Students with congenital visual impairments have little if any opportunity to obtain incidental information from their environment. The lack of vision severely interferes with a child's ability to read social cues as well as to seamlessly gain information that surrounds him. Therefore, in the SASED Visually Impaired classrooms, in addition to standard curricula, equal attention is paid to the areas that prevent a child with a visual impairment from fully participating in his environment. Special attention is paid to disability specific skills (i.e., Braille reading and writing, abacus, use of low vision aids for near and distance, use of speech output programs, enlarging software, taped texts, closed circuit televisions, etc.).
Skills of daily living can be particularly challenging for a child with a severe visual impairment, since most of this information comes from observing others. Things as simple as use of utensils need to be taught and reinforced in a manner that allows the child with the visual impairment to be as independent as their ability permits. Most sighted persons teach skills across a table. For a child with a visual impairment, even if the skill is taught hand over hand, by teaching in front, it does not provide the correct proprioceptive information. Instead, working behind the child in a hand over hand manner allows the child to feel how the arm and not just the hand needs to be maneuvered to use most utensils. Again, for sighted children, opportunities to watch others use utensils are infinite; for the child with a visual impairment, the opportunities are limited to direct instruction. In addition, social interaction is an area that also requires specific teaching.
Orientation and Mobility is an integral part of the Visually Impaired program based on each student’s individual needs. The student is taught at a level appropriate to his/her age and ability to travel safely and independently in the school, community and residential environments. Additionally, a full range of related services such as Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language services, etc., are available to students when such needs are determined by their IEP team.