Vision: Special Factor Considerations
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Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a learner’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness – IDEA Sec.300.8c(13). The purpose for this special factor is to determine if vision should be a consideration in the development of the learner’s IEP.
An IEP team is required to have professionals who are qualified to interpret assessment information. In cases of vision loss, Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired and/or Orientation and Mobility Specialists often fill these roles as IEP team members, as needed.
The following questions may be helpful to IEP teams as they consider vision as a special factor:
Is there evidence of a vision loss?
The most common types of evidence to be found by an IEP team are school nurses’ screening data and/or a report from a medical professional. Results may be found in the learner’s cumulative file, health file at the nurses’ office and/or by contacting the parent/legal guardian or Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired assigned to the building.
Does the learner have accessibility needs due to their vision loss that will not be met by the general education environment? Has a Media Assessment been completed?
The Learning Media Assessment (LMA) is completed by the Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired and provides information regarding the current reading and writing media best suited to learners with vision impairments. The media assessed include braille, large print, dual print media, and regular print with optical devices. The IEP team should contact the Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired if they do not have this information or need assistance implementing the media into the learner’s plan. If the learner requires materials in an accessible format, the IEP team will also need to include Accessible Educational Materials within the learner’s IEP.
Does the learner have Expanded Core Curriculum needs that will not be met by the general education curriculum?
If the IEP team would answer YES to any of the above questions, then the IEP team should identify VISION as a special factor.
Once the IEP team has determined that VISION is a special factor, the IEP team documents this decision and embeds the services, activities and supports within the IEP to address the unique needs of the learner who is blind or visually impaired.
If the IEP team answers NO, then the consideration process would stop. There would no longer be a need to consider VISION because it would NOT be a special factor.
Blind and Visually Impaired Site (Iowa Department of Education)
Accessible Educational Materials (Iowa Department of Education) – resources regarding procurement of braille, tactile graphics, and large print
Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Further resources are available on the i3 special education resources page.