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My doctor says my baby is "legally blind", what am I supposed to do?

Luckily, there are many resources for families whose children have visual impairments:

  1. at 1-800-250-2246 or http://www.dars.state.tx.us/ecis/index.shtml. Federal and state laws state that all babies from birth to 3 years with a suspected vision or hearing loss are eligible to receive early intervention services in their home or, at the parents' request, in another childcare setting. These services include but are not limited to services from a teacher of the visually impaired, a teacher of the hearing impaired, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists, depending on your child's individual needs. Initial assessments and your Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) are developed within 45 days of referral.
  2. With parental permission, ECI refers your child to the local school district to receive the services of the teachers of the vision and hearing impaired. The certified teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) is trained in helping you to understand the impact of a visual impairment and appropriate strategies to encourage your child to grow and learn. An assessment of your child's use of vision in her daily life, called a Functional Vision Evaluation, must be completed by this teacher and considered by the team when the IFSP is developed. More information about the Functional Vision Evaluation (also know as the functional vision assessment) is available at www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/winter99/fva.htm.
  3. (formerly known as Texas Commission for the Blind) (TCB) office. You may contact them at 800-252-5204 or http://www.dars.state.tx.us/. A specialist with the Blind Children's Vocational Discovery & Development Program can assist you in finding appropriate services and resources for your family.
  4. You may also contact your Educational Service Center (ESC) to learn of local resources such as your Special Education Director and your Regional Consultant for children with visual impairments and deafblindness.

Where will my child go to school?

Placement issues will vary according to the age of your child.

At age 3 your child will be provided all educational services through your local school district. The school district will evaluate your child and become responsible for all instructional and related services. An Individual Education Plan (IEP) will replace the IFSP as a guide for all special education services. These services are discussed and reviewed at an Admission, Review, or Dismissal into special education (ARD) meeting. These services may be offered in various public school settings such as the Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) or the Pre-K classroom or in a private childcare setting such as a church sponsored Parent's Day Out or Head Start program. Eligible students age 3 or 4 years old have the right to "dual enroll" in both the public and private school and continue until the end of the school year in which the student turns five years of age. More information about preschool placements is available at tea.texas.gov/special.ed/preschool/.

Special education services may be provided in many ways and many settings. You and the IEP team will determine what option is best for your child, including a regular classroom with his or her non-disabled peers, a self-contained or resource classroom, or a homebound placement if medical issues prevent the child from safely attending a public school setting. The child may also be served beginning at age six at the Texas School for the Bind & Visually Impaired or other specialized program that you and your ARD team determines is the least restrictive environment.


Where can I learn Braille?

If your child is a braille reader, it is recommended that you also learn this code in order to help your child with homework and to have a written method of communication. Hadley School for the Blind at 800-323-4238 offers a variety of correspondence courses for family members without charge.

Contact the Vision Consultant at your Regional Educational Service Center to express your interest as some ESCs coordinate braille instruction within their region. Your local Lighthouse for the Blind and Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) may also be a resource.

Where can I learn sign language?

Contact your local ESC, Regional Day School Program for the Deaf & Hearing Impaired, your Special Education Director, community college, or local church to learn about available classes.

Where can I learn my rights?

The laws are posted on several websites such as:

Advocacy information, training and support is available at:

. This paper outlines many legally required provisions for your child's educational program and is available on-line at our OSERS web page.

Where can I find other parents with blind or deafblind children?

There are over 6,000 children eligible for special education services as visually impaired in Texas. Nearly 700 children are registered as deafblind through the Texas Deafblind Census. Although both visual impairments and deafblindness represent low incidence populations, there are a variety of resources to help connect you with other families. Here are a few:

Also, there are on-line discussion rooms for families:

Where can I meet blind and deafblind adults?

Contacting teens and adults with visual impairments may help you in raising your child. As your child grows older, he or she may like to meet others facing the same challenges. Here are a few options:

What other supports are available?

The state and federal government have designed several kinds of assistance directed specifically to people with visual impairments. You may not need all of these services, but it is wise to explore your options. Look under the government pages in your local phone directory to locate local addresses and phone numbers of regional offices for federal, state, and county programs. Your Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) Children's Specialist is a great person to talk with concerning information on any of the resources listed below.

Do you have more questions or concerns?

TSBVI Outreach offers family support and assistance. You may contact us:

  • Jean Robinson (family support for families with children who are visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities) 512-206-9418 or .
  • Edgenie Bellah (family support for families with children who are deafblind) 512-206-9423 or