Evaluating a Child Who is Blind and Language Impaired

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“My 11 year-old daughter is blind and language impaired. She has been in a public school for the blind. As part of her triennial re-evaluation, the team insists on doing IQ testing. I refused as these tests are not designed for the blind. The school is threatening me with due process.”

Before we can give more than general advice, we need to know more.

  • Is your daughter totally blind or does she have low vision?
  • Was she born blind?
  • Where are her reading skills relative to her peers?
  • Has she been taught to read with Braille?
  • When was her last evaluation?
  • What tests were used then?

As a parent who is not a psychologist, you are not in a strong position to say what tests she needs or doesn’t need.

You need  an independent expert in your corner.

Do you know an independent evaluator who has expertise in testing and teaching children who are blind and have language problems?

If not, places to look for a qualified evaluator are a medical school, a children’s hospital, or a school for the blind. If you do know an independent evaluator, schedule an appointment, discuss the problems, and ask for his/her advice. This person may be able to test her. If not, s/he can probably refer you to someone who can.

From what I can determine, you are correct in saying that many tests used with blind children are outdated or lead to inaccurate findings.

Because testing requires the use of so many accommodations and modifications, results should be “interpreted with caution.”

Refer to Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, 2nd Edition.

Chapter 11: Assessments of Hearing, Vision, and Motor Skills.

Chapter 12: Auditory, Visual, Visual-Motor, and Sensory Processing Assessments.

An evaluator should select tests that allow your child to show what she knows – tests that measure your daughter’s abilities, not her impaired skills.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) offers many programs, services, and resources for parents of blind children.

The NFB also provides mentoring relationships for individuals who are blind and need resources and guidance on blindness issues.

We encourage you to contact your state affiliate for information and resources that are specific to your local area. You can also contact us at our national headquarters using the contact information listed on this page.

Re-edited from a post originally published 08/11/2008

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IEP FAQs Pop-Up – Special Factors in IEPs

  1. i am looking for info, preferably research articles on evaluation and educaiton of children who are blind and have language and communication problems, with the emphasis on those whose language problems are the result of blindness, not a concommitant language disorder, thanks

  2. HOw can a school get away with calling someone a special Ed teacher when they have no certification to teach special ED? My Son is supposed to be in a Geometry class that has a special Ed aid in it for the students who have IEPs. The person does not have a special ED certification, and no Math certification. He is certified to teach Orientation to Business. He is not certified to teach any core classes.

    The school psychologist was promoted to Special ED administrator, yet she does not have Administration certification. Another guy who we all believed to be a special Ed teacher did not have special Ed certification. He was going to school to teach classes like history, World history. The school made him a temporary special ed teacher. He was my son’s case manager for 2 years, and taught students Fundamental Math which is to be taught by special Ed teachers.

    None of this seems right. I can see going to school to meet requirements while getting real life experience. When you have no intention of teaching special Ed, how can the school pass off a person as being one?

  3. I recently had my visually impared son evaluated by a neuropsychologist who administers tests to blind and low vision individuals. The norm is based on blindness. You might want to check out Dr. Jack Dial’s website for some information and possibly from there you could locate a neuropsycologist who uses Dr. Dial’s tests.

    Hope this helps!

  4. In Ohio students can be reevaluated using “current data” instead of or in addition to psychological testing. You might ask your special ed. director about this.

  5. She is blind from birth, light perdeption only. The school tells me I can have an independent eval but they do not have to consider this. they have been keeping her in a special needs dept, despite the fact every says how smart she is. Does the law even require i.q. testing for placement? My understanding was that it does not.

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