In my thesis I researched the connection between the development of speech and language on one hand and visual impairment on the other. I focused primarily on the development of speech and language of preschool children with visual impairment (aged from 0 to 6 years). Visual impairment influences significantly the child’s development from his/her birth on. Sighted children make eye contact from the very beginning; this is, however, impossible or only possible to a lesser degree in children with visual impairment. The differences in development already start in the prelinguistic period.
In the theoretical part of my study I presented in detail the development of speech and language of children with visual impairment from their birth to the age of 6 years. I concentrated mostly on the prelinguistic period, the articulation of individual voices, the occurrence of first words, the development of concepts and vocabulary, the occurrence of echolalia, and non-verbal communication. I introduced the translated and rearranged part of Oregon project which refers to development of speech and language in children with visual impairment. Finally, I defined the role of the speech and language therapist in the development of speech and language in children with visual impairment. The empirical part of the study is based on a case study of speech and language of two preschool children with visual impairment. I evaluated their spontaneous speech and narration of a known story. In my research I focused on the most commonly used parts of speech and the mean length of utterance (MLU). It was shown that both the girl and the boy the most frequently had used particles (due to closed type questions) and verbs in their spontaneous speech and in the narration of a known story. The girl’s MLU was 4,8 words in her spontaneous speech and 5 words in the narration of a known story, and the boy’s MLU 5,2 words in his spontaneous speech and 3,9 words in the narration of a known story. The girl used longer utterances in the narration of a known story while the boy formed longer utterances in his spontaneous speech. Theoretical bases and the results obtained enabled me to propose some suggestions for further development of speech and language of children with visual impairment.