What is CVI?


The Lists (for Profiling Individuals with CVIs)

The Lists (for Profiling Individuals with CVIs)

What do we need to know about children or adults with CVIs, to learn to understand their world - and to see their world as they do?

  • 1) A full list of the person's individual cerebral visual impairments.
  • 2) The severity of each impairment, from mild, to most challenging, and how each one...
  • Limits the person's access to their world.
  • Affects their interpretation of their world
  • Impacts upon their learning
  • 3) The situations that make each impairment better or worse, which may be:
  • a. Environmental / External (e.g. somewhere quiet, or somewhere busy, crowded or noisy)
  • b. Internal (e.g. how they are feeling - happy? bored? in discomfort?)
  • 4) Details of other neurological processing difficulties, for example:
  • How sound is processed if cerebral auditory impairment is also present
  • How timing is affected (e.g. overall slow processing that needs to be matched)
  • How motor skills are affected (e.g. impaired visual guidance of movement, or cerebral palsy)
  • 5) An understanding of the resulting behaviours which can include:
  • Adapting to the difficulties (eg. looking away so as to listen)
  • Reacting to circumstances (e.g. fear of busy places)
  • Not respond because of lack of perception
  • 6) An understanding of how their emotional, intellectual and social development may have been affected.
  • 7) An understanding of how these factors have affected their learning to date.
  • 8) An understanding of any difference between the person and how others of a similar age are developing (in terms of learning, behaviour, independence and social skills).
  • 9) Other medical conditions that affect the person.
  • 10) Whether the CVI was present at birth or very soon after, or acquired in childhood or later.

Next, you have to look at the past, present and future...

The Past

The past is full of priceless knowledge.

Reflecting - think about times when the person has...

  • Been most happy
  • Been most distressed
  • Really surprised you, doing something you thought was way beyond them
  • Really focused on something
  • Seemed most distracted and difficult

And for each of these, think about:

  • The physical environments they were in
  • The people they were with
  • What they were doing
  • Anything else that seems relevant

See if you can come up with any common themes that explain how the person behaves.

Where the CVI was acquired, also consider the skills the person had before the event, how these have changed, and which are still present.


Your starting point is where the person is now - not where someone else says they should be.

We all exist in the four dimensions of space and time.

With what you know from 1-9 (above)

  • How much time do you need to allow?
  • How fast or slow do things need to be moving to be seen?
  • How big, or small do things need to be, to be seen?*
  • How are things heard? Is quiet needed to hear? Only one sound?
  • At what speed do consonants and vowels need to be spoken to be heard?
  • What environments help the person see, hear and experience the world most clearly?
  • How many things is the person able to process at once (across all the senses)
  • How are their other senses affected?
  • How is their mobility affected?

And make everything perceivable for them.

And make everyone else make everything perceivable for them.

*This list is by no means comprehensive, once each element of the visual impairment is identified, then the support needs to be matched (see our What Is CVI? sections for more information).

The Future

Plans need to be organic, and as a person develops, everything changes, and needs to be reviewed and re-reviewed.

Consider the person's needs, relevant to them, in terms of:

  • Their learning and education
  • Their independence, doing more for themselves and taking more control of their life and decisions
  • Their social relationships and interactions, so they are not isolated nor lonely.


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About Us

At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.