Listen & Learn Series - Visual Evaluation

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>> Department of Education. When you're signing on, if folks can hear me - or type in the chat box that you can in fact hear me, that would be great! We'll give folks a second to do that. Oh Good! People are here - oh great! We're in good shape, excellent. So, as folks are getting themselves settled, I'll just remind you of a couple of things. If you are listening to us via your phone, please look at your screen on your computer and on the dark gray box at the top, you're going to see an icon, it looks like a speaker. If that speaker is white, please click on the pull down box so it turns green and that will mute your computer speakers and that way, we will not get any feedback. Don't do that while you're listening to the computer, otherwise you won't hear us, but if you are listening to your phone, go ahead and mute your computer speakers, please. The other piece is, while we are giving the presentation, if you would please mute your own phone line, if you are listening to the phone, by pressing star 6, and that will make so that we don't hear your conversation. We'd like to keep the phone lines open should you have a question, you're certainly welcome to ask that question either through the phone or through the chop box, but if there's a lot, too much background, too much chatter, it'll be disruptive for everybody and we'll end up muting everybody's phone, so we'll give it a shot. Please look at your screen and the on the right side, there's a couple of different boxes, and one is titled, "Files 2." In that box is the Power Point for the presentation we are giving this morning, so anytime during the presentation, you can go ahead and click on that, or double click on it and it should download right into your computer so you'll have a copy of just the Power point, and today's Webinar is being recorded and will be posted on the main viewing web page for 'listen and learn' and you will be able to access the recording there if you need that website; if you just let me know. So, it looks like we'll get started. Today with me we have Nancy Molten, who's from the Education Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Children at Catholic Charities, and I have Denise Powers, Dolby Connect Room Extraordinaire and we'll get started on today's Webinar. Again, remember, you can always type you questions in the chop box and I'll be looking at that box and look for either an appropriate time to ask that question, or we might end up be getting through it to the end and that's a good way to log in those questions. Okay? Off we go; here's Nancy.

>> Good morning. This is Nancy Molten, I'm the Program Director for Education Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Children. We're a program that serves - sorry, we're having a little bit of technical difficulty here. Okay. Thank you. So, we're a program that's contracted through the division of mainly the blind and visually impaired to provide education services to children with severe visual impairment. So we employ Certified Teachers for the blind and visually impaired. Currently, we have seventeen teachers covering the entire State of Maine, to work with children, age birth through twenty years old, providing specialized instructions with the schools and families and the education process. We, the Department of Labor and Research and Economic Development, I'm sorry, I'm having a problem with the slides, we don't have the whole...okay, so SBVIC, we provide services for the entire state, children, birth through twenty, so we provide all the teachers for the blind and then we also operate the Instructional Material Center, and that is a place where we coordinate the access to Braille large print and other instructional material that we used with students who are Braille or large print learners. As Catholic Charities, we are contractors through the Division for the Blind and then the Division for the Blind has a memorandum of understanding with Maine's Department of Ed to provide the services to students with visual impairment. So Catholic Charities has to contract SBVI and then we provide the teachers. I'll get this sooner or later. Okay. So the contract that we have with the Division for the Blind requires that all the teachers are trained with Ferber by Ferber - just so you know we do receive that training and we are all certified by the State of Maine, Department of Ed. So to refer a student, there are a couple of different ways you can refer a student. One is that you can just request the application packet that will give you the cover for one that we need, it will give you the releases that we would need, and it will also give you what else we need and that's and eye report. So you can get that packet from us or you can just go to the website. A lot of people seem to feel that's an easier way to do it and there's a link in this Power Point that takes you to that page, and you can download it yourself and then you just send it back to our office in Bitterford. Once - for children in public schools, the referrals must come through the IEP or the 504 team and then the children from birth through five, they should be coming through CDS if they don't come through CDS, then they'll referred by us to CDS. So, we try to make that process as seamless as possible. Once we get the referral, which I can't stress enough that's it's upon that referral; we have to have that eye report. We can send that eye report, but understand that it'll take us just a little bit of time and we're happy to do that. Once we have that whole packet, then the supervisor in the region, he's in myself for southern Maine or Jean Small for northern Maine. We'll review that packet just to see if the student is going to meet basic requirements. If they do, then the process would be we would send that on to a TVI for a functional vision assessment. If they don't, then we will notify the parent in the referral sought. So what we're looking at when we look at that Eye Doctor's report, we need it to demonstrate that a visual impairment exists. And so we are looking generally, just so that you have a guideline as to what that really means. It generally is going to say something around a visual acuity of around 20/70 that that's corrected, and in that eye. So if the student has, 20/80 uncorrected, but 20/30 that's corrected, then they most likely are not going to qualify unless there's something else going on that we haven't been, that we would need to look at. So that's why we really take a good look at that eye report because we'll be able to tell from the eye Doctor, if they have a diagnosis and that we'll be able to tell kind of, what's going on a little bit better. In some states they actually have a very finite and distinct line 20/70 and they can't take anybody who doesn't meet that criteria. In Maine, it's really, we take a look at the whole situation, so if that child has a degenerative condition, we certainly can take a look at that, and just so that you know that the general guide line. My suggestion to folks is that if you have a student and you're really're just kind of wondering what does this mean, certainly, please call myself or Jean. We're happy to talk about that with you to give you a little bit of guidance in that, what some of the information you might be seeing means. And sometimes it's significant for visual impairment and sometimes it isn't. Just a quick note about eligibility for students who are birth through two, sometimes, there's some confusion about that. Some of our little kiddo's might be in that age range, they may have a very significant visual impairment but they might also be developing quite nicely in lots of areas and so the concern is that they may not meet eligibility for a special services because they're meeting the developmental guidelines. And we look at that and say, in use rid states or have a diagnosed physically or mental condition that is a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay, and in specifically somewhere it says that sensory impairment. So this is where those kiddos are going to qualify for OP. If you have a student with a very severe visual impairment, and you are birth through two, you're going to qualify for us because we need to be building skills for those kids to access their environment and to begin preparing them for their education, which is obviously an ongoing process. So, I think the key is that if we remember that, some people say that 80 percent of the information we gather is through the visual modality, so we need to be making sure that those kids have access to their environment and develop the skills they need. The Functional Vision Assessment. Once a student has qualified, I wouldn't say has qualified, once a student, we've gotten the eye report, we say "Yeah. Looks like there's a vision impairment here, then we're going to send a TVI out to take a look at the student in their education environment wherever that might be, to determine what the impact of that vision impairment is on their education and to determine if there is an adverse impact. So we'll look at how the student uses materials in the classroom, will do some objective testing sometimes, then we'll look at can they see the board, what color marker is better, is contrast an issue, we'll look at a whole bunch of factors of that student in the education process and determine whether they have, whether it has an adverse affect and then make some recommendations to the team about what steps need to be taken next. I think the big thing is that we are looking at making sure that we are using the assessments to determine whether the student has that adverse affect. Once the FVA, Functional Vision Assessment is complete, then recommendations are made to the team, IEP, IFFP, 504 regarding eligibility and services needed from the TBI, and the team will develop the plan to include the type and the amount of service that should be provided by the TVI. And the plan must include the needed modifications and the accommodations. And the TVI must have access to a copy of the IEP. Sometimes they're difficulties; some of the TVI's have some difficulties with some schools thinking that they don't need that IEP and we really do, we really need to see the whole picture and to provide that service. So to develop the IEP, we will attend any IEP, IFFP, 504 meeting if at all possible. We really need and want to know about those meetings. Sometimes students will have services that are really, they may have quarterly consultation, or monthly consultation, so I think sometimes it's easy to forget us as part of the team, and I know people don't do that intentionally, but we really want to be a part of that process to discuss the students, what their needs are and to help to crack that IEP. We need to make sure that the appropriate accommodations are listed in the IEP and the recommendations are listed in the IEP, and the appropriate services. The trick is that most of the TVI's have pretty large case loads and wide geographic areas, some much wider than others, so we do a whole lot of traveling and we have complex schedules. We certainly will do our best to accommodate, but we really need advance notice also of those meetings. So if the team makes the decision that we, the child need services from the TVI, then we must list it on the plan whether it's an IEP, IFFP or 504. Often we're providing in specialized instruction and so we should be listed as that. So the service should be listed on the plan; must be listed on the plan, but you don't list Catholic Charities specifically, you don't, or the person's name, so what you're going to do is write TVI Services or something like that. That's always a really hard one because we don't fit on the blank very well, there's just not a lot of love. Equipment. Equipment can vary dramatically from one student to the next, but under the supplementary services it means the aids and services and other support will be provided in the regular education classes. And so that equipment can be a Braille Writer, it could be an advocate, it could be technology, it could be screen reader, Braille note takers, there's all types of different equipment. Typically, what we try to do is we try to have conversations with school districts so that you kind of know what kind of equipment might be coming up. If you have a child who is a young Braille learner, we can really look at what other kind of equipment that child is going to need, both immediately and down the road, so that it will help you plan effectively what would a child is going to need.

>> I have a question from Sarah. How much actual designed instruction might a student receive from a TVI?

>> That's a good question. So that's going to depend dramatically on the student's age, their vision, and their classroom setting, so if you have a young, academic learner who looks like they're going to be a Braille learner, they could get a lot of direct instruction from the TVI. That TVI could provide, I mean it's going to vary very much and I hate to throw out numbers, but a young Braille learner who's academic could probably get upwards of five hours of instruction a week. It could very much, and they also, one of the other things that's really important is, we also provide a lot of consultation. So some students might get a combination of both specially designed instruction, direct services and consultation because there's so much that teachers' need to be mindful of and I'm always very adamant that the child needs to be a member of their class. So I want that teacher to take as much responsibility for that child's education and so we support them in doing that so we'll provide them the guidance, the suggested accommodations, and all of that to help them do that. If we have a child with better vision and does really pretty well, but we want to be helping the school, look at what accommodations might be needed and that type of thing and we may provide consultation on a much less frequent basis. So it's going to change. If we have a student who is critically visually impaired or a student who has significant multiple disability, then we are going to provide consultation to those teams with the expectations that a lot of what we suggest are going to be things that we really need to be carried out on a very daily and hourly, minute by minute basis, so we're going to provide a lot of consultation. It's going to vary by teams, but again, it's a team decision so you have a discussion with a TVI and the TVI makes a recommendation and then the team can discuss that recommendation and determine if that's going to be done that way. Oh, one more thing about the equipment. It's really important that that gets listed on the IEP and sometimes when that comes into question is there are some districts who have thought that because they don't pay for the equipment in a particular case, they might not list it. An example of that it would be a Braille Writer. So, most of the equipment the student needs, the district is responsible to purchase, so but the one case where they may not have to purchase is a Braille Writer and we can purchase Braille Writer's through the American Printing House for the Blind through something called, Quota Money, so we spend down an account and we're able to have some Braille Writer's that we can loan to schools. And when we do that, we expect the schools to maintain them because we aren't able, we don't have a budget to do that, but we will loan that to you for the use of the students. It's still needs to be listed on the IEP so just so that you know, any equipment that the student needs is what needs to get listed on that. So instructional services, they can include instructional strategies to facilitate learning with blind and visually impaired children so we may be providing direct or consultative services, helping schools to select and help modify specialized curriculum. We may provide Braille instruction; we may provide low vision, use of different low vision aids, and use of adapted equipment. Sometimes we'll assist schools by teaching keyboarding for kids, we do a lot with concept development particularly with those kids who are very low vision, we do social skills development, and it can range from a whole variety of things. I just saw a question that 'How is TVI funded?' and I apologize I skipped that part in the initial slide, so I'll go back to that. We are funded through legislated money that goes to the Division for the Blind and the Department of labor, so our money comes through the Department of Labor and Division for the Blind. I think that's kind of general gist of it, so we are not a fee for service or anything like that. It's through legislated money that is comes through the Department of Labor; Division for the Blind. Instructional Services. Okay, so the art piece that is really important for students with visual impairments are some disability specific skills and those are known in our field as the Expanded Core Curriculum or ECC. It's not really a curriculum, but more like a list of skills that need careful consideration for students who are visually impaired. So it includes the areas of social skills, communication skills, career development, self-advocacy, sensory, efficiency skills, assisted technology, independent living skills, recreation and leisure activities, and orientation and mobility. Most Orientation and Mobility services are provided through O & M Instructors who are employed by the State of Maine, Division for the Blind. So let's talk about those areas a little bit, because I think with some students you think about social skills or recreation and leisure and those kinds of things and may not regard the importance of those skills, but for students with visual impairments, if you can think about it in a sense that they're not getting those visual clues that others get in their daily life. So we need to specifically teach them things. You think about career awareness; they're not seeing all of the careers that we see every day, so when we take a train, we see the conductor, we see the person who's taking the tickets, we see the people who are out maintaining the tracks, I mean, just simple things. So we're providing direct instruction in lots of those areas. What we need to insure, is that when we are looking at students and the IEP, that we're really looking to make sure that we're staffed and provide the instructions needed in those areas of Expanded Core Curriculum to make that we're meeting their academic developmental and their functional needs. So when we develop an IEP, the team, subject to subparagraph C, [inaudible] is saying that we need to consider the strengths of the child, the concerns of the parent for enhancing the education of the child, the result of the initial evaluation or most recent evaluation of the child and the academic development on functional needs of the child. I think functional performance sometimes; for some of our academic learners is something that we really need to be making sure that we're taking a really good at. Sometimes we have some students, who academically are doing just fine, but they're really missing big pieces of social skills, or career awareness and we really need to be making sure we're taking a look the whole child. So as we look at the students and their academic needs, we want, when we're writing that, present level, we look at how the student's doing in the content area, we look at the developmental needs and we look at their cognitive social and emotional behavior communication skills compared to their same age peers, and then we look at the performance in a classroom activities in relationship with the academic and the developmental needs.

>> And this is just a reminder, this you all know, is right out of the IEP Section 3D Needs Statement and the needs statement requires to just academic, developmental and functional needs which are all areas that are encompassed by the Expanded Core Curriculum.

>> Okay, so in that present level, the IEP needs to include a clear present level based on the needs of the student identified in section 3D, this states how the child's disability affects the child's involvement in the progress in the general curriculum and it must contain a statement academic extensile performance, even if it isn't commensurate with their peers, so we just need to make sure that we really begin to focus on addressing that issue as to what their skills are because our concern is that we have a lot of students with visual impairments that we really to focus more their independent living skills and that type of thing, as well. The Instructional Material Center. The Instructional Material Center is housed in Augusta, but it serves all students' schools and with a qualifying student with a visual impairment in the State. So, if we have a student who is considered visually impaired and they need large print or Braille, then we can assist the schools in getting that. We have a library so we can order, as I spoke before, about the American Printing House for the Blind, and they provide us Quota Funds based on the number of students who are legally blind in the state, and they provide us an account, and then we can purchase books through them if it's available through them. So if you have a book and you need it for a student, here's the process; you write the list of the books and the TVI has a specific book order form that they need to complete, requesting the specific information; the title, the publisher, the edition, the copyright date, etc. So you give that list to the TVI, who then gives it to the Instruction Material Center Coordinator. She's going to look, first, do we have it on the shelf, so if we already have it on the shelf, then we pack it up and get that book to you. If we don't have it on the shelf, then she looks to see is it available through the American Printing House, which would mean we can order it at no cost to you. Next, if it is not available through, she's going to look to see is it available anywhere else. So, has someone else already produced the book in the format that you need, rather that be Braille or large print, to go look and see if anyone else has produced it. If they have, then the school district is responsible to buy that book. And then if they have not, depending on the copyright date of the book, because there are some regulations that I'm not good at off the top of my head about if it's been produced under a certain number of years for Braille or a different status for large print, but we may be able to get it produced if it is not, if it doesn't exist anywhere else, they will not do that if it already exists, they only do it if they don't. Then there's also the piece that books can be accessed electronically, as well through a place like for one, they have lots and lots of books that you can download that are in digital format. So, that's kind of the general process, and then we'll let you know. Now, what happens is schools will identify the book, and if they have to purchase the book, what typically happens is that the school will purchase the book, the student will use it and then they will return it to the IMC so that we will store the book and also would allow the other students throughout the state who might need it to access it. I think one of the things that I really kind of neglected to say at the beginning in the introduction was, blindness is a very low incidence disability, so in the entire State of Maine, we are serving roughly 280 children and that for the entire state birth through 20. If you're talking about Braille readers, off the top of my head I'm thinking a rough number of Braille readers in the entire state right now, in the education system is probably around 15 or so, so it's really difficult not like there are ten kids who are coming up through, in your school system who are going to use those materials. So I see a question, if you have Braille books in your storage that you don't need, can you give them to the IMC? I guess my answer to that is, depending on how old it is, so I would say, in general, we are keeping books right now with a copyright date of 2000 and newer. So if it's like in the '90's, I don't think that it's likely that anyone in this state is probably going to be using it. And that's what we've kind of had to do was look at the storage implications, we do store books, but the problem is they take up a lot of space. If you can think, if you haven't had the pleasure of looking at a Braille book, I have had experience with English Literature books at the high school level of taking upwards of forty to fifty volumes. So, each volume being one to two inches wide; so they take up a lot of room, as the person who's asking is thinking that if we'll store them, I'm sure as knowing that so, just so you know, that's kind of our plan, because we don't often ask for books that are older than fourteen years old. I think I kind of covered that.

>> Can I jump in with a clarification about assisted technology overall?

>> Sure.

>> Earlier Nancy was talking about, I think it was the Braille Writer, and stated that schools must purchase materials with the exception to that could be the Braille Writer. I'll remind folks that it's the district's responsibility, of course, to make sure that the assisted technology for students is provided, if that means purchased, then yes, the district would have to purchase it. And I think what Nancy was getting at was, that in her experience it tends to be that the assisted technology for kids who are blind and visually impaired tends to end up having to be purchased with the exception of the Braille Writer.

>> Right.

>> But, it doesn't mean it has to be that way if your district is able to find funding in an alternative way for schools who the team agrees that the student needs, that's fine; didn't want it to be out there that students must purchase it, that schools must provide and they think, alright, you folks know that and if you have any questions about any other ways to acquire a piece of assisted technology for a student who is blind or visually impaired, certainly call Nancy because she may have some ideas for you.

>> Well thanks! Now I'll be getting a whole bunch of phone calls, and that's okay. And just a reminder for folks, what happens is when we provide books to use, sometimes they will come [unclear] for the blind, sometimes TVI will deliver them, it could be a variety of different ways. If you get those books in a box, keep the box, because we need like sturdy boxes of particular sizes, you'll notice that they are, they're wider, because the books are wider, so just make sure, it's really hard to come by those, so if you could do that, that would be great. It would certainly make getting the books back and forth much easier. Just so that you know, book orders have to be in by May 1st at the very latest, it's really best if before that and I know some of you are probably thinking, 'but we don't know for sure what book the student's going to use next year by then, what classes they're going to take, particularly if it's a Secondary Ed. student that tend to be the most challenging with that and we understand that and the reason is so that you understand the reasoning behind it; it's that if that book has to be produced, it can take quite a long time depending on the book, particularly if we're talking about a math or science book, it can take months, so that's the reason we need it ahead of time. We understand your dilemma and all I can say is we can't guarantee if the student will have the book in the Fall if we don't have it by then, we'll do our best if we get that book order later, but we really can't promise much because we just don't know if that book has to be produced it could take some time and it would delay the student of having the accessible instruction material that they need for their education. Testing. I'm thinking about the testing that all schools do, and we have some new modern math balance testing that's going to be coming up. Please keep in mind the accommodations that are needed for the standardize testing. I think it's going to take a lot more planning than just ordering the Braille or the large print version particularly where it's now that, I don't know what the technical name is for it, dynamic testing, but, where it's going to be done on the computer, that is going to take significant planning. The TVI can certainly assist you in that process and happy to do that, realize that it's possible that a TVI could have more than one student taking those assessments at the same time so it may take some juggling of schedules but I just want to make sure that people are mindful of the accommodations that students may need in taking those kinds of assessments. Each Spring, the teachers of the visually impaired are going to do 'In Service' for teachers who are going to have a student with visual impairment in that classroom the following school year; even numbered years is held in southern Maine and odd numbered years is held in Orono area. This year, it's going to be held on May 30th at University of Southern Maine, we just kind of got that much of the details figured out right now. I'm expecting that registration forms for that should be out at the beginning of April, by the end of March, beginning of April, they'll be registration forms for that workshop. It's a workshop that's really going to provide an overview of the consideration when having a student of visual impairment in classroom, there's some time for simulations so you can see some of the factors that will affect the student. It's not a student specific in service so we're not going to address specific individual student needs, you know, concerns, the TVI can provide that type of an 'in service' individually, but this is really looking at the big picture. We have sessions where we can show some of the strategies we use with particular groups of students so we may have a strategy session for large print learners, we may have a strategy session for Braille learners who are in grades K through 5, then there's 6 through 12, that type of thing, so we can really look at some of the specifics help students, to help teachers provide those services and we also have a little section of Orientation and Mobility as well. Orientation and Mobility is provided through the Division for the Blind most often. We have one TVI who is duly certified up in the Bangor area, so the student she serves; she may provide the Orientation and Mobility instruction as well. Other than that, all of the Orientation and Mobility is provided by the Division for the Blind. It's specifically listed as a related [phonetic] service in the, it specifically states to allow the students to attain systematic orientation for safe movements with environments in school, home and community, so, just so you know that's kind of what orientation mobility is. I will tell you that if you have any concerns around O & M. You should go to your O & M Instructor or you can go to the supervisor through the Division for the Blind, Department of Labor. So, it's a little bit how people get confused between the TVI services and the O & M services. The TVI's, are for Catholic Charities, and if you have any issues with them you can speak to either Jean or myself and where you are located. But for O & M, you would go with Department of Labor, Division for the Blind. So, in the Power Point, I actually put the contact for you for the DBVI, so if you're looking for that contact information I've listed the college supervisors in all of those regions. So I think some of the key things I just in summary just kind of want to touch again on is that TVI and O & M instructors really want and need to be part of this team. Early notification of TVI of the meeting is critical as we often serve a large geographic area in that our services need to be identified in the plan. The other is that in order to get those books you need get information by me. First, if you have any questions, please contact, feel free to contact me, my phone number is on the Power Point or Jean Small, or the Directors for the Division for the Blind, John McMahon. He is the Director and his number is located there as well in the Power Point. So if there are any other questions that anybody might have we'll open it up for questions.

>> You can unmute your lines by hitting pound or you can type some, your questions into the Chop Box and we'll you folks a few minutes to do that. No one is typing, no one is talking, we're happy is Friday and it's not snowing, right? As a reminder, this Webinar has been recorded and it will go off on the listen and learn web page. I don't know it off the top of my head so if you need it, please email me and or you can do a quick search on Google and it will come right up. Okay, as long as there are no questions, we'll say, 'thank you', thanks Nancy for doing this and I'm sure it got recorded and we'll be speaking with you soon, thanks everyone, have a great weekend.

>> Cindy?

>> Yes?

>> This is Lynn Adams calling. I have a quick question. Sunglasses; are sunglasses considered supplementary aids in services if the student, she needs them for outside better visual and then maybe inside with fluorescent but depending on what else is used. Is that something that we're required to purchase?

>> Just the way you described to me to me, it sounds like it's, your justifying an educational need with I don't want to argue, socialization outside when she while she's outside in order to participate in their activities she needs to have the sunglasses and then you mentioned the fluorescent lights inside, so it stated it's an accommodation. But, and so not having you right in front of me, I'm wondering about is what the statement around the provision of classes are actually I might go back, let me go back and see and look what it says about glasses.

>> I think with glasses and hearing aids, we are not required to purchase, that's exactly where I - the dilemma I'm in because that's definitely glasses and hearing aids, we don't and so therefore, sunglasses we're not sure of versus visual walking cane and things like that. Okay, I appreciate that, I couldn't hook into the Webinar for some reason, so I enjoyed listening I was actually listening to it, but I - It kept throwing me back out and saying, not available so I am going to look and listen and look at the whole thing so I can get the Power Point.

>> Alright. I'm sorry about that but you're good for trying that. I will go back, too and see if I can get more clarification, but you know, on the outset, of course, it sounds like, well it's an accommodation in order for the kid to access the academic or functional component of her education but, if you go one layer earlier than that, like you said, not required to provide glasses, the same argument could be made for glasses, but it says right in the IPA glasses and hearing aids are not required to be provided by the school.

>> The thing, we have alternate, we have shade covers and we use colored overlays and things like that, so we have other accesses and the student has used them for the past two years, three years, and so that's the other thing that we're like, well, academically I'm not sure, and then outside, but if you can give me any further information on it, that would be very helpful.

>> Okay. I'll look into it and get back to you, okay?

>> Thank you. I appreciate your time.

>> Alright, good.

>> Bye, bye.

>> Bye.



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