Guidelines and Standards for Educating Students with Visual Impairments in Texas

The Guidelines and Standards document helps in the development and implementation of programs and services for students with visual impairments and provides a clear understanding of the unique learning needs of these students.

2020 Guidelines and Standards

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Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Vicki DePountis
Director, Services to Students with Sensory Impairments and Texas Deafblind Project

The American education system has a broad goal of preparing all students for lifelong success. Some stated objectives of IDEA are to ensure an educational program is available to all students with disabilities that prepares them “for further education, employment, and independent living” (IDEA: Regulations, Part 300) and to “lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible” (IDEA: Title 1).This document addresses how to accomplish these goals for the population of students with visual impairments, including those who are deafblind.

Students with visual impairments have unique learning needs that must be addressed if they are going to graduate ready for further education, employment, and/or independent living. Employment has often been used as a gauge for educational success. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table B18120: Employment Status by Disability Status and Type, in 2017 “over half of working-age people who are blind or visually impaired are not in the labor market, meaning they are not working and not seeking work, compared with fewer than a quarter of people without disabilities.” The data indicate a significant employment gap between those with a visual impairment and those with no disability even when matched by levels of education (accessed July 26, 2020 from the American Foundation for the Blind). Educators clearly face a significant challenge in providing educational services that will lead to successful post-school outcomes for this population. Why is that?

In addition to the general education curriculum instruction that all students receive, students with visual impairments, starting at birth, also need an expanded core curriculum (ECC) to meet needs directly related to their visual impairment (TEC 30.002, Subsections (c-1) and (c-2)).

These nine ECC areas include:

  • Compensatory skills that permit access to the general curriculum (such as braille and concept development, tactile graphics, Nemeth Code, and specialized communication skills)
  • Orientation and mobility skills
  • Social interaction skills
  • Career education and planning
  • Assistive technology (AT), including optical devices
  • Independent living skills
  • Recreation and leisure skills
  • Self-determination
  • Sensory efficiency (including visual, tactual and auditory skills)