:

  • Diabetes

  • Stroke

  • Brain injury

  • Eye infections

  • Viruses

  • Accidents

  • Congenital conditions


Vision Impairment

Legally Blind

Colour Blindness

Vision Impairment

A person who has a vision impairment has some degree of vision. A vision impairment may include loss of central vision that makes it difficult to focus on faces, print or fine detail. Vision may be blurred, patchy, wobbly or distorted.

Common types of eye conditions causing vision loss include:

Eye Condition


Common Concerns

Macular Degeneration


  • Increased sensitivity to glare

  • Difficulty with judging distances and adapting to changing light conditions

  • Difficulty with reading, watching television and recognising faces

  • Decreased colour vision


  • Increased sensitivity to glare

  • Difficulty adapting to fluctuations in light

  • Difficulty moving around safely

  • Bumping into things

  • Difficulty moving in crowds


  • Increased sensitivity to glare

  • Difficulty with distance and near vision

  • Difficulty recognising people

  • Very blurred vision

Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Increased sensitivity to glare

  • Vision may fluctuate

  • Difficulty with reading, watching television and recognising faces

  • Difficulty seeing in poor light

  • Difficulty with outdoor travel

Legally Blind

Did you know?  People who are blind may use a guide dog cane or assistant

Whilst blindness is a vision impairment, a person who has no sight is described as being blind. Some blind students may use a guide dog or white cane to assist them in mobility but others rely on other techniques to guide them.

Colour Blindness

Colour blindness is inherited and occurs in about 8% of males and 0.4% of females. A person with colour blindness can’t see some colours, or sees them differently from other people. The most common colours that people have difficulty with are greens, yellows, oranges and reds.

Do a Colour Blind Test

Tips for Effective Visual Aids

Effective Colour Contrast

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