My New Student is Blind. What Do I Need to Know?
by Linda L. Gerra, Ed.D., Director, Children’s Vision Programs, Lighthouse Guild
You’re a school administrator/principal. You have a new student who is blind. What do you need to know? You should arrange for the student to visit the school before the school year starts. If the student is blind or has vision loss, he or she needs to receive orientation to the building, specifically classroom(s), lockers and bathroom.
There will be related service personnel who will need access to the building:
- Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI)
- Orientation & Mobility Instructor (O&M)
You and the classroom teacher will work alongside the TVI to ensure that all adaptive educational materials and devices, technology and software (based on the IEP) are ready for use on the first day of school.
Each visual impairment is different. Some students need enlargements of printed materials – easy access to a photocopier is important. Some students have devices such as a Braille note. Extra space may be needed nearby for technology and equipment such as a Braille embosser, Braille books (they are bulky), a CCTV or a personal computer.
Welcome your new student to the school. Communicate with the family. Do they have any specific wishes about how their child is perceived by the school staff and students? Do you have any other students in the school who are blind or have vision loss? Do your students know how to interact with a fellow student who is blind? Your student’s TVI is the best resource for any questions or concerns.