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Visually Impaired (Blind and Partially Sighted)

Orange County provides educational services to over 200 students identified as blind or partially sighted. The Vision Program provides specialized services by Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation & Mobility Specialists. A wide range of assistive technology devices and low vision aids are available to meet individual student needs. Services may begin at birth through the Parent Infant-Toddler Program where intervention is provided within the natural environment with direct parent involvement. When a child turns 3, itinerant services are available at any Orange County school. One elementary school has a full-time preschool program and resource classroom options for children in grades K through 5. Intensive instruction in Braille is provided for students at this elementary site. Transcription of teacher made instructional and curriculum material is produced in large print and Braille by the Braille Support Team. Orientation & Mobility is provided for students requiring this specialized instruction.

Program News

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Visual Impairment?

A student with a visual impairment is one whose vision is restrictive to the point that s/he requires the use of specialized techniques, textbooks, materials and/or equipment to function in the educational setting.

Depending on the degree of visual impairment, there are two categories of the visually impaired:

Blind - A student who, after the best possible corrective lenses (glasses), has no vision or has little potential for using vision and relies on tactile or auditory senses for learning.

Partially Sighted - A student who, after the best possible corrective lenses (glasses), uses remaining vision for learning or may use a combination of visual/tactile input for learning.

When might I suspect that my child has a vision problem?

When the child demonstrates any or a combination of the following characteristics, a parent should consult a doctor who specializes in eye medical care.

BEHAVIOR

  • Rubs eyes often.

  • Shuts or covers one eye, tilts head, or thrusts head forward.

  • Has difficulty in work that requires close use of the eyes such as putting puzzle parts together or matching identical shapes.

  • Blinks more than usual, or is irritable when doing close work.

  • Holds objects close to eyes.

  • Is unable to see distant things clearly.

  • Squints eyelids together or frowns.

APPEARANCE

  • Has crossed eyes.

  • Has a red-rimmed, crusty, or swollen eyelid.

  • Has inflamed or watery eyes.

  • Has recurring sties (small inflamed swellings on the rim of the eyelid).

COMPLAINTS

  • Has itchy, burning or eyes that feel scratchy.

  • Complains about not seeing well.

  • Complains of dizziness, headaches or nausea following close eye work.

  • Has blurred or double vision.

If I have a concern, what should I do?

  • Make an appointment with a doctor who specializes in eye examinations (ophthalmologist or optometrist). Assure that a copy of the eye report is sent to the school.

  • Talk with your child's teacher. Ask if they have noticed that your child may be having difficulty seeing the board or reading from a book.

  • Request a meeting with the counselor and all persons who work with your child. Share your observations and concerns at the meeting. Ask what educational services are available to help your child.

  • If an educational evaluation is needed, ask exactly what must be done and who will do it.

If the child is age 3 to 5, please contact Preschool Diagnostic Intervention Services (PDIS) at 407-317-3200 ext. 3274.

If it is determined that my child requires specialized instruction from the vision program, will my child need vision services throughout his/her school years?

A student with a visual impairment may require a specialized educational program until such time s/he learns to develop skills to access the educational curriculum and becomes more independent in the educational setting.

What services are available through the schools?

The Orange County Public School System has a continuum of services for students with visual impairments from birth (Parent/Infant-Toddler Program) until a high school diploma is granted or through age 22. Services can range from consultation to placement in a resource room or a self-contained Pre-K vision class. Vision services are provided at regular school campuses, as well as in center schools. The amount of time the student spends in exceptional student education classes is determined by the individual needs of the student.

Service Delivery Models

Consultation - Students remain in the regular classroom. The itinerant teacher of the visually impaired consults with the student's classroom teacher(s) regarding necessary interventions and accommodations.

Itinerant/Resource Services - Students receive instruction in specialized vision skills as part of the school day on an identified schedule. These services may be provided in the child’s classroom or in a separate room on the school campus. Orientation and Mobility training is provided, as necessary, and occurs on the school campus and/or in the neighborhood surrounding the school and community.

Self-contained Preschool Services – Students may spend almost all of their instructional day with a teacher of the visually impaired. This class is usually smaller than a regular preschool education class. The length of the instructional day is determined by the age and individual needs of the child.

How will the program benefit my child?

Once in the Vision Impaired program, the emphasis is on teaching the student to learn about and adapt to his/her visual disability with an emphasis on gaining skills to access the curriculum. Each year an annual review meeting is held with the parents, the teacher and other professionals who work with your child. Together, the committee will develop an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) to meet the needs of the student.

Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI) will help your child cope by providing the appropriate adaptations and accommodations needed to assist him/her to meet the demands of the classroom. Proper placement and support will provide a foundation for your child to function successfully within the family structure and as a contributing member of society.

How can I help?

The vision program assists your child in developing strategies compensate for his/her visual impairment. The program encourages independence and the development of a positive self-concept. Parents are encouraged to:

  • Have current eye reports and follow visual recommendations.

  • Keep eyeglasses and visual equipment in good working condition.

  • Look at your child first and his/her visual needs secondly.

  • Understand his/her strengths and weaknesses.

  • Stay in contact with the teacher(s) and know what they are doing.

  • Encourage your child to discuss his/her visual needs.

  • Seek counseling, if necessary.

What if my child does not qualify?

If your child is evaluated and does not qualify for the program, you may request a meeting with the child's teacher to discuss recommendations and interventions in light of evaluation findings. To learn more about 504's, click here.

What is the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB)?

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is located in St. Augustine, FL. Residential and day programs are provided for eligible students Prekindergarten through 12th grade. Information on the school and enrollment criteria is available at www.fsdb.k12.fl.us .

Where do I go for assistance?

Orange County Public Schools

Vision Impaired Program
445 W. Amelia Street
Orlando, FL 32801
407-317-3493

Preschool Diagnostic Intervention Services (PDIS)
3100 Edgewater Dr. Orlando, FL 32804
407-317-3200 ext. 3274

Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources Systems (FDLRS)
3100 Edgewater Dr. Orlando, FL 32804
407-317-3200

State and Community Agencies

Division of Blind Services
400 W. Robinson Street
Room N (North Tower) 102
Orlando, FL 32801
407-245-0700

Lighthouse of Central Florida
215 East New Hampshire Street
Orlando, Florida 32804
407-898-2483

Contact Information

Phone/Contact Image

Elizabeth Padilla
Specialized Instruction
Senior Administrator, ESE
407-317-3409

Diagnostician
Maureen (Moe) Floegel
Diagnostician
407-317-3900 x 4561

Deanna Kelly
Lead Braillist
407-317-3913