Services for the Blind/Visually Impaired
Vision Consultant Services
A team of Consultants for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Manitoba Department of Education's Student Services Branch, provides support services on a province-wide basis to students who are blind or visually impaired. The vision consultant assists the school team by providing unique and highly specialized expertise which would not usually be available within the local school division.
(Of the functional vision of students who are blind or visually impaired)
Vision consultants provide functional vision assessments based on the eligibility criteria. This functional vision assessment assists the school team in program planning for the blind or visually impaired student. A recent eye report from an ophthalmologist or optometrist as well as a referral form, completed by the school and signed by the parents, is required before this assessment can take place.
Students whose best corrected visual acuity is 20/70 or less or who have less than 20 degrees of field of vision, or whose data reveals extenuating conditions (e.g. deteriorating eye condition) as determined by the Program Coordinator, are eligible for services.
Vision consultants work in the school with the student who is blind or visually impaired attends, providing support to the school team in the following areas
- provision of programming/teaching adaptations in the classroom/gymnasium/playground
- participation in the IEP process
- communication with the parents re: needs, progress, community resources, inservicing for school personnel on vision impairment
- coordination of additional supports both within the education system and also in the wider community
- training educational support staff
Vision consultants provide direct instructional services to blind students (tactile learners) in the following areas
- literacy braille
- orientation and mobility
- adaptive technology devices/software
- use of specialized equipment
- optimum use of residual vision
- effective use of learning and listening skills
- typing/handwriting/daily living skills
- concept development
- career education
Vision consultants provide workshops/inservices to school division personnel, parents, schools, post-secondary institutions or other agencies in any of the areas of their expertise. They may also take responsibility for organizing workshops/inservices with service providers in other areas. Requests for this service can be arranged by directly contacting the student's vision consultant or by contacting the Program Manager.
Vision consultants work in conjunction with a variety of agencies that help service the needs of blind or visually impaired students. In particular, vision consultants work with these agencies to assist in: preschool transition, school leaving transition and the planning and developing of policies/services on behalf of blind or visually impaired students.