NOAH - The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation logo

Information for

Teachers of Students with Albinism

Most children with albinism can participate in general education programs with proper intervention. The following information answers some of the most common questions educators have about helping a student with albinism.

NOAH’s Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism answers in greater detail questions you might have about assisting your student with albinism. If you need an answer to a specific question for which you cannot find an answer on the website, feel free to post your question on one of NOAH’s online community forums.

NOAH also publishes The Student with Albinism in the Regular Classroom

If you need additional information or resources, call NOAH toll-free at
1-800-473-2310, or email NOAH.


What is albinism?
What are the effects of albinism on my student’s vision?
How severe is my student with albinism’s visual impairment?
Can a student with albinism function in a mainstream classroom?
What modifications do I need to make in my classroom to help my student?
Does my student need to use large print?
Does my student need Braille?
Are there optical aides that could help my student?
Are there assistive technologies that help students with albinism learn?
What modifications can I make for standardized tests?
What social support will my student with albinism need?
What modifications does the student with albinism need in Physical Education class?
How can I help my student with albinism outside the classroom?
What additional information and resources can NOAH provide me?
How can I talk with someone with albinism?
How can my student with albinism talk with other children with albinism?
How can I become a NOAH member?

What is albinism?

Albinism is a group of genetic conditions that causes a lack of pigment. It can effect only the eyes (ocular albinism) or both the eyes and skin (oculocutaneous albinism). Most types of albinism are inherited when an individual receives the albinism gene from both parents. The exception is one type of ocular albinism, which is passed on from mothers to their sons.

For more information on the genetics of albinism, see the NOAH Information Bulletin What is Albinism
Top


What are the effects of albinism on my student’s vision?

The lack of pigment during the development of the eye causes an abnormal development of the retina and affects the formation of the nerve pathways from the eyes to the brain, which causes decreased visual acuity or low vision that cannot be corrected to 20/20. Adults with albinism often describe their vision as lacking fine detail. Corrective lenses (i.e. glasses or contact lenses) and low vision aids (i.e. magnifiers or telescopes) can provide some clarification. Most people with albinism use their vision for reading, and do not use Braille. Some have vision good enough to drive a car.

For more information on how albinism affects the eyes, see the NOAH Information Bulletin What is Albinism and Low Vision Aids
Top

How severe is my student with albinism’s visual impairment?

The degree of visual impairment of children with albinism varies widely. People with albinism do not have perfect vision, however albinism also does not cause blindness. The individual child’s vision can also vary somewhat based on the sunlight and artificial light in the classroom, fatigue, and other factors that vary from hour to hour and day to day. Since what children with albinism see varies widely, as does the efficiency with which each child uses its vision, it is important to consider each child with albinism individually.
Top


Can a student with albinism function in a mainstream classroom?

Yes, most students with albinism can participate in general education programs with proper intervention.

What modifications do I need to make in my classroom to help my student?

The Student, his or her parents, your school’s vision resource teacher, the child’s eye doctor, and you should work as a team to determine what modifications best suit the individual child. Some potential modifications include:

  • Moving the child’s seat to the front row so the student can see the chalkboard, marker board, overhead projector, or video
  • Changing where the child sits so they can avoid glare from overhead lights or windows.
  • Allow the child to copy your overhead projector acetates if the child can’t see the projected overhead.
  • Allow the student to copy another student’s notes if they can’t see the board.
  • Enlarge tests and handouts.

You’ll find more information about potential classroom modifications in NOAH’s Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism.
Top

Does my student need to use large print?

Students with albinism may or may not need large print. The student’s judgment as to which books need to be enlarged is important. Keep in mind that some students, especially middle school / junior high school aged students, might prefer not to use large print books in school because it makes them feel different from their peers. One possible solution is for the student to use regular text in class use and a set of large print text at home.

You’ll find more information about whether or not a student needs enlarged texts, resources for obtaining large print materials, and alternatives to large print, such as books on tape, in NOAH’s Information Bulltein Assisting Students with Albinism.
Top

Does my student need Braille?

The close vision required for reading varies widely among people with albinism. Some students with albinism have sufficient vision to read standard text, some use large print text, some use low vision aides to read standard text, some use electronic devices such as computers with software that can enlarge text or read aloud, some use audio books, and some use Braille. Students with albinism may use more than one of the methods listed above depending upon age and grade level. And, the manner in which students with albinism read may change as they progress from elementary school to middle school, high school and college. A learning media assessment from your child's teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) can be conducted to help determine what your child currently needs or may need in the future as type size and spacing changes. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes specific provisions requiring the IEP team (parents, older students, TVI, teachers and other representatives and invited guests) to consider whether Braille is needed or will be needed in the future. IDEA Regulation
Top

Are there optical aides that could help my student?

Many students with albinism use hand held magnifiers, stand magnifiers, or special reading glasses to read up close. Contact lenses, monoculars (hand held telescopes used with only one eye.), or bioptics (glasses with small telescopic lenses mounted in the standard lenses.) could help your student’s distance vision. In consultation with your school’s vision teacher, an optometrist or ophthalmologist experienced in low vision can prescribe specific aids for the individual student. For more information about low vision aids that could help your student, see NOAH’s Information Bulletin Low Vision Aides.
Top

Are there assistive technologies that help students with albinism learn?

Computers can be of great use for students with low vision. Students with albinism should begin learning how to use a computer keyboard with typing-readiness computer games as early as Kindergarten and formal typing as early as third grade. Older students can use a laptop to take notes in class and read them from the screen or print them out at home. Some students with albinism benefit from Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), a device which enlarges text. Books on tape are also helpful for some students who have difficulty reading text or who get eyestrain from reading a lot. For more information about technologies that help students with albinism, see NOAH’s Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism and NOAH’s Information Bulletin Low Vision Aides.
Top

What modifications can I make for standardized tests?

There are several ways you can make taking a standardized test easier and more accurate for your student with low vision:

  • Enlarge the test book text
  • Read the test to the student
  • Allow the student to circle answers in the test booklet, as opposed to bubbling in a Scan-tron form, which can be difficult to see for some low vision students.
  • Allow the student to use a magnifier
  • Allow the student extra time or no time limit to complete the test.

For more information about standardized tests, see NOAH’s Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism.
Top

What social support will my student with albinism need?

The social side of education can be the most challenging aspect for a child with albinism. It is a common fact that children can be cruel especially to those kids that are different. Students with ocolocutaneous albinism (albinism affecting the skin and eyes) inherently stand out because of their physical appearance. Furthermore, modifications the child may need to make to compensate for low vision sometimes makes the child’s feeling of isolation even worse. Therefore, it’s important that you avoid drawing attention to your student with albinism. For suggestions on providing social support for your student with albinism, see NOAH”s Information Bulletin Social and Emotional Aspects of Albinism and NOAH’s Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism.
Top

What modifications does the student with albinism need in Physical Education class?

The school staff needs to find ways to include students with low vision in all activities and to avoid leaving them sitting on the sidelines. Information about which sports work well for kids with albinism, as well as ways to make difficult sports easier, are in NOAH’s Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism.
Top


How can I help my student with albinism outside the classroom?

As the teacher of a student with albinism, you might be the first person to intervene in the child’s life, especially if the child comes from a disadvantaged home. If a child’s family has limited financial resources, many states will pay for services, such as eye exams, low vision evaluation, and independence training, that can help a child with albinism. All state governments maintain a “Central Directory of Resources” to assist you in finding public and private funds to help pay for low vision services, low vision aides, or assistive technology your student needs. For more information on finding resources outside of school to help your student, see NOAH’s Information Bulletin Resources for People with Albinism.
Top


What additional information and resources can NOAH provide me?

NOAH publishes a variety of information bulletins about different aspects of having albinism. The following information bulletins are specifically helpful to educators:

  • NOAH's Information Bulletin Assisting Students with Albinism.
  • NOAH's Information Bulletin Social and Emotional Aspects of Albinism
  • NOAH's Information Bulletin Low Vision Aides
  • NOAH's Information Bulletin Resources for People with Albinism.
  • NOAH's Information Bulletin What is Albinism
  • NOAH's Care Project page.

NOAH publishes The Student with Albinism in the Regular Classroom, a 16-page booklet that provides specific suggestions about working with children with albinism for school personnel, physicians, parents, and education and medical students. The booklet costs $5. To obtain a copy, call NOAH toll-free at 1-800-473-2310, or email NOAH.

Other organizations also have information about albinism.
Top


How can I talk with someone with albinism?
How can my student with albinism talk with other children with albinism?

NOAH’s website has online forums, including forums for Teens with albinism, Adults with albinism, and People of Color with albinism, where you or your student can connect with people with albinism.

If you need additional resources, call NOAH toll-free at 1-800-473-2310, or email NOAH. Tell us your name; your number; and a good time to reach you, and NOAH will have someone contact you.

The best way for children with albinism to meet others with albinism is to come to a NOAH conference. Every two years, NOAH holds a national conference, where people with albinism, their families, and professionals come together to share information, learn from each other’s life stories, and have fun!

Top


How can I become a NOAH member?

Learn about the advantages you’ll enjoy as a NOAH member and join!

 

Top of Page

--

NOAH
The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
PO Box 959, East Hampstead, NH 03826-0959
Phone: 800 473-2310 (US and Canada) Phone: 603 887-2310 Fax: 800-648-2310
http://www.albinism.org

If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail us at webmaster@albinism.org

NOAH is a volunteer organization for persons and families involved with the condition of albinism. It does not diagnose, treat, or provide genetic counseling. It is involved in self-help, while trying to promote research and education.

Bobby WorldWide Approved AAA   Bobby WorldWide Approved 508 
This page meets the Bobby AAA (highest) accessibility rating and the US Section 508 requirements for accessibility. Read the Accessibility Statement for details.

--

 

Information for
people who
have: