Services for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Serving students ages 2-22 who require specialized instruction and support with a variety of visual impairments.

Our Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) program serves eligible students ages 2-22, who require specialized instruction and support with a variety of visual impairments.

Educational services for students who are blind or visually impaired range from itinerant services delivered in neighborhood schools to a resource room for a more intensive level of service offered at Robinson Secondary School.

Students who are able to participate in general education classrooms receive support from an itinerant teacher of the blind-vision impaired in their neighborhood schools. Itinerant teachers also provide services for students who are blind-vision impaired in other special education programs countywide.

All elementary, middle, and high school sites serving students who are blind-vision impaired offer the following essential core, eligibility, and assessment services to students.

Core Services

Instruction-Curriculum

  • Follow Fairfax County Public Schools Program of Studies (POS) and Standards of Learning (SOL) as curriculum guidelines along with other classroom curriculums such as the Life Skills Program and the Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired.
  • Provide instruction in compensatory skills such as concept development, spatial understanding, study and organizational skills, and speaking and listening skills.
  • Provide instruction in Braille, large print, print with the use of optical devices, regular print, tactile symbols, and recorded materials.
  • Provide adapted physical education.

Continuum of Services

  • Provide individualized instruction and small self-contained classes as defined in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  • Provide services ranging from monitor-consult level to direct instruction in the student’s general educational setting.
  • Provide a resource room for students who require a more intensive level of service at the secondary level.
  • Provide support to students who participate in general education classes through teacher consultations.

Staff

  • Provide services by certified teachers of the blind-vision impaired.

Orientation and Mobility Services

  • Provide instruction by certified teachers in orientation and mobility to instruct students in the development of skills and knowledge that enables the student to travel safely and independently.

Related-Support Services

  • Provide a variety of related services in order to meet the individualized needs of students. These services may include speech and language, physical therapy, occupational therapy, learning disability, emotional disability, autism, etc.
  • Provide services and support from social workers, psychologists, and counselors.

Technology

  • Provide access to classroom computers by using assistive technology such as screen enlargement and screen readers.
  • Provide appropriate low vision aids and training in visual efficiency, which may include magnifiers for near and distant viewing, closed circuit televisions (CCTV), personal notetakers, and talking calculators by working in conjunction with the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired.

Socialization

  • Provide attention to unique needs of social interaction and independent living.

Parent Education

  • Provide educational and social support, and support for parents related to vision impairments and their educational implications.

Eligibility

The service providers for students who are BVI collaborate with other school personnel to determine if a student is having a short-term vision problem or a disability due to vision impairment and whether the student may benefit from special education intervention. Consultation and direct instruction are provided to students who are eligible for special education based on vision impairment. This vision impairment must adversely affect the educational performance of the student.

Vision impairment includes:

  • Visual acuity of 20/70 or less in the better eye with best correction.
  • A severely restricted field of vision.
  • Visual, not visual perceptual difficulties, for whom significant modifications in the educational program have not been sufficient.
  • Additionally, services are available on a consultation basis for students who have short-term vision issues that are not considered a vision disability.

If concerns about a student seem to be related to vision impairment, consider these questions:

  • Has the student received a vision screening (done by the nurse or clinic aide) at his or her school and what are the results?
  • Is the student already receiving special education services for another disability area?
  • Does the student wear glasses?
  • Has the student ever been evaluated by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist? (Call the parents or guardians to request this information.)
  • Is the student wearing a patch over one eye?
  • Is the student rubbing his or her eyes, squinting at the blackboard, or holding reading materials very close (within two inches) to his or her eyes?
  • Is the student falling down on the playground or walking into people or adults in the halls?
  • Is the student constantly losing his place on a page?

Contact Services for Blind and Vision Impaired:

  • With any questions regarding concerns about the nature of the student’s vision issues.
  • When filling out a Multipurpose Referral Form (SS/SE-5) detailing the concerns regarding the student’s vision issues.
  • When a local screening committee (LSC) makes the decision that the student’s vision impairment may be adversely affecting the educational performance. A request for a functional vision assessment is indicated on the Notice and Consent form (SS/SE-2), including details of your concerns regarding the student’s vision issues written on the local screening committee report (SS/SE-14). The functional vision assessment and a learning media assessment are conducted by a teacher of the visually impaired to help determine the educational impact of the student’s vision impairment.
  • Consideration for special education eligibility based on a visual impairment requires documentation by medical examination or other qualified professional, otherwise known as an eye report, within the past year. Evaluation by an appropriate doctor (ophthalmologist) is the responsibility of the parents. Obtain the eye report prior to the functional vision assessment, so the teacher has the necessary background information regarding the educational implications of the etiology. Services for blind and vision impaired will provide an eye report form, upon request, to be filled out by the eye doctor. The teacher should be invited to the local screening committee to help read and interpret the information on the eye report.

Functional Vision Assessment

As a part of the referral and eligibility process for the services for blind and vision impairment, the local screening committee can request a functional vision assessment to determine:

  • Eligibility or reevaluation services for a student with a visual impairment;
  • Strengths and needs for IEP development and instruction.
  • The functional vision assessment provides information on the educational impact of the student’s vision impairment, including near and distant visual functioning, optical aids, lighting considerations, and visual fields.

A learning media assessment can be requested to assess the student’s ability to access and use different learning media in reading and writing. This may include Braille, large print, optical aids, and auditory materials.

The functional vision-learning media assessment are used with other assessment tools, such as the eye report, psychological, sociocultural, educational, and information from parents and teachers to determine BVI eligibility.

Contact Information

For more information on the services available to students who are blind or vision impaired, contact Shira Brothers, program manager, at 571-423-4860 or SBBrothers@fcps.edu.

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Resources:

Guidelines for Working With Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired in Virginia Public Schools