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Summer 2001 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

A "Cheat Sheet" for New Teachers of the Visually Impaired Working with Infants

By Nancy Toelle, Coordinator, Quality Programs for Students with Visual Impairments and Ann Rash, Teacher Trainer, TSBVI, VI Outreach

One of the factors that makes working with students with visual impairments an interesting undertaking is the range of ages we serve in Texas. Teacher of the Visually Impaired's (TVI) work with visually impaired students from birth to age 22. Each age has its own considerations, rewards, and concerns. This article will outline a beginning approach to providing services for infants.

The first step in providing educational services for any student is determining eligibility. Eligibility criteria differ for infants. They are eligible based on the existence of a documented eye condition and suspicion of future VI needs rather than on current demonstrated needs. Eligibility is decided by the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) team based on assessments and the wishes of the family. IFSP = Individualized Family Service Plan and is equivalent to the IEP, but differs radically in content. If an infant is eligible for vision services, be sure to go through the typical enrollment procedure for your district. It is important for your district's funding that they are included in PEIMS and are on the TEA Annual Registration of Students who are Visually Impaired.

The TVI's role in determining eligibility

Working in coordination with ECI agencies, TVIs participate in the referral process, and are part of the IFSP team. We work within their system as an adjunct to their services.

How the role of the TVI working with infants differ from the role with students aged 3-22

The TVI's role in developing an IFSP

The TVI's role in providing services to family and infant

Resources helpful to TVIs

Tips from old teachers to new ones

If this is the first infant you've become involved with, seek assistance from a mentor teacher. If one is not available, keep in mind that every TVI has a long list of firsts in his or her career: first braille student, first student with severe multiple disabilities, first gifted low vision student, first adaptive technology user, AND first infant. You will feel inadequate, but competency will develop over time. One of the hallmarks of successful TVIs is that we seek out resources, conduct research to find answers to pressing questions, and feel comfortable taking responsibility for jumping in and doing things we've never done before. The determination to willingly accept that responsibility is critical to developing the array of skills needed by a typical itinerant TVI.

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Last Revision: September 2, 2003