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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals

TX SenseAbilities Spring/Summer 2017

By Tammy Martin, Manager of the Blind Children's Program

Abstract: In this article Ms. Martin reviews the services provided by the Blind Children's Program.

Key Words: Health and Human Services (HHS), Blind Children's Vocational Discovery and Development Program, individual training, blind, visually impaired

The Blind Children's Vocational Discovery and Development Program (Blind Children's Program) moved from the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services to the Health and Human Services Commission on Sept. 1. This move will allow the program to work with other programs across the HHS system to make sure those in the Blind Children's Program get all the services they need. Your blind children's specialist will work with you and your child's educational and medical team to make sure your child reaches their full potential.

Your child's specialist wants to learn about your child. They want to know their strengths, habits, likes and dislikes and areas where they need additional support. Your child's specialist wants to learn about the barriers keeping your child from reaching goals. Your specialist will talk with other service providers on your child's team. This might include classroom teachers, a teacher of the visually impaired, an orientation and mobility specialist, other therapists (private and educational), doctors and anyone else who has valuable input evaluating your child's strengths and areas of need.

After the assessment, you and your specialist will develop a Family Service Plan tailored to meet your child's needs. As new barriers and needs are identified, you and your specialist will adjust the plan. No two children are alike and no two Family Service Plans will look alike. The plans may include the following:

Individual Training: These services might be provided by the blind children's specialist or by other service providers in the community. Services might include teaching your child non-visual techniques for completing a specific task such as making their bed or making brownies, arranging access to piano lessons to improve braille skills or arranging dance lessons to strengthen social skills.

Developmental Equipment and/or Developmental Toys: Children need hands-on experiences to understand the world around them and master tasks. It is important they have access to developmental equipment and toys for concepts development and skill acquisition.

Group Skills Training: The Blind Children's Program offers training in a group setting for your child and other family members. Learning new skills and strengthening emerging skills happen best when your child is having fun. Group Skills Training offers an excellent chance for families to meet and network with one another.

Educational Support: Your blind children's specialist can review your child's Individualized Education Program goals, help you prepare for the Admission Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting, and will often attend the ARD with you. The specialist will work closely with your child's educational team and help support their educational goals at home and in the community.

Case Management Services: Families need a wide variety of services. Your specialist will work with you to ensure that you can find additional services through other service providers, including:

  • Medical
  • Social
  • Educational
  • Vocational
  • Other appropriate services as needed

The blind children's specialist has many roles, including:

  • Case Manager
  • Counselor
  • Trainer
  • Service Provider
  • Team Member

Your specialist values the partnership they have with you and always wants you to be an active participant in designing and developing services. They want you to speak up and contact them when you have questions, concerns and joys to share. Thank you for the privilege of being a part of your child's team.