Once a child understands that symbols/pictures have meaning, they may be ready to explore letters and words. Letters have consistent salient characteristics that the child must learn to recognize. Thinking in terms of straight lines, curves and how those connect is the beginning of understanding and recognizing print letters. Letters can be presented in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures.
For children with CVI, exposure to this variety of shapes, sizes and textures must be paired with the reinforcement of which letter characteristics are consistent. It is not the color, the size, or the texture that makes a letter a letter. It is the straight lines, curves and how those connect.
Consideration needs to be given to the background on which letters are presented. Some children may need a solid colored background while others can discriminate the letter from a more complex background. Assessment information concerning complexity can help guide this decision.
The amount of space between letters and how many letters are presented at one time can also be determined through assessment.
Strategies such as presenting the letter in the child’s preferred color or outlining the letter in the child’s preferred color have been suggested.
Resources to try for literacy access: Build a toolbox!
CVI SCOTLAND – LOOK
Reading using Recognition
Voice Dream Reader
Children with typically developed vision take notice of letters and words everywhere. Remember to make children with CVI aware of environmental print too! Point out all the places where letters can be found in their world. “Begin early. Just as you describe and involve your child in other daily activities, tell her when you read the newspaper, follow a written recipe, make up a grocery list, read instructions for her newest toy, or write a note or email.” Stratton, J. M., & Wright, S. (1991). On the Way to Literacy: Early Experiences for Visually Impaired Children. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.