Overview of Services for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
When your child is born with a visual impairment, or acquires one through illness or injury, you may feel shocked, bewildered, and frightened. You may also find that your immediate family members, local doctors, and neighborhood schools are unfamiliar with the impact of visual impairment on a child's learning and education. But you're not alone.
National, State, and Local Organizations
A number of national organizations are dedicated to the well-being of visually impaired children, and they're important sources of information and support for you. Other sources include:
- The supervising agency for early intervention services for children under the age of three in each state. The lead agency in each state may be housed in state departments of education, health, human services, or rehabilitation, although some are in agencies outside the state system. These agencies, also called Part C early intervention agencies, usually provide referrals to local programs.
- Special education professionals in state education departments that oversee education for children with disabilities, and the state vision consultant, if your state has one, who is involved in coordinating the efforts of teachers who specialize in working with visually impaired children. Your state's department of education can tell you whether there is one in your state.
- Special schools—sometimes referred to as residential or state schools or schools for the blind—and their experienced staff.
- You may also call your local school district for assistance in receiving services. The district may have an office of special education or their main switchboard can assist you in starting the process for receiving services.
You'll find information on how to connect with these resources on this site.
At times it may seem as if the only people who understand what you're going through are people who have been there too. Other parents of visually impaired children, either individually or in organized groups, can offer advice based on firsthand experience, good information, and ongoing support. The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI), and other parent organizations mentioned in the Overview of the Service System for Children can help you to network with other families.