Role of the TVI with Preschoolers Who Are Blind or Low Vision
Teachers of students with visual impairments often referred to as TVIs, are trained and certified to teach students with blindness or low vision, including those with additional disabilities. The TVI will teach special skills they need to learn to participate in the regular school program. This teacher will also work with the other educational team members to help them understand the best ways of working with a child who is blind or has low vision.
The TVI will teach a wide array of skills and subjects and have a variety of responsibilities. The particular services your preschooler receives from a TVI will depend on your child’s needs and abilities. They are likely to include the following:
Expanded Core Curriculum Skills
The TVI will work with your preschooler to teach specific skills your child needs to learn. These skills are called the “expanded core curriculum” and are sometimes called “disability-specific skills”.
If learning to read and write in braille is appropriate for your child, the TVI will begin introducing pre-literacy skills using the braille code. The instruction may occur in your child’s preschool classroom while other children are learning beginning reading and writing concepts and skills. Alternatively, the teacher may take your child to another room and work with him individually on braille activities.
Use of vision
If your child has low vision, the TVI may teach how to use their vision more efficiently. Your child may learn how to use a magnifier to see things close up or a monocular to see things in the distance.
Preschools are increasingly offering activities involving computers and other types of technology. The TVI may work with your child on beginning computer skills, such as locating the space bar or “enter” key to choose a game. They may also teach your child how to use assistive technology, such as a video magnifier or closed-circuit television system (CCTV), to look at pictures, pages in a book, or small objects such as bugs in the science center.
The TVI may work with your child on learning ways to make friends and interact with other children. For example, the teacher may help him learn how to ask to join a group of other children, rather than just barging into the middle of the group or not joining the group at all, how to wait his turn, and how to let others know when he can’t see something.
Orientation and mobility (O&M) skills:
A TVI gets basic O&M training. They can help your child navigate the classroom safely and reinforce travel skills taught by an O&M instructor.
The TVI conducts various assessments of your child to plan a program suited to his abilities and needs. A functional vision assessment determines how a child uses any usable vision. A learning media assessment, assesses what method of reading and writing would work best for a child. Your child’s educational team will use these results and other assessments to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This will include specific learning goals for your child.
Functional Vision Assessment (FVA)
Learning Media Assessment
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
- The TVI may meet regularly with your child’s preschool teacher or other educational team members. This is a time to discuss how their eye condition affects learning. They may offer suggestions to the other professionals. How to alter the environment to help your child see better, what materials to use to help your child learn, or specific instructional strategies are shared.
- One of the TVI’s responsibilities is ensuring your child gets the same materials as classmates simultaneously. In preschool, many materials like bulletin board pictures, the alphabet chart, lunch menu, and story corner books are visual and may not be usable for your child. The teacher can make them accessible by adapting them to a format your child can understand. This could include braille, larger print, or a clearer background, depending on your child’s needs.
Because the TVI is such a key member in your preschooler’s education, you will want to keep in regular contact. If you’re not receiving progress updates or information about your child’s skills, contact the teacher via call or email. Schedule a time to work with the TVI working with your child to observe and assist with practicing skills at home.
If your child isn’t currently receiving TVI services but you believe they would benefit, reach out to your public school district’s special education department. Request a referral and assessment.