SERVICE DELIVERY MODELS
By: Carmen Willings
Each student who is blind or visually impaired has their own unique learning needs. The type of service should reflect a student's need for specialized instruction at a specific time in his development. This may change as the student progresses through his education. Some students may require a residential or special school specifically designed for students who are blind.
The majority of students with visual impairments can be best served within their local school system. Depending on the students needs, they may need a consultation model, an itinerant model or to receive more intensive services in a resource room at a magnet school for students with visual impairments. In order to help students reach their fullest potential, schools should provide a full array of options to assure appropriate placement of each student.
The Itinerant Model
Students in the general education program or those assigned to a self-contained classroom for students with multiple disabilities may require itinerant direct services from a teacher of the visually impaired. The time that the itinerant TVI spends with the student should be based only on the time required to meet the special education goals identified in the IEP and may vary from daily instruction to biweekly or weekly instruction. While some skills are best addressed in the general education classroom, others require privacy or a quiet environment.
Teaching techniques to enhance vision should not be taught in isolation. It is important to look at what the needs and activities of the student are in school and in their everyday life that are affected by their visual performance, and teach to those tasks. The TVI will make suggestions for appropriate environmental and material adaptations.
The Resource Room Model
The Resource Room model is designed for students who require daily support from a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). In this model, students attend a school that has been designated as a “magnet” school for students of their similarly aged with visual impairments who need daily contact with a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI). A TVI is based at the magnet school in order to be accessible to the students and their teachers throughout the school day.
Students are assigned to a general or special education classroom for most of the school day. Students attending these magnet resource classrooms have intensive instructional needs related to their visual impairments. The amount of time spent in the VI classroom will vary among students, based on their unique needs. They will typically spend part of each day receiving instruction in the areas of the core curriculum and support that facilitates their academic progress. Although the TVI is not an academic tutor, the TVI may spend time ensuring that the students understand concepts introduced in academic courses. Some students will receive instruction in ways to access academic subjects, such as reading or basic mathematics, in this room to build a strong foundation upon which future leaning can occur.
The TVI has more opportunities in this model to observe students in a variety of situations, including classrooms, bus lines, the cafeteria, and the playground providing them with more opportunities to assess the students skills and areas of needed instruction throughout the day. Since they are available to students and general education teachers throughout the school day, they can provide immediate assistance to teachers who are uncertain how to include students with visual impairments in the curriculum by helping these teachers adapt materials or modify instruction or by teaching classroom activities that cannot be easily adapted in other ways.
Finally, students in a VI magnet school have more opportunities to meet and frequently interact with other students who have visual impairments. Through planned and unplanned activities, they can discover issues they may have in common and solutions to problems related to their visual impairments. This model allows older and more fluent braille readers the opportunities to mentor younger students.
The primary disadvantage of the VI magnet school model is that students may not attend their home schools and therefore may not attend school with their siblings and other children in their neighborhoods. Because of the geographic distances between their homes and the school, students may find it impossible to attend planned or impromptu after-school or evening activities, and parents may be challenged to feel part of the school community and to participate in parent-teacher activities or school advisory committees.
The Consultation Model
Students who receive consultation require minimal, or no, direct services from a TVI. In the consultative model, the service is provided to the adults that work with the student on behalf of the student with a visual impairment. In this model, the TVI provides intermittent observations of the student within their educational environment to determine if they are receiving the most appropriate adaptations to their materials, environment and instruction and to collaborate with teachers and therapists. Possible scenarios where the consultation model are appropriate include:
When providing consultation, the TVI should:
Additional Service Intensity Resources...
The VISSIT: Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas is designed to guide teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) in determining the type and amount of itinerant TVI services to recommend for students on their caseload. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) committee will typically rely upon the TVI for this recommendation. This scale supports the TVI in quantifying information for the IEP committee. The goal of VISSIT is to provide guidance so that all students with visual impairments get the benefit of an appropriate amount and type of service. I have found this tool to be the most reliable and accurate.
The Michigan Department of Education (DOE), through a task force of TVI's throughout the state of Michigan, developed a Vision Severity Rating Scale and a Vision Severity Rating Scale for Students with Additional Disabilities that has been very helpful in determining the amount of services a student needs. Since a students needs and level of support they need changes over time, the assessment should be done at least every three years as part of the re-evaluation process to determine the appropriate amount of service. The Michigan DOE has also developed an Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale and an Orientation and Mobility Severity Rating Scale for Students with Additional Disabilities.
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.