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Blind and Visually Impaired



Visual impairment, including blindness, means impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects an individual’s educational performance.

The definition includes:

  • partial sight and
  • blindness

Individuals with visual impairment vary significantly from one another in regard to their visual abilities.

281--Iowa Administrative Code 41.50(13)

Eligibility Determination

Eligibility is determined through a rigorous assessment process conducted by a teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired (TVI) and an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (OMS).


All students should receive a learning media assessment (LMA) to determine the current reading and writing media (braille, large print, dual print media, and regular print with optical devices or regular print without optical devices) best suited to the student. (See information below regarding primary and secondary learning mediums)

All students are given assessments in the nine priority content areas of the Iowa Expanded Core Curriculum

Students with any functional vision should have a functional vision assessment (FVA) to determine how the student uses the remaining vision in a variety of educational settings. It is critical to evaluate the status of a student’s visual abilities at least every three years.

Assessment Procedures

When assessments are administered to a student who is blind or visually impaired all the requirements for valid and reliable tests are followed along with providing the assessment in the individual’s  native language or other mode of communication (braille, large print, or use of optical devices), unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.

281--Iowa Administrative Code 41.304(3)a(2-5)b & c

Primary Learning Medium

A primary learning medium:

  • is the medium most frequently used by a student with a visual impairment during classroom instruction
  • can also be used in a wide variety of settings inside and outside of the classroom
  • permits independence and efficiency in both reading and writing
  • will become a primary living medium
  • must accommodate academic, nonacademic, and vocational needs and be applicable to adult activities following the completion of high school.
Secondary Learning Medium

A secondary learning medium:

  • is a medium that is learned in order to allow a student with visual impairment to perform specific tasks not easily performed in the primary learning medium
  • may alleviate fatigue experienced when using the primary learning medium for extended periods of time
  • may be appropriate when a visual prognosis indicates a future loss of vision and, therefore a changing learning medium
  • may also be appropriate when functional assessment criteria suggest the student may benefit by using different media under some conditions.
Special Components of the IEP

The IEP team must assure that the decisions made regarding the student’s primary learning mode are integrated throughout the IEP. When developing an IEP for a student who is blind or visually impaired, the IEP team must assure that in addition to the items addressed on all IEPs these additional items must be addressed:

  1. Alternate reading and writing media;
  2. Functional outcomes for the ECC priority areas;
  3. Communication plan for students who are considered deafblind.

281--Iowa Administrative Code 41.324(1)b(3)

NIMAS Eligibility

Assistive Technology and NIMAS


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on March 20, 2018 at 6:18am.