Visual Impairment

The terms partially sighted, low vision, legally blind, and totally blind are used in the educational context to describe students with visual impairments.   Children with vision impairment often need special education and other services to help in their development

How will this affect my child?

Not being able to see well alters how a child understands and functions in the world.   Impaired vision can limit the range of experiences and the kinds of information a child is exposed to. That can affect a child’s emotional, neurological, and physical development.  The effect of visual problems on a child’s development depends on the severity, type of loss, age at which the condition appears, and overall functioning level of the child. Many children who have multiple disabilities may also have visual impairments resulting in motor, cognitive, and/or social developmental delays.

What help is available?

The Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) is a valuable resource for families.  MDE-LIO provides technical assistance and resources to enable local service providers to serve and improve the quality of education for students with a visual impairment or those who are deaf and/or hard of hearing including those with multiple impairments.

What do I need to think about for my child’s IEP?

Students with a visual impairment are often eligible for special education services in Michigan under the category of Visual Impairment.  Strategies for teaching students with vision impairments  include adaptations (accommodations and modifications) and assistive technology.   Michigan Alliance for Families provides help and information on the IEP process.  Many resources are shared on the Perkins School for the Blind.

Is there some technology that can help my student learn?

Assistive technology is a related service listed in IDEA.  Technology is a key to leveling the playing field for individuals with disabilities.  Check out theTechMatrix for suggestions for finding educational and assistive technology products for students with disabilities. Learn more on our Assistive Technology webpage.

Where can I find support?

Additional organizations focused on visual impairments:

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