The CVI Den is a wonderful tool to use with students who are visually functioning in Phase I and just beginning to use their vision. I have also used it with students who are just into Phase II and it really gets my kids moving and interacting. My good friend, Gloria Vaughn, coined the name CVI Den years ago when we worked together developing materials and tools to use with this special population. The CVI Den provides an environment which eliminates competing visual and tactual stimulation and makes a single target (such as the illumi-Spring) really POP!
You can create a CVI Den out of a variety of materials, however, the easiest way to make one is to begin with a Crazy Glow Doodle Dome. For older students or students who are in a wheelchair, you can alternately use a black Airbrush Popup Spray Tan Tent. For students who are prone or need to be flat on a bed, the Privacy Pop Tent from Fun and Function is a great alternative (see my Web Store for ordering details on both of these). The same guidelines noted below could be used to adapt the larger, Spray Tan Tent or the Privacy Pop Tent.
In addition to the Doodle Dome, you will need Nite Ize S-Biners, Round Cord Elastic, Velcro with adhesive on the back, 4 Cord Stops, and 4 plastic rings (the type used to make curtains) spray painted a flat black.
Cut four, 60 inch lengths of the round cord elastic.
In order to have flexibility of placement of visual targets, you will want attachments hanging inside on all 4 corners. Start by making holes on the top of the Doodle Dome, to thread the round cord elastic through. So that the holes won’t fray, heat up the sharp end of an ice pick before you make the hole, so that the heated metal “melts” the edges of the hole.
Once the ice pick is very hot, press two holes on each corner of the roof of the Doodle Dome.
Thread one of the 60 inch lengths from the top into the Doodle Dome.
Inside the Doodle Dome, thread on one of the black plastic rings.
Thread the end of the round cord elastic back up through the second hole.
Thread the two ends of the round cord elastic through the cord stops.
Tie several knots on the ends of each side of the elastic so that it can’t slip through the cord stops.
Repeat this process on all four corners of the top of the Doodle Dome.
On the inside of the Doodle Dome, there is a white drawing area. Because we want the inside of the CVI Den to be entirely black (so that the visual target will really stand out), we need to cover the white drawing area with a black piece of Velcro compatible fabric. I use black headliner fabric, which can be purchased at Joanne Fabrics or online, because it acts as a Velcro compatible fabric. Therefore, visual targets with Velcro on them can be attached to this wall. Cut the fabric the correct size to be glued onto the white drawing area. This should be about 20 inches by 23 inches in size.
Spread Tacky Fabric Glue all over the back side of the cut fabric.
I spread the glue with a pop sicle stick.
Place the fabric on top of the white drawing area.
Press it down firmly to attach the fabric to the drawing area. This is best done when the Dome is on it’s side and it is flat on the ground. You’ll have to sort of crawl into the Dome to accomplish this. Let it dry overnight.
The top three targets I have found that work best in the CVI Den are the LED red, reflective mylar pom pom (see my Web Store), a LED light up red baton (www.flashingblinkylights.com), and the illumi-spring (see additional DIY project). I put Velcro on the handle of the pom pom and it can be attached to the side wall which is covered in Velcro compatible fabric. I use hot glue to attach Goody Hair Bands to the illumi-spring and the LED Baton so that they can be hung quickly inside the CVI Den with an S-Biner to the black plastic ring.
Once the target of choice is placed inside the CVI Den, adjust the height and placement according to the student’s needs. If the student has a far left visual field preference, use the cording on the left side of the CVI Den and adjust the length of the cording (with the cord stops) so that the target is exactly in the correct position for the child.
Monitor the student at all times while in the CVI Den. I generally place a pillow with a black pillow case over it, on the floor of the Den. if the child is lying on his/her back and looking up.