20. Special Education Overidentification 2011: Vision Impairment Including Blindness

Vision impairments vary widely by types and degrees of  disability, with and without clear medical signs.  Scattered reports give emphasis to under-identification of disabled children who have reading problems.  School screening does not catch all children with sight problems, and busy teachers do not always see the connections between vision problems and learning tasks requiring detection and processing of visual material.  Where there are clear medical symptoms present, detection rate is higher. 

Where children’s problems are detected, and glasses are purchased, many children either do not use their glasses all the time, or break them, or lose them.

It is unclear what the special education referral and placement patterns are for vision impairments.  There is some experience to suggest children who are identified as having vision problems are not referred for special education evaluation.  Health records show in a few cases children who have vision problems but without any follow up.

“According to research, as many as 75% of children that are considered learning disabled have clinically significant visual problems. Yet, these children are often labeled as having a specific learning disability, dyslexic or as having ADD before vision is ruled out as a possible contributory factor. Once labeled and eligible for special education services, most of the time good visual skills are NOT a goal listed on an Individual Education Plan set forth by Multi-Disciplinary Teams” (Vision Association, 2009).  cf. Sensory Problems

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