Cerebral vision impairment (CVI) is an umbrella term for a variety of brain-related visual and perceptual difficulties that affect the way a person sees the world around them. It has been recognised as the most common cause of childhood visual impairment in developed countries. Due to the vast spectrum of difficulties associated with the condition and the many features of CVI that overlap with other conditions, a variety of tools have been developed to assess the functional impact that CVI has on an individual. One of these tools is the CVI Range, designed by Christine Roman-Lantzy as a framework for assessment and intervention. Research studies have shown that the CVI Range assessment results in a consistent and reliable measure of functional vision.
Implementing the CVI Range at WESC Foundation
Since 2015, WESC Foundation has run a CVI Range program within the school and college, after piloting the framework with individual students in previous years. A full time member of our staff was trained to conduct CVI Range assessments, to recommend environmental adaptations and interventions based on the CVI Range framework, and to deliver training for classroom staff to raise awareness of CVI. 28 WESC students between the ages of 11 and 22 took part in the program for at least one year and 10 students took part in the program for over three years. From the measure of lowest functional vision to the measure of highest functional vision, the CVI Range scores are:- 0-1, 1-2, … , 9-10.
The impact on our students
We were able to measure robust improvements in functional vision each year for our students as a group. Baseline assessment scores were 5-6 on average, but ranged from 1-2 to 7-8. Scores increased by one rank per year on average for the first two years and improvements began to plateau in the third year. Only the time enrolled on the program was associated with improvements on the CVI Range scores. Neither age nor baseline scores appeared to influence improvements. There was even indication of improvements in quality of life for some students, associated with the improvements in functional vision.
We recently presented these results at the European Society for Low vision Research and Rehabilitation (ESLRR) and were awarded with the prize for the best poster presentation.
CVI Range Assessments
We are able to offer ‘CVI Range’ assessments to families, local authorities or other agencies who want to gain a better understanding of a young person’s functional vision and have some positive suggestions and strategies for making the most effective use of that vision. Assessments are conducted by WESC Foundation staff who are experienced in the education and habilitation of young people with a visual impairment.
The assessment process involves;
- Interviews with parents/carers – parents and carers are key to gaining a better understanding of a child’s functional vision
- direct face to face assessment – a structured vision assessment is conducted to confirm some basic visual abilities
- informal observations – unstructured functional vision assessment in an appropriate multi-sensory environment.
The aim of the assessment is to identify the presence of typical characteristics of CVI in an individual child and to evaluate the impact each of the characteristics has on a young person’s learning and living. The combination of these elements of the assessment identifies where on the ‘CVI Range’ a young person is and indicates what interventions and adaptations could be employed in order to help the young person to make sense of and best use the functional vision they have.
For further information including costs please email Richard Ellis, Head of VI Specialist Services or call 01392 454288.