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Visual Impairment

Visual impairment, including blindness, means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness. A student with a visual impairment is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for visual impairment as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(13). The visual loss should be stated in exact measures of visual field and corrected visual acuity at a distance and at close range in each eye in a report by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. The report should also include prognosis whenever possible.
If exact measures cannot be obtained, the eye specialist must so state and provide best estimates. In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(13), a student with a visual impairment is one who:

1. has been determined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist:

a. to have no vision or to have a serious visual loss after correction; or,
 
b. to have a progressive medical condition that will result in no vision or a serious visual loss after correction.

2. has been determined by the following evaluations to have a need for special services:

a. a functional vision evaluation by a professional certified in the education of students with visual impairments or a certified orientation and mobility instructor. The evaluation must include the performance of tasks in a variety of environments requiring the use of both near and distance vision and recommendations concerning the need for a clinical low vision evaluation and an orientation and mobility evaluation; and

b. a learning media assessment by a professional certified in the education of students with visual impairments. The learning media assessment must include
recommendations concerning which specific visual, tactual, and/or auditory learning media are appropriate for the student and whether or not there is a need for ongoing evaluation in this area. A student with a visual impairment is functionally blind if, based on the preceding evaluations, the student will use tactual media (which includes Braille) as a primary tool for learning to be able to
communicate in both reading and writing at the same level of proficiency as other students of comparable ability.