Activity 4A: Seeing Straight

Donning a Visual Impairment:

Ever wonder what is it like for persons who have vision impairments? Some vision impairments can be addressed by wearing glasses, but other vision impairments cannot be fixed. These include cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinopathy, hemianopsia (left side, right side, inferior, superior, or combinations), and detached retina.

In this activity, students will learn about types of vision impairments and experience how these vision impairments can affect how they see the world. Students will make “Vision Impairment Glasses” with interchangeable faces that mimic vision impairments.

Connecting Science Content to Real Life:

It is known that many famous painters, such as Monet, suffered from vision impairments. How did their vision impact their art? For those people with vision impairments, what do they see when they look at a masterpiece? This activity includes two PowerPoint presentations. “Connecting the Science of Vision to Art” is designed for teachers and includes suggestions for instructing visually impaired students. Although the presentation focuses on art, the suggestions apply to teaching in general. “Vision and the Impressionists” is designed for use with students. Both presentations connect the biology, physics, and chemistry of vision to impressionist masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro, and others. Each presentation ends with participants viewing various paintings while wearing vision impairment glasses.


Have the students wear the glasses while performing daily activities such as filling out forms, reading, measuring, mixing ingredients, writing, walking, reading a newspaper or prescription label. Use alone or combine with other sensory or mobility compromises (such as “nose plugs to simulate olfactory loss, ear plugs to simulate reduced auditory function, wrap fingers, wrists, or hands with foam, splints, or tape to mimic arthritic impairments or surgical alterations).


Visual impairment, impairment glasses, visual defect, simulation, caregiving, visual disorder, sensitivity, disease, aging, detached retina, macular degeneration, glaucoma, hemianopsia, cataract, diabetic retinopathy


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Activity Code: 
Unit Reference: 
Challenges and Changes: Sensitivity to Vision & Hearing Compromises
Lesson Reference: 
Lesson 4: Living with Visual Impairments