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Winter 2002 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

What Schools May Not Know About a Student with a Visual Impairment

By Jean Robinson, Family Specialist, TSBVI, VI Outreach

Your child may be the only student, or the first student, in your school district with a visual impairment. It is critical for you to be informed, so you can share information about your child's unique needs with the professionals on his or her educational team. As a member of that team, one of your roles is to gather information and bring it to the table.

There are specific additional requirements in developing an IEP for a student with a visual impairment. The Full Individual Evaluation (FIE) must include an eye report by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. To meet minimal compliance with federal regulations, state law, and State Board of Education rules, the following information must be addressed: visual acuity (Exact measure of corrected visual acuity at distance and near in each eye should be noted. The eye specialist must state if exact measures cannot be obtained, then give a best estimate.); visual field (exact measure or best estimate of visual field); diagnosis (type of visual impairment); prognosis; statement of severity of loss (i.e., the student has no vision or has a serious loss after correction). The (FIE) must also include a Functional Vision Evaluation (FVE) conducted by a certified Teacher of the Visually impaired (TVI) or a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), and a Learning Media Assessment (LMA) developed by a certified TVI.

At every IEP or IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan for children under the age of three) meeting, a document such as the "Supplement for a Student with a Visual Impairment" should be discussed. This will describe in detail the arrangements made for instruction in braille, large print, orientation and mobility, compensatory skills, and access to special media. It also addresses strategies for instruction in daily living/self help skills, social skills, career readiness, auditory/listening skills, and self-advocacy.

The following checklist was developed in Pennsylvania by The National Agenda for Blind and Visually Impaired Youths Including those with Additional Disabilities. It incorporates some of the unique needs of students with visual impairments. These items are not appropriate for every student but should be considered for all students. You may also want to read "The Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Including those with Additional Disabilities," by Dr. Phil Hatlen, Superintendent at TSBVI. It can be found at http://www.obs.org/napa/goal8.htm. From there you can link to the "Parent IEP Checklist for Expanded Curriculum Topics to Consider for Inclusion in Your Child's IEP" (shown below), or go directly to http://www.obs.org/napa/parentchecklist.htm.

Parent IEP Checklist for Expanded Curriculum
Topics to Consider for Inclusion in Your Child's I.E.P. 

Communication/Learning Skills/Materials Needed to Access All Areas of the Core Curriculum

Orientation and Mobility - Ability to Know Where You Are and to Move Safely in the Environment

Social Interaction - Ability to Effectively Interact Socially with Others

 Independent Living Skills - Ability to Manage Daily Living Tasks

Recreation and Leisure - Skills Needed to Participate in Recreation and Leisure Activities

 Career Education - Opportunity to Learn First-Hand About Work

Visual Efficiency Skills - Ability to Utilize Functional Vision

Developed by National Agenda - Pennsylvania
The National Agenda for Blind and Visually Impaired Youths, Including Those With Additional Disabilities

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Last Revision: July 30, 2002