Tips for Students with Usher Syndrome

Adapted from Juli Baumgarner, Pennsylvania Deafblind Project 

Classroom Accommodations & Adaptations


  • Lighting should be adequate without glare. Use full spectrum lighting whenever possible.


  • Teachers should provide group instruction from a non-cluttered background area, and avoid unneeded movement.
  • Windows should be behind students. Teacher should never be in front of windows.
  • Furniture should be arranged to provide easy movement in open space. Keep drawers and doors closed. Discuss all furniture rearrangement with students. Seat students where they are comfortable (e.g., possibly front side so they can see the chalkboard and other students in the class).

Classroom Environment:

  • Chalkboard should be cleared of unneeded marks, and regular printing (instead of all capital letters) used. Use white chalk only.
  • Be aware of glare from classroom lights on whiteboards. Use marker colors that contrast against the white of the board and are easy for the student to see. Keep board uncluttered.
  • Smart boards should use simple fonts that are clear and large enough for the student to see. They should be uncluttered and use high contrast.
  • Colors should be softly neutral, yet textured, in the background of the teaching area. Floors and carpets should not be dark red or brown.

Materials Learning


  • Conduct a learning media assessment to determine appropriate learning media and strategies.
  • Copies should be maximum contrast, avoid cluttered background, and larger font as needed or as recommended for the student.
  • Use non-glare paper, and evaluate the size of type which is most appropriate for individual students.
  • Develop the use of tactile skills as early as possible. Individualized

Classroom Materials and Procedures:

  • Students may need individual copies of wall-hung graphs or charts, or they may need time to examine these charts close-up.
  • Tests may have to be adapted for individual use, including allowing students to mark answers on test booklets or providing the test in a different format.

Assistive Technology:

  • Low-vision aids may eventually be prescribed, and assistive listening devices can be used.


Sign Language:

  • Others may have to adapt their sign language to adjust to the student's limited vision. Keep signs as small and concise as possible, and increase the duration of each sign. Eventually, tactile sign may be an option.
  • Interpreting services may be necessary to allow access to instruction and interaction. Evaluate the need for these services on a regular basis, to ensure that the student is aware of what is happening around him/her.
  • Begin including more and more tactile and olfactory materials and cues for the student. A vision teacher and/or an orientation and mobility specialist can recommend techniques to use during specific activities.

Orientation and Mobility:

  • Document the assessment and support needs for the student to travel independently.
  • Explore the use of sighted guide, self-protective techniques and trailing skills, and land marking skills and techniques.

Time Allowances:

  • For all tasks, students may need “time and a half” to complete the same work as their peers. When doing repetitive academic work, student can be assigned half the questions or problems their peers are assigned to equalize the length of time spent in homework or academic drill.

Self Advocacy

Adaptations and Accommodations:

  • Assist the student in developing strategies to discuss necessary adaptations and accommodations, or to communicate other needs.


  • Encourage the student and family to link with others for support and networking.