Screenings, Assessments, and Educational Evaluations for Learners who are Blind or Visually Impaired: Introduction
When you have concerns about your child or learner’s vision, you may wonder what the appropriate steps are for accessing and receiving support services for your family or in your child’s educational setting.
A variety of assessment tools may be used to gather information about the learner in functional, developmental, and academic areas. In this section you can explore information related to the screening and assessment process, core assessment areas for students with visual impairments, that will guide instruction and access to their educational needs.
Services in educational settings for those who are blind or visually impaired are based on a combination of the student's eligibility for services and the individual needs of that particular learner has for adaptations of materials and the need for individualized instruction. There is a specific referral process for both Early Intervention Services (birth - 2) and School-Aged Services (ages 3 - 21).
Do you suspect that your child may have a disability or is not developing typically? If so, consider consulting your child’s pediatrician and making a referral to receive support from Ohio’s statewide Early Intervention Services.
Early Intervention (EI) is a statewide system that provides coordinated early intervention services to parents of eligible children under the age of three with developmental delays or disabilities. EI is grounded in the philosophy that young children learn best from familiar people in familiar settings. Every family served in EI will have a local EI team that consists of a service coordinator, service providers, and your family. Your team works with you in your home or other places you and your family spend time to develop a coordinated plan called an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). You and your team will work through your IFSP plan to use your existing supports and resources—and build upon them—to learn to enhance your child’s learning and development.
Services and special education are given to those who are eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This is a federal law that is divided into three sections: Part A, B, and C. Part A explains the specifics of the law. Part B addresses services for children between the ages of 3-21 via an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Part C is the section in which services are addressed to children birth to age 3 via an Individualized Family Service Program (IFSP).
Once you have contacted EI, a service provider will evaluate your child to determine your child’s eligibility and service needs.A medical diagnosis from an ophthalmologist may be useful along with the results of other assessments/evaluations.
Keep personal copies of all documentation pertaining to your child. Especially medical, ocular, and EI-related documents. Around the time your child approaches 2.5 years of age, the IFSP team should meet to talk about the transition into school services and an IEP.
To access Early Intervention Services in Ohio please visit: ohioearlyintervention.org or call: (800) 755-4769.
Educational Evaluation Guidelines
For learners with a suspected visual impairment, eligibility is determined by an multi-factored evaluation (MFE) conducted by an interdisciplinary team. A variety of assessment tools may be used by the teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) and/or orientation and mobility specialist (O&M), to gather information about the learner in functional, developmental, and academic areas. Families are encouraged to provide the school district with an eye doctor’s report for review, which can provide information about current and future changes with visual conditions. Ohio special education regulations require that assessments be technically sound and administered by qualified professionals in the area of visual impairments.
School-Aged Special Education
Assessment and evaluation of progress among children who have vision loss or blindness is a complex process. Challenges often go undetected by individuals unfamiliar with the hidden impact of a vision loss. The local educational agency (LEA) continues to be responsible for providing a team comprised of qualified professionals and the learner's parent or guardian to collect multiple sources of information relevant to determining eligibility for specialized services and then developing an educational program that is not only individualized but leads to measurable increases in learning. For more information on special education and related services please visit the Ohio Department of Education’s website and the Office for Exceptional Children’s website.