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Fall 2009 Table of Contents
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By Jim Durkel, Outreach Teacher, Coordinator of VI Registration and Deafblind Census, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Abstract: the author discusses the VI registration and the deafblind census and answers frequently asked questions.

Keywords: visually impaired, deafblind, census, Texas, demographics

Every year Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired conducts two counts of students for the Texas Education Agency. The largest of these counts is the Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments, or as it is known across the state, the VI Registration. The second count is the Deafblind Census. These counts are important for a variety of reasons.

The VI Registration results in reports that help with the distribution of textbooks in large print, Braille, or audio. The VI Reg also is the basis for a report that goes to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). This report generates Texas about $1.5 million dollars annually in funds that can be used to purchase special materials created by APH to support the education of students with visual impairments.

The Deafblind Census serves as the basis of a report that impacts the amount of Federal money Texas qualifies for to run the Texas Deafblind Project. That technical assistance team receives about $.5 million each year to provide school consultation, local, regional, and statewide training for families and professionals, and production of this quarterly publication, TX SenseAbilities.

Both the VI Registration and the Deaf-blind Census are used by a variety of state and national agencies to look at trends and to assist in planning on how best to meet the needs of Texas students with visual impairments, including those with deafblindness.

To help prepare for these up-coming counts, we would like to answer some frequently asked questions.

Why are there 2 counts and how are they different?

There are 2 counts because they are looking at slightly different types of students. Some students may be on one count but not the other.

The VI Registration is the largest with over 8,000 students. It is a count of all students who have a visual impairment or deafblindness as a handicapping condition. It is a count of all students, birth through 21 years of age, who receive services through an IFSP or IEP from a teacher of students with visual impairments.

The Deafblind Census is smaller with just over 700 students. It is a count of students who meet a Federal definition of deafblindness and who may or may not have an IEP that lists visual impairment and auditory impairment or deafblindness as a handicapping condition. Most, but not all, students on the Deafblind Census are also counted on the VI Registration. However, there are some students who may be eligible for inclusion on the Census but not be included on the VI Registration. For example, a student with Usher Syndrome who is not yet showing much if any field loss should be on the Deafblind Census, but might not be carried on the VI Registration.

The VI Registration asks several specific questions about reading media and visual ability. The Deafblind Census asks specific questions about classroom setting in addition to information about auditory and visual abilities.

The VI Registration is mandated to be a “snapshot” of students as of the first Monday in January. The Deafblind Census is mandated to be a “snapshot” of students on December 1.

Is it important to put eligible students on both counts?

Yes, it is important to put eligible students on both counts. The information collected is different and the reports go to different agencies.

Should babies, served together by the local school district and eci, be counted?

Yes, if a baby is receiving services from a teacher of students with visual impairments and/or a teacher of students with auditory impairments and meets the criteria for inclusion on the either or both the VI Registration and Deafblind Census, they must be included on the count. Ideally the baby would have a PEIMS number and be registered with the local school district, but this is not necessary for reporting the student on either of these counts.

What is parent consent and Why is it important?

Parent consent is needed for TSBVI to share information with various agencies. If we can’t share the information, this can lead to a decrease in the amount of funding the State of Texas receives from Federal agencies. Without consent, information used for planning can’t be shared, which may mean that your child’s particular needs don’t get recognized and addressed.

The parent consent form can be found at .

Why do expired eye reports matter?

Every 3 years, the IEP team meets to look at assessment data and decide what new assessment data is needed to support eligibility and programming. One of the pieces of information is the eye medical report from an ophthalmologist or optometrist. If an eye medical report is older than 3 years, it is considered expired unless during the Review of Existing Evaluation Data (REED) an eye medical report older than 3 years is accepted as current. This process of accepting a past evaluation as current may be referred to as “bringing forward”.

Legally blind students with expired eye reports do not generate Federal funds for adapted materials from the American Printing House. To be considered current, an eye report must be no more than 3 years old or have been brought forward.

It is important to remember that vision loss is caused by a medical condition. Medical evaluations are an important part of the evaluation process for a student with visual impairments or deafblindness and should not be treated lightly.

When should use of assistive technology (at) be reported?

Use of assistive technology is reported on both the VI Registration and the Deafblind Census. These are the definitions of assistive technology and assistive technology services from IDEA 2004:

  • Section 300.5 “The term ‘assistive technology device’ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.”
  • Sec. 300.6 “Assistive technology service means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.”

Under these definitions, AT could include, but is not limited to: any materials in Braille or large print; recorded or electronic books; the use of special paper to eliminate glare and improve contrast; bold line paper; tactile graphics; a Little Room; a light box; adapted toys such as the APH Tangle Toy; experience books; adapted switches; a white cane; adapted mobility aids; CCTV; any magnifier or telescope; or screen reader. It is easy to see how almost every student with a visual impairment or deafblindness would be using something that counted as assistive technology.

We look forward to counting all of your children, and appreciate your help in completing these efforts every year. If you have any questions or concerns about either the Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments or the Deafblind Census, feel free to contact Jim Durkel at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, .