Individualized Education Program (IEP) Advice for Parents of Children with Blindness or Low Vision

Once your child has been found eligible to receive special education services because of their eye condition, determining your child’s individual needs begins. The document outlining these needs and services is the Individualized Education Program (IEP). You can think of it as the blueprint or roadmap for the appropriate services that your school system will provide for your child.

The IEP process, its principles, individuals writing it, and essential elements are defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which oversees special education. For infants and toddlers receiving services, the document outlining these services is the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Children older than three years of age if qualified will have an IEP. The IEP is developed by your child’s educational team, including you as a key member. It details your child’s services for a year and is updated annually. Before drafting the plan, the team assesses your child’s strengths and service needs.

Essential Elements of the IEP

When you meet with your child’s educational team to write the IEP, you will find that the plan has a number of different sections. The following elements all need to be explained or identified in the plan. You may find the terminology—which comes from the law that created the IEP—confusing at first, but it will be helpful to become familiar with it ahead of time.

Present Levels of Educational Performance

This section describes your child’s current status, what your child can do, and what your child knows at the time the IEP is written. This includes describing how your child’s blindness or low vision affects the involvement and progress in the general curriculum.

Measurable annual goals

Measurable goals focus on key priorities enabling your child to progress in the general curriculum and learn independently. They address educational needs arising from your child’s disability, often referred to as the expanded core curriculum. Annual goals outline your child’s expected learning for the year and are designed to be measurable, allowing you to track their achievement

Services Included

Special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services, program modifications, and supports for school personnel. This section describes the supports and services your child needs to attain annual goals. These are included so that they can progress in the general curriculum and the expanded core curriculum and participate with other children without disabilities in school activities.

  • Related services are additional services required to help your child benefit from special education, such as transportation, hearing services, physical therapy, counseling, and the like.
  • Supplementary aids and services would include assistive technology, adapted materials such as braille or large-print textbooks, or help from a paraeducator.
  • Program modifications include accommodations and modifications that may need to be made in teaching or testing your child.
  • Supports for school personnel include training for your child’s classroom teacher and other school personnel that will, in turn, benefit your child’s learning.

Services Details

Beginning of the services and the anticipated frequency, location, and duration of those services and modifications. This statement includes the projected date for the beginning of services. It includes how long and where your child will receive each of the special education and related services. Additionally, accommodations and modifications, support, and supplementary aids and services that are needed are outlined.

Participating in General Education Classes

The extent of your child’s non-participation with nondisabled peers in general education classes and school activities must be documented. This is because IDEA mandates that students with disabilities should join nondisabled children in regular classes as much as possible. Any deviation from this norm requires clear documentation.

Testing Accommodations

This statement addresses any accommodations your child will need in taking state- or district-wide tests of students. If the IEP team decides that your child will not participate in a particular test, the abatement must include the reason why and how the alternate assessment will occur.


How progress will be measured and how the child’s parents will be regularly informed. The IEP should specify the measurement of your child’s annual goals and the schedule for periodic progress reports. You’ll receive these reports at least as frequently as report cards are issued for children without disabilities. However, you might prefer receiving updates more often, and you can request the school to do so.

Your child’s IEP is the key document governing all the special services received during the school year. Being part of the team that writes the IEP lets you share your knowledge of your child’s abilities and needs. Understanding the IEP process and its parts helps you collaborate effectively with the school. This ensures your child gets the necessary educational services