The University of Bolton Student Services

Disability Services

Visual Impairments


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Visual Impairments

In the UK, there are almost 2 million people living with sight loss. Of these, around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. Depending on the severity of the impairment you might be registered as either severely sight impaired (blind), or sight impaired (partially sighted). Types of visual impairment can vary and impact upon learning in different ways. Common ones include:

 Loss of Central Vision
The loss of central vision creates a blur or blindspot, but side (peripheral) vision remains intact. This makes it difficult to read, recognize faces and distinguish most details in the distance. Mobility, however, is usually unaffected because side vision remains intact.

Loss of Peripheral (Side) Vision
Loss of peripheral vision is typified by an inability to distinguish anything to one side or both sides or anything directly above and/or below eye level. Central vision remains, however, making it possible to see directly ahead. Typically, loss of peripheral vision may affect mobility and if severe, can slow reading speed as a result of seeing only a few words at a time. This is sometimes referred to as "tunnel vision."

Blurred Vision
Blurred vision causes both near and far to appear to be out of focus, even with the best conventional spectacle correction possible.

Generalized Haze
Generalized haze causes the sensation of a film or glare that may extend over the entire viewing field.

How might this affect my studies?

Depending on the severity of your condition it might impact upon reading your text books and lecture slides, taking notes in class, planning and completing your assignments, reading examination questions and writing your examination scripts and navigating the campus.

RNIB has advice on university life and study which can be found here:




How to Disclose:

If you have a visual impairment it can be helpful to disclose this to the Disability service in order to look into accessing support through the Disability Service.

There are a range of ways to disclose a visual impairment at the university.

·         You can fill in a disclosure form and provide this to student services. The link can be found here: https://www.bolton.ac.uk/assets/Uploads/Disclosure-Form.pdf

·         You can call the Disability service on 01204 903478 to make an appointment to discuss possible support available. You do not need to disclose your condition outside the Disability team if you prefer.

·         You can attend a Disability drop in at the student centre. Drop in times are usually Mon, Tuesday and Wednesday 2.30-4pm though these can vary according to staffing.


Disability Service: Support Available

At the Disability service we can provide a range of support. Depending on your eligibility and individual needs, this can include:

·         Disabled Students Allowance: This is an individualised support package which students may be able to apply for and can result in recommendations for assistive software such as screen magnifying or screen reading software and equipment, support workers and support with recording lectures. More information can be found here:  https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas/overview

·         Exam Support: Disability service can arrange exam support which can include extra time, use of assistive software such as screen reading and magnifying software and adapted materials, depending on the individual needs of the student.

·         Notification: An individual notification can be sent to your academic department to advise tutors of inclusive teaching adjustments which can include requested font size for resources.

·         Lectures slides in advance: We can ask your tutors to provide copies of your lecture notes in advance in order that you can review them effectively.

·         Equipment Loan: Disability service has limited numbers of Dictaphones and laptops which can be loaned out to students on a short term basis.

·         Alternative formats: we can ask the library to give you access to alternative electronic formats for your course text books.

·         Library support: if you have difficulties with negotiating the library we can assign a librarian to you who can support you with locating materials.

·         Spending pens: we have 2 spending pens on campus for use of guide dogs.


Anything else you want to know?

Contact the Disability Service on 01204 903478 / disabilityinfo@bolton.ac.uk

Inclusive Teaching Strategies Visual Impairments



Inclusive teaching strategies for students with visual impairments.

Delivery of Lectures: Visually impaired/blind

Stand in a well-lit place – not directly in front of a window, as your face will be in shadow.

·         Let student sit closer to you.

·         Keep background noise to a minimum.

·         Explain at beginning of lecture what the structure/main points will be: This will help an assistant to take notes. Provide written summary in advance if possible.

·         Summarise regularly.

·         Build in regular stopping points to check understanding and that all material has been taken in.

·         Visually impaired/ blind:

·         Say if something particularly should be noted.

·         Speak clearly.

·         Give clear, explicit instructions/directions.

·         Allow use of tape recorders.

·         Allow student to feel equipment, hands during demonstration

·         Provide lecture notes and other materials in advance for transcription if required.

·         Provide subject word lists, glossaries of terms and acronyms

·         Provide notes etc in electronic form if student prefers.

·         Keep pictures/diagrams to a minimum or provide text /audio alternatives

·         Explain visual material verbally.

Accessible Resources for Visual Impairment Guide




Accessible Formats for Visual Impairments Guide:

Screen reading software can include: Jaws, Supernova. Consider compatibility with screen reading software:

Accessible Formats

  • It is important that documents and publications are prepared to be accessible in alternative formats for people with visual impairments or reading difficulties. These should include availability in electronic format which can be read by screen reading software.
  • Printed documents are created in computers, so it should be possible to issue the electronic files. Some documents will only be available electronically.
  • Word files are the easiest for individual viewing preferences and for listening.
  • Portable Document Format (PDF) files keep the presentation better than Word files, but are not as easy to use.
  • Offering both the source Word files and derived PDF files where possible.
  • Publicise availability of accessible formats.
  • Preparing a document for text-reading software:
  • Listening to a document using a text reader will take longer than visual reading.
  • Put full stops after headings to make the voice drop and pause; a pale tint similar to the background colour will make the dots less visually distracting.
  • Put semi-colons, commas, or full stops after bullet points to make a pause.
  • Use Styles in Word to organise headings and formatting.
  • Avoid automatic numbering as some text readers will not read these. Use manual.
  • Contents Page listings should be hyperlinked to the relevant section to aid navigation. Number menu items.
  • Use internal and external hyperlinks for ease of navigation.
  • Avoid text in capital letters in mid-line, as they may be read as single letters.
  • Include as few signs and symbols as are absolutely necessary, e.g. asterisks or dashes (both short and long), as these will be spoken.
  • Long dashes should be avoided: use colons to make the voice pause.
  • Use straight quotation marks. Curly or slanting ones may be read out as ‘back quote’ by some screen readers.
  • Avoid Roman Numerals and No. for number.
  • Consider whether abbreviations and acronyms need full stops.
  • Text readers may have difficulty with tables in Word and may not automatically move on to the next cell without manual use of the Tab key.
  • Avoid text in images. Listeners cannot hear it. Repeat in the main text.
  • Use hyphens in compound words to aid text reading pronunciation.
  • Chunk phone numbers to avoid being read as millions or hundreds of thousands.