Vision Services

The Vision Department offers two different special education-related services for blind and visually impaired children from 3-21 years of age. They are the Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted and the Orientation and Mobility Specialist. These services are provided on an individual, itinerant basis in a wide range of settings.

Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted

Teachers of the Blind and Partially Sighted work with all students individually to assess and develop instructional programs based on the child's impairment and needs. Because 80 percent of learning is based on visual information, the visually impaired child needs to be taught many compensatory skills in order to function and learn in all settings. Parents receive frequent information, support and opportunity to input and are allowed full participation in their child's education. Consultative services to classroom teachers and support staff as well as in-services are offered for school staff and students. The teacher works closely with the ophthalmologist to annually update the medical status of the child. The Vision Department acts as a liaison to link the families and school to agencies in the community that work with the blind and partially sighted. These may include the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired Goodwill Industries, and the New York State Resource Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

3-5 Years: Preschool Intervention
The preschool blind and partially sighted child is in need of specialized intervention skills as preparation for academic learning. These include pre-writing and reading skills, braille readiness, listening skills and adaptations of learning materials to enhance visual functioning. The services are delivered in the home, daycare or preschool setting.

5-21 Years: School Age Program
The school age child who is visually impaired is in need of ongoing assessment and direct instruction or consultation to enable the child to function in the overall activities of the school setting. It is the responsibility of the Vision Department to provide adapted materials that include the transcription of print text into braille, or large print text. Teachers in the Vision Department provide ongoing support to classroom teachers, staff, and family.

School Age services include the following:

  • Functional vision evaluations to be completed on an annual basis
  • Learning media assessments - To determine adaptations and instructions that will be needed to help the child meet academic expectations
  • When appropriate, instruction in reading and writing braille, and tactile graphics
  • Instruction in the use of low-vision materials (large print texts, special lined papers, adaptive measuring devices, adaptations and enlargements of classroom materials)
  • Instruction in the use of optical low-vision aids (magnifiers, telescopes, closed circuit televisions)
  • Instruction in the use of assistive technology materials (screen enlargement programs, voice output systems, braille computer technology, recorded materials)
  • Support to students who transition to the workplace and college

Orientation and Mobility Specialist

The Orientation and Mobility Specialist’s role involves the teaching of specific skills and techniques that will develop the abilities of the visually impaired child to move safely and efficiently in any setting. The purpose of this service is to provide the blind or partially-sighted student with increased access to his or her environment. Mobility in the child’s immediate environment (home and school) and in the community is stressed.

The Orientation and Mobility Specialist works with students (ages 3-21) to develop travel skills necessary to function at a level with their peers. Instruction is available at the 3-5 year level (Preschool Intervention) and in the School Age Program (ages 5-21 years).

Orientation and Mobility Services include the following:
  • Functional vision evaluations to be completed on an annual basis
  • Training in the use of remaining senses as well as residual vision
  • Instruction in positional concepts
  • Integration of spatial relationships
  • Training in mapping skills (the use of tactile, auditory, and mental mapping)
  • Instruction in cane techniques
  • Training in independent travel skills in the home and school environment (and also residential, businesses and rural areas, as well as the use of public transportation)
  • Familiarization of the student to all new environments
  • Training in the use of various travel aids (long canes, telescopes, electronic travel equipment, dog guide travel, etc.)
  • Support to students who transition to the workplace and college

For more information, please contact:

Thomas Gallagher
Department Chair 
160 Wallace Way
Rochester, NY 14624
Ph: (585) 617-2335 
Fax: (585) 349-8897
[email protected]