Vision Services

Services for students with a visual impairment, including blindness.

Vision services can take several forms:

  • Direct Services: A teacher certified in visual impairments works directly with students, and assists with:
    • Learning to read and write braille
    • Learning assistive technology to access the curriculum such as magnification tools, text to speech and electronic book readers
    • Self advocacy skills
    • Expanded Core curriculum – daily living skills
  • Indirect Consultative SkillsWorking with classroom teachers, families, other special service providers and other school staff to provide recommendations on appropriate accommodations and modifications for the student required due to a visual impairment
  • Interpretation Services: Our team can assist with material adaptation in braille and print. Please contact us for additional information.
student sitting on stairs

Eligibility for Vision Services

A child with a visual impairment, including blindness, shall have a deficiency in visual acuity and/or visual field and/or visual functioning where, even with the use of lenses or corrective devices, he/she is prevented from receiving reasonable educational benefit from general education.

Student must be diagnosed by a medical eye doctor in a current eye report with one of the following to qualify for services:

  • Visual acuity of no better than 20/70 in the better eye after correction.
  • Visual field restriction to 20 degrees or less.
  • A physical condition of the visual system that cannot be medically corrected and, as such, affects visual functioning to the extent that specially designed instruction is needed. These criteria are reserved for special situations such as, but not restricted to cortical visual impairment and/or a progressive visual loss where field and/or acuity deficits alone may not meet the aforementioned criteria.

The visual impairment, including blindness, as described above, prevents the child from receiving reasonable educational benefit from general education as evidenced by the following criterion:

  • Requirement of specialized instruction, which may include special aids, materials, and equipment, for learning, literacy, activities of daily living, social interaction, self advocacy, and, as needed, orientation and mobility.

Note: The term “visual impairment, including blindness” does not include children who have learning problems which are primarily the result of visual perceptual and/or visual motor difficulties.

In the event that the child who is deaf-blind does not meet the above requirements for visual impairment, including blindness, the combination of an existing vision loss and the documented hearing loss adversely affects the child’s educational performance.

Teachers of students with a visual impairment (TVI) have the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Specialized instruction and services required to meet the unique educational needs of her visually impaired students.
  • Assists the student, parents, special and regular education personnel, and the student’s sighted peers in
  • Interprets the visually impaired student’s specific eye condition, the educational implications of the visual impairment, and the results of functional vision and learning media assessments.
  • Consults regularly with the classroom teacher, other regular and special education personnel, parents, and others to coordinate programs and services for the visually impaired student.
  • Assists the site administrator and teachers in making environmental adjustments for the student in the school.
  • Shares responsibility with classroom teachers in the identification of instructional areas in which the student requires assistance.
  • Assures that large-type or braille texts, supplementary materials, educational, aids, and equipment needed by the visually impaired student, and the classroom teacher, are provided in a timely manner to ensure the student’s maximum participation in all classroom activities (appropriate educational materials may be prepared or adapted by the VI teacher, or they may be obtained from educational, clerical, or transcriber services.)
  • Provides instruction in the development and maintenance of skills to meet the student’s unique educational needs in the following areas, as indicated in the IEP: low vision & visual efficiency skills, concept development & academic skills, daily living skills, career & vocational education skills, communication skills (these skills include braille reading and writing as appropriate), social/emotional skills and abilities, & sensory motor skills.
  • Prepares sequential and meaningful instruction geared to the student’s assessed needs, IEP goals and objectives, functioning, and motivational levels.  This instruction should be reflected in weekly or monthly lesson plans, as appropriate.
  • Provides assistance to the classroom teacher in academic subjects and activities of the classroom that, as a direct result of the student’s visual impairment, require adaptation for the student.
  • Provides initial and ongoing assessment: assists with assessments when needed, interprets assessment results when needed.
  • Conducts functional vision/learning media assessments and produces written reports.
  • Attends  IEP meetings for students with visual impairments
  • Provides in-service training programs for school personnel and students and education for parents regarding the needs of visually impaired students and adaptations, programs, and services for these students.
  • Coordinates with other personnel, such as transcribers, readers, counselors, O&M specialists, career/vocational education staff, and rehabilitation counselors.

A classroom teacher (regular, special class, or resource specialist) has the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Provides instruction in appropriate academic and non-academic content areas to the visually impaired student in the classroom
  • Works cooperatively with the teacher of students with visual impairments
  • Identifies the student’s areas of educational need, including unique education needs
  • Coordinates instruction and services to meet these needs
  • Provides timely classroom materials that need to be reproduced in another medium
  • Determines mutually-convenient times during the school day for scheduling the teacher of students with visual impairments to work with the student
  • Modifies classroom procedures and environment to meet the specific needs of the visually impaired student for participation in classroom activities
  • Reports updates on the visually impaired student with parents and TVI regularly

Functional Vision Assessment (FVA):

  • Required at initial eligibility and every three years
  • Determines the functional working vision for the student in the school and community environment
  • Additional information can be found online at FamilyConnect Learning Media Assessment (LMA)

Learning Media Assessment (LMA)

  • Required at initial eligibility and annually thereafter
  • Determines the student’s preferred learning medium
  • Documents how the student prefers to learn by using their visual, tactual or auditory skills
  • More information available online at FamilyConnect Learning Media Assessment (LMA)

For Families

For Prospective Teachers

  • Qualifications to be a teacher for the visually impaired in Colorado:
    • Special Education Specialist: Visually Impaired (ages birth to 21)
      • Must hold a Master’s degree or higher from a regionally-accredited institution in special education visual impairment or its equivalent, as determined by the Department.
      • Must have completed a program from a regionally-accredited institution for special education specialists: visually impaired that includes prescribed field experience requirements.
    • More information at: Colorado Department of Education Endorsement Requirements
  • Qualifications to become a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) in Colorado:
    • School Orientation and Mobility Specialist (ages birth to 21)
      • Bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally-accredited institution
      • Completion of a preparation program from a regionally-accredited institution for school orientation and mobility specialists
      • Completion of practicum or internship, which must be in a school setting and equivalent to a minimum of 320 hours, full-time, under the supervision of an Academy of Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) licensed orientation and mobility specialist.
      • Passing of the ACVREP exam
      • Hold a current and valid ACVREP orientation and mobility certificate
    • More information at: Colorado Department of Education Endorsement Requirements 

For Community Members

  • DPS services students birth through 21, including transition services after high school. Additional resources in the community available to families with students with disabilities include: 
  • Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB)
  • National Federation of the Blind (NFB)– American Foundation of the Blind (AFB)-Hadley School for the Blind

Orientation & Mobility Services

Orientation refers to knowing where one is in space, while mobility refers to moving from place to place. Orientation and mobility, also known as O&M, is the ability to get from place to place safely, gracefully, and efficiently. For children with visual impairments, developing O&M skills is a gradual process that begins in infancy and continues into adulthood.

The O&M instructional goals for your child with additional disabilities will be individualized, based on thier visual, physical, and cognitive abilities, motivation, and the places they travel.

student on bean bag chair