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SD School for the Blind & Visually Impaired - Evaluations

Under federal and state law a child with a disability must be evaluated before an Individual Educational Plan is developed, and follow up evaluations must be conducted at least every three years. South Dakota statute also requires that a Braille assessment be completed for every child who visual acuity is 20/200 or less.

Under our state's special education regulations, a child who is visually impaired must be examined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist. This is essential for good eye care. Although some eye conditions are stable, others are not and must be closely monitored so that corrective action can be taken when necessary. In addition, children become easier to test as their ability to communicate increases and more precise information can be obtained.

However, information contained in a medical eye report often leaves the classroom teacher without the concrete information needed to serve a child in the classroom. Does 20/200 mean the child needs Braille? Can he see the board if he's in the front row? Should he take part in volleyball? Is direct or indirect lighting preferable? How does the child's vision affect his other test scores? How should ability and performance be compared?

The role of the SDSBVI assessment team is to assist in translating what is known about the eye condition into practical terms for the classroom. The team, which is selected based on the individual needs of the child being referred, represents a variety of discipline areas. Their goal is to get to know the child's strengths and weaknesses, modes of learning and interacting with both people and the environment. All information is analyzed by the team so that appropriate recommendations can be made.

When an evaluation is requested by a local school district, the first step is to gather background data, including previous eye reports, educational and/or medical testing, and current IEPs for review. If the child is a new referral, the Outreach Vision Consultant may visit the school or home and talk about the specific concerns that have prompted the request. A team of evaluators is selected based on the child's age, developmental level and specified needs.

There is no charge for any evaluations conducted by the SDSBVI faculty and staff. (If desired, ophthalmological, optometrical, audiological, psychological, physical and occupational therapy evaluations can be obtained at a reasonable cost from local providers, who then become part of the team.)

If a child has not had a medical eye exam, one must be completed either before or during our evaluation of the child.

After the child is evaluated, the team reviews the data as a group and identifies specific recommendations based on the child's needs. These recommendations are given to the parent and local school representative at an exit meeting. A written report is mailed to both parents and school district. After the child returns home, the Outreach Vision Consultant will follow up to offer assistance in carrying out the recommendations.

In most cases these evaluations take three days. In all cases, the child is accompanied by a family member and, if at all possible, someone from the local school district.

For more information or to schedule an educational evaluation, please contact Dawn LaMee at 605.626.2580 or 1.888.275.3814 or by email at dawn.lamee@sdsbvi.northern.edu.

Dawn LaMee - Liason for Services
Dawn LaMee
Liaison for Services