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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Early Intervention Services for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

The early years are the most important years for learning and development. Professionals who work with young children with visual impairments can find practical tips and teaching strategies in this special section devoted to early childhood.

Services for children under the age of three are mandated under the Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities (Part C of the The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is a federal program that assists states in operating a comprehensive statewide program of early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities. State early intervention agencies, also known as Part C early intervention agencies, may be housed in state departments of education, health, human services, or rehabilitation, although some are in agencies outside the state system. These agencies usually provide referrals to local programs. The local school district may be an additional direct source of information. Parents may also contact agencies and organizations for people who are blind or visually impaired (either national or local) and special schools for blind students, which may have more information about early intervention, nursery, and preschool programs that have specific experience with children who are blind or visually impaired.

The services provided typically include assessment of the child's condition and needs, developmental enrichment, coordination of health and social services, and an individualized family service plan (IFSP) for both the child and the family outlining the services to be provided. Services to infants and toddlers are provided mainly in the home by itinerant (traveling) professionals, although some are offered in organizations or centers, where a variety of special education and related services are available in the same place.

Many blind and visually impaired toddlers and children ages 3 to 5 attend regular day care, nursery, and preschool programs and receive specialized services from visiting, or itinerant, professionals such as an early childhood specialist and a certified teacher of children who are visually impaired. There are also preschool and early childhood programs that specialize in blindness and visual impairment.

You may want to refer parents and family members to FamilyConnect®, for parents of children who are blind or visually impaired. It offers information by age range, from birth through young adulthood, as well as in-depth articles on education, growth and development, assistive technology, and multiple disabilities.

The AFB Bookstore also offers a wide range of resources on the topic of early intervention for children who are blind or visually impaired, development, multiple disabilities, and more.

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