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Blind/Visually Impaired Program
BVI Program provides accommodation services to prospective and current
students who are blind or have low vision. Most students with visual
impairments have some usable vision. A person is declared "legally
blind" when, with best correction, he/she can see less at 20 feet than
a person with normal vision can see at 200 feet. Although not declared
legally blind, a person is considered visually impaired if he/she sees
no better at 20 feet than those with normal vision see at 70 feet.
In order to be eligible for
services with SAC and the BVI Program, students must have a documented
disability which represents a significant barrier to one of life’s
Current and comprehensive
documentation of the disability is required in order to be eligible for
If you are an individual who is
blind or visually impaired and are interested in learning more about
what UW-Milwaukee has to offer, feel free to contact Jean Salzer
Suggestions for prospective
students – after you have been accepted:
There will be many new things
to learn, not the least of which is how to get around campus. The
following suggestions will help you come to campus prepared to learn.
for returning students – before the semester begins:
- Contact your Division of
Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor if you haven’t done so
already to discuss your plans.
- Contact Badger
Association of the Blind to learn as much as you can about
assistive technology and orientation and mobility training. Badger has
staff who can teach you how to use the buses independently and get
- Contact the UW-Milwaukee
Testing Center to set up your placement and/or CLEP testing.
Remember to let them know you’ll need accommodations.
- Contact the BVI Program Manager to set up
an appointment to discuss your accommodation needs, ideally before the
students – during the semester:
- Meet with the BVI Program
Manager to discuss accommodation needs, review faculty/instructor
contacts, and retrieve necessary forms.
- Follow the Alternative
Textbook Policy and Procedures if you will be utilizing alternatives to
print services; determine how you will receive your textbooks in an
accessible format (see Alternative
- Become acquainted with
instructors before the start of the semester to explain your
accommodation needs, including lecture, text and exams.
- Inform the BVI Program
Manager if you need in-house format changes to course materials or if
problems/concerns with faculty responses or a lack thereof.
Students who meet eligibility
criteria receive self-advocacy counseling, individual advising and
liaison assistance. In addition, students may be eligible for academic
accommodations based upon specific disability-related needs.
These accommodations may
include but are not limited to:
- Maintain contact with the
BVI Program Manager regarding accommodation needs and potential changes
to specific accommodations (e.g., longer test time necessary for math
- Maintain contact with the
faculty member/instructor regarding any needs that are not being met in
the classroom setting (i.e., notetaker lacks skills, visuals are not
being described well, etc.)
- If you are taking exams with the Student
Accessibility Center, schedule those exams and complete (or ask for
assistance to complete) the alternative testing forms in a timely
manner (by the fourth week of the semester or as soon as you are aware
a test will be given)
Suggestions – for
- Priority Registration
- Notetaking Assistance
- Exam Accommodations
- Alternatives to Print for
Exams and Textbooks
- Assistive Technology Assessment and
- Classroom Orientation Tours
- Laboratory and Library Assistance
for faculty and staff
Students who are blind or
visually impaired are fully capable of completing the same coursework
that students without sensory impairments are. They may, however,
require assistance or accommodations to create equal access to the
coursework. BVI students often develop their own alternative techniques
to learning. Part of the BVI Program includes faculty and staff
orientation to these and other techniques. It may be as simple as a
phone call or it may mean a short meeting, but the program is dedicated
to assisting in any way it can. Feel free to contact the BVI Program if
you have any questions.
- Decide which text you
will use at least two months before the semester begins, as it takes
this long for alternative formats to be created.
- Meet with a student who
has requested accommodations to work out a plan for the semester (text,
- Provide specific verbal
reference and description for visual materials provided in class.
- Try to find a way for the
student to touch in place of ‘looking at’ things whenever possible.
- Be patient. The student must rely on
memory and needs time to tie thoughts together with few, if any, visual
- Partially sighted
students will require a clear copy, possibly in large print of
handouts. SAC provides enlargement services.
- For exams, give BVI
students an equal chance but not an advantage, i.e., do not let a BVI
student use notes if the other students are not allowed to do so.
- Extra time may be necessary for research
papers, as coordination of research assistance may be involved. This
will be noted on the student’s VISA as necessary and is used minimally.
- Encourage students to
utilize SAC’s services.
- Things You Need to Know
about Students with Blindness and Visual Impairments
Last updated: May 6, 2009