Teaming

Teachers for children with visual impairments are the appropriate team leaders for learners diagnosed with CVI. Many TVIs who have been in the field for a long while may not have been formally trained in working with this population and many have been working since before there were strategies, assessments and research to guide us in service delivery.

Just as we are required to learn about ever changing technologies, updates to braille code, and new best practice strategies for teaching braille and nemeth, we are required to learn about how to provide services to the children diagnosed with CVI. We need to take ownership of this responsibility and learn how to best support these students.

A telling research article was published in the Journal of Visual Impairments and Blindness in October 2010 reporting on a survey of parents raising children with CVI. Strong questions emerged for professionals. “First, why are parents put in the position of educating ophthalmologists, neurologists, and educators about CVI? Second, why do ophthalmologists not suspect or diagnose CVI earlier? Last, do teachers of students with visual impairments and other members of the educational team (such as physical therapists and occupational therapists) need more training in appropriate interventions for these children?” Jackel, B., Hartmann, E., & Wilson, M. (2010). A survey of parents of children with cortical or cerebral visual impairment. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 104(10), 613-623.

“Unfortunately, this plethora of resources may also create a measure of frustration when teachers enter their first jobs and find that there is little time to implement programming at the level needed with a child who has severe disabilities and CVI. The teachers are armed with a wealth of knowledge and resources, and they are assigned a caseload that includes children with severe disabilities who often receive a half hour a week–or sometimes even a month–of service from a teacher of students with visual impairments, or an occasional visit from an O&M specialist. The skill that may be most important for beginning teachers in teaching a child with CVI may be the ability to participate as a team member and to communicate the visual needs of the child to other professionals and family members. Regardless of the quality of resources and training, a teacher of students with visual impairments who cannot work with a team to integrate visual needs into daily routines will not make a difference in a child’s learning. While our understanding of CVI is much richer now, teachers must understand how vision can be incorporated into daily routines by everyone who works with these complex children, many of whom have CVI, if they are to be successful.” Erin, J. N. (2010). Developing the University Curriculum to Include CVI: A Work in Progress at the University of Arizona. Journal of Visual Impairments and Blindness, 104(10), 656-658.

Rising numbers of students with CVI and an already large caseload are not reasons for TVIs to give up on these learners. Successfully training the child’s education team and offering support through team communication is possible and less time consuming than resorting to the model of “vision time.” An explanation of this model is under the Daily Routines Matrix tab. Submissions of your strategies that have been successful may be sent to ssullivan@aph.org.