Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

OSEP Addresses Special Education Eligibility for Students with Visual Impairments

OSEP logo

OSEP (The Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education) has released a memo addressing Special Education eligibility for students with visual impairments.  The memo provides some guidelines and resources.  It begins by noting that:  "...in the definition of 'visual impairment including blindness,' the regulations (in IDEA) do not contain a modifier; therefore, any impairment in vision, regardless of significance or severity, must be included in a State’s definition, provided that such impairment, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance."  States differ in their criteria for eligibility and some states maintain that a child must have a specific acuity or field loss in order to be eligible for services.

The memo includes the following sections:

  • Applicable IDEA Definitions 
  • State and Local Eligibility Criteria
  • Evaluation to Determine Whether the Child’s Visual Impairment Adversely Affects Educational Performance

AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) provides some helpful analysis of the memo.

Read the full memo.