Assessments for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Medical and educational teams will use information gathered through assessments to set your child up for success. Information from assessments provides the foundation needed to create strategies and supports to address your child’s unique needs. Your professional team may perform a range of the following key assessments, as necessary, with your child.
Clinical Low-Vision Evaluation
A clinical low-vision evaluation is specifically intended for people with low vision. It assesses whether a child will benefit from optical devices, such as monocular telescopes and/or magnifiers. An optometrist or ophthalmologist who specializes in low vision and the prescription of vision devices performs this evaluation. The evaluation centers on how the child uses his or her vision on a daily basis in school, at home, and in the community. Visual acuity, visual fields, and color vision are measured.
In addition, the clinical low-vision specialist will check for refractive errors (the shape of the eye doesn’t bend like correctly resulting blurred vision) and the potential for the student to benefit from vision devices. Often devices are prescribed to meet a specific request of the patient. For example, a patient may want to access prices on items in the grocery store; the doctor may then prescribe a pocket magnifier that can be conveniently placed in a purse or pocket. One of the most beneficial results of the low-vision evaluation is the link made between medical and functional or daily living aspects of vision loss. It is recommended that this evaluation is performed regularly to determine needs as vision changes.
The Functional Vision Assessment (FVA)
An FVA provides information about how your child uses his or her current vision to access the visual world. It is an assessment of how a child uses the vision he or she has in everyday life, so it is usually not done with children who are totally blind or have light perception only. Since a child's visual condition and abilities can change over time, the FVA needs to be repeated periodically.
The FVA will investigate how your child uses his vision for:
- near tasks, closer than 16 inches;
- intermediate tasks, 16 inches to 3 feet; and
- distance tasks, more than 3 feet away.
The results of this assessment will enable the team to determine what your child may need to be able to access visual information at a school and in the community more efficiently. Some issues and strategies the team might discuss based on the results include low-vision devices, assistive technology (AT), proximity to chalk boards or Smart boards, lighting, color contrast, using a cane, training the other senses, and more. The FVA is performed by a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI). The TVI may ask to use information provided by the general education teacher and medical professionals. A copy of your child’s medical diagnosis, eye exam report, and clinical low-vision evaluation are not required, but would be useful for this assessment.
Learning Media Assessment (LMA)
The LMA determines what mode and format your child will use to read and write and is performed by a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI). This may include braille, audio, digital text, large print, or a combination of approaches. Reading and writing may also be accessed through assistive technology (AT) or low-vision devices.
The LMA will provide information about the accessible educational materials (AEM) the student will need while in class. One key purpose of the LMA is to determine whether the student who is blind or visually impaired (B/VI) needs braille instruction. Please note that braille will provide grammar and spelling access in a way that audio information does not.
Other Possible Assessments
Other assessments conducted based on the unique strengths and challenges that your child has may include orientation and mobility assessments performed by a certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS), and an assistive technology (AT) assessment. The orientation and mobility assessment will help the COMS determine how to best instruct your child for safe and effective navigation in various environments, and whether a cane or other adaptive tools are needed. A common assessment performed by COMS includes Teaching Age-Appropriate Purposeful Skills (TAPS).
Want to learn more about these assessments?
Please visit the following sites for more information:
- Clinical Low-Vision Evaluation
- Functional Vision Assessment (FVA)
- Learning Media Assessment (LMA)
- Assistive Technology Assessments
- Teaching Age-Appropriate Purposeful Skills (TAPS)
Does your child’s school team want more guidance for working with students who are B/VI?
Offer them the opportunity to explore the following resource : 2017 Ohio Guidelines for Working With Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired.