Noëlla Piquette, PhD
Charles Boulet, OD
Visual Impediments to Learning

Cognition, learning, and motor planning are dependent upon accurate encoding of stimuli from the environment. If there is an error in, or an impediment to, sensory perception, higher cognitive functions, such as reading, memory, emotional awareness, and impulse control can be affected.

In schools, deficiencies of the visual process impede and impair reading acquisition and learning and influence other behavior. Children are affected by different types of functional impediments to eyesight and visual function. The degree to which children are impacted varies according to the depth and nature of the impediments present, and to some degree to socioeconomic status. Some children are at a greater disadvantage simply because of the greater visual demands of the neo-traditional classroom.

These visual impediments to learning (VIL) are rarely detected in common sight screenings and are associated with limited socioeconomic success and increased criminality. Significant VIL limit academic and life outcomes, with some ethnicities affected by a greater prevalence of reading-impairing impediments. This presents difficulties for various public agencies at all levels of government. To complicate matters further, children who are affected by vision difficulties will most often not report the problem, nor will VIL be detected during standard pediatric or psychoeducational assessment.

VIL are described in brief, as is how they alter children’s academic outcomes, health, and behavior. A model of sufficient vision care in the prevention and management of most vision-related learning and behavioral difficulties is proposed. The position is advanced that ensuring adequate vision management for children entering the 12-year academic cycle is a matter of fundamental human rights.

Keywords: ADHD, ethnicity, human rights, learning disability, public health policy, vision, visual impediments to learning