Responsibilities of a Teacher of the Visually Impaired

by Angela Stevens on March 30, 2010

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The biggest responsibility of a teacher of the visually impaired, or TVI, is to lead the student’s educational team. While the student will have a 504 or an IEP, and thus a special education teacher assigned to him or her, that special education teacher has not been specifically trained to meet the needs of a visually impaired student. The TVI must help show the special education teacher, classroom teachers, staff, and possibly even the parents what they will need to do in order to make the education environment as effective and enjoyable as possible.

sunbelt-teacher-visually-impaired

The specific responsibilities of the TVI will depend greatly on the degree to which the child is visually impaired. If the child has slight to moderate impairment, the TVI may only need to help work out a plan and make sure proper equipment and materials are purchased and utilized, both in the classroom and at home when appropriate. Some of the materials the TVI may make accessible to the child include large print textbooks, audio textbooks, Braille textbooks, and computer programs that will help make learning easier for the child. If the child is severely impaired, the TVI may make a recommendation for an assistant to help the student in the classroom.

In regards to the classroom setting, the TVI would need to evaluate the classroom (or classrooms) the student will be in for safety and adaptability, and offer advice on how to make these areas safer and more effective for the student. The TVI would also consult with teachers to help them understand what the student will need from them, and provide training for teachers and staff to help them learn teaching and organizational strategies they can use for the student.

Throughout the school year, the TVI may want to meet with the student and family to offer assistance and help them learn skills that can be used at home to further the educational goals established during the IEP meeting. This would include regular progress assessments and a time for the parents and students to voice any concerns or offer suggestions they think may help the student in or out of school.

Most importantly, however, is the responsibility the teacher has to make sure everyone is comfortable with the education plan. This means making sure questions have been answered, information has been shared, and that all parties feel they are ready to begin this new adventure together. Often teachers, staff, and even other students don’t know how to treat a visually impaired person, and so they adopt a defensive or overly helpful attitude, when in fact the student just wants to have a normal educational experience. A TVI can help make sure everyone is comfortable and working together to achieve that outcome.

Are you a TVI? What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana Snook 06.16.10 at 10:55 pm

I am a TVI in Texas and the most challenging aspect of my job is communicating to the administrators the difference between a caseload and a workload. When you are a TVI you are not only a teacher, but a casemanager, problem solver, secretary, and anything else that student needs! It’s your job to give the student what they need because many times you are the only one who knows what they need and how to teach them. The most rewarding part of my job is when one of my students does something that they have been told they will never be able to do. Pass TAKS, be an active member of the school marching band, and little things like realizing that those little bumps on the page actually represent letters. It’s an awesome job, but also an awesome responsibility.

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Angela Stevens 06.17.10 at 8:48 am

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience Diana!

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Umenjoh 10.12.10 at 1:45 pm

I love to teach people with visual problems

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Maurice Sparrow 11.29.10 at 9:25 am

Hi – I like your blog its cool. I’m a VI teacher in the UK and I have just started a blog on brain damage VI which you might be interested in. Check it out: http://www.thevisualbrain.blogspot.com. Do you work with many children in schools or at home with cortical visual impairment? I have a growing number on my caseload.

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Phil Dahl 10.29.12 at 12:36 pm

Dear Friend,
I have found the fingers-braille image on Google and would like to ask if the image would be available for use in a non-profit, Quaker diary and yearbook for Quakers in the centre of England/UK. Through our project, the ‘Talking Friend’, we coordinate audio resources for blind and visually impaired Quakers of weekly, monthly and quarterly publications. Un UK terms, this is termed a ‘charitable activity’, like non-profit in the US.
I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your kind consideration of our request.
Phil Dahl

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