SkyView teacher ensures a successful, happy school year for student with rare eye disorder
HIGHLANDS RANCH – When SkyView Academy (SVA) first-grade teacher April Chism learned she would have Logan Johnson in her class this year, she knew she would do everything in her power to make sure Logan experienced great success in school. Logan was born with Aniridia, a rare genetic disorder that literally means “no iris”. Babies born with this disease have malformed irises along with other potential health issues like cataracts, glaucoma, increased eye pressure, low vision, optic nerve damage, and sometimes even malignant kidney tumors. Without pupils, Logan’s eyes don’t contract and classroom learning can be challenging when she can’t see important teaching tools like the SMART Board in the front of the room, even when sitting in the front row.
Logan has attended SVA, a Douglas County School District charter school, since preschool, and every teacher along the way has advocated for her, making sure that her 20/70 and 20/150 (with glasses) vision never holds her back. For example, the font on Logan’s math pages has been enlarged so she can see the problems. Chism realized Logan couldn’t see certain colors on the SMART Board, so now she only uses high contrast white board marker colors she knows Logan can see. SVA Elementary principal, Jeri Bisbee, purchased a “slant board” specifically for Logan, as well as an iPad for her personal use to be able to take pictures of notes, and expand to her level of need. In addition, a closed circuit television (CCTV) was brought into the classroom to increase the size of the lessons in the hope that Logan’s eyes wouldn’t have to work so hard to complete the assignment.
While these efforts were helpful, they were more like Band-Aids, and it was becoming clear that Logan needed better tools. Chism realized while the CCTV helped to support Logan, its bulk and size made it challenging to transport when she changes classrooms.
The answer Chism and other SVA teachers were searching for finally arrived. Chism was able to acquire a Visiobook, a portable electronic magnifier and distance viewer, for Logan’s use.
“This new technology has given her more freedom in the classroom not only with ease of work, but with other seating opportunities as well. I love seeing her be her best, and feeling like she stands out a little less,” Chism said. “Logan is an extremely smart and determined little girl. Despite the significant hurdles she faces, she never complains and never uses them as an excuse to not be successful. I will always do what’s best for all of my students, and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that Logan has what she needs to not only be successful this year, but happy as well. “
Not only does the Visiobook nicely fit on Logan’s desk, it is also small and lightweight enough she can take it with her as she changes classrooms. In addition, it has given her the freedom to engage her learning by sitting in other classroom locations besides the front row.
“Mrs. Chism, Ms. Bisbee, and the staff at SkyView have been absolutely amazing,” said Kacey Johnson, Logan’s mother. “They have continually advocated for Logan to allow her to be as successful as possible. She is in no way held back due to her vision, and gets to enjoy the classroom environment along with her classmates.”
“The Visiobook is so fun to use,” Logan said. “It helps me work faster and see things that I can’t see without it.”