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by Carrell L. Grigsby, former teacher at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Vision Quest is low vision training utilizing techniques commonly used by photographers to capture and present images.

(The name "Vision Quest" for this instruction is copyrighted by Carrell Grigsby, and will always be available for use to instruct the visually impaired free of charge. )

Rationale and Purpose

The purpose of this course is to awaken students with low vision as to how much they can see when they learn to optimize their vision. Both visually impaired and sighted individuals can improve observational skills through the study of photography. As visually impaired students learn to analyze common visual cues and apply the principles of composition to their own photographic images, they become avid visual observers.

For many visually impaired students, a state of visual overload from consciously or unconsciously straining to see all day can be very tiring. Many quit trying to see beyond that which is necessary for the task at hand. These students may improve visual perception through photographic training. Distilling visual information into one frame or slice of the day decreases the amount of visual fatigue and separates distractions from the object(s) a student wants to see. Independence in finding an image, capturing the image, and then being able to display the result increases a student's self-esteem, peer acknowledgment self-confidence, and motivation.

Exerpt from former student's college English class essay:

"Through photography I learned that perception is not about what we see but how we see it. For the first time in my life I understood there was a difference between seeing and perceiving. The camera (...and the control to reproduce images) gives me the ability to extract portions of my environment that I may or may not have seen without it. It is a liberating irony for me a visually impaired photographer to possess total visual command over my subject." - C. White

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Identification and Selection of Appropriate Students

  • low vision students with some object perception (light perception only is too little vision to benefit) to highest functioning legally blind
  • Change in visual functioning since birth due to
    • brain trauma or disease
    • medical intervention to regain visual function - student must learn to use newly gained capability
  • Physical, emotional, and mental capability of operating and caring for the equipment safely.

Assessment of Students

  • It may be helpful to refer to the Visual Functioning Assessment in the student's file.
  • Observe the student for current visual functioning (e.g., when entering the classroom, when walking, does the student visually search).
  • Observe the student visually locating particular items in the classroom. (A classmate is ideal for an object for visual search. Students readily search for a person or familiar object.)
  • After a brief introduction to the camera, observe the student using the viewfinder by giving a particular object to look at. If the student points the camera away from the object, it can be assumed the object is not seen at the set distance ( about 10-15 feet is a good starting point). It may help to move the object closer in order for the student to see it.

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Sequence/Hierarchy of Course

  1. Separating foreground from background
  2. Awareness of detail
  3. Employ photographic principles of design and composition
  4. Choosing visual presentations

Vision Goals

  • Improve visual searching and self advocacy behaviors
  • Differentiate between foreground and background
  • Increase ability to identify the main subject in a picture
  • Identify one's own need for detail
  • Heighten motivation to use existing vision efficiently in every aspect of daily life

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