When You Have Concerns: Problem-Solving with Your Blind Child’s School
You may not always agree with other members of your child’s educational team about the most appropriate plan of action for your child. The teacher of students with visual impairments is usually the team member who is most knowledgeable about visual impairments and so is a good person to begin with to discuss your concerns.
Before meeting with this teacher, ask for any written reports or data he or she has that can help you understand your child’s situation:
- Ask for copies of current assessment reports, including the functional vision assessment and learning media assessment, if you do not already have them. These reports should include recommendations, not just a list of information gathered through the assessment process. Ask the teacher to review these reports with you.
- If a functional vision assessment and learning media assessment have not been conducted with your child, ask to have these assessments completed.
- Also, ask to see the data that the teacher has on the progress your child has been making toward his Individualized Educational Program (IEP) goals.
Use this data to prepare ahead of time, so that you are ready to explain your concerns and have information to back up any requests for changes. When you sit down to talk with the teacher of students with visual impairments, focus on the changes in services that you believe your child needs, not the performance of any particular team member.
- State your specific concerns about your child’s current education. For example, if you are concerned that your child is struggling in reading class and that large print does not seem effective for him, share this observation and ask about the opportunity for your child to learn braille.
- Take notes or ask to record the meeting so that you’ll have a record of what was discussed. You might want to ask someone to come with you to take notes.
- Send a follow-up letter or e-mail summarizing what was discussed so that everyone has a written record.
If the teacher of students with visual impairments does not have information to share with you about what he or she has been working on with your child and how he has been progressing, you have reason to be concerned. Ask for a meeting with the teacher and his or her immediate supervisor to discuss this and your other concerns.
In many instances, clear communication and negotiation will produce positive results. Ultimately, though, if you have tried these strategies and still have disagreements about the way your child’s education is being handled, you may need to rely on the rights and safeguards for you as a parent that are built into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). It’s important to be familiar with the law and with the procedures for making complaints in your school district so that you will know what your options are before such a need arises. If you find yourself in these circumstances, it may be helpful to contact national parents’ groups and organizations providing services to visually impaired children and adults who can provide guidance, advice, and support.