Obtaining Services for Your Visually Impaired Child in New York State

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law enacted by Congress in 1975 and reauthorized in 2004, ensures that children with disabilities throughout the nation have special education services available to them. Part C of IDEA mandates programs for infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth to age two) and their families. Part B of IDEA mandates a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.

Because IDEA allows states some discretion on how to implement the law, the way in which these services are provided and the terminology used may vary in each state. This section is designed to provide parents of children with visual impairments an overview of the way services are offered in New York state and help them identify the appropriate agencies for the services they need and resources where they can obtain more comprehensive information.

The way services are offered in each state may change periodically based on amendments to existing federal and state laws. If you are aware of any recent changes in your state based on your experience as a parent or as a service provider, please let us know of those changes by sending an e-mail to afbdirectory@afb.net so we can keep the information on this page current and accurate.

For in-depth information about the provisions of IDEA 2004 and the full wording of the law and its regulations, see https://sites.ed.gov/idea/.


I suspect that my child has a visual impairment (or has been diagnosed with a visual impairment). What should I do?

If you suspect that your child has a visual impairment that is causing a developmental delay (i.e., he or she is performing below the level that is expected for a given age in areas such as cognitive, communication, motor, sensory, and social abilities), it is important that you take your child to an eye care specialist for an evaluation. Make a list of the behaviors your child exhibits which led you to suspect that he or she is visually impaired and share this list with the specialist. Once a diagnosis has been made, the specialist may refer your child to the New York State Early Intervention Program (EIP) and to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. You can also apply for services for your child by contacting the EIP, for early intervention services, or contacting one of the CBVH district offices to obtain services if your child is legally blind.

EIP is administered by the New York State Department of Health through the Bureau of Early Intervention and is the organization that provides services for New York families whose children under three years of age have a significant developmental delay or disability as mandated by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that safeguards a free, appropriate public education for all eligible children with disabilities in the United States. In New York State, all counties and the City of New York are required by public health law to appoint a public official as their early intervention official (EIO). The early intervention official is your single point of entry to the early intervention program and will assist you in getting your child evaluated. Your child may be eligible for early intervention services at no cost to you or your family, depending on the diagnosis after the evaluation or assessment. A list of municipal/county contacts for early intervention may be found on the New York State Department of Health.

Your child may also be referred for early intervention services by other professionals if they think it's possible that your child may be visually impaired or be developmentally delayed. States receiving federal dollars under IDEA are required to develop a statewide system for identifying, locating, and evaluating all children with disabilities, ages birth through 21, who are in need of early intervention and special education and related services. Thus, parents or guardians, educators, physicians, and individuals who work with children, who believe that a child may have a disability, may refer the child to the EIP, if the child is less than less than three years old, or to a local educational agency (LEA), if the child is of school-age.

If your child is referred to EIP by someone other than you, you will be notified of the referral in writing, and a written consent must be obtained from you before your child is evaluated and provided early intervention services. After you grant your consent, your child will be evaluated for eligibility to receive services. Once eligibility is determined, you will be referred to an approved program near you, and a service coordinator will be assigned to work with you and your child. All children who are suspected of being severely visually impaired or legally blind at any age should be referred to CBVH.

CBVH is the state agency that provides vocational rehabilitation and other direct services to legally blind New York State residents, including children, adults, and elderly persons. The CBVH Children's Program serves infants through age nine. Children and their families receive services from a children's consultant, who develops a plan tailored to the child's needs. Children ages 10 through 13 receive services through the vocational rehabilitation program but continue to work with a children's consultant. At age 14, children are transferred to a transition counselor, although children with special needs may remain in the Children's Program through age 21.

Full contact information for the Bureau of Early Intervention and CBVH may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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What are early intervention services?

Early intervention services are services provided to children with disabilities from birth to age three as well as their families. These services focus on the basic skills that babies typically develop during the first three years of life, which include physical skills, such as reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking; cognitive skills, such as thinking, learning, and solving problems; communication skills, such as talking, listening, and understanding; social/emotional skills, such as playing, feeling secure and happy; or self-help skills, such as eating and dressing. Early intervention services are designed not only to help the child but also to assist the family as they raise the child. Therefore, it is important for parents and families to be involved in all the services a child receives.

Before your child receives any kind of services, he or she will have to undergo several assessments by qualified professionals. The types of services he or she will need and be provided will be determined by the outcome of these assessments. You will need to provide written consent before your child is evaluated. Once your child's eligibility for early intervention services has been determined, a service coordinator will work closely with you and other service providers to plan for and monitor the delivery of these services.

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What services are available through the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped?

Children who are legally blind receive services from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH). Legal blindness is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better or stronger eye with best correction, or a restricted field of vision of 20 degrees or less in the better or stronger eye. Having a visual acuity of 20/200 means that the person sees at 20 feet what a normally sighted person would see at 200 feet.

Working with the family, a CBVH children's consultant will develop a plan tailored to the child's needs. The plan may include services provided in the home, the community, or private rehabilitation agencies. Some of the services provided by the children's consultant include counseling and guidance to the family, advocacy, educational consultation, and vocational coordination. The child may also receive low vision services, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility, or social casework. Services are provided outside of school, either after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.

Full contact information for CBVH may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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Who pays for services received from the Bureau of Early Intervention and the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped?

Early intervention services from New York's Early Intervention Program (EIP) are provided at no cost to the families of eligible children. In New York, health insurance, including private insurance and Medicaid, is used to pay for early intervention services. However, only insurance policies from state-licensed and state-regulated insurance companies may be used to pay for early intervention services without your consent. If your insurance policy is not regulated by the state, you will need to give your consent before it is used to pay for early intervention services. In addition, you will not be required to make out-of-pocket payments for co-payments or deductibles even if your insurance policy is not state-regulated.

If your insurer is licensed or regulated by the state, payments for early intervention services will not be applied to the annual and lifetime caps in your insurance policy and your coverage for health services will not be reduced because your child is receiving early intervention services.

New York State offers Child Health Plus, a health insurance plan for children under the age of 19 who are not eligible for Medicaid and who have limited or no health insurance. For information about Child Health Plus, call (800) 698-4543.

The services provided by the Children's Program at the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) are funded by the state and are provided at no cost to families. Some services, such as recreation and adaptive technology, may have annual cost limits.

Full contact information for EIP and CBVH may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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What are the eligibility requirements to receive early intervention services?

As mandated by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a child is eligible for early intervention services if he or she has a developmental delay identified during a multidisciplinary evaluation of the child's abilities and needs in the areas of thinking, moving, communication, relating to others, seeing or hearing, and/or if he or she has been diagnosed with a medical condition that has a likelihood of affecting his or her development. In New York State, children from birth through age two who have been diagnosed with a physical or mental condition with a high probability of resulting in developmental delay, such as extreme prematurity, Down syndrome, or other chromosomal abnormalities, sensory impairments (hearing loss, vision impairment), inborn errors of metabolism, or fetal alcohol syndrome are eligible to receive early intervention services. A developmental delay is defined as a 12-month delay in one functional area; or a 33 percent delay in one functional area or a 25 percent delay in each of two areas; or having a score of at least 2.0 standard deviation below the mean in one functional area or a score of at least 1.5 standard deviation below the mean in each of two functional areas. It is not required for a child to be an American citizen to be eligible for services. However, the child must be a resident of New York state to receive early intervention services in New York.

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What are the eligibility requirements to receive services from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped?

To be eligible for services from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), a person must be a New York state resident who is legally blind. Legal blindness is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better or stronger eye with best correction or a restricted field of vision of 20 degrees or less in the better or stronger eye. Having 20/200 vision means that the person sees at 20 feet what a normally sighted person would see at 200 feet. There are occasions when it cannot be determined whether or not a young child is legally blind. In those cases, the family should contact CBVH to see if any services can be provided.

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What is a service coordinator?

A service coordinator is the person appointed by the early intervention official (EIO) who will work closely with you through the process of obtaining early intervention services and is responsible for coordinating the delivery of those services. In New York State, there are two types of service coordinators. Your initial service coordinator will assist you through all the preliminary steps you have to go through before receiving services—from your child's multidisciplinary evaluation to your first Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).

During the IFSP meeting, you will have the opportunity to choose an ongoing service coordinator, who is responsible for ensuring that your child receives the services outlined in the IFSP based on a comprehensive assessment of your child. Your ongoing service coordinator will also assist you in regularly reviewing your IFSP and in revising it if appropriate. Your ongoing service coordinator is also responsible for informing you about advocacy services.

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What is a CBVH Children's Consultant?

A children's consultant is the person at the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) who works closely with the child who is legally blind to develop a plan for services. Services may include orientation and mobility training, rehabilitation teaching services, low vision services, case work services, and limited adapted equipment for home use. Consultants also arrange for educational, medical, and functional assessments of legally blind children to assist in planning to meet their needs. The consultant provides assistance to school systems by participating in Committee on Special Education (CSE) meetings and working closely with teachers of students with visual impairments.

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What should or can I do if my child is found to be ineligible for early intervention services or if I feel that my child is not receiving the appropriate services?

If your child is found ineligible for early intervention services and you disagree, you may request an impartial hearing by writing to the Director of the Bureau of Early Intervention to request that your child be reevaluated. You must request the hearing within six months of when your child was found ineligible for services. If your child is still found to be ineligible for early intervention services after the hearing, your service coordinator will assist you in identifying other agencies that may provide the services needed by your child.

If your child is eligible for early intervention services, but you feel that he or she is not receiving the appropriate services, you may request mediation by writing to your county early intervention official (EIO). The EIO will inform the Community Dispute Resolution Center in your county of your request. Every county in New York has a Community Dispute Resolution Center. Find a Community Dispute Resolution Center near you.

Within two weeks of your request, a mediation meeting will be held at a place and time convenient for you. You may bring anyone with you to the meeting, such as your attorney. Your EIO may also bring an attorney to the meeting in which a mediator will be present. Once an agreement is reached during the mediation, a written document will be prepared describing the agreement, and your Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) will be revised based on what was agreed upon. There is no cost to you for mediation. All costs are paid for by the New York State Department of Health federal funds as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

If an agreement is not reached during the mediation process, you may request an impartial hearing by writing the Director of the Bureau of Early Intervention. The impartial hearing will be held in front of an administrative law judge assigned by the Commissioner of Health. After the hearing, you, your EIO, and service coordinator will receive the judge's determination in writing.

Full contact information for the Bureau of Early Intervention may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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What should or can I do if my child is found to be ineligible for CBVH Children's Services or if I feel that my child is not receiving the appropriate services?

If your child is receiving services from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) and you disagree with decisions made regarding your child, you may appeal by first discussing your concerns with the children's consultant. If you and the consultant cannot resolve the disagreement, there are two avenues available to you in the appeals process. The first one is the initial review, which can be obtained through a request to the CBVH children's consultant, district manager, or senior counselor. The initial review is conducted by the district manager or senior counselor with a family member and the children's consultant in an effort to resolve the issue. If an agreement is not reached at the initial review, you may initiate an administrative review by contacting the CBVH district office manager orally or in writing. An administrative review is a review of an agency action or decision that is available to you at a higher level of agency management. You may request a review in writing or by telephone, but a written request is preferred.

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Who provides early intervention services?

Only qualified professionals may offer early intervention services. These professionals have to be licensed, certified, and registered in their discipline and must be approved by the state.

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Where are early intervention services provided?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that early intervention services be provided in what are considered least restrictive environments (LRE) or natural environments. These are places where children without disabilities would normally be found, such as the child's home, a child care center, or a preschool, rather than in a service provider's office or at a vision care agency.

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What is an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)?

An Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a written agreement between you and the program providing early intervention services. The plan will be developed with you and the professionals who work with your child, including your family physician, at an IFSP meeting, which will be coordinated by your service coordinator. The plan will include reviewing your priorities and concerns as parents, establishing functional/measurable outcomes, identifying strategies, and identifying necessary services and timelines for initiating services.

The IFSP will provide details on why your child needs services, what kind of services will be provided, who will provide them and how often, and where the services will be provided. The IFSP must be completed within 45 days of your child's referral to the early intervention official (EIO). You and your service coordinator will have to check the IFSP every six months to see if changes need to be made to the plan and to ensure that it still fits the needs of your child.

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What will happen if I move out of town or to another state?

If you are moving to another state, your service coordinator can help you contact the early intervention system of the state you are moving to. To look for agencies that offer early intervention and educational services in other states, go to the "Find Services" tool on this website. If you are moving to another town in New York, your service coordinator can put you in touch with a program that provides early intervention services in the town to which you are moving.

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What happens when my child turns three?

Because, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), early intervention services will stop when your child turns three, you will need to plan to transition to other services for your child if needed. Some children may no longer need services; others may need to continue to receive early childhood services. Your service coordinator will help you find the appropriate services.

Many children receiving early intervention services will be eligible to receive preschool special education services. These services are offered by the school district or counties in which the child resides. A transition plan will be developed at the last Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meeting. The transition plan will outline the steps needed to help your child transition and then get used to the new setting and identify the individuals who will be responsible for helping your child with the transition.

The first step is for your early intervention official (EIO) to inform the Committee on Preschool Education (CPSE) in your school district about your child at least 120 days before your child begins preschool. A transition conference must be held at least 90 days before he or she turns three years of age. The purpose of the conference is for the committee to review your child's existing evaluations and records and to determine if additional evaluations are needed before the CPSE decides if your child is eligible for preschool special education and related services.

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Who will participate in the transition conference?

You, your service coordinator, and the chair of the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) will participate in the transition conference to discuss your child's transition. You also have the right to bring someone, such as an attorney, with you to the conference. The conference may be a telephone conference call or may be combined with your first meeting with the CPSE.

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What are special education and related services?

Special education is specially designed instruction, provided at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability to receive a free and appropriate public education. Related services are services provided to a child so that he or she may benefit from special education. These services include psychological and counseling services, social work, physical and occupational therapy, and other services. Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures that children and young adults, ages three to 21, are provided special education and related services.

In addition to the special education services that your child may be entitled to from your school district, if your child is legally blind, he or she is also eligible for services from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH). These services are provided through two programs: the Children's Program, which serves children, ages birth to nine, and the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which serves children ages 10 through 13. Children with special needs may remain in the program through age 21. Working with the family, a children's consultant will develop a plan tailored to your child's special needs. The plan may include services, such as counseling and guidance to the family, advocacy, educational and vocational consultation, low vision services, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility, or social casework. Services are provided in the home, the community, or private rehabilitation agencies either after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.

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What are the eligibility requirements for special education and related services?

To be eligible for special education and related services, a child must be between three and 21 years of age, must have one or more disability determined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that must adversely affect his or her educational performance, and must need specially designed instruction to address his or her unique needs. For a list of these disabilities, go to http://nichcy.org/disability/categories.

For a child to be eligible for special education in New York, he or she should either exhibit a significant delay or disability in one or more functional areas related to cognitive, language and communicative, adaptive, socio-emotional, or motor development which adversely affects his or her ability to learn; or a 33 percent delay in one functional area or a 25 percent delay in each of two functional areas; or if appropriate, standardized instruments are individually administered in the evaluation process, a score of 2.0 standard deviations below the mean in one functional area, or a score of 1.5 standard deviations below the mean in each of two functional areas.

To receive services from the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), a person must be a New York State resident who is legally blind. Legal blindness is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better or stronger eye with best correction or a restricted field of vision of 20 degrees or less in the better or stronger eye. Having a visual acuity of 20/200 means that the person sees at 20 feet what a normally sighted person would see at 200 feet.

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What should I do if my child is determined ineligible to receive special education services or if I feel that my child is not receiving the special education services he or she needs?

New York's special education mediation process gives parents the right to appeal and file complaints. If your child is determined ineligible for special education services, you may appeal the finding by writing to your district's Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) or Committee on Special Education (CSE) to request another evaluation. Requests for reevaluations may be made by either the parent, school district, state education agency, or other state agency.

If your child has been determined to be eligible for special education services, but you believe that he or she is not receiving the services that he or she needs or deserves, you should discuss your concerns with the CPSE or CSE or your school district. If issues are not resolved, you should write the Board of Education and request mediation in writing. A meeting will be held with the committee in the presence of an impartial representative from the Community Dispute Resolution Center. This mediation process will be held at no cost to you or your school district.

Full contact information for the New York State Board of Education may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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What is the procedure for obtaining special education services in New York?

If your child has been receiving early intervention services from a New York early intervention program (EIP), your service coordinator will assist you in referring your child to your district's Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE). Every school district in New York has a CSPE, which is responsible for education services for children with disabilities from ages three to five, or the Committee on Special Education (CSE), which is responsible for special education services for children from ages five to 21. The first step after your child has been referred for special education is for your child to be evaluated to see if he or she is eligible for special education services.

The CPSE or CSE will ask you to select from a list of state-approved agencies that can perform the evaluations. The evaluation is performed at no cost to you, but you will have to provide written consent before the evaluation takes place. You will receive a copy of the evaluation report.

If your child is determined to be eligible for preschool special education, you will be invited to a meeting and become a member of the CSPE that will put together an Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan for your child. If your child is determined to be ineligible for services, you will be given the reasons for the decision in writing. You have the right to appeal the decision.

If your child is over three years of age and was not receiving early intervention services, but you suspect that he or she may have a visual impairment or other disability that requires him or her to receive special education services, you or professionals who know your child may refer your child for an evaluation by writing to the chairperson of your school district's CPSE. If your child is five years of age, you may refer your child for evaluation to the CSE.

If your child is legally blind, you or professionals who work with your child should also refer your child to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) to receive services, such as counseling and guidance to the family, advocacy, educational and vocational consultation, low vision services, rehabilitation teaching, orientation and mobility, or social casework. Services are provided in the home, the community, or private rehabilitation agencies either after school, on weekends, or during school vacations.

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What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written plan of instruction by an educational team, which includes a student's present levels of educational performance, annual goals, short-term objectives, specific services needed, duration of services, evaluation, and related information. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), each student receiving special education services must have such a plan. The IEP should be reviewed and revised based on a reevaluation of the child, which should occur at least every three years or more often as needed unless the parents and the school system agree that a reevaluation is not necessary. The purpose of the reevaluation is to find out if the child continues to be a "child with a disability," as defined by IDEA and what the child's educational needs are. Parents must give their consent for their child's reevaluation.

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Where will special education services be provided?

As much as possible, special education services must be provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE), an environment that is adapted only to the extent necessary to maximize learning for a student who is disabled and a setting in which a child with disabilities can be provided with an appropriate education and maximum contact with non-disabled students. Providing services in a special class or separate school is only recommended when the nature or severity of the disability makes it difficult to educate the child satisfactorily with supplementary aids and services in the general educational environment.

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Who will provide special education services?

Your school district is responsible for providing special education services. Instruction in the expanded core curriculum will be provided by a special education teacher or, in the case of visually impaired children, by a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI), who will be contracted by your school district at no cost to you. In New York, the Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (Access-VR) oversees education services for children with disabilities. Access-VR monitors special education services and provides technical assistance to school districts.

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Do I have options other than sending my child to the public school in my district?

You have the right to send your child to a private or specialized school. Across the United States, there are many schools that specialize in the education of children who are blind or visually impaired or children with other disabilities. The "Find Services" tool on this website lists special schools for blind and visually impaired children in the United States. Some of these schools are state-run schools, while others are private schools.

The New York State School for the Blind (NYSSB) in Batavia, New York, is a state-operated specialized school under the New York State Education Department. There are also a few private agencies that offer educational programs for school-age blind or visually impaired children. A list of these agencies may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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Can I be reimbursed for the cost of sending my child to a private school or facility?

If your school district has made a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) available for your child, it is not required to reimburse you for the cost of educating your child at a private school or facility. You can only be reimbursed for these costs if you can prove that an appropriate program has not been provided by the school district. You must inform your district's Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) or Committee on Special Education (CSE) of your decision to send your child to a private school or facility and prove during an impartial hearing that the private placement is more appropriate and is providing the appropriate services for your child.

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What is the expanded core curriculum?

The expanded core curriculum (ECC) is the body of knowledge and skills needed by students with vision loss in order to be successful in school and in post-graduate pursuits as a result of unique, disability-specific needs. The expanded core curriculum should be provided in addition to the core academic curriculum.

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What are supplementary aids and services?

Supplementary aids and services are supports provided in the regular education class and other education-related settings, including extracurricular activities, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate. These may include braille instruction and training in the use of assistive devices.

Supplementary aids and services may be provided by the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) if they are needed for the child to meet his or her goals. Some of the supplementary aids and services provided by CBVH to school-age children are assistive technology devices for use in the home and the opportunity to attend summer camps and year-round recreation programs.

Full contact information for CBVH may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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Where can I obtain textbooks and classroom materials in accessible formats?

The 2004 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensure that children who are visually impaired are provided with textbooks and classroom materials on time and in the accessible format they need. A system was established in which textbook publishers provide electronic files of textbooks in a standardized electronic format, known as the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), to a central repository known as the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC). NIMAC, which is based in the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky, is responsible for receiving, maintaining, and distributing electronic copies of the instructional materials it receives. Although you may not go directly to NIMAC to request these materials, there are designated agencies that are authorized to download these files and generate the materials for you. The authorized agencies in New York are the New York State Education Department (NYSED), Office of Special Education, the Resource Center for the Visually Impaired, Helen Keller Services for the Blind, Bookshare, Learning Ally, and the New York City Department of Education. Contact information for these agencies and other sources of materials in accessible formats in New York may be found by doing a search in the "Find Services" section on this website.

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When do special education services end?

By law, special education ends when a child graduates from high school or turns 21.

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What happens after special education services end?

When your child turns 15, or earlier, if deemed appropriate, the Committee on Special Education (CSE) will begin discussions to plan the transition process from school to adult life. At this point, your child will be invited to participate in the planning and will be included in all meetings until he turns 21.

Your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) will begin to include goals and services based upon age-appropriate assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills.

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What is the transition process and what does it involve?

The transition process is the process by which your child, with the rest of the educational team, prepares for life after leaving the public school system by determining the types of services needed to be successful in the environment he or she intends to move into following public school. This includes preparation for independent living, enrollment in a vocational program or college, career and vocational planning, and the like. As mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), transition planning should begin when the student reaches age 14 to prepare him or her for life after he graduates from high school or reaches age 21.

If your child is legally blind, he or she will be referred to the Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), the main provider of vocational rehabilitation services for students who are legally blind. You may also apply directly to CBVH to obtain services.

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What types of transition services are provided through CBVH?

The Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH) provides rehabilitation services to assist your child in the transition from school to adult opportunities. Your child will generally begin working with a transition counselor at age 14. The transition process is started at this young age with the expectation that students will have opportunities and experiences during their school years to prepare them for post-school environments. Transition services provided by CBVH are individualized with the goal of leading to an eventual employment outcome. Examples of services provided by CBVH include evaluations, planning and counseling, skills development training, adaptive equipment for home use, and support services while completing training.

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Are there agencies in New York other than state agencies that I can turn to for additional support and information?

There are several nonprofit agencies and consumer membership groups that offer information and support for families of children who are blind or visually impaired. The AFB Directory of Services lists agencies in New York as well as national agencies that offer services for children who are blind or visually impaired. A full listing of these agencies is provided below.

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Resources

AFB Press Publications

The Braille Trail: An Activity Book
By Frances Mary D'Andrea M.Ed., Anna M. Swenson

College Bound: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments
By Ellen Trief Ed.D., Raquel Feeney M.A.

Everyday Activities to Promote Visual Efficiency: A Handbook for Working with Young Children with Visual Impairments
By Rona Shaw, Ellen Trief

Focused On: Teaching Social Skills to Visually Impaired Preschoolers Study Guides
By Linda S. Kekelis, Sharon Z. Sacks, Ph.D., Karen E. Wolffe, Ph.D.

An Orientation and Mobility Primer for Families and Young Children
By Bonnie Dodson-Burk

A Parents' Guide to Special Education for Children with Visual Impairments
Edited by Susan LaVenture

Reach Out and Teach: Helping Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired Learn and Grow
By Kay Alicyn Ferrell

Skills for Success: A Career Education Handbook for Children and Adolescents with Visual Impairments
Edited by Karen E. Wolffe Ph.D.

Tactile Strategies for Children Who Have Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities: Promoting Communication and Learning Skills
By Deborah Chen Ph.D., June E. Downing Ph.D.

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