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MedEd Connections Resource Guides: Blind and Visually Impaired

Professional Team Members


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A team of professionals will assist families in providing the care and services their child may need. The following information briefly explains their roles and responsibilities. Please note that many of these professionals may request your consent to view your child’s medical records in order to more efficiently address the needs of your child’s specific condition.

Optometrist

An optometrist is an eye doctor who has earned the doctor of optometry (OD) degree. Optometrists examine eyes for vision and health problems and correct refractive errors by prescribing eyeglasses and contact lenses. Some optometrists also provide low-vision rehabilitation or vision therapy.

Ophthalmologist

An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists are trained to perform eye exams, diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medications, and perform eye surgery. They also write prescriptions for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

Opticians

An optician is not an eye doctor, but is an important part of the eye care team. Opticians use prescriptions written by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist to fit and sell eyeglasses and other eyewear.

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments

A teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) is a licensed special education teacher with a specialized certificate to provide services to students who are blind or visually impaired (B/VI). They perform crucial assessments, such as the functional vision assessment (FVA, learning media assessment (LMA) and expanded core curriculum (ECC) assessments. TVIs use assessments to develop and provide direct instruction for students who are B/VI.

Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS)

An orientation and mobility (O&M) specialist assesses the mobility skills of students who are blind or visually impaired and develops instructions based on the results of those assessments. They teach students who are B/VI how to independently navigate and move around safely in schools, at home, and in the community.

Intervention Specialist or Special Education Teacher

These two terms, “intervention specialist,” and “special education teacher,” refer to the same professional. The former is more widely used in schools, and the latter is often used on the internet. “Intervention specialist” will be used for the purposes of this document. Intervention specialists are specifically trained to teach students with disabilities. Intervention specialists are knowledgeable about the general education curriculum, modified curricula, and intervention strategies to support instruction in academics and behavior.

Paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals are in the classroom to provide direct, individualized educational support for all students under the supervision of a general classroom teacher. The role of the paraprofessional is to support the student as he or she learns to access educational information independently.

School Psychologist

The school psychologist will contribute in identifying your child’s strengths and needs through evaluations and assessments. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

Speech Language Pathologist

Speech Language Pathologists work to assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive communication, and swallowing disorders.

Occupational Therapist (OT)

An occupational therapist (OT) assists students with the development of their fine-motor and sensory skills. Fine-motor skills refer to the movement of muscles used in a person’s fingers, hands, wrists, and arms.

Physical Therapist (PT)

A physical therapist (PT) assesses, diagnoses, restores, maintains, and enhances physical functions. They can assist children who are B/VI with balance difficulties, enhancing muscle strength, and executing gross motor movements.

Adaptive Physical Education Teacher (APE)

The adaptive physical education teacher (APE) is a physical education teacher who knows how to develop modifications and adaptions so that your child can enjoy gym (physical education) and acquire fitness safely.

General Education Classroom Teacher

The general education teacher knows the contents of each learner’s special education program, and makes accommodations, modifications, or adaptations to provide access to educational content, instruction, and assessments. They can provide student data to the school team to identify the student’s areas of strengths and needs.


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