School Age FAQs

What do I need to know when taking my child to the ophthalmologist?

An ophthalmologist is a key medical professional working with your child. A good medical history should be obtained and a thorough examination should take place. Be prepared to ask specific questions and follow through with any new referrals or suggestions. The eye report with the documented visual impairment, recorded acuities, possible corrective prescription, prognosis, and recommendations is necessary for a school team to identify your child with a visual impairment.

How will my blind/vision impaired child learn?

All children learn differently. For the child with low vision or blindness, the sense of sight is either limited or non-functioning. Therefore, these children need to learn how to use their other senses to learn about the world around them and develop concepts for things that the sighted child learns through observation. Additionally, children with a vision impairment or blindness may need specialized instruction and/or accommodations in the school setting in order to access the curriculum and successfully participate in classroom lessons, activities, and assessments. Often specialists will work with your child to teach him or her additional skills such as reading Braille, using assistive technology, and developing their orientation and mobility skills.

What is Braille?

Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision. It is not a different language, but more like a code. As of 2016 the standard for English braille became Unified English Braille--or UEB for short. The introduction of UEB means that braille produced in English world-wide uses the same braille code. Additionally, there is "uncontracted braille" which is letter-for-letter, and there is "contracted braille" which uses abbreviations for common words and letter combinations. Advanced readers can learn special braille for math, other languages, and how to read tactile graphics. Please note that only a teacher for the visually impaired (TVI) is certified to teach Braille.

When and how will it be taught?

If and when Braille will be taught varies from child to child. The process to determine Braille needs begins with a Learning Media Assessment (LMA).Students for whom Braille is identified as the medium for instruction will receive services from a trained Teacher of the Visually Impaired or (TVI). Based on the results of the assessment, goals are written into the IEP to support Braille instruction.

What is Orientation and Mobility or O&M?

O&M is a service provided by a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) for students with visual impairments. O&M begins with understanding where your body ends and the environment begins. It also includes knowing about relationships between different objects in the environment. O&M instruction varies depending on the age and needs of a child, but it is important because it teaches purposeful movement, enables a child to safely explore and interact with their environment, and provides real life experiences that foster greater independence.

When will my child be introduced to a white cane?

Only a certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS), should determine if your child will need a cane. The COMS will discuss your child’s abilities and needs and do an evaluation of your child to determine appropriate goals. Click here for developmental criteria to help determine if your child is ready for a precane (alternative mobility device) or traditional long cane.

  • Additional mobility information for children can be found here.

What are Federal Quota Funds?

Federal Quota Funds are funds set aside each year by Congress so that schools can buy specialized instructional materials for students who are legally blind or function as blind as a result of brain injury or dysfunction. These items may only be purchased through American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The funds cover a variety of items that your child may need in school. It is the school’s responsibility to access appropriate and necessary materials and equipment.

What is Transitional Planning and when does it begin?

Transition planning is a process mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) for all students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in K-12 education. The purpose is to facilitate the student's move from school to post-school activities. Transition planning involves transition services that are a set of coordinated activities for a student with a disability to prepare for post-school activities of life.  In Ohio transitional planning begins at age 14 and will be addressed in the development of the child’s IEP.