Assessing the communication skills of children who have visual impairment and additional disabilities is a difficult task. Indeed, many children in this group remain at a very early developmental level and communicate in idiosyncratic ways. In practice, this means that assessment is really not feasible. It is, therefore, more appropriate to think in terms of profiling.
I developed a process for profiling the communication skills of children with visual impairment and additional disabilities in the late 1990s. Having used and adapted the process over several years, it was published in 2008. This version is no longer available. I made further revisions in 2012 and posted this final version in January 2013. It is freely available below.
The approach can also be used with adults who have visual impairment and additional disabilities.
A brief description of the profiling process
The central element of my profiling process is a menu which is provided in a Word document. Compiling a profile provides a detailed and comprehensive description of the child’s communication skills. The great majority of menu items are expressed in positive terms, thereby ensuring that the child’s skills and abilities are described, rather than his / her disabilities. The profile includes a section which specifies any targets set for the child and another which specifies the communication environment the child requires. The latter includes information about the means of communication the child uses.
Those who prepare a profile are described as compilers. Although the process is open and so available to all, it is strongly recommended that compilers have a good understanding of communication in children with visual impairment and additional disabilities. If the child whose profile is being compiled also has an autism spectrum condition, the compiler should also have a good understanding of autism. A compiler who lacks the recommended specialist understanding, should be able to draw readily on such expertise: this may come from a
- suitably qualified and experienced speech and language therapist
- qualified teacher of the visually impaired
- teacher of autistic children
If you lack specialist understanding, the need for you to seek advice from practitioners who have this expertise cannot be over-stated.
Compiling a profile
To compile a profile, you need to use the “Menu” below. This is a Word document. You are advised to click on ‘Save as’ to download this item. You will then be able to use it each time you compile a child’s profile. Before compiling your first profile, you are strongly recommended to read the “Description” and the “Guidelines for use”. These and the remaining items are pdfs (each of which opens in a new tab).
Profiling the communication of children who have visual impairment and additional disabilities: Menu
Profiling the communication of children who have visual impairment and additional disabilities: Description
Profiling the communication of children who have visual impairment and additional disabilities: Guidelines for use
SMART targets may not be smart for facilitating communication
As noted in the Guidelines for use, setting targets for people with complex disabilities and limited communication skills is often a difficult process. This article complements the Guidelines, and argues that SMART targets are not always appropriate.