Boy reaching for the iPad held by his speech therapist

Services and placement for kids with CVI

Learn about what's involved in determining IEP services for your child with CVI, including vision services

IEP services and placement

You did it! You’ve navigated the bulk of the IEP. Now it’s time to determine which services your child will receive, and where they’ll be delivered.

Thanks to the IDEA, the law that governs special education, your team must make sure that your child has the maximum opportunity to learn alongside kids who don’t have disabilities. This principle is called Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). 

The services and placement section should:

  • Connect each of your child’s IEP goals to a type of service. Examples include: direct instruction in reading, inclusion support, occupational therapy.
  • List the type of personnel performing each service, such as a TVI or OT.
  • Specify the frequency and duration of each service.
  • Specify where each service will take place, such as in the general or special education classroom.
  • List the start and end date for each service.

Services can be both indirect and direct. Indirect services can refer to consultations between your team members and with you. The IEP should specify where, when, and with whom this consultation time will happen. For instance, it might stipulate that your child’s classroom teacher and special education team must meet once per week for a half-hour. These services are essential because they allow for structured time in which your team can collaborate. Examples include:

  • Curriculum adaptation and modification
  • Modification to your child’s environment
  • Monitoring assistive technology or equipment
  • Observing your child’s progress

However, these are not the only services a child with CVI may receive. Direct services refer to support your child receives from educators, either in the general education classroom or in other locations, such as a special education classroom. Services in the general education classroom are referred to as “push in”; those outside the general education classroom are often called “pull out.”

On that note, this section will also indicate when and why your child is being pulled out of the general education classroom for specialized instruction. In keeping with LRE, removal of kids with disabilities from the regular educational environment takes place only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services can’t be satisfactorily achieved. 

Your IEP should include a section explaining why your child needs to be removed from their regular educational environment.

This section should also list any modifications and supports necessary for your child’s learning. This could include:

  • Behavioral supports with a clear understanding that behavior is communication. Behaviors are often a child’s reaction to visual fatigue, being visually or auditorily overwhelmed, or indicate that your child needs support to understand who’s around, what’s happening, and what’s expected.  
  • A shortened or extended school day or school year.
  • Parent training or school personnel training.
  • Transportation services, particularly if your child is receiving services outside of their home school district.
  • Testing accommodations; for instance, your child might not be required to participate in on-demand testing in certain subject areas, or might be required to participate but only with certain conditions (such as untimed or using speech-to-text software). There must be a clear understanding that most standard testing materials may not match your child’s visual skills.

Remember, this section should clearly explain where your child will receive services, who provides them, and for how long. Most of all, it should be tied precisely to each of your child’s educational goals.

Vision services for kids with CVI

It’s important to remember that vision services and services in general must always be based on assessments and goals.

Solely relying on acuity measures is not an accurate indicator of functional vision for kids with CVI nor should it be the way services are determined. IDEA requires that instructional goals are based on present levels of performance. Again, assessment drives services. 

One option is the Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas (VISSIT), a reliable and valid tool used to determine the amount of direct and indirect TVI services. The VISSIT is a more appropriate tool to determine services for kids with CVI because it takes into account Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) needs, functional vision assessment (FVA), and how your child’s visual impairment impacts learning.

Learn more about the VISSIT: Determining Service Levels for Learners with CVI Using the Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity

Most of all, it’s so important that your TVI possess a firm understanding of CVI when determining services. The TVI needs an understanding of CVI in order to assess and create the most appropriate educational programming for your child, and they need to understand that kids with CVI miss incidental information, just like kids with ocular impairments, even though they might have completely healthy eyes. Instruction should fill gaps in understanding and access.