Working Together to Provide Meaningful Health Education to Students with Visual Impairments

Editor’s note: This blog post was written by Stacy Kelly, Ed.D and Gaylen Kapperman, Ed.D. of Northern Illinois University. They will join us for a webinar on February 17 at 3:00PM ET. Visit the APH ConnectCenter webinars page to learn more and register.

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Parent-professional partnerships make a difference for students who are blind or have low vision. This includes parent-professional collaboration in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) planning and implementation process. We have outlined examples of ways for parents and school professionals to work together through the IEP process to provide meaningful health education instruction to students with visual impairments. These innovative methods for integrating health education into the IEPs of student with visual impairments include advocacy for preteaching as an instructional technique and assistive technology as an essential resource.  

Preteaching and Explicit Use of Preteaching in the IEP 

To start with, parents can encourage teachers who provide direct instruction to their students with visual impairments to use preteaching. Preteaching can be explicitly listed and documented in the IEP when it comes to considerations of special factors. Preteaching is a technique that can properly ensure the inclusion of students with visual impairments in lessons. Preteaching is an important component of sex education for students with visual impairments. Students with visual impairments need to have the opportunity to learn about instructional content in sex education presented to them before formal instruction takes place. Preteaching should also include explicit language that frankly describes many of the concepts related to sex education that sighted students learn simply by watching others. 

For a sex education unit, students with visual impairments should be given special hands-on instruction privately in a secluded area with two adults present and not in the regular classroom with sighted peers. Such preteaching should take place before regular sex education instruction occurs. A student who is visually impaired should not be removed from the classroom when sex education takes place unless his or her parents refuse to give permission. 

The preteaching methods outlined in the IEP can also include language that specifies that the preteaching include meaningful and accessible methods materials across various content areas including but not limited to school-based sexual health education. For further guidance on these preteaching methods, materials, and resources the reader is referred to the following publication developed by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) that is described next. 

Parents as Advocates For Appropriate Resources 

Every student should have access to a quality and comprehensive health education and this includes students who are blind or have low vision. In response to this need for effective instruction in the area of health education, the American Printing House for the Blind developed the guidebook of record on this topic in the field of visual impairments. APH developed this guidebook. 

It is recommended that parents be sure those who are direct teaching their children with visual impairments have acquired to this guidebook. This guidebook provides ways to make specific aspects of health education meaningful and fully accessible to students with visual impairments. 

Required Procedures for School-Based Health Education Vary Even Within the Same State 

Policies and procedures on sex education can vary significantly among school districts that are located within the same state. Therefore, it is not enough for parents or school personnel to be familiar with sex education policies for a given state where students who are visually impaired attend school. All school district policies and procedures must be followed. The specific school district and/or school agency policies and procedures on sex education must be followed by everyone involved. Parents can request information about school district policies and procedures for sex education from the school districts and/or school agencies where their students attend. 

Using Assistive Technology in the IEP to Support Effective Health Education 

Additionally, parents and caregivers of students with visual impairments can use methods, materials, and resources to work together with school personnel to advocate for meaningful health education instruction to students with visual impairments. Similarly, these innovative methods and materials also include the use of assistive technology. Goals and objectives in the IEP can be written to support age-appropriate use of assistive technology to access readily available online resources that support content presented in the general education curriculum. 

Two examples include the use of Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) in conjunction with assistive technology to access this educational described video content and Bookshare also in conjunction with assistive technology to access educationally-based digital books.  

To learn more about preteaching and these methods for using assistive technology in conjunction with resources such as DCMP and Bookshare to support effective health education for students with visual impairments, check out the APH webinar: Working Together to Provide Meaningful Sex Education Instruction to Students with Visual Impairments: A Presentation of Recommended Resources and Materials for Parents of Students with Visual Impairments and School Personnel

Register Here 

Additional FamilyConnect Readings on this Topic for Parents of Students with Visual Impairments 

TheĀ FamilyConnectĀ postings below can be widely shared by parents and caregivers of students with visual impairments with each other and with the school personnel who provide direct instruction to their students.Ā Ā