Your Service Team for Your Child with Blindness or Low Vision

When children have blindness or low vision or other disability, providing them with special education services—such as instruction from a TVI—often is not sufficient. They may need additional support or services before they can truly benefit from the education they are receiving. Such additional services might include orientation and mobility (O&M) training so that the student can get around to his or her classes in school, or physical therapy to help a child with physical disabilities maintain a position in which he or she can see the chalk board.

The term “related services” describes a variety of such supportive educational services, which may be provided to students as part of their special education program. As defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law that governs special education services for children with disabilities, related services are those required to help your child benefit from her special education. It is important for parents to be aware that these services are available at no cost, based on your child’s educational needs.

The following are the related services specifically mentioned in IDEA (related services are the full range of services available to children classified as eligible to receive them):

  • Audiology services: Identifying and diagnosing hearing loss in children. Determining measures like hearing aids and auditory training for learning participation.
  • Counseling services: Provided by social workers, psychologists, and counselors. Assisting with school issues and future planning.
  • Early identification and assessment of disabilities: States must have plans to identify disabilities early, often through preschool screenings programs.
  • Medical services for diagnostics or evaluation: Physician-delivered services to understand a child’s disability and its impact on their special education.
  • Occupational therapy: Developing fine motor skills and daily living skills for school and community success.
  • Orientation and mobility (O&M) services: Training by specialists for visually impaired students to move safely and independently.
  • Parent counseling and training: Helping families understand their child’s needs and relate to typical development.
  • Physical therapy: Enhancing gross motor skills, muscle tone, coordination, balance, and equilibrium. Progression based on the sequence of childhood development.
  • Psychological services: Conducting assessments, interpreting results, working with students, and consulting with school staff and parents.
  • Recreation, including therapeutic recreation: Evaluating and providing leisure activities that encourage movement, in school or community. This includes activities such as running on a track or other similar activities.
  • Rehabilitation counseling: Advocacy and career pursuit training.
  • School health services: Services by school nurses or staff, including screenings and medical record maintenance.
  • Social work services in schools: Assisting teachers and families in finding community resources and implementing educational programs.
  • Speech-language pathology: Identifying and providing services for speech and language difficulties, and consulting with school personnel.
  • Transportation: Travel support from home to school, including adapted buses, lifts, and ramps.

This list is not necessarily an exhaustive one. Related services may include other “developmental, corrective, or supportive services,” such as artistic and cultural programs; art, music, and dance therapy; nutrition services; or independent living services to help your child learn to take care of their own everyday needs.