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Enjoying the zip line at Candlelight Ranch

Photo of student riding on a zip line over a canyon.

Learning to canoe on Lady Bird Lake

Photo of two students in a canoe with a teacher (one student is happy, the other looks a little unsure)

Setting up shelter at McKinney Falls

Photo of four students trying to figure out how to set up a tent

Learning how to navigate Austin using the light rail

Photo of two students preparing to board the capital metro train in Austin, TX

Learning how to use important technology tools

Photo of a student learning to use a bluetooth refreshable braille display

There is strong emphases in Texas schools on assuring that students are well prepared and able to master the statewide curriculum (TEKS).  Students with visual impairments may have high academic potential, yet fall behind if their vision limitations prevent them from accessing this curriculum.  There is a rational concern that if a student attends a Short-Term Program, s/he could fall behind in classroom instruction.  In our experience, however, the very opposite can occur.  Once students learn the special adaptations needed to access the curriculum, their subsequent learning is much faster and more efficient.  In addition, participating in instruction with other bright visually impaired students and adults can provide a tremendous transformation in a students personal motivation to succeed in school.  Their attitude can shift from thinking they are only partially able to succeed to giving success their all.  This change in motivation can have an impact on their success in mastering the TEKS as well.

The following table demonstrates how participation in a Short-Term Program can help students improve their performance on the Statewide Curriculum.

How Vision Loss Impacts LearningHow A Short-term Program Can Help

Fact: Vision loss causes deficits in underlying concepts, which affects all aspects of instruction.

80% of learning is acquired through vision. Classroom instruction is designed for sighted students who share a core of visually-acquired concepts. Students with weak underlying concepts lack a base for understanding higher order concepts taught in the general curriculum (TEKS). Subsequent learning is always built upon that weak foundation.

We support academic achievement by providing hands-on, experiential instruction to demonstrate basic concepts that sighted children learn visually. Even secondary students need to fill in these gaps in order to master the curriculum.

  • Reading: much vocabulary is learned visuallye.g., prepositions (under, after), adjectives (few, full), nouns (branch vs. tree, vehicle types), verbs (shrug, crash).
  • Math: e.g., number, portions, spatial & temporal sequence, shapes, measurement

Fact: Students with visual impairments have difficulty accessing the general curriculum (TEKS). They must learn unique access skills not addressed in the general curriculum.

Tailored, intensive instruction in specific tools and techniques is required to master the core academic areas of No Child Left Behind. It can be difficult for local teachers of students with visual impairment to stay current in these rapidly changing technologies, or to provide the level of intensity needed.

We provide a short time away from multiple classroom demands to teach the unique knowledge and skills needed by academic students. We assist students with their school assignments so they dont fall behind.

  • Computer technologies: screen readers /enlargers, electronic notetakers, scanning textbooks electronically, and unique strategies for creating and reading word documents, databases, spreadsheets.
  • Braille for literacy or abacus; Nemeth Code for math and science.
  • Tactile graphs, maps, tables. Tactile tools to measure time, weight, distance, etc.

Fact: Research documents significant social isolation and dependence in visually impaired students taught in inclusive settings. Self-esteem correlates highly with motivation and success in school & adult life.

Learning in the company of peers and adults who experience similar difficulties can be a life-changing experience.

Short Classes at TSBVI allow students to belong to both worlds: they remain a part of their family and community while developing lifelong friends who share their unique experiences.

Students often return home with a renewed commitment to learning and enhanced feelings of self-worth. They are better able to describe and advocate for adaptations they need in order to compensate at school and in life.

Fact: Adults with visual impairments often remain unemployed and dependent upon others, even if they were successful in school.

National data indicate a 30% employment rate for persons who are visually impaired.

Students attending Short Classes meet a range of successfully employed adults who are visually impaired. They listen as these people describe the challenges that they overcame to live independently, successfully, richly, and happily.

If you know a student who may benefit from any of these programs, or if you would like to share or receive additional information, please contact:

Sara Merritt, Principal of Short-Term Programs
Phone: (512) 206-9176
FAX: (512) 206-9168
email: )