Program Guidelines for
Students who have
Visual Impairments:
A Work in Progress
Presented by
Sharon Z. Sacks & Stuart H. Wittenstein
Revision Process
• In 2010 two groups of stakeholders met to provide feedback
regarding revisions to the Program Guidelines.
• Additional feedback was elicited at several professional &
consumer conferences.
• Limited revisions were made in 2011.
• In April 2013 a contract was developed between CDE & CSB to
coordinate & revise the Program Guidelines.
Revision Process
• A work plan was developed & two workgroups were selected
to provide feedback & assist with project development.
• Each group of stakeholders met, provided feedback, & assisted
in writing tasks.
• Sacks & Wittenstein worked with the writing teams, edited
drafts, and worked to create a final draft that was submitted
to CDE in December 2013.
Members of Program Guidelines
Task Force
• Northern California
Amanda Lueck, Ph.D
Sunggye Hong, Ph.D
Sandra Rosen, Ph.D.
Maureen Reardon, J.D.
Lizbeth Barclay, M.A.
Angela Martyn, M.A
Yue-Ting Siu, M.A.
Maurice Belote, M.A.
Julie Bernas Pierce, M.A.
Mary Willows, M.A. (NFBC)
Jeff Thom, J.D. (CCB)
Susan Mossman, M.A.
Mary Beth Phillips, Ph.D.
• Southern California
Cheryl Hannan, Ph.D.
Diane Fazzi, Ph.D.
Robyn Herrara, M.A.
Jennifer Cmar, M.A.
Jane Vogel, M.A.
Peggy Campbell, M.A.
Nic Frank, M.A.
Parisa (Parent)
Nikki Blackburn, M.A.
• Gina Mitchell, M.A.
Program Guidelines Structure
• Introduction
• Chapter 1: Identifying & Assessing Unique
Educational Needs
• Chapter 2: The Core Curriculum & the Expanded
Core Curriculum for Students with Visual
• Chapter 3: Planning & Providing Instruction &
• Chapter 4: Organizing & Supporting Instruction &
• Appendix A: Self-Review Guide
• Appendix B: Assessing Vision/Low Vision
• Appendix C: Determining the Appropriate Learning
• Appendix D: California School for the Blind
• Appendix E: Specialized Books, Materials, & Equipment
• Appendix F: Legal Requirements
• Appendix G: Resources for Technical Assistance
• Appendix H: The Early Start Program
• Appendix I: A Brief Overview of Cerebral Visual
Impairment (CVI)
• Provides a rational for updating the Program Guidelines
• Provides a description of the process for revising the Program
• Describes the purpose of the Program Guidelines
• Clarify process for identification & assessment
• Provide information to improve program quality
• Provide criteria for program self-review & monitoring
Introduction Continued
• Scope of the Program Guidelines
Focus on the unique educational needs
Focus on integration of CCCS & ECC
Focus on development of ECC content areas
Focus on planning, service delivery, & quality instruction
Focus on diverse learners: EL, students with additional disabilities
• Use of the Guidelines
• Assists families & professional in providing effective ways to meet
the unique educational needs of students with visual
• Serves as a tool to improve the effectiveness of programs by
maximizing resources
• Provides references & resources for technical assistance &
Chapter One
Identification & Assessment
• Definition of Visual Impairment
• Functionally blind students
• Low vision student
• Definition of neurological visual impairment-CVI
• Students who are functionally blind or who have low vision, and
may also have visual perceptual or visual motor dysfunction are
eligible for visual impairment services.
Who is not Eligible for VI
• Student who exhibit visual perceptual or visual motor
dysfunction disabilities not related to a visual impairment.
• Student who have diagnosed learning disabilities that include
visual perceptual or visual motor disabilities.
Identification Process
• Coordination with vision screening programs
• In-service straining for the educational staff & families on
identifying behaviors that may indicate a visual impairment
• Coordinate with local eye specialists
• Coordination with Early Start programs
Factors Affecting Identification
• Age of onset-congenital versus acquired
• Impact of additional disabilities & visual impairments
• Time of identification-preschool, elementary level, secondary
• Nature of the visual impairment
• Socio-economic status
• English Language Learners
Assessment of Students with Visual
Vision Report-Eye Care Specialist
Functional Vision Assessment-TVI/O&M
Learning Media Assessment-TVI
Assessing the Common Core-TVI & classroom teacher
Assessing the Expanded Core Curriculum-TVI & O&M specialist
Functional Vision Assessment
• Provides information about the nature & extent of the visual
• Determines what the student sees in a variety of settings
• Evaluates how the visual impairment might adversely affect
functioning in educational settings
• Evaluates a student’s ability to move efficiently & safely across
Functional Vision Assessment
• Provides information to assist in the determination of learning
• Provides information about vision-related needs including
interventions & modifications
• Provides information about the need for O&M
• Provides information for the family to seek further evaluation
with an eye care specialist
• Provide information for the educational team to coordinate
Learning Media Assessment
• Observation of a student’s use of sensory channels in a variety
of environments
• Observation of student’s readiness for reading activities:
ability to attend, conceptual understanding, developmentally
appropriate language, & interest in books
• Factors to determine learning medium:
• Student’s level of visual fatigue
• Student’s reading speed & comprehension level
• Student’s auditory perception & listening skills
Assessing the Common Core
• TVIs need to team with general education teachers in the
assessment of reading, language arts, mathematics, and other
core content areas
• TVIs need to assist with providing materials or modifying
materials to assist the classroom teacher
• TVIs need to provide direct instruction in abacus, assistive
technology, & listening skills to support acquisition of the core
Assessment of the Expanded Core
• Compensatory-TVI
• Concept development
• Braille & communication
• Listening Skills
• Study & organization
• Orientation &
• Social Interaction
• Independent Living
skills-TVI & O&M
• Recreation & Leisure
Skills-TVI & O&M
• Career Education-TVI
• Use of Assistive
• Sensory Efficiency
• Self-Determination-TVI
Assessment Personnel
• Assessment must be administered by qualified personnel who
understand the unique educational needs of students with
visual impairments.
• Collaboration with the teacher of students with visual
impairments must precede assessment to ensure that
assessments are administered in an appropriate manner.
Chapter Two
The Common Core & the Expanded Core Curriculum
• Students with visual Impairments require
instruction in the Common Core & Expanded
Core Curriculum.
• Why the Expanded Core Curriculum?
• Students require skills to access the core curriculum
• Students require support to learn concepts & skills
that are learned through observation by sighted peers
• Students require hands on instruction to make sense
of abstract concepts & the world around them
• Students require instruction that promotes problem
solving & opportunities to engage in real life
The Relationship Between the
CCC & the ECC
• TVIs & O&M specialists are not responsible for teaching
common core subjects.
• TVIs & O&M specialists are responsible for adapting,
modifying, & preparing materials so that students can access
the core curriculum.
• TVIs & O&M specialists can integrate the common core when
working with students on the ECC.
Examples of CCC & ECC
• Teaching Braille while working on literacy skills
• Teaching a student to use a magnification device while
teaching reading
• Teaching a student to create a PowerPoint while teaching
assistive technology
• Teaching sharing & group conversation skills while working on
a group project
• Teaching math skills while teaching a student to use a
budgeting app.
Areas of the
Expanded Core
Compensatory Skills
Concept Development
Braille & Communication Skills
Listening Skills
Study & Organizational Skills
Accessing the General Education Curriculum
Orientation & Mobility
Sensory Motor Skills
Spatial & Positional Concepts
Body Image & Concepts
Orientation to Indoor Environments
Human Guide & Safety Techniques
Instruction in the use of the long cane
Instruction in the structure of neighborhoods & traffic
• Instruction in community travel
• Use of public transportation
Social Interaction Skills
Specific social skills instruction
Affective education
Human Sexuality
Psycho-Social Implications of Visual Impairment
• Student’s understanding of visual impairment
• Student’s ability to communicate visual needs to others
Independent Living Skills
Personal hygiene skills
Dressing skills
Care of clothing
Housekeeping skills
Preparation of food
Eating skills
Money management
Telecommunication skills
Written communication skills
Time management
Recreation & Leisure
Realizing that there are many options
Learning to play indoor & outdoor games
Developing hobbies
Learning about different spectator activities
Participating in a variety of recreational activities
Knowledge of sports adaptations
Knowledge of sports & activities in one’s community
Career Education
Knowledge of one’s strengths & limitations
Understands the concept of work
Participates in chores at home & jobs at school
Understands work ethic & demonstrates appropriate
work behaviors
Has observed a variety of jobs
Understands the concept of work for pay
Has a variety of volunteer experiences
Has participated in a variety of work experiences
Has developed a personal statement or resume
Use of Assistive Technology
Knowledge of the computer & keyboarding
Us of screen readers
Use of video magnification software
Use of Braille displays
Use of Braille note-takers
Accessing programs for text reading & editing
Non-visual use of touch screen devices
Learning to use the internet & email
Learning to use accessible GPS programs
Learning to use scanners, & OCR devices
Sensory Efficiency
• Use of optical devices
• Use of hearing aids
• Use of assistive communication devices
• Identify & discriminate textures & objects
• Use auditory skills to identify, discriminate, &
track sound sources.
• Use kinesthetic & proprioceptive sources
• Identify, discriminate, * ise p;factpru semses/
• Understanding visual impairment & requesting
• Being able to make choices
• Develop ability to consider multiple options &
anticipate consequences
• Develop effective communication skills
• Ability to set goals & monitor progress
• Understanding one’s strengths & limitations
• Understanding the concept of dependence,
independence, & interdependence
Chapter Three
Planning & Providing Instruction & Services
• Quality assessment drives the development of the
• Specialized instruction should be provided by
qualified personnel
• Specialized books, material, & equipment should be
provided to insure positive educational outcomes
• A range of placement options should be discussed
• Specialized curriculum & implementation strategies
should be designed to insure success in the least
restrictive environment
Providing Instruction
• Compensatory Skills
Braille reading & writing
Use of low vision devices for reading & writing
Slate & stylus for writing
Listening skills
Abacus & talking calculator for mathematical calculation
Study skills
Organizational skills
Reading charts & graphs
Use of specialized equipment to access literacy
Special Considerations for Students
with Additional Disabilities
• Compensatory
• Classroom modification to maximize the use of vision
• Presentation of materials with respect to size, font, color,
contract, & crowding
• Presentation of pictures & photographs
• Modify the classroom environment to maximize independence
• Provide equipment & materials to access the general education
• Provide strategies for labeling & using communication devices
• Provide information about a student’s learning style
Providing Instruction
• Orientation & mobility
• Must be implemented by a certified O&M specialist
Environmental & spatial concepts
Orientation techniques
Self-protection skills
Adaptive visual & non-visual mobility techniques
Use of sensory input & residual vision for travel
Daily living skills related to travel
Knowing when & how to ask for assistance for travel
Route planning & community travel including public transit
Instruction in Social Interaction
• Students with visual impairments require assistance & support
in developing social skills. These students do not acquire social
abilities through incidental learning. They require instruction
in the following areas:
• Learning a repertoire of socially accepted behaviors for a variety
of social situations
• Learning play & social interaction skills
• Learning social communication skills
• Learning problem solving & perspective-taking
Instruction in Social Interaction
• Affective education
• Development of a positive self-concept
• Development of realistic expectations
• Human sexuality
• Development of concepts with respect to self & others
• Knowledge of public & private behavior
• Knowledge of personal safety
• Psycho-social implications of visual Impairment
• Understanding of visual impairment
• Understanding of strengths & limitations
Instruction in Independent Living
• Instruction in Self-Help Skills
• Personal hygiene, dressing, eating skills
• Instruction in Home Management
• Cooking, cleaning, clothing care, home maintenance
• Instruction in Personal Management
• Time management, money management, personal
Instruction in Recreation & Leisure
Instruction in sports & athletic activities
Instruction in games, board games, & other activities
Instruction in physical fitness & aerobic activities
Introduction to a wide range of hobbies & activities available
in the community
Instruction in Career
• Career Awareness: Introduction to work, developing chores &
responsibilities, awareness of jobs in the community
• Career Exploration: Job shadowing, exposure to a range of
jobs & job skills needed,
• Career Preparation: Career assessment, work experience
(volunteer & paid), demonstration of a range of work
• Career Participation: Job placement, understanding of
adaptations needed, work for pay
Instruction in the Use of Assistive
• Evaluation & assessment determine what technology will be
• Students need a full range of technology experiences including
use of computers, software program, access to the internet,
access to social media, use of smart phones & tablets
• Instruction should be integrated into the student’s curriculum.
Instruction in Sensory
Use of optical devices
Tactile Input
Auditory Input & Listening Skills
Olfactory Input
Proprioceptive Input & skill development
Instruction in SelfDetermination
• Areas of Instruction
Choice making
Problem solving
Specialized Books, Materials, &
• Determination of what books, materials, & equipment needed
for instruction is determined through the IFSP/IEP/ITP
• Sufficient time must be allocated to purchase & transcribe
books & materials in a timely manner.
• The Clearinghouse for Specialized Materials & Technology
(CSMT) is responsible for procuring & distributing books,
Materials, & equipment throughout the state.
• CSMT is responsible for the implementation of NIMAC which
is based on the National Instructional Materials & Accessibility
Standard (NIMAS)
• Special funding for books, materials, & equipment is available
for students with low incidence disabilities.
Roles & Responsibilities of Key
Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
Classroom Teacher
Orientation & Mobility Specialist
Student with a Visual Impairment
Eye Specialist
Physical Education or Adapted Physical Education
• Occupational & Physical Therapist
Roles & Responsibilities of Key
Personnel Continued
Speech/Language Pathologist
School Nurse
School Psychologist or Counselor/Social Worker
Program Specialist
Early Childhood Specialist
Assistive Technology specialist
Certified Braille Specialist (Transcriber)
Ancillary Staff in Residential
• Dormitory personnel
• Food service personnel
• Health service personnel
Chapter Four
Organizing & Supporting Instruction &
• Collaboration among professionals for instruction & services is
• Programs should provide specialized assessment.
• Programs should provide a full range of program options.
• Programs should provide personnel development & in-service
training to staff who provide services to students with visual
Administrative Responsibilities
• Supervisor of Personnel
• Knowledgeable about the unique educational needs of
students with visual impairments
• Knowledgeable about program options, funding
sources, & legal requirements
• Site Administrator
• Knowledgeable about the unique educational &
program needs of students with visual impairments
• Assists in coordination of instruction & special services
• Assists in providing & supporting the LRE
• Provides facilities to meet the unique educational
needs of students with visual impairments
Placement in the Least Restrictive
• Focus on the assessed needs of the student
• Consider each student’s needs for supplementary support &
• Assess the feasibility of implementing the student’s IEP
• Consider a placement close to the student’s home
• Annually discuss an array of placement options
Program Options
General education class without specialized services
General education class with specialized services
Special education class
Special school for students with visual impairments
Home services
Hospital or public or private institutions
Service Delivery Models
Itinerant Services
Resource Room for Students with Visual Impairments
Special Day Class
California School for the blind
NPS options
Class Size & Caseloads
• Develop a process for establishing & monitoring class size &
caseloads for TVI
• Provide instruction based on the severity or intensity of
student needs & age of student.
• Severity of visual impairment
• The consistency of instruction required to acquire essential skills
• The need for additional time to learn new skills
Additional Factors
• Qualified staff available to perform specialized assessment
• On going communication between school administrators &
personnel serving students
• Securing & preparing specialized materials, media, &
equipment for students in a timely manner
• Training teachers & paraprofessionals on effective teaching
strategies for VI students
• Providing adequate travel time for professional serving
students with visual impairments
• Consultation with eye care specialists & medical professionals
• Consulting & assisting families
• Professional development: attendance at conferences &
workshops to enhance teaching skills
Staff Development & Family
• TVIs & O&M specialists should receive on-going training based
on the development of a plan for training based on specific
• Family education programs should include
• Provide information about roles & responsibilities
• Provide information about best practices in educating students
with visual impairments
• Provide information about resources & organizations for families
of students with visual impairments
Guidelines for Facilities
Adequate lighting
Adequate storage space for books & materials
A separate area for listening activities
Furniture & whiteboards with non-glare surfaces
Sufficient outlets for technology
A location on the site that is convenient for student
access & mobility
Adequate work space for students & for staff
Office space for TVI, O&M specialist, & Braille transcriber
Emergency procedures in place for safe student access
Students’ transportation needs are adequately met