Functional Vision Assessment (FVA)

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The functional vision assessment (FVA) is for children with low vision. It is an assessment of how a child uses their vision in everyday life, so it is usually not done with children who are totally blind or have light perception only. Since a child’s visual condition and abilities can change over time, the FVA needs to be repeated periodically.

A functional vision assessment will investigate how your child uses his vision for

  • near tasks, closer than 16 inches;
  • intermediate tasks, 16 inches to 3 feet; and
  • distance tasks, more than 3 feet away.

The TVI or sometimes the O&M conducts this assessment, which uses a combination of formal tests and informal measures, which may differ depending on your child’s age. They will review your child’s records, spend time observing your child through the day, and may interview you, your child, and the regular classroom teacher.

Formal Tests

  • Visual acuity: how clear and sharp your child’s vision is.
  • Visual field: the area your child sees to the sides, above, and below (known as the peripheral area of vision).
  • Contrast sensitivity, or the ability of your child to detect differences in grayness and between objects and their background—that is, how clearly your child can see the elements of an image.
  • Color vision is detecting different colors and hues within a color.
  • Light sensitivity, or response to light (sunlight or artificial light)

Informal Tests

Informal measures might include observing your child to see what eye is preferred to use when looking at materials or locating an object in a picture with a lot of detail.


Based on the information gathered through these various activities, the TVI can recommend ways to help your child learn to use their vision more effectively. The recommendations may include:

  • Modifications or changes to the environment
  • Areas of specialized instruction for your child, such as learning to use a magnifier to read print.
  • Adaptations to materials that may assist your child
  • Instructional strategies, such as teaching your child to use their vision to scan
  • Referrals to other professionals, such as an assistive technology specialist or an orientation and mobility instructor.

You should receive a copy of the report written by the TVI summarizing the information gathered and the recommendations. It’s important to review your child’s recent functional vision assessment report before you meet with the other educational team members. This will allow you to be ready with any comments or questions you want to discuss with them.