Blind/Visually Impaired

Description

Services from a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments are available to learners in each district from birth through age 21.

  • To be eligible for services in the birth to 3 program, a child must have a diagnosed visual impairment and can receive services regardless of whether the child is currently demonstrating a need or delay.
  • To be eligible for services from age 3 to 21, a learner must have a diagnosed visual impairment that affects the learner’s ability to access their educational program.

It is important to note that medical documentation of a visual impairment must be obtained PRIOR to referral for vision services. Please see the following documents regarding eligibility:

Services available through the vision program (non-exhaustive)

  • Assessments in the areas of Functional Vision and Learning Media.
  • Interpretation of medical reports.
  • Assistance to schools in obtaining textbooks, novels, children’s books, etc. that are accessible based on a student’s identified needs (large print, braille, audio, electronic formats, etc.).
  • Direct instruction in specific skills that enable learners with visual impairments to participate in school curriculum (literacy skills when braille is the learning media, use of low vision devices, independent living skills, etc.). This area of instruction is called the Expanded Core Curriculum.
  • Consultation and training for teachers, paraeducators and other school staff on effective strategies for teaching learners with visual impairments.
  • Consultation and training for families, teachers, paraeducators, and other pertinent community personnel on techniques to encourage independence in daily living, social, travel and recreational skills, self-determination,  advocacy and participation in community.
  • Assistance to schools regarding recommendations for environmental access and safety issues.
  • Attendance at eye medical appointments when requested by a parent.
  • Assistance to schools in obtaining appropriate technology for learners with visual impairments and training for the learner and staff on the technology.
  • Referral of learners to MN State Services for the Blind when appropriate (age 14 or older).
  • Recommendations for Orientation and Mobility evaluations (from a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist) to determine the need for instruction in methods of safe travel.
  • Recommendations for Low Vision Evaluations (from a licensed Low Vision Specialist) to determine what low vision devices are appropriate for the learner.

Please note that Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments are NOT trained in “Vision Therapy” which is a service only provided through the medical community.

Helpful Web sites

  • Family Connect: A site designed for families with information regarding child development, eye conditions, education, medical appointments, etc.
  • The Hadley School for the Blind: Register for distance courses for individuals who have visual impairments age 14+ or family members of individuals with visual impairments. Topics include braille, technology, independent living, early childhood (parent training), etc.
  • Perkins Scout: A site with information on: assistive technology, audio narration, cooking and kitchen safety, early childhood, learners with multiple disabilities, etc.
  • Pacer Center: An organization that offers workshops, programs, webinars, etc. for parents and professionals working with learners with disabilities. They also offer some trainings specific to learners with visual impairments.
  • Minnesota NAPVI (National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments): This organization plans outings and educational opportunities for families that include children with visual impairments (membership required).
  • Video Clips on Blindness Tips: Washington State School for the Blind’s collection of videos on subjects like physical education, cooking, matching clothes, etc. for individuals with a visual impairment.
  • Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI): This site has information for parents and professionals about visual impairments and is one of the most useful sites!
  • Career Connect: This site has information on career skills and learners can register and connect with mentors with visual impairments currently in the workforce.

Additional information