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Locating appropriate tools to help develop appropriate IEP goals in the wide range of areas impacted by a visual impairment is a formidable task. We have so far compiled the following listing of assessment tools used and recommended by teachers of children with visual impairments to evaluate their students' skills. We have put this together over a couple of years, and welcome your comments, additions, or deletions. It is organized by content and then in alphabetical order with ordering information.


CONTENT SPECIFIC TOOLS

BRAILLE

  • ABLS (Assessing Braille Literacy Skills)
  • AFB Practice Report-Informal Assessment of Developmental Skills for Visually Handicapped Students
  • AUEN (Addressing Unique Educational Needs of Individuals With Disabilities)
  • Braille Requisite Skills
  • Braille Too
  • FACTS (Functional & Applied Curriculum and Training Skills) California School for the Blind
  • MBSI (Minnesota Braille Skills Inventory)
  • Mangold Developmental Program of Tactile Perception and Braille Letter Recognition
  • Mangold Math
  • Patterns Braille Reading Program
  • Patterns Pre-Braille Program
  • PREP (Preparatory Reading Program for Visually Handicapped Children)
  • Read Again
  • Sharpe-McNear-McGrew Braille Assessment Inventory (BAI)
  • TSBVI Functional Academics Curriculum

READING

  • Gray Reading Inventory
  • Jerry Johns Informal Reading Inventory
  • Spache - Diagnostic Reading Scales

ABACUS

  • Abacus Checklist for Counting Method
  • Use of the Cranmer Abacus - TSBVI

MATH

  • Brigance - Grade Placement Test
  • Key Math Diagnostic Arithmetic Test
  • TSBVI Functional Academics Curriculum
  • Woodcock - Johnson

VISUAL FUNCTIONING

  • Broken Wheel Visual Acuity Text 
  • BAR (Beyond Arms Reach)
  • DAP (Diagnostic Assessment Procedure)
  • Developmental Visual Dysfunction - Ehrhardt
  • FACTS - CSB
  • INSITE
  • Oregon Project
  • Peabody Mobility Kit
  • Perkins Activity & Resource Guide
  • Project Strive
  • Teachers' Guide to the Special Educational Needs of Blind and Visually Handicapped Children - Functional Vision Checklists
  • VIISA (Resources for Family Centered Intervention for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Who Are Visually Impaired)

O & M

  • Body Image of Blind Children - Cratty and Sams
  • FACTS - CSB
  • Jackson Preschool O & M Referral, Inventory & Assessment
  • Oregon Project
  • Peabody Mobility Screening
  • TAPS, O & M Curriculum Guide - TSBVI
  • TACTILE FACTS - CSB

DISCRIMINATION

  • Mangold Tactile Perception and Braille Letter Recognition
  • Oregon Project
  • VIISA

LISTENING

  • AUEN
  • AFB Practice Report
  • Brigance - Auditory Discrimination Sections
  • Listening A Curriculum Guide for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments
  • Focus on Individualized Programming for the Visually Handicapped
  • TOLD (Test of Language Development)
  • Woodcock-Johnson

KEYBOARDING

  • AFB Practice Report
  • Keys to Success (software)
  • Talking Typer (software)
  • Typewriting for the Blind - APH tapes

SOCIAL SKILLS

  • AUEN
  • FACTS - CSB
  • Independent Living Curriculum - TSBVI
  • INSITE
  • Oregon Project
  • SSAT-VI (Social Skills Assessment Tool for Children with Visual Impairments)
  • VIneland - Socialization Domain

DAILY LIVING SKILLS

  • AUEN
  • FACTS - CSB
  • Independent Living Curriculum - TSBVI
  • INSITE
  • Oregon Project
  • Vineland - Daily Living Skills Domain

CAREER READINESS

  • AFB Practice Report
  • AUEN
  • Independent Living Curriculum - TSBVI

COMMUNICATION

  • Every Move Counts - Sensory Based Communication Techniques
  • FACTS - CSB
  • HELP (Hawaii Early Learning Profile)
  • INSITE
  • Oregon Project
  • Vineland - Communication Domain
  • VIISA

FUNCTIONAL VISION EVALUATIONS

  • Functional Vision Evaluation Form - ESC Region VIII
  • South Carolina Functional Vision Assessment
  • TSBVI Low Vision Resource Guide
  • Teachers' Guide to the Special Educational Needs of Blind and Visually Handicapped Children - Functional Vision Checklists

ALPHABETICAL LISTING WITH ADDRESSES

ABLS (Assessing Braille Literacy Skills)

Region IV Educational Service Center
7145 W. Tidwell Rd.
P. O. Box 863
Houston, Texas 77092-2096
(713) 462-7708


AFB Practice Report - Informal Assessment of Developmental Skills for Visually Handicapped Students

American Foundation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza - Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
(202) 502-7600


AUEN (Addressing the Unique Educational Needs of Individuals with disabilities - Categorical VI)

Disability Research Systems
500 Kerry St., Suite 208
Lansing, Michigan 48912
(517) 485-5599


Abacus Checklist for the Counting Method

Debra Sewell - TSBVI Outreach Program
1100 W. 45th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 206-9301


BAR (Beyond Arms Reach)

Audrey Smith, Ph.D.
Lizabeth O'Donnell, M.S.
Pennsylvania College of Optometry Press
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Body Image of Blind Children - Bryant Cratty and Theressa Sams

American Foundation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza - Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
(202) 502-7600


Braille Requisite Skills

Region IV Education Service Center
7145 W. Tidwell Rd.
P.O. Box 863
Houston, Texas 77092-2096
(713) 462-7708


Braille Too

Grant Wood Educational Agency - Marketing Department
4401 Sixth St. SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
(319) 399-6714


Brigance

Stoelting Company
620 Wheat Lane
Wood Dale, IL 60191
Phone - (630) 860-9700

(Available in Braille from APH)


Broken Wheel Visual Acuity Text

Bernell Co.
750 Lincolnway East
P.O. Box 4637
South Bend, Indiana 46634


DAP (Diagnostic Assessment Procedure)

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Developmental Visual Dysfunction

Therapy Skill Builders
3830 E. Bellevue
P. O. Box 42050
Tucson, Arizona 85733
(602) 323-7500


Every Move Counts - Sensory Based Communication Techniques

Therapy Skills Builders - A division of Communication Skills Builders
3830 E. Bellvue
P. O. Box 42050
Tucson, Arizona 85733
(602) 323-7500


FACTS (Functional & Applied Curriculum and Training Skills)

California School for the Blind
500 Walnut Avenue
Fremont, California 94536


Focus On Individual Programming for the Visually Handicapped

Pennsylvania Materials Center for the Visually Handicapped
5601 N. Front St.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110


Functional Vision Evaluation Form - ESC Region VIII

ESC Region VIII
P. O. Box 1894
Mt. Pleasant, Texas 75456-1894
(903) 572-8551


Gray Reading Inventory

Pro-Ed
8700 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78758-9965
(512) 451-3246


HELP (Hawaii Early Learning Profile)

VORT Corporation
PO Box 60132
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 322-8282
Web site: http://www.vort.com


INSITE

Project INSITE
Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind
846 20th St.
Ogden, Utah 84401


Independent Living Curriculum - TSBVI

TSBVI
Curriculum Department
1100 W 45th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 206-9240


Jerry Johns Informal Reading Inventory

Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company
2460 Kerper Blvd.
P. O. Box 539
Dubuque, Iowa 52004-0539
(319) 589-1000


KEY Math

American Guidance Service
Publisher's Bldg.
Circle Pines, MN 55014-1796
(800) 328-2560

(Available in Braille from APH)


Keys to Success (software)

Life Science Associates
One Fenimore Rd.
Bayport, NY 11705
(516) 472-2111


Listening: A Curriculum Guide for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments

Illinois Office of Education
Department of Exceptional Children
Springfield, Illinois


MBSI (Minnesota Braille Skills Inventory)

Minnesota Educational Services
Capitol View Center - 70 W. Co. Rd. - B2
Little Canada, MN 55117-1402
(612)483-4442


Mangold Development Program of Tactile Perception and Braille Letter Recognition

Exceptional Teaching Aids
20102 Woodbine Avenue
Castro Valley, California 94546
(510) 582-4859


Mangold Math

Exceptional Teaching Aids
20102 Woodbine Avenue
Castro Valley, California 94546
(510) 582-4859


O & M Referral, Inventory and Assessment

Jackson Education Service District
101 N. Grape St.
Medford, Oregon 97501
(503) 776-8550


Oregon Project

Jackson Education Service District
101 N. Grape St.
Medford, Oregon 97501
(541) 776-8555


Patterns Braille Reading Program

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Patterns Pre-braille Program

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Peabody Mobility Screening

Stoelting Co.
1350 S. Kostner Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60623
(312) 522-4500


Perkins Activity and Resource Guide

Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, Massachusetts 02172
(617) 924-3434


PREP (Preparatory Reading Program for Visually Handicapped Children)

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Project Strive

Region IV Education Service Center
7145 W. Tidwell Rd.
P. O. Box 863
Houston, Texas 77092-2096
(713) 462-7708


Read Again

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Sharpe-McNear-McGrew Braille Assessment Inventory

Hawthorne Educational Services, Inc.
800 Gray Oak Drive
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 874-1710


SSAT-VI (Social Skills Assessment Tool for Children with Visual Impairments)

B.J. McCallum & S. Sacks
1296 Mariposa Avenue
San Jose, California 95126


South Carolina Functional Vision Assessment

South Carolina Department of Education
1429 Senate Street
Columbia, South Carolina 29201


TAPS, O & M Curriculum Guide - TSBVI

TSBVI
Curriculum Department
1100 W. 45th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 206-9240


TOLD (Test of Language Development)

Pro-Ed
8700 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78758-9965
(512) 451-3246


TSBVI Functional Academics Curriculum

TSBVI
Curriculum Department
1100 W. 45th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 206-9240


Talking Typer

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Teachers' Guide to the Special Educational Needs of Blind and Visually Handicapped Children-Functional Vision Checklists

American Foundation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza - Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
(202) 502-7600


Typewriting for the Blind

American Printing House for the Blind
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
(800) 223-1839


Use of the Cranmer Abacus - TSBVI

Curriculum Department
1100 W. 45th St.
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 206-9240


VIISA (Resources for Family Centered Intervention for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Who Are Visually Impaired)

Ski*Hi Institute
Utah State University
Department of Communicative Disorders
Logan, Utah 84322-1900


Vineland Behavior Rating Scales

American Guidance Service
Publisher's Bldg.
Circle Pines, MN 55014-1796
(800) 328-2560


Woodcock-Johnson

DLM Teaching Resources
One DLM Park
Allen, Texas 75002

Compiled by TSBVI Outreach, 1996.
Distributed at International AER Conference, St. Louis, Missouri, 1996


The following areas should be measured during routine eye examinations of adults and visually impaired children. In some cases of eye disease visual acuity remains normal and only contrast sensitivity changes. So, both values are important to assess for the understanding of visual function.

CONTRAST SENSITIVITY

___Spots on clothes, counters and dishes, not noticed.

___Difficulty driving and seeing buses on cloudy days.

___Peoples facial gestures are missed.

___Not always see flame on a gas stove.

___Need more light to read.

___Watching TV tires eyes.

VISUAL ACUITY

___Difficulty seeing the dials on appliances.

___Reading tires eyes.

___Additional magnification needed to read standard print.

___Need to hold print closer to eyes to read.

___Problems reading street signs

___Difficulty reading bus schedules.

VISUAL FIELDS

___Frequently trips on curbs and steps.

___Don’t notice people approaching from the side.

___Food spoils on top shelf of refrigerator.

___Difficulty locating traffic lights.

___Miss seeing some of the food on the plate.

CONE ADAPTATION

___Difficulty seeing when entering the house from outside.

___Can not see well outside at night.

___Need lots of lights on in the house at night.

___Problems finding things in poorly lit areas like drawers.

COLOR VISION

___Color confusion when picking out clothes.

___Incorrectly naming colors.

___Changes in color identification.


EXCELLENT BOOKS EVALUATING LOW VISION

"The Art and Practice of Low Vision" by Paul B. Freeman, O.D. & Randall T. Jose, O.D. (#2015)

"Foundations of Low Vision: Clinical & Functional Perspectives" edited by Anne Corn & Alan Koenig(#2008)

Information provided by VISION ASSOCIATES -
2109 US Hwy 90 West
Ste. 170 #312
Lake City, FL 32055
(407) 352-1200
FAX (386) 752-7839


Choosing Assessment Instruments

When the professional determines that testing or retesting is necessary, that person is usually limited to using whatever instruments are readily available. The most typical intellectual battery is the Wechsler scales' verbal subtests. Performance items are usually not administered, and if they are, should be used as a way of observing the process of problem solving rather than to obtain an actual IQ score. Keeping in mind that success on intelligence tests is highly dependent on language and experience, and that 70- 80% of all learning takes place through the visual mode, careful interpretation of test results is warranted.

Interpreting Results

Analysis of Weschler subtest results may yield the following:

  • Information - Scores may be depressed because of lack of visual experience or reliance on sighted persons' interpretations of the environment.
  • Similarities - Telling likenesses and differences between two concrete items may be a skill that is over taught to visually impaired students, which could artificially inflate scores. Abstract items are more difficult conceptually to grasp because of lack of vision and experience.
  • Vocabulary - For children who are very verbal, a large vocabulary of memorized, rote definitions alone is not an indication of superior intellectual functioning. Some children exhibit certain degrees of echolalia, or use speech without meaningful experiences to support them.
  • Comprehension - Social experiences and social skills are largely learned by experience and imitation. The visually impaired child cannot "size up" a situation visually as sighted children do and must be specifically taught what to do in certain situations.
  • Arithmetic - The ability to remember and manipulate mathematical operations without a visual image or special tools may put the child with a visual impairment at a disadvantage. Timing requirement is usually eliminated from this subtest for the visually impaired.
  • Digit Span - Scores may be inflated if the visually impaired child has highly developed auditory memory skills for unrelated items. On the WAIS III, verbal IQ score may be inflated or reflect a pseudo- increase since the digit span score is calculated into the verbal IQ where It is not on the Children's scales (WISC III). Conversely, if there is a problem with short term auditory memory, scores will be lower.

Adaptive Behavior

Although adaptive behavior assessments are not required, except in cases where other handicapping conditions are being considered or reassessed, the particular areas of adaptive behavior are often those that need remediation and intervention with the visually impaired child. Functioning levels in the areas of daily living skills, communication, and socialization are frequently ones which are depressed in this population. A measure of adaptive behavior such as the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales can be helpful in identifying areas in need of IEP goals. This particular instrument does include some norms for visually impaired children (ages 6- 12 in residential settings). Since the Vineland is in an interview format, input from the parent AND the teacher or primary care giver is important. Consultation with the VI teacher is also helpful in interpreting results.

Another interview format adaptive behavior assessment instrument which is used by TDMHMR (Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation) Is the Inventory for Client and Agency Planning (ICAP) 1988, available from Riverside Publishing. Skill areas measured include: Motor, Social and Communication, Personal Living, and Community Living.

Criterion Referenced Assessments

When standardized assessment instruments cannot be used, the evaluator is allowed to use whatever instruments are necessary in order to determine the student's level of functioning. In using developmental checklists, the evaluator is reminded to interpret results with caution, as the development of visually impaired children, especially those who are totally blind, is different from sighted children. One Instrument, the Developmental Activities Screening Inventory (DASD, has suggestions for adapting assessment items for visually impaired, although it does not include this population in the normative data.

Bulla, 2002

Interpreting Test Results And Observations

In analysis and interpretation of both test results and clinical observations, keep the following in mind as you review these with a teacher of the visually impaired:

  • Don't assume that a large vocabulary alone is an indicator of giftedness. Be alert to use of verbalisms and echolalia and consult with a speech/language therapist when in doubt.
  • Don't assume that confusion of pronouns and presence of self- stimulatory behaviors are indicative of a pervasive developmental disorder.
  • Don't assume that a learning disability or motivational problem exists when a discrepancy in level of Intelligence and achievement are noted. Similarly, poor spelling skills and poor penmanship are not indicative of a learning disability, or just plain "laziness".
  • Don't assume that emotional problems can always be diagnosed separately or apart from the visual impairment.
  • Don't assume that efficient performance in the general environment (playground, hallways, etc.) implies similarly efficient performance in the classroom.

Loftin, 2002

 

by Carol Evans

There are a number of journal articles, mostly in blindness related literature, which I will dig out and cite here if anyone is interested. What I can start here with is the questions one must ask about the particular child to be tested prior to selecting instruments.

General principles that apply to testing of any child apply here. The testing should be guided by the referral question, and must be administered in a way that does not penalize the child on the basis of the vision loss.

Sharon Bradley-Johnson, a SP (school psychology) professor at Central Michigan, has written books on the testing of BVI children (and also on the testing of D/HH children). They are available from PRO-ED, and are excellent references to start with.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that the school psychologist should collaborate with the teacher of the visually impaired in designing the assessment and interpreting the results. The TVI will have detailed information on the child, the course of his/her individual loss of vision, and discussion and reading material on the specific effects of the child's particular eye disorder on vision. There are many, many different eye conditions, and they affect vision differently. Some result in loss of the central field, which affects reading and perception of fine detail. Others result in the loss of peripheral field, causing mobility problems, but leaving reading vision intact in the initial stages. Some eye conditions cause general loss across the whole visual field. Some children have vision that is variable from day to day, in different lighting conditions and weather. Some eye conditions vary with general health.

Some eye conditions are associated with syndromes that have other effects on learning and behavior.

Generally speaking, the visually impaired child, with no other significant disabilities, who has had early intervention, good quality teaching with the involvement of a qualified teacher of the visually impaired, materials provided in an appropriate format (whether large print, magnification, tactile, auditory, etc.) and who has the benefit of a supportive family, should achieve at levels comparable to those of sighted children with similar advantages.

That said, just as there is enormous variability among sighted children, there is also similar variability among the visually impaired. And just as has been said about other populations, blindness or visual impairment does not exclude the possibility of concomitant learning disabilities.

The Wechsler Verbal Scale has traditionally been considered to give results that are comparable with those for sighted children. There are, nevertheless, certain items which may present problems for some types of visually impaired children, particularly the totally congenitally blind. Easy questions involving concrete concepts learned primarily through vision may be failed, while more difficult questions involving abstractions may be passed. Eg. "What does transparent mean?"

The Wechsler verbal scales are generally considered adequate for students who are blind enough that they use braille. For students with low vision, particularly with enough vision that they use vision as a primary learning channel, the Verbal scales alone are, IMHO, inadequate.

Some of the subtests of the Performance scale, however, have timing procedures which discriminate against those with low vision. They allow for bonus points for rapid completion of certain tasks. Some do not give the performance subtests at all. If given, they should not, I mean never, I mean under NO CIRCUMSTANCES be computed into a Performance IQ, and then combined with the Verbal to yield a Full Scale IQ. There is value, however, in administering these subtests for the purpose of deriving qualitative information which can point to appropriate modifications of classroom materials and instructional methods.

Examples of such qualitative information might include the following:

  • "Jimmy was able to correctly complete some of the more difficult items on Block Design, but he required about 50% more time than is standard for fully sighted children of his age."
  • "Tony's performance on Picture Arrangement was affected by his visual loss in that many of the critical discriminating features of the pictures were too small, and of low contrast."
  • "Nancy's performance on some of the items of Object Assembly was slower than that of sighted children her age because of her spotty visual field loss (necessitating head turning and tilting in order to see the full array of pieces) as well as her slower fine motor responses, both of which are associated with mild cerebral palsy due to prematurity."

I find the Stanford-Binet: 4th Edition to be quite useful in assessment of children with low vision, because the only subtest (Pattern Analysis, which is analogous to Wechsler's Block Design) which has timing as an element has such generous time limits that every low vision child to whom I have administered it has been able to complete the designs within the time limits, if they are able to complete it at all. In fact, one or two have demonstrated that their visual abilities are superior to their verbal abilities, and that is important information to have.

There is the matter of making visual stimuli accessible. In a phone conversation over a year ago with Dr. Sharon Bradley-Johnson, she stated that any visual accommodation that helps the child in the classroom is appropriate for testing. Enlarged or magnified materials, etc. Does this violate standardized procedure? Yes, but so does giving the test to people not represented in the sample.

When stimuli are enlarged on a copier, color is lost. That is a problem if color is a factor in the test. A better solution may be to place the original stimuli under a video magnifier.

Every report I write on a visually impaired child contains some version or another of the following idea.

"These results should be interpreted with caution inasmuch as the instruments were standardized on a sighted population, and, certain accommodations were made for the student's access to the visual materials."

I'd like to add a word or two about achievement tests. Diagnosis of learning disabilities cannot be made on the basis of group tests such as the Stanford Achievement Test. It is necessary to administer an individual achievement test, such as the Woodcock-Johnson--Revised. For a low-vision student, I would suggest following the above recommendations about enlargement or use of video magnification. For braille students, the issues are different. About 5 years ago I brailled the relevant student portions for an eighth grade student. I followed the format of the print, with the same number of items per page. I did not have to do the very early items since he was an academically able blind student.

Last year I found that a braille version was available, and ordered it from the source listed in Louis. When it arrived the booklet included a caveat that it was brailled in accordance with the requirements of the agency which first requested it. I found it very inadequate, and had to modify procedures when administering it. It needs revision. So if you must, use it with caution. Examples of its inadequacy include: 1. the crowding of many items per page 2. the use of words to represent pictures which are used in questions involving quantity. An example would be the words fish fish fish on an item requiring the counting of the fish, and similar use of words to replace pictures on other arithmetic items. This will present a problem when using the test for kids with reading problems, as I did. A better way would be to use braille full cells. If the picture items in a question are different from one another, braille X's could be used. No, it does not directly reproduce the pictures, but neither do the words, and this way, the test will test what it is supposed to test (counting, addition, subtraction, etc.) and not reading.

Carol Evans


  • Penlight with different colored filters
  • Flashlight with different colored filters
  • 2 finger puppets
  • 2 identical toys 2- 4 inches in size (no noise- makers)
  • 2 balls - one large and one small
  • Toy car or any 2- 3 inch object that rolls easily
  • A wide array of bright objects
  • Cheerios
  • Cake decorations (the size of hole punches)
  • Small pictures similar to those found in Lotto games that can be matched up
  • Slinky
  • Several pairs of identical objects of differing sizes: balls, toy cars, blocks, pets, etc.
  • One- inch blocks and a coffee can/container
  • Pegs and a board
  • Stacking rings and a ringstick
  • Simple formboard (puzzle)
  • Colored one- inch cubes (two of each color- red, yellow, blue, white, green, etc.)
  • Eye Charts: Near and Distance, Examples:
    • Lighthouse f/t Blind Symbols for Children
    • HOTV Chart
    • Feinbloom Eye Chart
    • Near Vision "Game" Test
    • Near Vision "Number" Test
  • Tape measure
  • Samples of near vision print tasks such as:
    • Road maps
    • samples of Scantron answer sheets
    • Charges, graphs,
    • tablespage from a telephone book
    • Newspaper
    • menu
    • Game cards
    • CD case w/ song list
    • Worksheets
    • paperback book
  • Scissors and bold outline shapes printed on paper to be cut out w/ scissors
  • Crayons
  • Regular lined paper for different grade levels
  • Color test (yarn swatches) or color cards to match
  • Different types of picture cards:
    • black & white
    • pictures found in 1St- 2nd grade workbooks
    • photographs; magazine pictures
    • Stop watch

Performing Functional Vision Evaluations and Learning Media Assessments

Education Service Center - Region 13

 


Tanni L Anthony, Ed.S.

Colorado Department of Education, Denver, Colorado, USA

Young children who are deafblind present an interesting paradox when it comes to developmental assessment. Perhaps no other group of children may benefit more from a quality developmental evaluation, while at the same time, no other group of children may be so difficult to assess with an accurate and meaningful outcome.

The developmental impact of both a vision and a hearing loss is considerable to a young child. All aspects of development are influenced. In particular, the skills of spatial orientation and movement skills are affected.

Traditional assessment methodologies and tools are often not helpful with building an accurate picture of the learning style and developmental level of the child with dual sensory loss. The more conventional assessment models support evaluation in a number of environments by a number of professionals who may or may not have communication contact with one another. Parents may or may not be a part of the assessment process in these models.

The result is often a complicated situation of too many people and too little insight on the whole child within the context of the family and home community. This is a scenario that the young child with deafblindness can scarcely afford; good programming and support must begin early for both the child and family.

The assessment process is further complicated by the fact that most developmental assessment protocols were not designed to account for the unique developmental course of the child with vision and hearing loss. A comparative model to children with full sight and hearing is grossly insufficient.

Furthermore, most assessment tools view developmental milestones without regard to their functional relation to the child's environment, nor the qualitative characteristics of the skills; two features of utmost importance to the outcome of the assessment, the child's program.

The Transdisciplinary Play-Based (TDPB) model of assessment embraces two key principles: (a) respect for a team approach including the child's family as team members and (b) recognition of play as a means of gathering important developmental information. While the model was not founded for the exclusive purpose of assessing children with vision and hearing loss, it was designed as an assessment vehicle for children who were not well served within the traditional assessment model (Linder, 1990).

The design of this model invites professionals from all disciplines to work together, with the continual input from the family, to complete an assessment and subsequently build a program for the child. One unique feature of this model is the arena assessment which involves a group observation and assessment opportunity of the child.

Each team member, including the parent(s), is present at the assessment, although only one key person typically facilitates the developmental testing of the child. The role of the facilitator is to follow the child's lead of interest in a manner that supports the display of developmental skills. The team members work to guide the work of the facilitator.

The Colorado Hilton Perkins Project was funded from September 1991 to December of 1994 for the purpose of investigating the use of TDPB model with children with dual sensory loss. Over this period, several adaptations were made to the model to accommodate the unique needs of the young child with vision and hearing loss. These adaptations came over time as the team evolved in their understanding of "what worked" for this population of children.

One significant adaptation was to focus on two primary outcome areas as opposed to all aspects of every specific developmental domain. The areas of (a) communication and (b) orientation and mobility skill development were selected based on community direction. These two areas have also been identified in the literature as key programmatic themes for individuals with deafblindness (Heuber, Glidden Prickett, Rafalowski Welch, 1995).

Each team member contributed their expertise toward these two common themes. As such, a new assessment protocol was developed which included the following orientation and mobility components:

Functional Vision: (a) visual preferences and capabilities concerning light, color, size, and clutter; (b) visually directed purposeful movement; and (c) ability to recognize and use visual clues or landmarks.

Functional Hearing: (a) awareness and discrimination of auditory input; (b) receptive language skills; (c) use of echolocation; and (d) the ability to discriminate, recognize, and use auditory information in everyday situations.

Tactile Responsiveness: (a) responsiveness tactile input (physical guidance vs. self initiated touch) and (b) ability to discriminate tactile input for clues and landmark purposes.

Problem Solving: (a) mastery motivation; (b) object permanence; (c) means end; (d) spatial relations; (e) body image; (f) meaningful use of common objects and tool use (g) imitation (visual and physical); and (h) search patterns and methods of exploration.

Social Emotional: (a) motivating objects for enticement and reinforcement of movement; (b) daily routes for travel that serve a social purpose; (c) social orientation to people; and (d) endurance as it relates to social- emotional relationships.

Self Help: (a) daily routines/routes of travel and (b) orienting self and objects in space for dressing and feeding.

Fine Motor: (a) motor planning body skills in space and related to objects within the environment; (b) tactile and kinesthetic development for being handled; (c) spatial mapping; (d) upper extremity skills; and.(e) grasp and release skills.

Gross Motor: (a) postural tone; (b) voluntary movement; (c) reflexes and involuntary movement upon self- initiated movement; (d) means of independent ambulation; (e) balance and equilibrium reactions; (f) quality of movement indicators; (g) motor skills; (h) adaptive equipment needs; and (i) physical endurance/ fatigue constraints.

Formal O&M: (a) trailing techniques; (b) protective techniques; (c) route travel; (d) sighted guide; and (e) mobility device or cane instruction needs.

The use of the TDPB assessment model was felt to be a viable means of gathering key O&M information for the young child with vision and hearing loss. While project funding has ended, the individual team members continue to use of the TDPB model in their ongoing work with learners who are deafblind.

References

Anthony, T.(1993) Transdisciplinary play-based assessment: communication and orientation and mobility domains for the young child with deafblindness (unpublished document)

Greeley, J. & Anthony, T. (1996) Play interaction with infants and toddlers who are deafblind: setting the stage. Seminars in Hearing 16 (2), 186- 191.

Heuber, H. M., Glidden Prickett, J., Rafalowski Welch, T. (Ed.). (1995) Hand in Hand: Essentials of Communication and Orientation and Mobility for Your Students Who Are Deaf-blind, Volume 1, New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Linder, T. (1990) Transdisciplinary play-based assessment: a functional approach to working with young children. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.

In order to provide quality and meaningful assessment of individuals with visual impairment, it is critical that we present information concerning issues related to visual impairment in the context of theoretical constructs of tests and measurement. Understanding of this dual framework allows assessment of students with visual impairment in a manner that will lead to improvement in quality of instruction and facilitate identification of other issues that may be impacting the student's ability to learn.

Confusion Regarding Validity

The difficulty of assessing students with instruments that are not "valid" for students with visual impairments has been the focus of recent concerns. This concern appears to be based upon confusion regarding the definition of "validity" and "normative" samples. Guidelines given to assessment and VI staff at the local district must clarify the definitions of each of these terms in order for staff to make the best possible decision regarding selection of instruments.

Validity is a statistical concept that focuses upon the extent to which an instrument measures the skill that it purports to measure. This is a separate issue from the normative sample. Determining whether an instrument is "valid" is a judgment that must be made jointly between the assessment and VI staff. Such a decision can. only be made by looking at the extent to which this instrument is providing us with useful and accurate information regarding the student's ultimate performance.

Our experience has been that some instruments do provide us with this type of information regardless of the inclusion of children with visual impairments in the normative sample. These assessments can present an accurate and useful overview of the student's abilities in this areas. They must, however, be completed with careful adherence to recommended modifications in administration and interpretation that are sensitive to the unique needs of the student with visual impairment.

Continued training must occur with assessment personnel at the local level to assist them in identifying those instruments that do provide a good basis of information. In addition, we must provide VI staff with concise information about modifications in test procedures and interpretation that allow for quality assessments.

Problems With Over-Identification

There are specific handicapping conditions that seem likely to be over-identified within a population with visual impairments. Assessment personnel are not always familiar with some of the specific developmental issues that may be associated with visual impairment and may, in fact, identify a secondary-handicapping condition that does not exist as a separate condition. An example of this would be the presence of autism in a student with congenital visual problems. Another would be the presence of a learning disability in a student that is the result of a change in learning medium.

We must provide clear guidelines to assessment personnel regarding ways that secondary handicapping conditions can be differentiated from the issue of vision. TSBVI has begun efforts to develop specific procedures for differential diagnosis in these areas that we perceive as needs. We are committed to assisting in the appropriate diagnosis of secondary handicapping conditions in order to provide quality instruction that is sensitive to all needs of the student.

Problems With Under-Identification

Contact with local personnel suggests that many issues are often under-identified by assessment procedures. Admission to gifted and talented programs are often denied to students with visual impairment because of specified testing procedures. For example, many districts continue to rely upon measures of creativity that concentrate upon visual-spatial skills. Flexibility of assessment procedures for gifted and talented seem to be quite limited in a variety of districts in Texas. Information and observation indicate that students with visual impairments are likely to be under-represented in gifted and talented programs throughout the state.

The diagnosis of learning disabilities also is an area that has presented difficulties in UNDERIDENTIFICATION. TSBVI is again in the process of developing procedures and guidelines for accurately determining the presence of learning disabilities within a population of visual impaired students. Such guidelines will be available to local districts in order to assist them in identifying this population and in providing appropriate educational services within their local district.

Confusion Regarding Roles of the Assessment and VI Staff

The process of the Comprehensive Individual Assessment of a student with a visual impairment. It requires a collaborative approach that ensures that both the teacher of students with visual impairments and assessment staff confer about their respective areas of expertise with a mutual goal of quality assessment. The teacher of students with visual impairments must provide specific information about the individual child and modifications that must be made. In addition, they must be clear in specifying the unique impact that visual impairment has upon general patterns of development and learning. This professional exchange between teachers of the visually impaired and assessment staff is critical in ensuring that the assessment represents a valid estimate of overall strengths and needs of the individual child.

 

This document is a Resource for the Expanded Core Curriculum. Please visit the RECC.

A Selected List of Assessment Instruments and the Type of VI Student for Whom they are Most Appropriate (in my humble opinion)

Test or Subtest

What it assesses

Type of VI Student

WISC - R  -  Verbal Subtests

Intelligence (IQ)

Age appropriate, low vision and functionally blind students in the Fully Independent, Semi-Independent, and Functional Skills categories.

WISC - R  Performance Subtests

Intelligence (IQ)

Moderately low vision students (20/100 or more, and no significant field losses) in the Fully Independent, Semi-independent, and Functional Skills categories. Even with these students, results should be reported only in a way to shed light on problem solving skills.

VINELAND ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR SCALES

Adaptive behaviors (e. g. social skills, daily living skills, etc.)

 

 

 

STANFORD ACHIEVEMENT TEST

Learning competencies (achievement)

Low vision and functionally blind students, ages 8-16, who fall into the Fully Independent, Semi-independent, and Functional Skills categories.

WOODCOCK-JOHNSON PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL TEST BATTERY- REVISED

Learning competencies (achievement)

Functionally blind and low vision students, ages 6-22, who fall in the Fully Independent, Semi-Independent, and Functional Skills categories. Beware of pictures, especially for moderate to severe low vision students or those with significant  central field losses.

SPACHE DIAGNOSTIC READING SCALES

Learning competencies (achievement) in specific reading skills

Low vision and functionally blind students in the Fully Independent, Semi-independent, and Functional Skills categories. 

In my humble opinion, this test is well suited to almost any academic VI student. I particularly like to use it with braille readers.

KEY MATH ARITHMETIC TEST

Learning competencies (achievement) in mathematical and measurement skills

Low vision and (with some concrete adaptations such as adapted clocks, adapted measuring devices, etc.) functionally blind students, ages 6-22) in the Fully Independent, Semi-Independent, and Functional Skills categories. 

This test is easy to administer, and affords a good opportunity to assess the way VI students go about solving problems as well as providing a grade level on performance.

PEABODY INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT TEST

Learning competencies (achievement)

Moderately low vision (probably 20/100 or better with no significant central field losses) who are 5-22 years of age in the Fully Independent, Semi-Independent, and Functional Skills categories. 

I really like this test for students who can see, but it's reliance on lots of pictures makes it VERY difficult for functionally blind students.

WIDE RANGE ACHIEVEMENT TEST REVISED (WRAT)

Learning competencies (achievement); has a reputation for being a fast, "down and dirty" way to assess kids.

The increments in level of difficulty between the items on this instrument make tend to make it very  conceptually difficult for students with visual impairment. 

These huge "steps" often make it difficult to accurately interpret scores. 

Low vision and functionally blind students in the Fully Independent and Semi- Independent categories. Be sure that the appropriate level (Level I or 2) is used for your student.

TEST OF WRITTEN SPELLING

Learning competencies in spelling

Low vision (probably 6-22 years) and functionally blind students (probably 7-22, with good braille intervention) in the Fully Independent, Semi-Independent, and Functional Skills categories.

This document is a Resource for the Expanded Core Curriculum. Please visit the RECC.

Tests Specific To Visually Impaired

Test Name

Age Range

Content Areas

Strengths

Weaknesses

Type

Oregon Project for Visually Impaired & Blind Preschool Children (Anderson, Boigon, & Davis, Revised 1986)

0 - 6 years

  • Cognitive
  • Language
  • Self-help
  • Social
  • Fine Motor
  • Vision
  • Compensatory-(Skills that totally blind don’t learn without specific instruction)
  • Yield domain & subdomain scores
  • Designed for children with visual impairments
  • Includes teaching activities
  • Initially developed for visually impaired children who had no additional physical or mental disabilities
  • No criteria for individual items
  • Within yearly grouping, items may be out of sequence
  • Some items do not necessarily have relevance

Criterion-Referenced and Curriculum based

Maxfield-Bucholz Scale of Social Maturity for Preschool Blind Children (Maxfield & Bucholz, 1957)

0 - 6 years

Social Maturity

  • Standardized on children with visual impairments
  • Easily administered
  • Based on Vineland Social Maturity Scale
  • Standardized over 30 years ago
  • Not designed for use with children with other needs

Standardized Interview

Reynell-Zinkin Scales: Developmental Scales for Young Visually Handicapped

(Reynell, 1979)

2 months -4 - 5 years

  • Social Adaptation
  • Sensori-Motor Understanding
  • Exploration of Environment
  • Responses to Sound & Verbal Comprehension
  • Vocalization & Expressive
  • Language (Structure)
  • Expressive Langage,
  • Vocabulary & Content

Includes domains unique to visually impaired (i.e., Exploration of Environment and Orientation and Mobility Skills)

Poor standardized:

  • only 109 VI children
  • questionable criteria for “blind” and “visually impaired”
  • includes 21 children with multiple impairments

  • Low ceilings resulting in inflated scores
  • British terminology unfamiliar

Standardized on Visually Impaired and Partially Sighted

Simmons-Davidson Developmental Profile (SDDP) (Simmons & Davidson, 1992)

No specific ages given

  • Context of Health Care
  • Context of Care giving
  • Context of Intervention
  • Developmental Profile:
    • Self-help
    • Motor development
    • Orientation and Mobility
    • Exploration/play
    • Perception
    • Cognition
    • Language
  • Created to meet the unique developmental and assessment needs of young blind children recognizes that visually impaired children do not constitute a standardized group
  • Equal emphasis is given to the child and context “child as explorer” and “environment as mediator”
  • A supplement book is provided that describes the development of blind children.
  • Effective if only given by clinician well versed in typical and atypical child development and in the unique development of young blind children
  • Must be used with other scales since there are no scores provided

“Investigative”

Cullier-Azuza

(Stiffman, 1982)

0 - 9 years

  • Motor
  • Perceptual
  • Daily living 18 Sub-scales
  • Language
  • Socialization
  • Assesses deaf-blind & multihandicapped
  • Useful for targeting instructional objectives
  • Based on observations over time
  • Designed for use with children in center-based program
  • More useful after age 2 years

Curriculum-based

Tests Not Specific To Visually Impaired

Test Name

Age Range

Content Areas

Strengths

Weaknesses

Type

Battelle Developmental Inventory (Newrorg, Stock, Wnck, Guidubalkdi & Suinick, 1984)

0 - 8 years

  • Personal Social
  • Adaptive
  • Motor
  • Communication
  • Cognitive
  • Standardized with good reliability and validity
  • Permits credit for emerging skills
  • Adaptations are compensatory
  • Adaptations for handicapped are post-
  • Inappropriate for totally blind or severe visually impaired
  • Lengthy administration time
  • No credit adjustments for severely handicapped

Standardized

Learning Accomplishment Profile (LAP)

(Lemay, Griffin & Stanford, 1981)

0 - 6 years

  • Fine & Gross Motor
  • Language
  • Cognitive
  • Self-help
  • Social
  • Easy format
  • Items are age-normed
  • Items are developmentally sequenced
  • No adaptations for visually impaired or physically handicapped
  • Assessment fairly lengthy
  • Score sheet profile is tedious

Criterion-referenced

Early-Learning Accomplishment Profile (E-LAP)

Standford, 1982)

0 - 3 years

  • Fine & Gross Motor
  • Language
  • Cognitive
  • Self-help
  • Social
  • Emotional
  • Easy format
  • Items are age-normed
  • Items are developmentally sequenced
  • No adaptations for visually impaired or physically handicapped
  • Assessment fairly lengthy
  • Score sheet profile is tedious

Criterion-referenced

Carolina Curriculum for handicapped Infants (Johnson-Martin, Jens, & Attermeier, 1986)

Carolina Curriculum for Preschoolers with Special Needs (Johnson-Martin, Attermeier, Hacker, 1990)

0 - 2 years

3 - 5 years

  • Cognitive
  • Language
  • Social
  • Self-help
  • Fine motor
  • Gross motor
  • Cognition
  • Communication 25 Sub-scales
  • Social Adaptation
  • Fine Motor
  • Gross Motor
   

Criterion-based and

Curriculum-based

Hawaii Early Profile

Et al,1979)

0 - 3 years

  • Cognitive
  • Language
  • Gross motor
  • Fine motor
  • Social
  • Self-help
  • Good visual representation over time
  • Assists in translating findings into goal
  • Scoring criteria unclear
  • Not standardized
  • No adaptations for visually impaired or physically handicapped

Curriculum-based

Carla Brown/Anne Taylor
Governor Morchend Preschool
301 Ashe Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27606
(919)733-0533
7/15/94

This document is a Resource for the Expanded Core Curriculum. Please visit the RECC.


BY Kathleen Appleby, M.A.

NAME_______________________________ AGE_______ DATE_________

RESPONDENT’S NAME__________________ PHONE_____________________

A one year old child with "normal" visual development can accurately fixate with aligned eyes, smoothly shift gaze, converge eyes to 3" from the nose, and smoothly follow moving objects with no head movement. Acuity continues to improve as the retina matures.

Please complete the above and check any area below that pertains

APPEARANCE

___One eye turns in or out

___Closes an eye or tilts head for near tasks

___Red eyes or lids, or crust on eyelids

___Excessive blinking or tearing of eyes

NEAR & DISTANCE VISUAL ACUITY

___Holds things close to eyes

___Needs to sit close to television to watch it

___Thrusts head forward when looking at distance

LOW CONTRAST SENSITIVITY

___Needs more light to read than expected

___Doesn’t see soil spots on clothes or on counters

___Reads print but can’t see the bus on cloudy days

VISUAL FIELDS

___Difficulty with step downs

___Bumps into things

___Doesn’t read to the end of a sentence before going to the next

ADAPTATION TO LIGHTING CHANGES

___Pauses when coming indoors on sunny days

___Slow adjustment to lighting changes, night travel difficulties

EYE TRACKING

___Head moves instead of eyes when reading or looking at pictures

___Loses place when reading and skips lines

___Needs to use finger as a line marker

___Difficulty solving maze puzzles, i.e., word searches

EYE-TEAMING

___Fatigues during near visual tasks, short interest span

___Difficulty judging where things are in space

___Difficulty following flight of a ball

___Math errors due to misalignment of numbers

___Tires easily, inattentive, poor concentration

Information provided by VISION ASSOCIATES
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