We hope you will participate in a survey to help us better understand the challenges and successes students with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities and deafblindness, are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We want to hear from all families, all teachers of students with visual impairments, and all Orientation & Mobility (O&M) instructors in the United States and Canada. We want to hear from families and professionals whose children are receiving educational services as well as those who are not receiving services. We really mean all families whose children have visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities and deafblindness.
Teachers of students with visual impairments and O&M instructors who were delivering in-person services have had to swiftly shift gears when schools around the country started closing their doors to slow the spread of the COVID-19.
But that doesn’t mean that education has to come to a halt for students who are blind or have low vision and receive services based on their Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), Individualized Education Program (IEP), or 504 Plan. And if education has come to a halt, we need to understand why.
- What steps were taken as schools shifted to online education, sent home paper packets, or in some cases stopped providing educational services?
- How accessible to students with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities and deafblindness, are the online learning tools many districts are using?
- What is working with non-traditional educational services being delivered to many students?
- What are the concerns of family members, guardians, teachers of students with visual impairments, and O&M instructors during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How are families adjusting to the change in service delivery?
- Do families believe their child is progressing in their education?
- What are families’ feelings around the communication and support they are or are not receiving from educators?
- How are teachers of students with visual impairments and O&M instructors engaging their students and ensuring they are continuing to progress in their education?
The survey will be open April 22 - May 13 (3 weeks).
How will the data be used?
The data will be used to allow educators, administrators, policy makers, and families to better understand the challenges and successes students with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities and deafblindness, are experiencing when educational services are being delivered in unique ways. We hope to identify novel ways families and educators are working together to provide instruction in the expanded core curriculum. We want to document how teachers and O&M instructors who don’t have access to all of their materials and resources are providing instruction in unique ways.
- How are O&M instructors advancing students’ O&M skills when they aren’t able to travel with them in the community?
- How is a teacher of students with visual impairments guiding a student to build independence in the kitchen when he typically would model new skills using hand-under-hand?
- How is a child who responds best to having the teacher demonstrate hand positioning for braille reading responding to a verbal description?
Please share the survey link widely with your networks, so we can make sure all voices are heard.
Thank you for helping us better understand and document the current challenges surrounding access and engagement to education for students.
The following 19 organizations, companies, and universities are collaborating on this project.
- Academy for Certification and Education of Vision Rehabilitation Professionals
- American Council of the Blind
- American Foundation for the Blind
- American Printing House for the Blind
- Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
- CNIB Foundation
- Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairment and Deafblindness
- Council of Schools and Services for the Blind
- National Braille Press
- National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
- Objective Ed
- Perkins School for the Blind
- Seedlings Braille Books for Children
- Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- University of South Carolina Upstate, Visual Impairment Program
- Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada
- VisionServe Alliance
This article was reprinted from AFB with permission.