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Fall 2003 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

The Evolution of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the 21st Century

Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Abstract: A discussion of the on-campus activities at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Key Words: TSBVI, blind, deafblind, programs

In the last issue of See/Hear, I presented a general picture of the evolution of schools for the blind. In this issue and the next, I will describe how the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has evolved as we begin the 21st century.

While other schools for the blind have changed their focus in other ways, TSBVI continues to consider an on-campus educational program that offers either day or residential placement as one of its highest priorities. This is based on a need for such a program, as expressed by local districts and parents throughout the state. Such a program offers definite advantages for students.

On-Campus Programs

TSBVI currently has programs in place, with highly skilled and experienced staff to provide educational experiences that include:

Individualized academic and practical curriculum

Career education

Self-esteem

Extra-curricular activities

Education for challenging students

Summer programs

Short classes

This list provides examples of what TSBVI continues to offer to students in their on-campus, residential program. There are two movements of note in the evolution of this program. First, it is rare for a student to stay at TSBVI for more than three years. When a student is admitted to TSBVI, the local school district is informed that we will provide educational services based on specific needs of individual students. These needs are determined by the parents and local school district. When those needs are met, it is our intention to transition the student back to her local school. Second, please note that there is little reference to academic subjects in the list of services above. This is because local schools have become quite good at adapting and offering appropriate academic subjects. Reasons for referral to TSBVI are almost always for educational needs that are not related to academic courses.

However, over time it has become clear to many professionals that there are some academic subjects that are particularly difficult for braille-reading students. These are science, mathematics, and geography. Much of the learning material for these subjects is in spatial format, and braille is most efficient when read in a linear manner. TSBVI is beginning to offer algebra, geometry, biology, general science, and geography for students from local schools who cannot get these classes in an accessible manner in their local school district.

There are strong and compelling reasons why TSBVI must continue to be available for all blind and visually impaired students in the state as a campus-based program. There are programs the school has to offer that may not be available locally, or are difficult to adapt for these students. Local school districts, the parents, and TSBVI must work together to assure a shared partnership in the responsibility for the education of blind and visually impaired students in Texas.

There are a variety of ways in which TSBVI serves students in the state, and on-campus educational programs are just one. In the next See/Hear issue, many other services of TSBVI will be presented.


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Last Revision: September 1, 2010