Author: Dolly Bhargava


This section presents information on the assessment process and the various team members who can assist the student.  A comprehensive evaluation of the student’s functional vision should take place so that the student can receive appropriate intervention and services (Lewis & Allman, 2000).  To fully evaluate the visual condition, abilities and needs of the student, professionals should use a two - fold approach.   


Diagnosis

This involves a vision examination by an eye-care professional (either an ophthalmologist or an optometrist) to verify that the student has a vision impairment.  Table 2 below describes the various roles of the professionals involved in this process.  

Table 2

Health Professionals

Role

Doctor/General Practitioner

Examines the eyes by carrying out a basic visual screening.

Refers patients to the appropriate health care professionals, such as optometrists and ophthalmologists.

Ophthalmologist specializing in low vision

A medical doctor, who diagnoses and provides treatment for defects/diseases/injuries of the eye, performs surgery, prescribes and administers medication for the eye.

Optometrist specializing in low vision

 

 

Diagnoses, prescribes glasses, provides vision therapy and low-vision devices.  Provides functional instruction for defects/diseases/injuries of the eye without prescribing and administering medication or performing eye surgery.


Developing an Invention Plan

Once a visual impairment has been identified, step two involves creating a plan for action or the IEP that meets the abilities and needs of the student.  It is important to do this through a team approach.  Table 3 below describes the various team members. The team can be comprised of a variety of educational specialists, such as a certified teacher of students who are visually impaired, and orientation and mobility specialists.  The team also includes other health professionals such as occupational therapists, orthoptists and speech and language pathologists.  The membership of the team will depend on the needs and abilities of the student.  Therefore, your team may not always include all the people listed below. 

Table 3

Educational Staff

Role

Orientation and Mobility Trainer

  •  Works with the vision support teacher to conduct the functional vision assessment as it relates to the student’s ability to travel independently 

  • Prepares sequential and meaningful instruction geared to the student’s assessed needs, IEP goals and objectives, functioning level, and motivational level

  • Teaches students to travel with proficiency, safety, and confidence in familiar and unfamiliar environments

  • Provides consultation and support services to teaching staff regarding classroom environmental modifications, adaptations, and considerations.

  • Encourages the student with a visual impairment to travel independently in these settings

Visiting Teacher for students with visual impairment/ Vision Support Teacher

  • Assesses and evaluates the needs of each child 
  • Explains the impact of visual impairment in terms of current and future implications
  • Offers support to the student (such as teaching Braille, and initiating orientation and mobility skills)
  • Provides advice on necessary adaptations to the school environment needed for the student
  • Assists with  educational programming for the student
  • Provides advice to teaching staff regarding instruction  and classroom management strategies 

Health Professional

Role

Occupational Therapist

  • Develops skills for activities for daily living (educational skills such as writing and self-help skills such as washing, dressing, eating)
  • Advises on special equipment, aids, and environmental adaptations that need to be made to maximize independence.

Orthoptist specializing in low vision

 

  • Works with ophthalmologists to examine the eyes Provides functional instruction for defects/diseases/injuries of the eye
  • Does not prescribe  or administer medication or perform eye surgery 

Optician

  • Provides information on options such as optical and non- optical devices, assistive and adaptive techniques for the student
  • Fits, adjusts, adapts and provides optical devices prescribed by an Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, or Orthoptist.

Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist

  • Assesses the student’s gross-motor skills, such as the ability to sit, stand, or walk)
  • Recommends exercises to develop motor skills, increase flexibility, balance and coordination
  • Provide mobility aids

School Psychologist/ Educational Diagnostician

  • Assesses cognitive abilities
  • Identifies student’s learning style and educational needs
  • Develops strategies to meet these needs
  • Works with students who have behavioral or emotional difficulties.

Social Worker

  • Provides family support and counseling
  • Supports the family to access community services
  • Assists the student  accessing programs in the community

Speech/ Language Pathologist

  • Assesses communication skills (receptive, expressive and social)
  •  Provides therapy in order to allow the student to communicate more effectively

As you can see, a variety of professionals can provide support and assistance to help the student participate successfully in the classroom.