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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Education: An Overview

What Families Need to Know

The goal of all education is to prepare students to participate in society, and for most people, vision is fundamental to learning. But what happens when a child has a visual impairment? Limitations on the ability to receive information from the world around us can have far-reaching effects, including an impact on a child's ability to understand concepts, learn language, move about freely with confidence, and develop in a variety of ways. For this reason, the families and teachers of children with visual impairments use alternative means and strategies for teaching them to read, write, interact socially, and perform various daily tasks.

Currently, nearly 94,000 children in the United States who are blind or visually impaired are being helped by some form of special education. These students are an extremely diverse group ranging from infants to young adults through age 21.

The nature and degree of their visual impairments are equally diverse, as are the ways they adapt to their vision loss. Some students have other disabilities in addition to visual impairment. Their level of academic functioning spans a great range. And in every way they are as disparate as any other group of individuals in terms of ethnic and racial background, religion, geographic location, and income. Given this diversity, it is important to remember that each child needs to be viewed as an individual with unique needs.

Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees visually impaired students a "free and appropriate public education," children who are blind or visually impaired still face many challenges educationally. There is a worsening shortage of personnel who are trained to teach children with visual impairments, and in addition many of these children receive their textbooks and learning materials late if they get them at all. AFB is committed to addressing these critical issues on the local, state, and national level. Follow the links to the right to get information, get help, or get involved.

Visit FamilyConnect.org for more information about the educational process—and your child's rights.

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