Susan Z. Alex
Program for the Visually Impaired
To qualify for vision services the student must meet one of the following conditions. A visual impairment is defined as an acuity of 20/70 or worse in the best eye with best correction, a severe constriction in the peripheral field in both eyes, or a progressive eye condition as documented by an ophthalmologist or optometrist licensed to practice medicine in the State of Florida. PBSD form 1052 should be completed by the doctor before a student can be considered for placement.
The role of the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) is to provide direct and consultative services to and for children with visual impairments in order to assure maximum growth in all developmental areas.
These may include (a) evaluation and assessment, (b) direct instruction in large print, Braille, magnification and computer technology (c) counseling, and (d) liaison with parents and regular classroom teachers.
Orientation and mobility is a related service and an important part of the curriculum in the delivery of services to children with visual impairments. “Formal” orientation and mobility skills my include such areas a (a) movement with a sighted guide, (b) protective techniques, (c) indoor and outdoor cane skills, (d) street crossings (e) use of public transportation, (f) safety rules. Orientation and mobility instruction should not be taught in isolation nor should it be limited to only “formal” skills. Sensory skills, concept development, motor development, and environment and community awareness are all components of the orientation and mobility process.
Both Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialists hold special degrees, certifications and endorsements in the state of Florida. Both these professionals serve as central figures on child study teams as a resource for other team members.
Professional development of TVI serving students in Palm Beach County Schools is currently being administered by Florida Instructional Materials Center through the Department of Education. The professional development program is titled “Quality Programs for the Visually Impaired” is a three year program developed to update the skills of the TVI teachers and help the district develop a unified program for the Visually Impaired Students in Palm Beach County.