Learning styles and vision loss

Do you know your preferred learning style? Ever thought about how your vision loss will impact your learning style as your vision loss or impairment progresses. 

What is a learning style?

A learning style is an individual’s approach to how they learn best. It takes into consideration strengths, weaknesses, preferences and disabilities. This learning philosophy is called metacognition

It helps you understand what your needs are and allows you to learn and retain information. Most people tend to have a dominant learning style but will revert to other learning styles, based on situational events or the type of content they are trying to learn. 

Information typically enters your brain in three main ways: sight, hearing, and touch. So, learning styles are broken down into three major categories:

Visual – processing with your eyes

Characteristics of visual learners include:

  • Prefers to read and write rather than listen.

  • Enjoys reading printed materials for knowledge.

  • Can easily follow written directions.

  • Has trouble remembering verbal instructions.

  • Take careful notes to refer to them later.

  • Prefers maps, charts, pictures and diagrams to aid in comprehension.

Auditory – processing with your ears

Characteristics of auditory learners include:

  • Prefers to follow verbal instructions rather than written ones.

  • Remember by listening, especially to music.

  • Reads quietly to themselves to both visually and auditorily capture information.

  • Prefers audio books over printed materials.

  • May record training sessions or use verbal notations to aid in memory recall.

  • Finds it difficult to work quietly for long periods of time.

Kinesthetic – processing information in multiple ways

Characteristics of kinesthetic learners include:

  • Needs to move, tap, swing or fidget to stay focused.

  • Benefits from hands-on tasks and demonstrations.

  • Often needs frequent breaks to reset and come back focused.

  • Individuals might prefer playing with new software, problem solving, and learning by doing.

  • Often takes notes or even draws pictures or doodles while listening.

Understanding your learning style is important in addressing new challenges as you navigate through your new visually impaired journey and changes. Your brain is still wired for your learning needs even if you no longer have vision to see what is on the page or screen in front of you.

Continuing your learning style with vision loss

A rehabilitation trainer will help you continue using your dominant learning style. This training will include the implementation of environmental modifications to allow a visual learner to access information.

Visual learning

Visual learners who are visually impaired will need to adjust lighting for glare sensitivity to read print on paper and screens. People with significant vision loss will rely more on verbal descriptions to describe body movements or physical cues.

Other learning adaptations include the intake of written content. A visual learner may now have to absorb information auditorily through audio books, or kinesthetically by learning how to read braille

Additionally, visual learners will need to navigate differently. Previously, they may have relied visually on maps to navigate city streets. When the ability to see maps is compromised, new strategies must be acquired. 

These may be using a GPS program on their mobile device to access auditory route information, relying on bus drivers, or learning to identify landmarks based on auditory and tactual information. 

Deafblind learning 

Addressing learning style needs becomes increasingly more challenging for individuals who lose both visual and auditory learning modes resulting in only kinesthetic information inputs. These learning styles may have been both the dominant and secondary learning styles prior to dual sensory loss. These individuals use tactile learning strategies for daily communication and other items.

The strategies used by the deafblind are vastly different than those used for individuals who are visually impaired.

Trained deafblind specialists are needed to help people become comfortable with these strategies. Outlook Enrichment does have a deafblind specialist on our team that can aid you. 

Your learning style is an important piece in any rehabilitation evaluation. Outlook Enrichment can assist you in understanding your learning needs and help you develop an action plan for your success. Contact us today to get started.

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