Classroom Lighting Modifications

Optimal Lighting, Lighting Adjustments

Classroom Lighting Modifications refer to any adjustments made to both natural and artificial lighting in the classroom setting (e.g., increasing or reducing the level of lighting in order to support a student’s sensitivity to light, reduce glare, or to provide clarity and illumination). This can be achieved through turning on or off existing lights, adjusting the physical layout of the classroom space in response to lighting concerns, or adding/removing smaller task lights (e.g., lamps, spotlights). To further support a student with sensitivities to light, a teacher can provide seating near natural light sources (e.g., window) or can allow the student to wear sunglasses or a hat while indoors to reduce the effects of overhead lighting. Additionally, lighting modifications can be applied to materials (e.g., choosing less glossy paper to reduce glare) or to other useful devices, such as adding an anti-glare screen for the computer monitor to decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.

Implementation Tips

Conferring With Students
Initiate a conversation with a student with visual impairments to determine light sensitivity levels and the student’s preference for lighting. Conduct trial and error sessions (e.g., a variety of lighting/seating adjustments) to support the student in finding a Classroom Lighting Modification that works best.
Classroom Layout
Arrange the classroom so that student work areas, desks, and instructional spaces are properly lighted based on the individual needs of any student with a visual impairment. Consider which areas of the classroom provide the most overhead lighting, natural lighting, shadows, and glare.
Supporting Student Management Needs
Empower students with a visual impairment to self-advocate when they are unable to access material or instruction due to lighting by using non-verbal (e.g., a hand signal, red/green colored card) or verbal exchanges (e.g., conferring). Over time, encourage students to determine their own solutions based on individual needs.
Assistive Devices
Collaborate with a student’s educational team (e.g., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Paraprofessional) when considering alternatives to support the student’s visual impairment. Discuss the use of task lights (e.g., a small personal desk lamp), adding blinds or curtains, or access to a hat or sunglasses.
Applying Transparent Filters
Provide a student with visual impairments colored transparent sheets (e.g., yellow) to place over paper based materials, especially if the material is printed on glossy paper or lighting creates glare, in order to make the text more accessible. To see examples of these filters, click [[ | here ]].
Providing Flexible Seating
Provide a student with visual impairments the ability to move seats throughout the classroom so that lighting conditions do not impact the student’s learning (e.g., may include the student moving away from windows, moving closer to brighter overhead lights, or shifting position to avoid a shadow).
Alternative Worksite
Arrange for a student with visual impairments to use an alternative worksite if classroom lighting conditions can not be manipulated. Check with administration if the student can be permitted to work in the hallway or another room with supportive lighting accommodations (e.g., conference room or library).


Task Lighting With Assistive Devices
After engaging in a partnered math activity, a student with visual impairments verbalizes to the teacher, “I had some trouble working on the activity because everywhere I stood my body cast a shadow over my work area.” First, the teacher offers the student the option of flexible seating to allow the student to move around and adjust seating based on the lighting of the classroom. Soon after the student explains that this helped, but that lighting was still an issue. After, the science teacher confers with the student’s educational team, and a collaborative decision is made to provide the student with accented task lighting (e.g., a personal desk lamp) to enhance visibility and support productivity.
Decreased Lighting Sensitivity With Hats and Sunglasses
While working on a group project during a social studies class, a student with visual impairments demonstrates difficulty reviewing group materials (e.g., multiple essays, poster board, additional research materials) due to the brightness of the overhead classroom lights and the glare presented. The teacher confers with the student to identify the problem and determine a solution. The teacher explains, “Unfortunately, due to the many aspects of this project we cannot turn off the overhead lights.” As a modification, the student agrees to the suggestion of wearing a hat or sunglasses to decrease sensitivity to the overhead lights.
Reduced Glare With Transparent Filters
Prior to a class engaging in a science lesson in which students must follow a set of instructions to complete an experiment, a teacher closes the blinds on a nearby window to reduce the glare presented on student papers. As the class begins, a student with visual impairments signals to the teacher and explains that there continues to be too much glare from the overhead lights. To support the student the teacher provides a yellow transparent filter. The teacher confers with the student to determine if this is a supportive accommodation. The student confirms that glare has been reduced and that the instructions to complete the experiment are easier to read due to the filter.

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