Since blindness is a low incidence disability many schools have little experience serving students with this disability. As a result the Blindness Skills Specialist provides support in three main areas: 1) professional development; 2) technical assistance and 3) resources and referrals.
The Blindness Skills Specialist Program provides support to local school districts which provide special education and related services for eligible students. School districts or agencies may request assistance for the following staff:
- Teacher of the Visually Impaired
- Orientation and Mobility Specialists
- Special Education teachers serving eligible students
- Para-professionals serving an eligible students
- Related Service Personnel serving eligible students
- Special Education Administrators
- Transition coordinators or staff
- Families of children who are blind or visually impaired.
The Blindness Skills Specialist program provides large group presentations, regionally and statewide, during the school year. The topics may include preparing for a student with a visual impairment in the classroom, designing and modifying instruction for students with a visual impairment, working with students who have a visual impairment and additional severe disability or braille for the paraprofessional. View the calendar of upcoming events.
- Service delivery model suggested for districts
- Hands-on activities for student and staff using blindfolds or simulators.
- Understanding Braille reading and writing basics.
- Understanding low vision and educational implications.
- Understanding medical implications of vision loss basics.
- Understanding unique needs of students (infants, toddler, early childhood, elementary, middle school, and high school).
- Technology for students with low vision or blindness.
- Roles of professionals working with students who are blind or visually impaired.
The Blindness Skills Specialist provides small group technical assistance to guide the schools and IEP teams who serve children who are blind or visually impaired. The areas of technical assistance may include the following:
- Appropriate academic and intellectual assessment procedures
- Programming and placement recommendations
- Determining service needs
- Strategies for accessing the core curriculum (Math, ELA, Science, etc)
- Strategies for accessing the specialty areas (PE, Art, Music, etc)
- Appropriate environmental and instructional adaptations
- Instruction in Alternative techniques of blindness
- Identification and use of assistive technology
- High expectation with regard to academic and vocational performance
- Facilitation and discussion of braille instruction
- Implementation and instruction of the Expanded Core Curriculum
Resources and Referrals:
A district may not be aware of the resources available locally or nationally to guide and assist schools, educators, and families. As a result, resources and referrals are provided to schools and families regarding available services offered by agencies or other entities.
To request professional development, technical assistance or resources/referrals from the Blindness Skills Specialist send an email with the following information to the BSS for your region:
- Name and role:
- School district and name of specific school:
- Contact information: email, phone, address of school
- Question or topic of service requested: Examples include: (eligibility, programming and placement, expanded core curriculum, assistive technology, etc.)
Resources for Families
Family Connect: This is a website created through a partnership between AFB and NAPVI FamilyConnect is a web site created by American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and National Association for Parents of Visually Impaired Children.
National Association for Parents of Visually Impaired Children: NAPVI provides support, resources and referrals for parents who have a child with a visual impairment.
Vision Certification Courses
Missouri State has courses available for certification in visual impairment and blindness. These courses are master's level courses, endorsed by DESE and there is tuition reimbursement available upon completion. These courses are held throughout the school year and are scheduled for teachers to attend without time off. These courses are for certified teachers, student teachers pursuing a degree, and other interested individuals.
- Braille instruction I & II
- Anatomy of the eye for TVI
- Methods of Instructing Students That Are Visually Impaired
- Applications of Low Vision for TVI
- Applications of Orientation and Mobility for TVI
Contact the BSS office for more details.