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By Karl R. White, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

Editor's note: In Texas we have made great strides implementing newborn infant hearing screening as a result of The Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999. We thought you might be interested in knowing more about the importance of early hearing loss detection and intervention, as this program, like many others, will be scrutinized when budgets are drawn up in Washington DC and in Texas. If you have questions or would like to know more about this issue, please contact Karl White in Logan, Utah, at .

Background

Hearing loss continues to be the most common birth defect in America. The Newborn Infant Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 1999 (as introduced by Representative James Walsh), was incorporated as Title VI of the Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Act of 1999, and signed into law. This law has enabled federal funds for state grants to develop infant hearing screening and intervention programs. Congress also identified several specific goals to address the problem of hearing loss in children through the Children's Health Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-310), including early hearing screening and evaluation of all newborns, coordinated intervention and rehabilitation services, and ongoing applied research to better understand the learning and developmental needs of deaf or hard-of-hearing children.

Since 1999, the number of states requiring statewide newborn hearing screening by law or voluntary compliance has increased from 11 to 41 states and the District of Columbia. While progress is being made, there is still a long way to go. Only 67% of babies are now screened for hearing loss before 1 month of age (up from only 20% in 1999). To date, over half of the newborns who do not pass the hearing screening are lost to follow-up. Moreover, over half of the infants diagnosed with hearing loss are not enrolled in early intervention programs by 6 months of age.

Over the last three years, there has been more grant applications than funding available, which underscores the need to extend federal funding. Currently, 44 states and 3 territories (out of 50 states and 9 territories) have received HRSA competitive grants for the purpose of implementing statewide EHDI programs. Since these grants have only been operational for 6 months to 2 years, a dedicated source of funding is critical at this time to ensure that state programs become fully operational, successful and properly link screening programs with diagnosis, early intervention and the child's medical home.

Only 30 states have received CDC cooperate agreement grants over the last two years (15 states in FY2000 and another 15 states in FY2001) to assist them in developing strong surveillance and tracking systems. These systems are needed to ensure follow-up and coordination of early intervention services for young children identified with hearing loss. States also face multiple challenges in transferring information about children diagnosed with hearing loss among service providers, the state EHDI programs and early intervention programs.

Facts on Hearing Loss in Children

Everyday in the United States, approximately 1 in 1,000 newborns (or 33 babies every day) is born profoundly deaf with another 2-3 out of 1,000 babies born with partial hearing loss, making hearing loss the number one birth defect in America. (National Center on Hearing Assessment & Management website 2002, Centers for Disease Control website, 2002)

Newborn hearing loss is 20 times more prevalent than phenylketonuria (PKU), a condition for which all newborns are currently screened. (Grosse, 2001).

Of the 12,000 babies in the United States born annually with some form of hearing loss, only half exhibit a risk factor _ meaning that if only high-risk infants are screened, half of the infants with some form of hearing loss will not be tested and identified. (Harrison & Roush, 1996) In actual implementation, risk-based newborn hearing screening programs identify only 10-20% of infants with hearing loss. (Elssmann, Matkin, & Sabo, 1987) When hearing loss is detected beyond the first few months of life, the most critical time for stimulating the auditory pathways to hearing centers of the brain is lost, significantly delaying speech and language development.

Only 67% of babies are now screened for hearing loss before 1 month of age (up from only 20% in 1999). Of the babies screened, only 56% who needed diagnostic evaluations actually receive them by 3 months of age. Moreover, only 53% of those diagnosed with hearing loss are enrolled in early intervention programs by 6 months of age. (National Center on Hearing Assessment website, 2002) As a result, these children tend to later re-emerge in our schools' special education (IDEA, Part B) programs.

When children are not identified and do not receive early intervention, special education for a child with hearing loss costs schools an additional $420,000, and has a lifetime cost of approximately $1 million per individual. (Johnson et al, 1993)

National Recommendations on Early Hearing Detection & Intervention

The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, 2000) and U.S. Public Health Service's Healthy People 2010 health objectives (Healthy People 2010 website, 2002) recommend that all newborns be screened for hearing loss by 1 month of age, have diagnostic follow-up by 3 months, and receive appropriate intervention services by 6 months of age.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Panel in 1993 recommended hearing screening of all newborns. The consensus report concluded that the best opportunity for achieving this goal is provided by the development of hearing screening programs for newborns in hospital nurseries or in birthing centers, prior to discharge. (National Institutes of Health, 1993)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2001 concluded that universal newborn hearing screening does lead to earlier identification and treatment. However, there were not enough clinical studies of sufficient size and strength to evaluate long-term outcomes. While the preponderance of anecdotal evidence and clinical research indicates that EHDI provides substantial benefit, additional clinical outcome studies and clinical trials are needed. (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website, 2002)

Methods and Costs for Newborn Hearing Screening

Advances in technology for newborn hearing screening at most birthing hospitals have allowed for cost containment, with current charges ranging from $25 to $60. The cost of identifying a newborn with hearing loss is less than one-tenth the cost of identifying newborns with PKU, hypothyroidism, or sickle cell anemia, which are screened for in nearly every state. (Grosse, 2001)

Two types of electrophysiologic procedures are used to screen newborns singly or in combination:

  • Auditory brainstem responses (ABR) are measured by placing sensors on the baby's head. Sound is then introduced to the baby's ears through tiny earphones while the child sleeps. A computer allows brainwave activity to be recorded to indicate whether the ear and auditory brainstem pathway are responding to sound. This test is painless and takes only about 5 minutes.
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) are faint sounds produced by most normal inner ears. The sounds cannot be heard by people, but can be detected by very sensitive microphones that are placed in the ear canal. During testing, a tiny flexible plug is inserted into the baby's ear and sound is then projected into the ear through the plug. A microphone inside the plug records the otoacoustic emissions that the normal ear produces in response to the incoming sound. Testing is also painless, takes about 5 minutes to complete, and can be done while the baby sleeps.

Benefits of Early Hearing Detection and Intervention

Infants identified with hearing loss can be fit with amplification by as young as 4 weeks of age. With appropriate early intervention, children with hearing loss can be mainstreamed in regular elementary and secondary education classrooms. (Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, 2000) Recent research has concluded that children born with a hearing loss who are identified and given appropriate intervention before 6 months of age demonstrated significantly better speech and reading comprehension than children identified after 6 months of age. (Yoshinaga-Itano & Apuzzo, 1998 and Yoshinago-Itano et al, 1998)

Even mild hearing loss can significantly interfere with the reception of spoken language and education performance. Research indicates that children with unilateral hearing loss (in one ear) are ten times as likely to be held back at least one grade compared to children with normal hearing. (Bess, 1985, Bess, 1998, and Oyler et al, 1988) Similar academic achievement lags have been reported for children with even slight hearing loss. (Quigley, 1978) Children with mild hearing loss miss 25-50% of speech in the classroom and may be inappropriately labeled as having a behavior problem. (Flexer, 1994)

Recent clinical studies indicate that early detection of hearing loss followed with appropriate intervention minimizes the need for extensive habilitation during the school years and therefore reduces the burden on the IDEA Part B program. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website 2002 and Ross 2001) In contrast, a 30-year Gallaudet study revealed that half of the children with hearing loss graduate from high school with a 4th grade reading level or less. (Gallaudet Research Institute website, 2002)

References

Bess, F. The minimally hearing-impaired child. Ear and Hearing, 1985; 6:43-47.

Bess, F., Dodd-Murphy, J. and Parker, R. Children with minimal sensorineural hearing loss: prevalence, educational performance, and functional status. Ear and Hearing, 1998; 19(5) 339-354.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/ehdi-programs.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program. What is EHDI? http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/ehdi/ehdi.htm.

Elssmann, S.A., Matkin, N.D. and Sabo, M.P. Early identification of congenital sensorineural hearing impairment. The Hearing Journal. 1987; 40(9):13-17.

Flexer, C. Facilitating hearing and listening in young children. San Diego, CA: Singular; 1994.

Gallaudet Research Institute. Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition, Form S, Norms Booklet for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students; Washington, DC: Gallaudet University; 1996, http://gri.gallaudet.edu/Literacy.

Grosse, S. Cost comparison of screening newborns for hearing impairment and biochemical disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Paper presented at the Newborn Screening and Genetics Conference, May 2001.

Harrison, M and Roush, J. Age of suspicion, identification and intervention for infants and young children with hearing loss: a national study. Ear and Hearing. 1996; 17:55-62.

Healthy People 2010: Volume II (second edition), http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/document/html/objectives/28-11.htm.

Johnson, J.L., Mauk, G.W., Takekawa, K.M., Simon, P.R., Sia, C.C.J. and Blackwell, P.M. Implementing a statewide system of services for infants and toddlers with hearing disabilities. Seminars in Hearing. 1993; 14:105-119.

Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. Year 2000 position statement: principles and guidelines for early hearing detection and intervention programs. American Journal of Audiology. 2000; 9:9-29. http://www.jcih.org/

National Center on Hearing Assessment and Management. http://www.infanthearing.org/

National Institutes of Health. Early identification of hearing impairment in infants and younger children. National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD; 1993.

Newborn hearing screening: recommendations and rationale. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD; 2001 http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/3rduspstf/newhearrr.htm.

Oyler, R., Oyler, A. and Matkin, N. Unilateral hearing loss: demographics and educational impact. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools; 1988; 19:201-209.

Quigley, S. Effect of hearing impairment in normal language development. Pediatric Audiology, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall; 1978.

Ross, M. Performance of hard of hearing children _ academic achievement. Our Forgotten Children - Hard of Hearing Pupils in the Schools, Third edition; Bethesda, MD, Self Help for Hard of Hearing People; 2001; 28-30.

Yoshinaga-Itano, C. and Apuzzo M.L. Identification of hearing loss after 18 months of age is not early enough. American Annuals of the Deaf. 1998; 143(5):380-387.

Yoshinaga-Itano, C., Sedey, A.L., Coulter, B.A. and Mehl, A.L. Language of early and later-identified children with hearing loss. Pediatrics. 1998; 102:1168-1171.

These resources have been compiled from various schools and districts around the country and may not be formatted to conform to Texas State guidelines for IEP goals.

Additional Items requested. Send to Jim Allan

Abacus (26K)

Braille (52k)

Braille Reading (21K)

Braille Writing (20K)

CCTV (36k)

Computer Curriculum (22K)

Consultative (20K)

Digital Talking Books

Listening Skills (32K)

Listening Skills #2  (42k)

Longhand Writing (21K)

Magnifier Skills (20K)

Monocular Skills (20K)

Orientation & Mobility (69k)

Orientation & Mobility (with some VI) (485k) New July 2008

Organizational Skills (43k)

RFBD Skills (Talking Book Machine) (19k)

Self Advocacy Skills (44k)

Slate and Stylus (20K)

Slate and Stylus #2  (47k)

Social Skills  (25k)

Tactual Skills (27K)

Technology (41k)

Typing Curriculum (21K)

Visual Functioning (35k)

The following goals and objectives were prepared to be placed in a commercially available IEP preparation program. There are a few numbering errors. The codes required in the program mean the labeling of each objective will not be repeated.

Files for each of the expanded core curriculum areas are represented. The compensatory objectives are divided into braille and low vision just to manage their large numbers.

The materials come from many places including a few of my favorite objectives. Please use them as you would like. The idea was for you to not have to develop something that has already been done.

Career Vocational (55k)

Compensatory Braille(38k)

Compensatory Low Vision (36k)

Independent Living - Personal Management (152k)

Orientation & Mobility #2 (80k)

Recreation and Leisure (36k)

Social Interaction (66k)

Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans – The Alliance of and for Texans (AVIT) is trying to grow its email listserv to ensure fast notification to those interested in its upcoming legislative efforts. Many legislative actions have very short notice, so fast communication is critical. This AVIT Listserv will be the primary means of sending information related to a bill AVIT is working on requiring O&M evaluations for all students being considered for eligibility as visually impaired. Sometimes we have less than 24 hours notice that an action is about to occur.  In addition, the AVIT Listserv provides a way to communicate on a variety of issues related to consumers and professionals who are visually impaired, blind, or deafblind.

A-Z Deafblindness - A long list of listservs and other great resources.

CouponChief.com’s Retail Savings Guide for People with Disabilities provides a detailed look at ways those with disabilities can stretch their dollars. Discounts, services, and special offers for people with disabilities are widely available, but very few businesses will mention their willingness to help simply because the risk of offending someone is just too big to risk saying something. Managing a disability can be tough, but you don't have to handle it all by yourself. The bottom line is: if you can save money, why not do it?

Family Matters blog - TSBVI blog for families.

Finding Wheels - There is a new listserv called finding_wheels that is a discussion venue for people to talk about transportation issues for children and young adults with vision impairments and strategies to assist young people in exploring their transportation options. The listserv is an extension of the curriculum Finding Wheels which Dr. Penny Rosenblum and Dr. Anne Corn co-authored. They wanted to set up a place where people who are using Finding Wheels or working with students on transportation issues could share ideas. To join the listserv send a message to . In the message write "subscribe finding_wheels, your e-mail address First Name Last Name." If you would prefer to send a message directly to Penny at , she would be happy to sign you up for the listserv.

Jewish Guild Healthcare - This organization provides a variety of information and support to parents of children with visual impairments, but you may want to check out their tele-support (conference calls) around such topics such as Cortical visual impairment, Retinopathy of prematurity, Leber Congenital Amaurosis, Autism spectrum disorders and visual impairment, Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome, CHARGE Syndrome, and Achromatopsia.They also offer groups for high school students planning to attend college and for the sighted siblings of blind and visually impaired children. - See more at:http://www.guildhealth.org/Parent-Tele-support.

Lista de Correo (listserv) Encontrando Ruedas - Hay una nueva lista de correo (listserv) llamada finding_wheels (encontrando ruedas) la cual es un área de discusión para que la gente platique sobre cuestiones relacionadas con el transporte de niños y jóvenes adultos con impedimentos visuales así como estrategias para ayudar a los jóvenes a explorar sus opciones de transporte. El listserv es una extensión del plan de estudios Finding Wheels (encontrando ruedas) que escribieron las doctoras Penny Rosenbum y Anne Corn. Querían establecer un lugar donde pudiera compartir ideas la gente que está usando Finding Wheels o trabajando con alumnos cuestiones de transporte,. Para suscribirse a esta lista de correos envíe un mensaje a . En el cuerpo del mensaje escriba “subscribe finding_wheels, su dirección de correo electrónico Nombre Apellido.” Si lo prefiere puede enviar un mensaje directamente a Penny a , a ella le encantará suscribirlo a la listserv.

Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired Distance Learning videos - View videos on a variety of topics related to visual impairment and deafblindness.

Hereditary/Chromosomal Syndromes and Disorders

101 Aicardi syndrome

102 Alport syndrome

103 Alstrom syndrome

104 Apert syndrome (Acrocephalosyndactyly, Type 1)

105 Bardet-Biedl syndrome (Laurence Moon-Biedl)

106 Batten disease

107 CHARGE association

108 Chromosome 18, Ring 18

109 Cockayne syndrome

110 Cogan Syndrome

111 Cornelia de Lange

112 Cri du chat syndrome (Chromosome 5p- syndrome)

113 Crigler-Najjar syndrome

114 Crouzon syndrome (Craniofacial Dysotosis)

115 Dandy Walker syndrome

116 Down syndrome (Trisomy 21 syndrome)

117 Goldenhar syndrome

118 Hand-Schuller-Christian (Histiocytosis X)

119 Hallgren syndrome

120 Herpes-Zoster (or Hunt)

121 Hunter Syndrome (MPS II)

122 Hurler syndrome (MPS I-H)

123 Kearns-Sayre syndrome

124 Klippel-Feil sequence

125 Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome

126 Kniest Dysplasia

127 Leber congenital amaurosis

128 Leigh Disease

129 Marfan syndrome

130 Marshall syndrome

131 Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome (MPS VI)

132 Moebius syndrome

133 Monosomy 10p

134 Morquio syndrome (MPS IV-B)

135 NF1 - Neurofibromatosis (von Recklinghausen disease)

136 NF2 - Bilateral Acoustic Neurofibromatosis

137 Norrie disease

138 Optico-Cochleo-Dentate Degeneration

139 Pfieffer syndrome

140 Prader-Willi

141 Pierre-Robin syndrome

142 Refsum syndrome

143 Scheie syndrome (MPS I-S)

144 Smith-Lemli-Opitz (SLO) syndrome

145 Stickler syndrome

146 Sturge-Weber syndrome

147 Treacher Collins syndrome

148 Trisomy 13 (Trisomy 13-15, Patau syndrome)

149 Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome)

150 Turner syndrome

151 Usher I syndrome

152 Usher II syndrome

153 Usher III syndrome

154 Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome

155 Waardenburg syndrome

156 Wildervanck syndrome

157 Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome (Trisomy 4p)

199 Other __________________________

Pre-Natal/Congenital Complications

201 Congenital Rubella

202 Congenital Syphilis

203 Congenital Toxoplasmosis

204 Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

205 Fetal Alcohol syndrome

206 Hydrocephaly

207 Maternal Drug Use

208 Microcephaly

209 Neonatal Herpes Simplex (HSV)

299 Other_______________________

301 Asphyxia

302 Direct Trauma to the eye and/or ear

303 Encephalitis

304 Infections

305 Meningitis

306 Severe Head Injury

307 Stroke

308 Tumors

309 Chemically Induced

399 Other _______________________

Related to Prematurity

401 Complications of Prematurity

Undiagnosed

501 No Determination of Etiology

 

Marnee Loftin, TSBVI Psychologist

Prior to beginning the assessment, Texas regulations require that consultation between the teacher of the visually impaired and assessment professional must occur. Oftentimes it is difficult to make this consultation a meaningful process. Both groups are highly trained professionals, but generally the base of information will vary tremendously between these two groups. It is unlikely that assessment staff in a public school will have much experience or information about the special issues associated with students with visual impairments. Training in assessment of special education students is likely to focus upon those disabilities that occur at a much higher incidence, such as mental retardation or emotional disturbance. Conversely, the teacher of the visually impaired may have a great deal of information about criterion-referenced assessment, but little information about standardized testing procedures. Recommendations for modifications must be tempered with knowledge regarding what modifications would be inappropriate within the standards for assessment.

To assist in making the consultation process a meaningful one, it is important that information be provided in a consistent manner. For each student that is being assessed, it is important that the teacher of the visually impaired provide specific information in the following areas:

BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT THE VISUAL CONDITION AND MODIFICATIONS

  • An overview of the visual condition and specific educational implications 
  • A copy and discussion of the most recent functional vision and low vision reports 
  • Specific suggestions for modification of the testing environment 
  • Any low vision aides or adaptive devices that are required 
  • The learning media assessment

This information is certainly available in a variety of reports found in the student's folder. However, a brief discussion is critical to ensure clear understanding of this information as well as the way in which it impacts assessment.

In addition to the information about the specific student, there is general information regarding interpretation of test results for students with visual impairments will be of benefit to the assessment professional. Future information to be on the Website will give more information about interpretation.

AREAS OF CONCERN

Three issues often emerge as most problematic during these consultations. Misunderstanding can result in over-identification of additional disabilities, inappropriate administration of standardized tests, and inadequate recommendations for an individual educational plan. These issues are lack of understanding about unique developmental patterns of students with congenital blindness, confusion about the needs of a student with low vision, and decisions about modifications of testing materials and procedures.

UNIQUE DEVELOPMENTAL PATTERNS OF STUDENTS WITH CONGENITAL BLINDNESS

Assessment staff who do not work regularly with young children with congenital blindness are often overwhelmed by many of their behaviors. The echolalic language, self-stimulatory behaviors, and egocentricity of their interpersonal skills are not seen as a part of the developmental process. It is more often seen as of diagnostic significance in determining the presence of pervasive developmental disorders. It is important that the assessment professional see this as a frequent concomitant to blindness particularly when accompanied by other disabilities or in very young children with severe visual impairments. Such behaviors should be noted and techniques should be recommended to deal with these behaviors. However, great caution should be used in identifying autism/pervasive developmental disorders as a separate disability. Prior to working with a young child who exhibits these behaviors, it is important that the teacher of the visually impaired stress that these behaviors are frequently seen in the young child with congenital blindness. Certainly some students with visual impairment also exhibit a type of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. This must be ascertained as a result of multiple assessments and observations rather than during a single evaluation. However, it is critical that this be a discussion during the initial consultation rather than a disagreement after assessment is completed.

MISUNDERSTANDING REGARDING THE NATURE OF LOW VISION

Low vision and the accompanying difficulties associated with it may be one of the most difficult concepts for people outside of the vision field to understand. To some extent this is because vision is seen as a process of either being " able to see something" or "not being able to see something." Problems such as field losses, visual efficiency, visual fatigue, problems with figure-ground relationships are often not considered. Therefore assessment staff may make a decision that a student is able to "see well enough" to complete certain items on a test. The student may, in fact, have the ability to see some of the items...on some of the occasions...for some of the time! However, the efficiency of the visual processing of information becomes the overwhelming task during the assessment. Conclusions that can be drawn about other aspects of the assessment become increasingly tentative as the struggle to efficiently perform becomes more critical for the student.

Thus it is important that the visual efficiency factor be carefully considered in choosing a test. The teacher of the visually impaired should stress that the behaviors observed on a playground or even in performing a few items on the Block Design subtest of the WISC may not necessarily be a good indicator of performance in other areas. Any instrument that is visually based should be administered with caution only if absolutely necessary. Clinical reporting of performance rather than actual use of scores always is a more functional use of these types of instruments.

MODIFICATIONS OF INSTRUMENTS

Each child with a visual impairment is legally entitled to each modification specified by the ARD Committee. The modifications must be made during the instructional day as well as during any assessment. On the surface the decision regarding modifications seems to be an easy task that could be accomplished through a simple review of the folder. However the task is much more complex and involves clear consideration of the following variables:

  • What is the purpose of the assessment
  • How will the assessment data be used
  • What individual issues for the student should be considered

REVIEW THE PURPOSE OF THE ASSESSMENT 

We generally think of assessments in a very general manner. They are seen as a means for assisting in "developing the individual educational program" for a child. Within this general framework, there are a number of different purposes. We may want to determine "how well a child is reading" but our concerns may focus a variety of skills used in reading. For example, our concerns may focus upon exploring their sight vocabulary, determining the speed at which they are reading, determining the comprehension level in different content areas or any other number of variables. Our recommendations for the modifications in the assessment process must begin with a careful look at our purpose. Unfortunately, in some instances, the modification specified by the ARD Committee will impact our ability to measure the area of concern.

Some modifications will, in fact, make a particular type of assessment meaningless. For example, a student may be an auditory learner and use oral instructions in the classroom.. A measure of the student's comprehension of concepts in social studies could be conducted orally. However, a measure of reading skills could not be conducted according to these specific modifications. A portion of reading abilities, i.e. comprehension could be measured in such a manner and remain meaningful. The other areas of reading skills would be invalid information if such modifications were made. In cases where invalid information would be gathered, it is always more appropriate to exempt a student from a particular assessment.

REVIEW THE WAY IN WHICH THE ASSESSMENT DATA WILL BE USED

Individual assessments have not only a specific purpose. They also often have a specific way in which they will be used. For example, information from an assessment of reading skills may be used as a source of data regarding whether a student should be served in a content mastery class or in a regular classroom with support. This should also be considered in determining the modifications. If the primary concern is to determine an approximate grade level of reading for instruction, an untimed test is highly appropriate. However, if the purpose is to determine if the student can be served in a regular classroom, some realistic limitations of time should be imposed. All members of the ARD Committee should realize that some statement of "outer limits" of time for task completion is a powerful means of determining efficiency. This is a critical factor in determining supports needed for an individual student as well as classroom placement. If statements of outer limits of time and smaller numbers of time will result in an invalid test, then it is likely most appropriate that the students be exempted from this test.

INDIVIDUAL ISSUES

In some instances, it is simply most reasonable that the student be exempted from certain tests because of individual issues that are present at that time. This is most likely seen when a student is making a change of mediums. It is certainly much more appropriate that these students be assessed in future years once they have mastered the new medium. However, it is important that realistic expectations be developed for a time frame for such mastery. Continuing exemptions year after year because of changes in mediums is inappropriate.


Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) Home and Community-Based Services - a link to a variety of programs through DADS.

Department of Assistive and Disabilities Services - Early Childhood Intervention (DARS-ECI) - ECI is a statewide program for families with children, birth to three, with disabilities and developmental delays. ECI supports families to help their children reach their potential through developmental services. Services are provided by a variety of local agencies and organizations across Texas.

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Division of Blind Services (DARS-DBS) - The DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) assists blind or visually impaired individuals and their families. Depending upon their goals and needs, DBS offers services to help regain independence or find a job.

DBS staff work in partnership with Texans who are blind or visually impaired to get high quality jobs, live independently, or help a child receive the training needed to be successful in school and beyond. DBS envisions a Texas where people who are blind or visually impaired enjoy the same opportunities as other Texans to pursue independence and employment, and our mission is to work in partnership with Texans who are blind or visually impaired to reach their goals.

Our Vocational Rehabilitation Program is designed for adults whose visual condition limits their ability to begin or continue work. As part of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, the Division for Blind Services has services for individuals who are deafblind.

As part of our commitment to helping individuals find work, our Business Enterprises of Texas program provides employment opportunities.

The Independent Living Rehabilitation Program assists adults who are blind or visually impaired to learn adaptive skills to continue to live independently with vision loss.

The Blind Children's Vocational Discovery and Development Program assists children who are blind and visually impaired to develop their individual potential. Emphasis is on restoring vision, reducing dependency, and preparing for vocational success.

The Transition Program, which is part of our Vocational Rehabilitation services, provides educational and career guidance for adolescents and young adults.

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services-Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services - The DARS, Division for Rehabilitative Services, Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS) works in partnership with people who are deaf or hard of hearing to eliminate societal and communication barriers to improve equal access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. DHHS advocates for people of all ages who are deaf or hard of hearing to enable them to express their freedoms, participate in society to their individual potential, and reduce their isolation regardless of location, socioeconomic status, or degree of disability.

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services - Deaf Blind with Multiple Disabilities Program - The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has a program that helps people who are deaf and blind with multiple disabilities become more communicative and independent.

Department of State Health Services (DSHS) - Child and Adolescent Mental Health Resources -

DSHS Children’s Mental Health serves children ages 3 through 17 with a diagnosis of mental illness (excluding a single diagnosis of substance abuse, mental retardation, autism or pervasive development disorder) who exhibit serious emotional, behavioral or mental disorders and who:

  1. Have a serious functional impairment; or
  2. Are at risk of disruption of a preferred living or child care environment due to psychiatric symptoms; or
  3. Are enrolled in a school system’s special education program because of serious emotional disturbance.

Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) - The mission of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities is to create change so that all people with disabilities are fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

Texas Education Agency - Special Education Index by topic is a great place to find answers to any of your special education questions.

Legal Framework for the Child Centered Special Education Process (TSBVI county district # 227905)

Educating Students with Blindness Educational Guidelines and Standards

by Elaine Kitchel, Research Scientist
American Printing House for the Blind                             

  1. Consider using natural light, incandescent light, or a mix of lighting technologies as employed by the Robinspring 32 lamp whenever possible for task lighting. This light should be directed below eye level.  For those who are light sensitive, bright or direct natural light should be filtered through UV blocking film or tinted glass, usually of a clear, amber, or pink color.
  2. Avoid fluorescent light when possible.  If it cannot be avoided, then use warm white tubes (F32SPX30) or the Robinspring 32 lamp.  Try to avoid cool white or blue-white tubes, and the Ott light completely.  The ultra-violet and blue light produced by these often causes photostress and headache in persons with low vision, which results in diminished endurance and capacity to work.
  3. If you have normal vision and must work under cool fluorescent light and suffer from late-day headache or eye strain, then it could be helpful to wear UV filter glasses to filter out the harmful ultraviolet,  violet and blue light waves emitted by the tubes overhead.  For indoor use most people prefer clear or light yellow glasses of the type made  by NoIR, Corning or SolarShield.  The light plum or new filter color "topaz" is preferred by persons with retinal problems. It is also helpful in many cases to supplement your fluorescent light with a soft pink incandescent bulb and fixture, to reduce glare and harshness, or you can use the Robinspring 32 which offers new technology in fluorescent lighting that is very friendly to persons with vision problems. The Lighthouse Sore
  4. For visual comfort and glare reduction, avoid white or blue walls.  The best wall colors are pink, peach, and warm beige.  Textured walls are better than smooth, shiny ones.  Put up posters or wall hangings to soften highly-reflective areas.
  5. Desk lamps, spot lamps, track lighting fitted with warm white, pink (Sylvania or GE), or peach (Phillip's) bulbs are all good choices for office or decorator lighting. Though the bulbs are painted pink or peach so that you may find them in the store, they do not actually put out pink or peach light, but rather they put out light from the part of the spectrum which is long-wavelength light and is much easier on the eyes. 
  6. Computer users may benefit from the use of glare filters. Effort to eliminate blue or white monitor work screens whenever possible should prove helpful.  These screen colors emit quantities of ultra-violet rays which cause the retinas to work very hard. This light produces glare and strain.  If possible, screens should be adjusted to black, or pastels, with contrasting letters or graphics. Low vision users usually benefit from a black screen with bright yellow or pink letters or graphics.  Computer users who are visually impaired, even those who use UV screen filters, are advised to wear clear or light yellow filter glasses when working at the computer.
  7. For best results, print memos and letters on pink or other pastel paper.  This reduces glare and makes your document more readable.  Studies have also shown that people are more receptive to information printed on paper of warm colors.

American Association of the Deaf-Blind - The American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB) is a consumer membership organization of, by and for people with combined vision and hearing loss. Membership is available to any person with a vision and hearing loss, as well as supporters such as family members, professionals, and interpreters.. TXDBA's mission is to bring people who have hearing and vision loss, their families, friends, and professionals together to understand hearing and vision loss and to cope by supporting each other.

American Council of the Blind - The American Council of the Blind strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life, for all blind and visually-impaired people.

American Council of the Blind of Texas - The American Council of the Blind of Texas, Inc. (ACBT) was organized in Waco in 1978 as an affiliate of The American Council of the Blind (ACB). The mission statement of ACB states that the American Council of the Blind “strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.” ACBT subscribes to this mission statement and works to be an advocacy organization and positive, proactive support system to Texans who are blind or visually impaired. Our state motto is TEAM – Together Everyone Achieves More. Although the majority of members are blind or visually impaired, sighted persons who share the common goals and interests of our organization are also welcome to join. ACBT currently has ten chapters and six special interest affiliates.

Association of Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) - The mission of AER is to support professionals who provide education and rehabilitation services to people with visual impairments, offering professional development opportunities, publications, and public advocacy.

Charge Syndrome Foundation - The mission of the CHARGE Syndrome Foundation is to provide support to individuals with CHARGE syndrome and their families; to gather, develop, maintain and distribute information about CHARGE syndrome; and to promote awareness and research regarding its identification, cause and management.

Deaf-Blind International (DbI) - The Deaf-Blind International is the world association promoting services for individuals with deafblindness.

Learning Ally - The world's largest provider of audio text for individuals who have disabilities impairing their access to print.  This organization now has a lot of information and training for parents on their website.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability - This organization promotes and advocates for improvement of physical health and participation in regular physical activities for people with disabilities.

National Federation of the Blind - Founded in 1940, the NFB advocates for the civil rights and equality of blind Americans, and develops innovative education, technology, and training programs to provide the blind and those who are losing vision with the tools they need to become independent and successful.

National Federation of the Blind of Texas - The Texas chapter of NFB.

National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) - NOAH is an organization that offers information and support to people with albinism, their families and the professionals who work with them.

Optic Never Hypoplasia / Septo-Optic Dysplasia Focus Families - Provides information, support and networking for families of individuals with Optic-Nerve Hypoplasia and Septo-Optic Dysplasia.

Texas Association of Blind Students - TABS is a membership organization devoted to the advancement of blind students of all ages. Since its inception in 1990, TABS has worked on multiple levels to encourage the equal participation of blind individuals in all functions of society. Through instructional seminars, state and national conventions, legislative action, social events, and literature, we strive to promote independence and self-advocacy. The organization operates as a whole under the principle that inside and outside the classroom blind students are fully capable of leading normal productive lives. In order to reinforce this belief, it is necessary to view the change within blind students themselves. Thus, our ongoing objective is to work in conjunction with the National Association of Blind Students (NABS) and to a larger extent with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to build a sturdy foundation of useful skills, solid confidence, and raw determination so that we may in turn show the public that blindness is not the limitation it is thought to be. In essence, the primary goal of TABS is to follow its parent organizations in changing what it means to be blind.

Texas Deaf-Blind Association Texas Deaf-Blind Association (TXDBA) is an organization for people who live in Texas with combined hearing and vision loss. Our members are deaf-blind, deaf with low vision, hard of hearing with any kind of vision loss, family members, friends, interpreters, support service providers (SSPs), and professionals who work with people with combined hearing and vision loss

University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics •

 

10/20, 5/100 +1, 20/200 –2, 10/200, CF (counts fingers), HM (hand motion), 1M @ 6”

How do you make sense of these visual acuities?
Why are different numbers used for the numerator?
What about near acuity and working distance?

What follows will help you sort out the numbers game we call visual acuity testing.

First, it is important to know that standard projection acuity charts have no acuity levels between 20/100 and 20/200 and 20/200 and 20/400. There is only one 200 and one 400 letter available on these charts. Therefore, standard Snellen charts are only useful if the visual acuity is 20/100 or better.

For individuals with visual impairments, the number of letters per row and the relative spacing between letters and between rows can cause substantial variation in visual acuity scores. The visual acuity charts normally used by low vision practitioners have 5 letters on each line and allow for incremental testing of visual acuity from 5/200 (20/800) to 20/100 or better. Additionally, projected charts are not suitable for testing individuals with visual impairments because they do not provide the contrast or adjustment in range of luminance that is available with printed cardboard or trans-illuminated charts. Finally, projected charts lack flexibility of printed charts to change the testing distance in order to measure poorer acuities.

When testing visual acuity, the chart being used should be noted and the number of correct responses on each line should be recorded such as 20/20–2 or 20/40 +2. 20/20 –2 indicates that the individual was able to read all but 2 of the letters on the 20/20 line. 20/40 +2 indicates that the individual was able to read all of the 20/40 line and 2 letters on the next smaller line.

Many individuals with visual impairments require reduced observation distance and the practitioner should be aware that changing observation distance can influence the acuity score obtained. For example, an individual who can see a 20/10 line of letters at 2’ (2/10=20/100), would likely see significantly worse at a 20’ test distance.

In this way, 2/10 is not the same as 20/100. When faced with a visual acuity measurement that has a numerator other than 20, you simply need to divide the numerator into 20 and then multiply that number with the denominator. For example, for the visual acuity 5/40, divide 20 by 5=4 and then multiply 40 by 4=160.

Therefore 5/40=20/160, 10/50=20/100 and 4/50=20/250.

“Counts fingers” should never be used as a visual acuity measurement because this acuity notation requires know-ledge of the size of the tester’s hand, and what test distance they used, for this measurement to be meaningful over time. With the Designs for Vision Acuity Chart, visual acuities can be tested to the 1/200-20/1400 level.

If an individual is unable to see a large test letter or symbol brought towards them at any distance, but could see the examiner’s hand moving, a visual acuity of hands motion would be recorded indicting gross object and motion perception without detailed discrimination. The farthest distance at which the patient can see hand motion should be noted (e.g. HM@ 2’).

If a person is only able to locate the direction of light, he is said to have light perception with projection and is capable of using it for localization and orientation. Light perception with projection should be tested in at least 8 quadrants.

Light perception means the generalized, rather than localized perception of light. Individuals with light perception cannot localize the direction of the light but can tell whether a light is on or whether it is daylight or dark. A person may be considered completely blind when no exogenous light is seen.

Near visual acuity recording should specify both the observation distance and the size of the smallest print that may be read (e.g. 0.8M @ 4”). The preferred method for measuring print size is in M units. 1M newsprint, 2M= large print (18 point). It is common, although inappropriate; to express print size as a reduced Snellen equivalent, a fraction that expressed the equivalent distance vision acuity required to read that particular print when it is viewed from 40 centimeters (16”). This method becomes clearly inappropriate when the viewing distance is other than 40 centimeters, which is usually the case for an individual with a visual impairment. Also, the Jaeger system should never be used to measure near acuities because of its well-known lack of standardization.

Near visual acuity measurements with reading charts often serve as a basis for determining the magnification that an individual with a visual impairment might require to satisfactorily perform a complex task at near.

Distance visual acuity measurements are much less reliable for this purpose. Finally, once a single letter or word acuity has been recorded, the individual’s continuous text reading ability should also be tested.

 


Sherri D. Lyle ● Facilitator, Mentorship Support Services ● New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Three C's to Greater Independence

by Jay Stiteley, Field Representative, The Seeing Eye, Inc

These materials will focus on suggestions a student with a visual impairment may benefit from when wanting to achieve a greater level of independence. The three C's are:

  • College, in the broadest sense of the word, providing suggested methods for securing, scheduling, and maximizing both readers and tapes.
  • Computers, with the emphasis being on solid, basic skills and what might be appropriate skills and needs to possess before acquiring equipment.
  • "Cane-nine," importance of having good, solid O&M skills and when is it appropriate to consider the use of a dog guide.

It is becoming more and more evident that advanced education/training from high school is necessary for an individual to become employed. This advanced training is not just limited to college, but rather any program that offers advance training in any field.

Computers and technology are here to stay and if a person with a visual impairment wants employment, it is essential that they can operate computer access equipment for their respective visual impairment.

Cane-nine - It is also imperative for the individual to be able to travel to the employment site, whether they use a cane or dog guide.

These are not separate skill areas, but rather interrelated. Each can stand alone separately, but when combined, presents a much stronger and more complete person.

College

Planning and organization are the most important keys to being successful when in college and ultimately when employed. This planning and organization needs to begin in high school or hopefully earlier, especially being organized.

Books and Readers

All of the following will assume that a student will be going on to some type of college, whether it be a community college for the associates degree, a college or university for a bachelors, or to a technical school to develop a trade skill. All or part of these materials will be applicable.

Books on Tape

By the end of the student's sophomore year he/she should be able to:

  • Order their own tape recorded books from Recording For the Blind and Disabled (RFB&D). In some high schools this may be required each semester, but in college it will definitely need to occur.
    Subordinate Skills:
    • Telephone etiquette. Can the student use long distance directory assistance? Do they know how to place a long distance call, understand about toll free numbers, or how calling cards operate and who pays for them?
    • Does the student know all the questions to ask RFB&D, i.e., membership number, fees required, what information does RFB&D require for them to locate the proper book(s)?
    • Ability to approach respective instructors to request the necessary information for obtaining the books.
    • Do they have a method for recording the information, braille, skills, large print writing, portable note taking device, or tape recorder, etc.?
    • Do they know the deadlines of both the school and RFB&D for when books can be ordered and still arrive on time for the beginning of school? (colleges usually have a later deadline then RFB&D.)
  • Does the student know of alternative tape recording sources? Research skills, means of developing a resource file.
    Subordinate skills:
    • Means of developing a method of imputing of material and retrieving that same material in an organized fashion.
    • Braille reading and writing skills,
    • Large print reading and writing skills,
    • Use of a file box and ensuring that the materials are readable from within the box and not having to pull each card out separately for reading purposes (braille in particular}. Suggestion: Using a braille file card system requires rolling the file card all the way into the braille writer, advance it out to the stop, then write the name, (last, then first) then roll the card in manually one line, place phone number or address next depending which will be used more frequently. then place the card in the file box with the braille to the back of the box, and the name of the organization being the last part of the card into the box. This allows the braille readers fingertips to curl over the back edge of the card to read the name with the file card remaining in the box.
    • Portable notetaking system, in the student's respective learning media or possibly in a database on a desk top computer. (See Computers section for more details about computer skills.)

Readers

Locating readers

  • Announce in the class that you need readers, offer that there is minimal pay or volunteer positions are sought. I suggest terms like "advertising for a reader" or "hiring several readers" etc., not "I need a reader" or "I want someone to read to me" the latter two sound like you are less in control and are desperate or have lack of self-confidence.
  • Post advertisements on dormitory or cafeteria bulletin boards, school newspaper, or make announcements at dorm meetings, sororities and fraternities on campus that require community service work as part of the membership, etc.
  • Contact outside sources from the college community, such as senior citizen centers, volunteer organization, or the Delta Gamma sorority. Readers from outside of the college setting will not be as affected by mid term and final exams as the college based readers.

Scheduling Readers

  • Schedule readers for no more than one hour blocks without a break, this is for their reading and your listening readiness.
  • Always provide some type of liquid refreshment for the reader.
  • Do not rely on one or two readers, have at least five or more. This allows for flexibility, fall back options if a reader cancels.
  • Some reader may be better in specific subjects than other.
  • A reader only working one hour will be less likely to quit then a reader that is responsible for several hours, feeling less overwhelmed.
  • Arrange readers in their areas of knowledge or major to maximize their ability to describe or explain graphs, maps, etc.
  • Separate your reading session by at least ten minutes.
  • Physically move around during the rest period between readers.
  • Try to establish a consistent hour and day that someone reads to you,
  • Do not date your readers.
  • Minimize the amount that you rely on family for reading. The reason is that there is a tendency to have higher expectations of family members, but a much lower patience level.
  • Arrange time to develop a level of rapport with the reader at the beginning once you have hired or selected them as a volunteer.
  • Try to gain an understanding of what motivates your reader to the process of being a reader, so that you are sure their needs are being met, especially with a volunteer reader.
  • Some reader's schedules will not match with yours. Provide them with a print copy of the book, a tape recorder, and the syllabus and indicate how many days ahead of the syllabus date you need the tape version to allow yourself time to read the tape.
  • When selecting readers always have a practice reading session for you may find that some people do not read aloud very well.

Hired versus Volunteer Readers

Hired readers offer:

  • More control over becoming sidetracked from the reading assignments for you can remind the reader that the meter is running for their reader fee.
  • Choice of releasing a reader if they are not working out or making scheduled appointments.
  • With hired readers the motivation may be clearer, versus volunteer readers.

Computers

The following will provide a series of questions and checklists that will address equipment, skills, and abilities that need to be considered when obtaining computer access equipment.

The primary point to remember is: Technology does not replace basic skills. It can only enhance those basic skills.

General Questions

  • What does the user need?
  • What tasks will be performed?
  • Why does the user want it?
  • Does the user have the skills to use the device?
  • What are the warranty/repair/extended service terms and costs? (on site/off site).
  • Is the documentation in an accessible form? Is telephone help available? Is there on line help?
  • Is there training available?
  • What is the standard package?
  • What accessories/additions are available?
  • What is the upgrade policy (free vs. fee)? Will you get notification about upgrades? Send in your REGISTRATION card!!
  • Can you get a list of present users to contact for information on utility and reliability?
  • Does the vendor install the equipment?

Basic Skills for a Low Vision Student

  • 30 wpm. minimum typing speed before equipment is provided for students with the capability of typing with both hands.
  • Received a current low vision evaluation to insure that the student is operating with the most current information about the functional level of their vision and have the best reading aids.
  • Has the student received adequate training with any low vision devices that have been prescribed?
  • Method of taking notes in a non-electronic means. This can be a tape recorder, only if they are planning on transcribing them into large print for easier retrieval then playing with a fast forward and rewind control of a tape recorder.
  • A large print technology assessment should be conducted before acquiring an access program. (There should be at least two different large print programs shown to the student).

Basic Skill for a Blind Student

  • 30 wpm. minimum typing speed before equipment is provided for students with the capability of typing with both hands.
  • Method of taking notes in a non-electronic means. This can be a tape recorder, only if they are planning on transcribing them into braille or disk for easier retrieval then playing with a fast forward and rewind control of a tape recorder.
  • A Speech and braille technology assessment should be conducted before acquiring an access program. (There should be at least two different speech synthesizers and speech programs shown to the student before a decision is made.)
  • The additional decision to be made is whether or not braille will supplement the speech or vise versa, if it is indicated that the student learns both tactually and auditorilly.

Word Processing Skills

The following are suggested skills that an individual can perform with confidence prior to beginning a higher level of education. These are basic word processing skills that will serve as a good solid foundation for producing most assignments and papers. (These may be tailored to suit the type of assignments that a student will be expected to produce based on the curriculum the student is participating.)

  • Write text in the file.
  • Review text with the cursor movement keys.
  • Save a file through the quick save feature.
  • Retrieve files through the "load a file" feature.
  • Retrieve a file through the "list files" feature.
  • Insert text at the cursor.
  • Use the "typeover" mode for correcting single character errors.
  • Demonstrates a knowledge of the differences between insert and typeover modes.
  • Delete current characters.
  • Back space over previous characters.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of when to use the delete versus back space features.
  • Underline, bold, and center text.
  • Search for text.
  • Operate the spell checking portion of the program.
  • Print a document.
  • Use the "help" screens.
  • Use the manual.
  • Block text.
  • Delete, copy, and move blocks of text.
  • Copy and delete files.
  • Operate the thesaurus.
  • Set and change the margins and tabs.
  • Set and change the colors on the screen (this is necessary if speech access system is looking for certain colors).
  • Search for and replace text.

Question about Laptop Computers

  • How much does it weigh?
  • What is the estimated battery life?
  • Does it have a user replaceable battery pack? Cost?
  • What is the CPU type and speed?
  • How many and what configuration are the cursor movement keys?
  • What is the diagonal measurement of the screen?
  • What is the hard disk size?
  • What type of display is available?
  • How much memory is installed (system and battery backed)? Can the memory be expanded?
  • What ports are available?
  • What synthesizers are available for the machine?
  • What extras (mouse, carrying case, modem, etc.) are available?
  • What warning beeps are available? (close cover, low battery).
  • What power saving settings are available?
  • How good are the student's/consumer's mobility skills?

Laptops: Possible Advantages

  • Portable.
  • All materials are available because they are all in one location, on a single hard drive, or floppies, data base, spread sheet, word processor, and telecommunication.

Laptops: Possible Disadvantages

  • When reviewing the weight of a lap-top computer, include the power adaptor, extra batteries, and the floppy disks that might be carried along, as well as the speech synthesizer, its cables, and power adaptor.
  • Maximum battery life, three hours. (Always needs power source as a backup).
  • Does the student have a medical condition that will prevent him/her from carrying a maximum weight of ten or fewer pounds, such as retinal problems.
  • Remember: It is not IF the hard drive crashes, but rather WHEN! All hard disk drives crash, sooner or later.
  • If you only have a lap-top and the hard disk crashes then you have lost all your information that is not backed up onto floppy disks.

Questions Screen Readers

The following questions will begin the process of thinking about the minimum requirements that a speech access program for Windows will need to possess to have beginners success with Windows.

  • Is there speech available while installing the Windows access version? Does it track the traditional cursor or a different one while in the installation process.
  • It will be important to learn the vocabulary that a sighted person might use for teaching the program.
  • Do you need two different speech programs, one for DOS and one for Windows?
  • What level of training comes with the purchase of the Windows access software?
  • Will the synthesizer you have be compatible with the Windows access version that you want to use?
  • Can the level of punctuation be controlled separately for the keyboard input versus the screen output?
  • Does your computer meet the minimum requirements for Windows and for the Windows access program you have chosen to use? Do not assume that because you like the DOS version of software that you will automatically like the Windows version or that it will give information in the way that you learn best.
  • It is helpful to understand how you learn. Do you want a great deal of detail information and then sort out as you go, or do you want the screen review package to make some decisions for you?
  • Can you set, save, and retrieve speech settings? Can you control the key echoing options (characters, words, silent)?
  • Is there a system for labeling icons with minimum or no assistance.

Cane-Nines

Whether a student uses a cane or a dog guide, it is very imperative that they secure a working knowledge, mental map of the campus. This could be by way of self orientation or with the assistance of a friend, family member or mobility instructor.

Either use the actual schedule, if that information is available, or make a mock schedule using the buildings that the classes are generally held.

  • Learn the numbering systems of the buildings.
  • Establish known landmarks that a sighted student would relate to should you become disoriented.
  • Be sure to attempt the newly acquired route when there is a summer session in progress, to get the sense of how the route will be during the passing periods.
  • Learn the essential elements of the campus during the summer and add details/new areas as the semester(s) progresses.

Cane or Dog Guide

Many wish to have advantages and disadvantages listed between cane and dog guide. That is not the issue, it is a choice that a person makes. Similar to the sighted person who chooses to drive a truck instead of a car. Which system of mobility is a person the most comfortable with?

  • Good travel skills, intersection analysis, awareness of basic orientation methods and general decision making and problem solving skills make working with a dog much easier.
  • The ideal situation when returning with your dog guide to the home environment is that the dog guide user is familiar with the local area so that the new dog guide user can direct his/her dog with confidence and awareness. This familiarity makes the transition from dog guide school to home environment easier. Thus allowing the person and dog to become a smoother team.

Characteristics of an Applicant to THE SEEING EYE, INC.

  • Good health, such that the person could walk between two and three miles through the COURSE of a day. It does not have to be at a fast speed, rather a steady pace that is comfortable to the individual.
  • Limited residual vision such that it will not interfere with the dog's performance of his/her duties. In short, be able to learn to know when to use the remaining vision to supplement with the information you receive from the dog, not let the dog supplement your vision. (We do assist individuals with this training).
  • A person with a hearing impairment may be considered for instruction if they can accurately auditorilly assess traffic movement through an intersection.
    • Note that the above two items did not specify acuity or decibel levels. The Seeing Eye believes in basing each person on their own merits, not creating categories then trying to make people fit those groupings. We are much more interested in the individual and their respective skills.
  • Mental stability such that the person will be able to provide the dog with accurate and consistent command structure and can implement the training techniques taught during the instructional class at The Seeing Eye.
  • Emotional and maturity level such that the student will be able to provide the dog with the proper amount of affection and discipline to guarantee consistent behavior from the dog.

Other Resources

Hadley School for the Blind offers four classes with a fifth on the way for the student needing to prepare himself/herself for college.