The Salient Features Collaborative, which is comprised of parents and professionals, has created an online dictionary of Salient Features, based on the work of Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy. It is intended to be just one of the tools teams may choose to use in the instruction of salient features with students with CVI (cortical visual impairment). It can also be a jumping off point for creating a customized salient features dictionary based on the unique interests, experience and abilities of each student.
Dr. Roman-Lantzy defines salient features as, “the defining elements that distinguish one target from another.” (Roman-Lantzy, p. 204). “They are,” she continues, “the key pieces of distinct information that facilitate recognition of an image, object, environment, or person” (Roman-Lantzy, 2018).
Dr. Roman-Lantzy has developed an approach to teach people with CVI to recognize distinctive information about something in order to be able to identify it. As such, there is no single “right” salient feature for something and this will be based on the individual. For example, my child may have a cup with a handle and that handle might be the salient feature for her. Another child may have a sippy cup, and that spout may be the distinctive feature for him. Each person is drawn to specific information about something, depending on interests, needs, strengths, and circumstances.
The Salient Features Dictionary is offered as an example. The dictionary examples include a list of some of the most common salient features of an item, but this can be modified or changed for each individual. The salient features that are mentioned are then highlighted with red (again, this can be individualized, depending on the child’s preferred color). For example, with a dog the suggested salient features are snout, paws and tail. The images below show how these particular features are then highlighted in red:
The website offers step-by-step instructions to add new entries to the dictionary. These instructions include:
The website notes that “Instruction in salient features should be fun, meaningful and based on each child’s unique set of strengths, needs and interests.”