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During the 2003-2004 school year, education consultants and itinerant teachers completed a survey regarding the Expanded Core Curriculum and how vision teachers are presently meeting the needs of students in Connecticut. The goal of the survey was to find out what is currently happening specifically with regard to Goal #8 of the National Agenda, not necessarily what should happen or will happen in the future. Answers reflected what vision teachers were currently doing with their caseload.

In Connecticut, there are two models for delivery of services to visually impaired students. Education consultants work out of one centralized state agency, Board of Education Services for the Blind (BESB). Contractors who work for Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) are similar to BESB education consultants where they are hired by an agency not a town. For the purposes of the survey, BESB education consultants and CREC contractors have been grouped together. The second group in our survey is made of teachers of the visually impaired who are itinerant teachers hired directly by a town or a group of towns.

Comparisons were made between the two groups of teachers throughout the survey to determine if differences were evident between the two models.

Amount of Time in IEP

BESB/CREC Teachers for Braille Students

Elementary School
Direct: 3 hours weekly
Consult: 2 hours weekly
Middle School
Direct: 2 hours weekly
Consult: 1 hour weekly
High School
Direct: 1 hour weekly
Consult: 1 hour weekly

Itinerant Teachers for Braille Students

Elementary School
Direct: 4 hours weekly
Consult: 2.6 hours weekly
Middle School
Direct: 3.2 hours weekly
Consult: 2.3 hours weekly
High School
Direct: 3.3 hours weekly
Consult: 2 hours weekly

Direct Services Activities for Print and Auditory Readers

Six Activities with Highest Percentages
  BESB/CREC % ITINERANT %
1 Functional Vision 28 Adaptive Equipment 24
2 Low Vision Aids 15 Tutoring 15
3 Adaptive Equipment 14 Organization Skills 9
4 Transition 11 Low Vision Aids 8
5 Organization Skills 10 Functional Vision 8
6 Social Skills 4 Transition 8
Six Activities with Lowest Percentages
  BESB/CREC % ITINERANT %
1 Tape Recorder 4 Social Skills 6
2 Tutoring 3 Listening Skills 5
3 Listening Skills 2 Tape Recorder 5
4 Daily Living Skills 1 Daily Living Skills 5
5 Handwriting 1 Handwriting 4
6 O&M 1 O&M 3
Consultation Activities for Print and Auditory Readers
  BESB/CREC % ITINERANT %
1 Consult w/ staff 38 Consult w/ staff 24
2 Observing student 26 Observing student 17
3 Para Training 12 Lesson Preparation 15
4 Consult w/ Parents 11 Consult w/ parents 14
5 In-service Training 7 Materials Preparation 12
6 Lesson Preparation 6 Para Training 12
  Materials Preparation 1 In-service Training 7

Direct Service Activities for Braille Readers

Direct Service Activities for Braille Readers
Six Activities with Highest Percentages
  BESB/CREC % ITINERANT %
1 Teaching Braille 54.33 Teaching Braille 38.5
2 Adaptive Tech 16.6 Tutoring 16.21
3 Organizational Skills 7.25 Adaptive Tech 11.71
4 Vision Portfolio 5.09 Organizational Skills 6.21
5 Social/Recreation 5.09 Listening Skills 5.85
6 Daily Living 4.6 Transition 5.38
Direct Service Activities for Braille Readers
Five Activities with Lowest Percentages
  BESB/CREC % ITINERANT %
1 Transition 3.72 Social/Recreation 5.38
2 Tutoring 3.5 Tape Recorders 3.92
3 Tape Recorders 3.4 Daily Living Skills 3.8
4 O&M 2.11 O&M 3.33
5 Listening Skills .22 Vision Portfolio 2.5

 

Consultation Activities for Braille Readers

Consultation Activities for Braille Readers
  BESB/CREC % ITINERANT %
1 Para Training 32.75 Consult w/ Staff 24
2 Consult w/ Staff 22.25 Materials Prep 21.21
3 Lesson Prep 14.25 Lesson Prep 18.38
4 Observation 13.81 Para Training 17.53
5 In-service Training 7.27 Consult w/ Parents 10
6 Consult w/ Parents 6.25 Observation 9.85
7 Materials Prep 6.22 In-service Training 8.66

Expanded Core Curriculum

BESB education consultants answered a series of questions regarding the services their students receive in different areas of the expanded core curriculum. These questions addressed the following: orientation and mobility, social skills, independent living skills, recreation and leisure, technology, and career education.

In the area of orientation and mobility, 83% of BESB consultants and 53% of itinerants reported they have students receiving O&M instruction. About 50% of respondents in both groups reported they have students who probably need mobility, but currently are not receiving the services.

More than 80% of consultants and itinerants reported they assist in writing social goals and 85% of respondents refer their students to other social resources. 17% of BESB consultants and 11% of itinerants feel there are social resources their students need but they do not have access to them.

Regarding independent living skills, 17% of BESB consultants felt their professional preparation program provided them with the skills and techniques necessary to teach them, 40% of itinerants felt they received adequate training. 75% of both groups reported that they assist in writing ADL goals. 67% of respondents in both groups also report parents participate in ADL instruction and about 80% reported other team members also assist in this instruction.

In the area of recreation and leisure, 33% of BESB consultants routinely assess these skills while 53% of itinerants reported they do. The same percentage of BESB respondents reported their students have recreation and leisure goals and 40% of itinerants reported their students also have similar goals.

There was a large discrepancy in responses regarding technology. Only 17% of BESB consultants feel qualified to teach adaptive technology, whereas 73% of itinerants do. 78% of education consultants and 100% of itinerants feel their students have access to a qualified technology instructor. 42% of BESB consultants and 80% of itinerants reported they teach touch typing skills to their students.

Regarding career education, more than 80% of itinerants and education consultants reported their students are receiving transition services. 100% of BESB respondents and 73% of itinerants reported their transition age students have transition goals in their IEPs. One half of BESB respondents and 27% of the itinerants reported their transition age students have participated in at least one job shadowing experience. Out of those respondents, the BESB consultants reported 80% of their students have had job shadowing experiences through vocational rehabilitation and the school/community and the itinerants reported 75% of their students have done it through vocational rehabilitation and 50% through the school/community.

BESB consultants and itinerant teachers were also asked to answer a list of questions regarding outside resources used to assist with meeting students needs.

All BESB consultants and 40% of itinerant teachers reported they use the Perkins Outreach and Carroll Center programs. 92% of consultants and 53% of itinerants utilize the services of outside evaluators with expertise in blindness. 83% of consultants and 33% of itinerants have enrolled support staff in the Braille class for paraprofessionals. Nearly all consultants and itinerants have utilized the BESB in-service trainings for teachers and paraprofessionals.