Zebehazy, K. T., & Wilton, A. P. (2014). Quality, importance, and instruction: The perspectives of teachers of students with visual impairments on graphics use by students . Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness , 108 (1), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145482X1410800102

Journal Article

Zebehazy, K. T., & Wilton, A. P. (2014). Quality, importance, and instruction: The perspectives of teachers of students with visual impairments on graphics use by students. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 108(1), 5–16. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145482X1410800102


International (non-U.S.); Physical supports; Tactile graphics; Teacher survey; U.S. context





This study examined the perceptions of teachers of students with visual impairments about print and tactile graphics used particularly in science classrooms and on science assessments.


Three hundred six teachers of students with visual impairments were surveyed from throughout 37 U.S. states (about 81%) and eight Canadian provinces and territories (about 15%); the remaining 4% did not indicate their locations. About 50% of participants reported that they worked only in large cities or suburbs thereof, about 34% reported that they worked only in smaller rural or remote communities, and the remainder worked in a mix of larger and smaller communities. Most participants (about 66%) worked as itinerant teachers, while 12% worked in specialized schools for students with visual impairments, and 8% worked in resource rooms in general education settings; the remainder worked in other settings or did not report their settings. The participants taught both students who used tactile graphics (i.e. used other senses and not vision) and students who used print graphics (i.e. used vision for most tasks).

Dependent Variable

The online survey, designed by the researchers and completed by participants, inquired about educators' perceptions about graphics quality and graphics use by students with visual impairments. Survey items comprised six demographic questions and 26 Likert scale items; of the 18 parallel items, nine specified tactile graphics use and nine specified print graphics use. Of the remaining eight items, seven asked about tactile graphics only and one about both tactile and print graphics users.


[Although the study also examined the use of these accommodations in textbooks and classroom testing, we do not elaborate those findings here.] Survey respondents reported on their perceptions of the quality and importance of graphic adaptations in large-scale assessments. When rating appropriateness of graphics in large-scale assessments, fewer than half of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that tactile and print graphics were appropriately adapted. Analyses of significance yielded that respondents were more likely to indicate agreement that print graphics were appropriately adapted in large-scale assessments than were tactile graphics. However, more than half of the respondents indicated that they themselves were comfortable making tactile graphics both understandable and usable, and that tactile graphics they offered in class prepared students for tactile graphics on large-scale assessments. Nearly all respondents indicated their agreement that exposure to tactile graphics at an early age was important. Relatively few respondents (11%) agreed or strongly agreed that written descriptions assisted students' understanding better than tactile graphics; almost all respondents (89%) concurred that tactile graphics combined with written explanations were the best presentation format. When reporting instructional practices about graphics, only 22% of respondents expressed agreement about having adequate time. Further, about 38% of respondents concurred that they have skills teaching tactile graphics, while nearly all (97%) considered teaching tactile graphics as part of their jobs. Finally, about 67% of respondents reported that most of their students can independently understand print graphics, and 21% reported the same about tactile graphics. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.