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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals

TX SenseAbilities - Spring 2018

By Molly Black and Patti McGowan, Pennsylvania Deaf-Blind Project Family Consultants

Abstract: The authors, both parents of young adults who are DeafBlind, share their advice for parents being effective partners in their children’s educational team.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, Special Education, DeafBlindness, Visual Impairment, Effective Partnership, Self-Determination, Transition Planning

Dear parent or family member of a child or youth with deaf-blindness, 

We want you to know that you are the most important person on your child’s individualized education program (IEP) team. You are the most consistent IEP team member and you know the student (your child) the best! Set extraordinary expectations for both your child and your team. Allow the IEP to tell your child’s story, set high goals, and utilize your child’s strengths to support and overcome any weaknesses that may be discussed during your child’s IEP meeting.

Your child’s unique and specific needs, not his or her disability classification, should drive the IEP discussion. Keep in mind that you are the expert on your child. Be prepared to share your triumphs, challenges, hopes, dreams, observations, and concerns. Success for your child should be the goal of all IEP team members while developing your child’s IEP.

If your child already has an IEP, make sure you review and familiarize yourself with his or her current IEP prior to the meeting. If your child does not yet have an IEP and is currently not receiving services, talk to other parents and families of children with DeafBlindness about related services and supports that have been beneficial to their child. Your child may attend and be present at his or her IEP at any age, when appropriate. In Pennsylvania at age 14, your child has the right and should fully participate in his or her IEP and be a valuable member of the IEP team.

An IEP meeting can be requested and held at any time during the school year, if necessary. Having regular team meetings (e.g., monthly, quarterly) in addition to your IEP meeting, to discuss progress or concerns can be advantageous for the entire team.

Having a strong IEP team and practical goals supported by educational services will allow your child to develop, learn, and be successful and happy. The IEP process can certainly be daunting at times, so hopefully the following links will help you during your own IEP “season.” Remember – knowledge is power!

Editors’ Note: Molly and Patti’s original article included resources specific to their state. They invited us to share our favorites for Texas:

Special Education Resources:

  • SpedTex Special Education Information Center:  available: www.spedtx.org The Texas Special Education Information Center (SPEDTex) delivers accurate and timely answers to questions about special education to stakeholders across the state of Texas. Our purpose is to optimize information and respond with technical assistance in a succinct and useful format that is user friendly, culturally responsive, and accessible to all individuals. SPEDTex provides supportive state-wide leadership that promotes collaboration, meaningful communication and participation in the development and delivery of services to children with disabilities.
  • Parent Handbook for Special Education by Region 13 Education Service Center: Available: http://www4.esc13.net/uploads/facilitatingIEPs/docs/SPED_ParentHandbook.pdf
    This handbook is intended to give parents a basic grounding in the special education process and the use of collaborative strategies and facilitation skills and techniques to improve that process.
  • IDEA Manual, A Guide for Parents and Students About Special Education Services in Texas, 2016 Edition:
    available: https://www.thearcoftexas.org/idea-manual/
    The newest version of what has become known as The IDEA Manual. This manual is designed to help families become familiar with the requirements of IDEA and Texas law so they can act as an equal partner in planning their child’s education.
  • 2017 Guidelines and Standards for Educating Students with Visual Impairments in Texas available: http://www.tsbvi.edu/attachments/EducatingStudentswithVIGuidelinesStandards.pdf This document highlights legal requirements In Special Education for Texas that are specific to students with visual impairment or DeafBlindness
  • Websites designed for parents that include Special Education topics:
    • Texas Project First: texasprojectfirst.org
    • Navigate Life Texas: www.navigatelifetexas.org
    • Parent Companion – the first five years: www.parentcompanion.org
    • Crossroads: texasdeafed.org