Main content

Alert message

Woman driving a car using bioptics.

Many individuals with low vision are eligible to become drivers using bioptics, a small telescopic lens mounted on the frame(s) of glasses.  Each state has its own laws governing the use of bioptics when driving and most states have certified driving instructors who can provide driver's education for these individuals.  Considering whether or not to become a driver using a bioptic is a complex decision.

A good place to start considering whether bioptic driving is to practice Passenger-in-Car Skills.  With your parent(s) or other licensed drivers, grab the front passenger seat and go for a drive using your monocular or bioptic.  Practice refines the essential skill of rapidly moving your focus into and out of the bioptic. These activities will focus on the following skills:

  • Distance viewing
  • Bioptic usage
  • Hazard perception

5 Keys to Safe Space Cushion Driving

There are 5 key things to remember that will keep you at a safe distance from hazards while driving.  These are:

  • Aim high in steering
  • Keep your eyes moving
  • Get the big picture
  • Leave yourself an out
  • Use lights, horn and signals properly

(Source: Smith System Driver Improvement Institute, Arlington, TX) 

When we talk of aiming high in steering, it means looking down the road as far as possible when traveling.  It is important to understand that as speed goes up, you must look further ahead to have time to respond to traffic and hazards.  Though you are looking forward using your bioptic as necessary to spot targets when driving, you also have to be scanning so you can get the big picture.  This allows you to use to always have “an out” for yourself while in traffic or when an unsafe condition occurs.  That way you can use your lights, horn, signals, and brakes properly to keep you and others safe when you are behind the wheel.

About the Bioptic Driving Exercises

The Bioptic Driving Exercises 1-3 that accompany this introduction are developed by Chuck Huss, COMS, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist with the West Virginia Bioptic Driving Program and are meant to be activities that prospective bioptic drivers can utilize to improve their use of a bioptic before actually getting behind the wheel.  Done with the support of a parent or other licensed driver they can help the aspiring driver identify skills that they need to work on and provide practice to improve these skills.  They can also help parents understand better what their child is able to see from the front seat of a car before deciding if their child should get behind the wheel.

The exercises that follow were developed by TSBVI Outreach Programs based on materials from Chuck Huss, COMS, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist with the West Virginia Bioptic Driving Program in 2015 for the In the Driver's Seat workshop.

Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Exercise 3

 

 

In the Driver's Seat: Low Vision Specialist, Dr. Laura Miller

Description: In the Driver's Seat. A conversation with Low Vision Specialis Dr. Laura S. Miller, O.D. about bioptic designs, and the visual acuity & fields necsssary to pursue a Texas Driver's License.

DriversSeat_Miller
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 1

Description: In the Drivers' Seat Interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about pros and cons of hand-held and head-borne telescopes, specialized training for drivers with low vision, and common restrictions for drivers with low vision.

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 1
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 2

Description: In the Drivers' Seat Part two of an interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about pre-requisite skills that any person needs to learn to drive safely; i.e. learning how, where and what to look for when traveling.

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 2
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: From the Parent's Perspective

Description: In the Drivers' Seat An interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about how parents can build the prerequisite skills needed to be a safe traveler, and how to help their child explore whether or not bioptic driving is for them.

In the Driver's Seat: From the Parent's Perspective
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: From the COMS Perspective

Description: In the Drivers' Seat An interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about how Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists and help in teaching the prerequisite skills needed to become a bioptic driver.

In the Driver's Seat: From the COMS Perspective
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)