When a parent, caregiver, teacher, or member of the students educational team has concerns about a student's vision, they may wonder how to obtain vision services from the school. Services for students who are blind or visually impaired are based on a combination of the student's eligibility and the individual needs that particular student has for adaptations to materials and the need for individualized instruction. Although each state and district may have a slightly different referral process, this is the typical referral process, but always check with your state's Early Intervention Program (birth - 2) or school system (ages 3 - 21). The following pages will guide you through this process.
The initiation of a referral begins when there is a concern about the child's use of vision, or lack thereof. Family members, teachers or therapists might observe unusual visual behaviors or an unusual appearance of the eyes or a student may fail a vision screening at school. This page provides a list of possible concerns, or "red flags" you may have about a student's vision.
This page provides a detailed flow of the referral process. This is the typical process, but always check with your state's Early Intervention Program (birth - 2) or school system (ages 3 - 21) as each district or county within a state may have a slightly different process that they follow.
This page addresses the guidelines in determining eligibility for school based visual impairment services and what to do when the student does not meet eligibility but his/her acuity is not "normal". Note: This varies from state to state! Check your state's current guidelines.
Vision therapy, also known as vision training, is an individualized, supervised, treatment program that is used for children (and sometimes adults) who have binocular vision problems, such as convergence insufficiency, focusing problems, tracking difficulties, eye teaming difficulties and for visual perceptual difficulties. This page addresses the controversy surrounding vision therapy.
You may wonder what to do when the student's vision cannot be corrected to 20/20 but they are found to not meet the eligibility criteria for school based vision services. Other school personnel and/or specialists may be able to address the students unique visual and learning needs. A reading specialist may be contacted to work on reading and learning disabilities. An occupational therapist and a physical therapist may address concerns of eye hand coordination and vision perception difficulties.
Resources to Support You in Teaching Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired
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The mission of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments is to provide all persons involved in education students who are blind or visually impaired with the necessary resources to help each student become successful members of their communities and to equip those in the visual impairment field with resources to meet the wide range of needs of the students they serve.