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Supporting Children Who are Blind or Visually Impaired as They Return to School

As a parent you are the captain of your child's team. Get ready for back to school by preparing and communication.

Two elementary aged children walking to school holding hands, back packs on. Walking on a sidewalk with a view of them from behind.

Going back to school can lead to feelings of anticipation and worry for students, parents, and
teachers alike. As a parent, you are the “captain” of your child’s individualized education
program (IEP) team! It is important to prepare and communicate effectively with your child and their teachers during this time.


Below are four ways you can prepare yourself and your child for the start of the school year.

Know your district’s educational options
Visit your district’s website to research traditional and online course options. What programs
are being offered, and how might each affect your child’s individual learning needs and access
to the curriculum? Be sure to check your school’s website for additional information.

Demystify the back-to-school transition 
Talk to your child about the upcoming year and what her school day might look like. Will she be
taking the bus to school or attending after school programs? What might be the same and what
might change? What is she excited about? What worries does she have? What were the highs
and lows from last spring?

Establish a daily routine 
Talk with your child about bedtimes and implement them prior to the first day. Discuss routines
that develop independence with dressing, packing lunches, and organizing backpacks. Help your child create a personal learning space where he can organize, easily find, and take care of his learning tools. Consider a location that has easy access to outlets for charging technology.

Review your child’s IEP 
What modifications and accommodations has the school agreed to provide? This list is your
child’s “toolbox,” the supplies needed for accessing classwork. Are updates needed to address
anything that has changed since the end of the last school year? Which items do you need at
home? What questions or concerns do you have regarding progress toward IEP goals? What
ideas, tips, and tricks can you contribute? 

Resource: Individualized Education Program: Parent’s Role [PDF]

Action items

Now that you have prepared for the school year, below are three ways you can take action, in addition to communicating with your child’s Teacher for the Visually Impaired (TVI).

  • Assemble your child’s “toolbox” (e.g., braille or large-print books, assistive technology, low-tech items, magnification devices). Make a list of what is needed and who will acquire each item.
  • Review the progress made on goals and the priority for starting the year. Ask your TVI about the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and tips for working on skills at home.
  • Confirm the specifics of direct service delivery: location, days and times, necessary materials, and parent involvement expectations.

Visit your child’s school

Drive, walk, or bike the route from home and explore the public school grounds. Locate the bus and drop-off areas, front entry, playground, outdoor picnic tables, etc. If possible, coordinate with your orientation and mobility instructor to navigate inside. Identify classrooms, label your child’s locker, and walk the routes to community spaces (cafeteria, lunchroom, auditorium, library, bathrooms). 

Meet your child’s classroom teacher 
Participate in back-to-school programming and respond to school communications. Try scheduling a meeting with your child’s teacher(s). During the meeting, showcase your child’s
strengths, interests, and needs with a personal “story,” letter, or video; provide a copy of the
IEP; express any concerns you have; and share your ideas. Highlight the services, accommodations, and support your child needs to succeed and offer to help where you can. Ask what classroom supplies will be needed and demonstrate some of the vision-specific items
from your child’s “toolbox.” Be supportive and offer collaboration.

Resource: Student Report: What’s Your Story? [PDF]

Additional back-to-school resources

Lighthouse Guild:

Tele-Support for Parents

American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Family Connect:

Back to School Checklist for Parents of a Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

National Federation of the Blind – National Organization of Parents of Blind Children Division:

Blind Parents Connection Podcast: Episode 6: Making Back to School Successful

Supporting children who are blind or visually impaired at they return to school title with a picture of two elementary school children holding hands and walking to school.
School supplies laid out in a circle that includes paints, colored pencils, erasers.

Back to School 2023 Edition


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