Early Childhood Services for Children with Visual Impairments

This section includes information on the variety of professional services available to families with a child who is blind or visually impaired. Included is general information about service delivery and program planning, as well as resources exploring Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs), early intervention, transition to preschool, and preschool services.  Parents will find everything from practical tips and teaching strategies to legislative information and current policy.

Service Delivery and Program Planning

Perkins School for the Blind
This 13-page paper outlines some of the key issues in the provision of services in natural environments.  It describes the unique developmental needs of children with visual impairments and offers strategies for services and advocacy (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)
DVI Quarterly, 2004. Council of Exceptional Children (CEC)
Deborah D. Hatton describes family-centered practices and early intervention for infants and toddlers with visual impairments.  She includes specific suggestions for the Individualized Family Service Plan process and encourages families to become life-long advocates for their children.
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Division on Visual Impairments
This position paper outlines basic principles in early intervention and preschool services for infants and young children with visual impairments.
Illinois Department of Human Services: Division of Community Health and Prevention
These guidelines are designed to help professionals understand appropriate assessment and early intervention for children who are blind or visually impaired (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)

DVI Quarterly, 2002. Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
Dr. Ellen Trief offers an introduction to the IFSP, including its components and team members who may be involved in the process.
FamilyConnect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments 
This article introduces families to the IFSP process by explaining what it is, what services are provided, what is included in the plan, and how it supports the family.
U.S. Department of Education
This section of the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) website presents the legislation regarding the IFSP.

Early Intervention

This section addresses the developmental characteristics and needs of infants and toddlers (birth through three years of age).  It includes information on best practices and curriculum ideas.
Blind Babies Foundation
Scroll down the page to find the Early Intervention section, with an excellent overview of the impact of vision loss on a child's development and the role of early intervention in addressing each child's needs.
FamilyConnect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments 
This introduction describes the purpose of early intervention, the support for families, types of services, and information on where services can be found.
New York State Department of Health
Quick reference guide and clinical practice guidelines for professionals and parents

Organizations and Resources to Explore: Early Intervention

Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR)
CPIR disseminates information and resources to Parent Training Information Centers and Community Parent Resource Centers, in support of families of children with disabilities.
American Foundation for the Blind Directory
AFB maintains an online directory of services for families and professionals who work with people who are blind or visually impaired. This section of the Directory features agencies who provide Early Intervention services, searchable by state or province.

Perkins Programs for Early Childhood

Perkins School for the Blind
Perkins' preschool program assesses each child's needs and creates an individualized program of education, teaming with clinical specialists and with parents on a coordinated home-school program.