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for the Blind

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Illinois School for the Blind and Visually Impaired - AFB Directory Profile

General Information

Illinois School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
658 East State Street
Jacksonville, IL 62650
(217) 479-4400 (Local)
(217) 479-4479 (Fax)
(800) 919-5617 (Toll-Free)

Brief Description

Hours of operation: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during academic school year, at other times as dictated by programs.
Geographic area served: Illinois.


658 E. State St. Jacksonville, Illinois 62650
Jacksonville, IL 62650


Cindy Daugherty, School Development Director, (217) 479-4404,
Joni Frisch, Outreach - Birth to 3 Program,
Serena Preston, Superintendent, (217) 479-4447,

Services Offered

Services for Adults

  • Counseling
    • Provides social evaluation, psychological testing and evaluation, individual and group counseling. Refers for other counseling/social work services.
  • Employment/Job Training
    • Provides career and skill counseling, occupational skill development, prevocational/vocational skills, job retention. Refers for and provides consultation to other agencies for other employment-oriented services.

Services for Children

  • Assessment
    • As a critical part of the eligibility process, students who are interested in attending ISVI take part in a four to six week evaluation process in order to determine if ISVI offers the specific services that will be necessary to meet the educational and social needs of the student. At the close of this process, an interdisciplinary team meets with the parents, local school district officials and other involved participants to determine if ISVI would be a suitable placement for the young person.
  • Braille and Reading Instruction
    • The role of ISVI is to provide students who are blind and visually impaired a free, comprehensive educational program commensurate with individual needs and abilities. The school provides students with instruction in the same course work required of all school-aged children in Illinois.

      Specialized classes include orientation and mobility, adaptive physical education, independent living skills, vocational education, music, art, braille, and adaptive computer technology.

      Also offered is an extensive range of extracurricular experiences and opportunities to participate in recreational activities, on and off-campus jobs, competitive speech (forensics), track and field, wrestling, cheerleading and swimming. ISVI's program is flexible enough to provide for the diverse needs of all students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities.

  • Community Outreach Programs
    • ISVI offers several different outreach opportunities. 1. "Goals Advocacy Transition Empowerment Shortcourses" (GATES) 2. Lions & ISVI Low-Vision Clinic (bi-annually) 3. Birth-to-3 Program 4. Pre-Kindergarten Program 5. An annual Parent-Infant Institute 6. An annual Summer Camp (Ages 7-18)
  • Computer Training/Assistive Technology
    • At ISVI, students experience a school day which integrates language development, motor skills, independent living and self-help skills, behavior management and social development into all aspects of learning. Additionally, students become experienced in communicating, reading and writing, using braille or other communication systems as well as become familiar with adaptive and assistive technology such as the following:
      • IBM compatible computers
      • Adaptive computer keyboards
      • Screen readers
      • Screen magnification
      • Large monitors
      • Scanners with speech capabilities
      • Plotter printers
      • Digital cameras
      • Braille embossers
      • Speech synthesizers
  • Counseling
    • On staff at ISVI are social workers and a school psychologist who work both individually with students and in small group settings. Recommendations can be made for additional services if such is determined to be necessary or beneficial for the student. Additionally, an educator/counselor is available to assist students will college and career planning. A DHS counselor also meets with ISVI students who are involved with transitional planning.
  • Daily Living Skills/Independent Living Skills Training
    • At ISVI, the Transitional Living Center Program serves students, ages 14½ to 21, who are blind or visually impaired. The program increases students’ self-direction and independence in the community by facilitating development of their independent living skills and promoting greater independence in the community. Training is tailored to each student’s individual needs and may include instruction from the core curriculum and the expanded curriculum.
    • Provides instruction in development of living skills.
  • Early Intervention/Infant Services
    • The ISVI Birth-to-Three Program provides early intervention services for families whose children, from birth to age three, are visually impaired or blind. These services include:
      • Functional vision assessment
      • Individualized developmental assessment
      • In-home or daycare sessions with the child and parent(s) or caretaker
      • Specialized equipment and toy-loaning service
      • Support and resources for parents, siblings, grandparents, and other early intervention therapists
      • Professional services from ISVI specialists in the areas of orientation and mobility, speech and language, assistive technology and low vision transition support and services for children entering the public schools or other preschool programs
  • Education Services
    • Core Curriculum Academic Areas of Instruction
      Kindergarten through high school students are presented with courses in the academic areas. Courses in English/language arts, math, social studies and consumer economics, science, health and PE, and fine arts become the foundation for most learning.

      Modified Academic Program
      A modified curriculum meets the needs of the students who are visually impaired who have one or more additional disabilities which prevent them from functioning on grade level.

      Expanded Core Curriculum
      The Expanded Core Curriculum for students who are visually impaired or visually impaired and multiply disabled is a set of eight skill areas which require direct instruction from specialists. The areas of the expanded core curriculum include:

      • Compensatory academic skills, including braille skills, abacus and calculator skills, study skills
      • Orientation and mobility-awareness of the environment, independent travel
      • Social interaction skills are skills which students who are blind and visually impaired can’t mirror from sighted peers so must be carefully, consciously, and sequentially taught
      • Independent living skills, the skills necessary for independent living in a supported program including those skills taught within the Transitional Living Program (see below)
      • Recreation and leisure skills, the skills focusing on the development of life-long needs for students who are blind and visually impaired
      • Career education-Pre-vocational and job readiness skills, career awareness and work experiences including STEP opportunities (see below)
      • Assistive technology-Use of any item, piece of equipment, or product system, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability
      • Visual efficiency-Determination of aids and devices for students with low vision, use of variety of low-tech and high-tech solutions, including magnifiers, telescopes, binoculars, lights, closed-circuit television magnification systems, and computer screen enlargement software
      • Self determination-The importance of believing in oneself, while understanding one's abilities and limitations; the ability of people who are visually impaired to control their lives, reach goals they have set and take part fully in the world around them
  • Employment/Job Training
    • Transitional Services
      Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP) At the ISVI, STEP is available for high school students 16 years of age and older. Students may receive high school credit and earn a training stipend while gaining work experiences and work habits at assigned work stations on the ISVI campus, such as in the dietary department, in offices, housekeeping, and laundry. Students may work a varied number of hours on a weekly basis in the STEP program. During the senior year, students may be assigned career internships at off-campus work stations at various businesses in the Jacksonville community.

      Transitional Living Program
      The Transitional Living Program (TLP) is an integral part of the total ISVI program and focuses on a realistic preparation of students for life in the work world. Students are eligible for TLP at age 14 1/2. The early introduction of the TLP builds confidence and allows students to progress quicker in their transition plan. The TLP will enable students to experience opportunities designed for independence and the development of a responsible adult lifestyle and will be individualized to accommodate the particular needs of each student. Students will learn housekeeping, home management, meal planning and preparation, budgeting, consumerism and decision making.

      The Transitional Living Center (TLC) is the only facility of its kind in the state of Illinois where eligible 5th and 6th year seniors can learn to live in independent apartment settings. The primary focus of the TLC is community based employment and job readiness training. Students must work at least one quarter per school year and be limited to only two extra curricular activities per school year to be eligible for TLC. Students in the TLC learn advanced cooking, cleaning, money management, self care and self advocacy.

      Transitional Living Program participants will be required to observe all ISVI rules as outlined in the Parent Student Handbook and the Handbook On: Rights, Responsibilities, Procedures and athletic activity eligibility will be governed by the IHSA and NCASB conference rules. The students living in the TLC will also be required to agree to and sign the TLC Lease and Behavior Contract.

  • Health
    • The ISVI Health Center is staffed with registered nurses and is open 7 days a week. If care is required during the night students will be cared for by the nursing staff of the Illinois School for the Deaf. Passavant Area Hospital is located in Jacksonville and available when needed. Parents are notified on any illness.
  • Information and Referral
    • If parents would like more information about ISVI or would like to discuss possible enrollment of their child to ISVI, they can call (217) 479-4404. At that time, ISVI will request the latest Individual Educational Plan and Multi-Disciplinary Conference Report. These reports will be reviewED by ISVI staff and a tour will be scheduled. The initial review usually takes about a week.

      ISVI staff are also available to provide information about other resources and services available for youngsters who are blind or visually impaired.

  • Low Vision Services
    • The Lions Low Vision Clinic is held twice each year at ISVI and is designed to serve school-age children throughout central and southern Illinois. This clinic brings together Optometrists, Optometric graduate students from the Illinois College of Optometry, parents, and teachers for one-on-one consultations that seldom occur in regular eye exams. Many of the students would not have the financial means nor the opportunity in their home areas to obtain such professional services.

      ISVI students can also receive services through the low vision clinic.

  • Preschool Programs
    • If your child has a visual impairment or is at risk for a visual impairment, the ISVI Pre-K program provides the following:
      • A jump start to successful kindergarten entrance, with kindergarten placement determined by team decisions. The team is made up of family members, teachers and vision specialists.
      • Placement in a class group of children with similar strengths and needs, as opposed to groups of diverse abilities and disabilities.
      • Small teacher-to-student ratio, to allow individualized learning experiences.
      • Developmentally appropriate experiences that make up all quality preschool programming, including structured free play, art, fine motor/writing centers, sensory play, teacher led activities, snack time, story time, calendar/circle time, music and adapted gross motor play.
      • Specific opportunities that address the needs of a visually impaired child; listening, sensory play, tactile experiences, vision therapy.
      • Specialized instruction in self-help, independence skills embedded in the daily routine.
      • An experienced resource team of experts in visual impairment: teachers, adaptive P.E. teacher, speech pathologist, orientation & mobility instructors, O.T., P.T., art teacher and music therapist to provide any needed adaptations for a visually impaired child.
      • Environmental adaptations, such as lighting control (three banks of lights that operate separately, blinds and controls on natural light coming in the windows, rugs) to provide tactile and visual contrasts for centers; toys arranged in an uncluttered manner in open shelvings; fine motor manipulatives and other materials stored in bins marked on the outside with the object, as well as labels in large print; room labels in easily read, large print with good contrast, as well as labels in braille; children's belongings such as chairs, cubbies and personal schedules marked with large, easily-read print and pictures, as well as braille and tactile cues; seating arrangements, individualized by each child's needs, with accommodations for glare, figure-ground clutter, contrast, etc.
      • Teaching methods that build on each child's strengths; auditory, tactile and visual cues that teach to different learning styles.
  • Recreation Services
    • Students enrolled at ISVI can choose to participate fully in extracurricular activities such as:
      • the school talent show
      • wrestling, swimming or track teams
      • cheerleading
      • Forensics (Speech) team
      • learning to play a musical instrument
      • learning about outdoor sports such as fishing
      • bowling
      • dancing
      • exercise classes at a local heath club
      • visiting museums, parks, malls and more
      • havinh fun with friends in ISVI's Teen Center by attending social activities
      • swimming in ISVI's pool
      • attending dances sponsored and held at ISVI
  • Summer/Day Camps and After-school Programs
    • The ISVI Summer Camps brings together blind and visually impaired students from schools throughout Illinois for a one-week camp. Each camp presents an overview of current trends in each area of concentration.
  • Support for Parents
    • The Parent/Infant Institute is a four-day free residential program for visually impaired preschool children and their parents. It is also an opportunity to get acquainted, to learn and to participate. Activities include:
      • Comprehensive Diagnostic Assessment Qualified professionals will evaluate each child. Evaluations will center around usable vision, orientation and mobility, speech and language, motor and daily living skills, and adaptive behavior levels.
      • Presentations by recognized authorities Topics include raising a child with visual impairments, preparing the child for school, low-vision, orientation and mobility, parents' rights, and a review of available services.
      • Formal workshop session Panels of relatives of people with visual impairments will share personal experiences and respond to questions. Other sessions offer parents open-ended dialog, and an opportunity to share the problems, concerns and successes of raising a child with a visual impairment.
      • Informal interaction and socializing Parents will have the opportunity to get acquainted with each other and the program staff on an informal basis. Child care and recreational programs will be offered throughout the Institute. Friday, June 6 will be "Parents' Night Out!" with the Institute staff caring for the children.
  • Travel/Orientation and Mobility
    • The O&M program at ISVI often includes comprehensive evaluation and training in the following areas:
      • Concept development
      • Environmental concepts
      • Public transportation experiences
      • Use of remaining senses
      • Safety skills
      • Electronic travel aids
      • Self-protective techniques
      • Cane techniques
      • Rights and responsibilities
      • Orientation skills
      • Low vision aids
      ISVI's O&M staff are ACVREP certified (Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals) and are members of the Association of Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). Our O&M staff work as committed professionals concerned with meeting the orientation and mobility needs of all our students.

Services for Professionals

  • Consultation/Technical Program Assistance
    • Provides technical assistance as needed.
  • Professional Training
    • Offers internship/fieldwork placement in special education and regular in-service training programs.
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