Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Adaptation of a Developmental Test to Accommodate Young Children with Low Vision

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Adaptation of a Developmental Test to Accommodate Young Children with Low Vision

Article excerpt

When children have a specific sensory disability such as visual impairment, they may have more difficulties exploring and understanding the (visual) world around them and may, therefore, be at greater risk of developmental delays (Warren, 1994). Hence, it is very important to assess their development regularly. Furthermore, the assessment of a child's development is a crucial step for the design of an intervention plan, so it should accurately reveal the child's strengths and difficulties. For children with visual impairments, this assumption is no exception.

When information is necessary about a child's level of development in relation to peers, professionals often use individualized, standardized, and norm-referenced developmental assessment instruments. These instruments are designed for children with typical development, and, as a result, the materials, procedures, and instructions do not take into account the specificities of some populations, such as children with low vision. There is, therefore, no guarantee that a developmental assessment conducted with a child who has low vision reflects his or her actual skills, since changing the procedures, instructions, and materials of a particular standardized instrument is not recommended.

Unless accommodations are made in assessment tests, however, assessment practices pose the risk of treating children with disabilities unfairly (Salvia, Ysseldyke, & Bolt, 2013). Children with disabilities may have difficulties on tests if the items are very difficult or impossible to understand due to their disabilities (for example, tests in print or tests with images, lots of visual information, and low contrast may be considered inappropriate for students with severe visual impairments). In addition, children with disabilities may also experience difficulties when trying to carry out the tasks required by the test, and their disability can limit their own ability to respond or renders responses impossible (for example, to fit board pieces in a short period of time or to walk down stairs with one foot on each step, without being allowed to hold the handrail, may be difficult for a young child with visual impairment).

There are tests that take into account the specificity of visual impairment such as the Reynell-Zinkin Scales (Reynell, 1979) and the Oregon Project for Preschool Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired (Andersen, Boigon, Davis, & deWaard, 2007), and that were designed for children with this particular type of impairment. These instruments, however, were originally developed in English and are not always available in other languages and contexts, such as in the case of Portugal. Another solution is to adapt an existing and psychometrically robust instrument that has been designed for the general child population. Accommodations of materials, response possibilities, and procedures may minimize the influence of a disability without changing what the test assesses. As accommodations maintain the item content, norm tables would still be applicable, thus allowing the comparison of the test scores of children with and without disabilities (Visser, Ruiter, van der Meulen, Ruijssenaars, & Timmerman, 2013, 2014).

Although there is a recognized need in the literature for assessment instruments that are specifically adapted to children with visual impairments, there is little empirical research that has demonstrated the reliability and validity of adapted tests for a given country or that has analyzed the effect of such adaptations. For instance, a recent review analyzed contemporary, widely used, and standardized instruments for the developmental assessment of children aged 0-4 years, and concluded that for children with visual impairments no suitable instrument was available (Visser, Ruiter, van der Meulen, Ruijssenaars, & Timmerman, 2012). And only three studies (Ruiter, Nakken, Janssen, Meulen, & Looijestijn, 2011; Visser et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.