A darkroom, as its name implies, a room that allows for an environment free of external stimuli, such as: light, color, movement, noise and regulation according to the needs of each and every child.
Working in this room is one of the means designed to help the child preserve his visual remnants and make the most of them. If we do not take care to preserve the remnants of the vision, there is a possibility that they will be lost.
The main purpose of working in a darkroom is to improve the child’s visual function.
Within this goal different levels of functioning can be addressed:
- Raising awareness of the sense of sight.
- Work on basic vision skills.
- Providing new content.
- Preserving and strengthening existing vision skills.
In our first encounter with a child in a darkroom we will check if there are any useful visual remnants, with each response to visual stimulation forming the basis for building a work plan in a darkroom.
- Raising awareness of vision – strengthening and improving.
For the visually impaired child, the remnants of vision are usually so few that he does not learn to use them for a specific purpose, or for a very limited purpose. The children see the stimuli but do not understand what they are seeing and we want to teach them to decipher those stimuli.
Functionally we will check (more than once):
- Response to light source
- Response to Stimulation Motion
- Response to object
- Face response
- Work on basic vision skills.
Visual function is an acquired skill, which consumes practice but immediately impacts daily functioning. The caregiver can “illuminate” the child’s attention and thus improve his or her vision function.
Focus on visual stimulus :
The ability to direct both eyes together (or one eye if there is strabismus) for visual purposes Actions such as reaching out and eye-hand (twin) contact require the ability to focus, even if for a split second.
Visual Stimulation Tracking :
The ability to stay focused and track an object moving in space
Scan-Scadi gestures (“jumps”):
The ability to move the gaze from place to place, in order to perform a different scan: the environment, objects, figures and images. The movement (scan) can be spontaneous or intentional for detection. This ability allows the child to learn to use the eyes for learning purposes. Reaching out for visual stimulation :
The ability to focus a gaze on an object that is within reach and to act / respond to its existence in hand-eye coordination.
Decipher visual stimulus :
The ability to understand the role / meaning of the object in front of me
- Preserve and strengthen existing vision skills
As the child develops, his visual function seems to improve, but the vision remains as it was. In other words, it seems as if the child sees more but not so, his vision remains and only the visual function improves.
- Acquiring new content
Sometimes a visually impaired child will have difficulty absorbing new content due to a stimulus-laden cause and it will be easier for him to see and learn new content when the environment is devoid of stimuli – a darkroom.
The darkroom is a room that provides all the optimal conditions for a visually impaired child and allows for better functioning. The environment is optimized in terms of lighting, prevents glare, allows focusing on the light source and strengthens and improves all the different skills. The darkness neutralizes the visual clutter and allows for a focus on the illuminated stimulus. There are not many distractions from the environment and noise so the range of attention and concentration is greater.
The child’s visual function relies on using cues to visually identify the object , such as:
- Color and Contrast
- Size of the object, image, or font
- Angle of sight of children with visual impairments – The angle of view is very significant in the ability to use existing vision and therefore the head tilt or distance from which the child sees should not be “corrected”.
- A visually impaired child sees details before he sees the whole.