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Vision Impairment

Visual Impairment

BPS students may be eligible for special education services if they have vision impairments. "Visual impairment" is defined under federal law as "an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness".

Students with vision impairments attend their neighborhood schools. Vision staff instruct students at the school in which they reside. The following is a list of services and/or activities which have been provided for students with vision impairments and other students with special needs in the Bismarck Public Schools. The list is not exhaustive and the activities may not be in isolation from other school personnel and related services.

1. Orientation and Mobility Training (white cane travel, routes around home, residential, and commercial travel needs)

2. Braille instruction in literary, Nemeth math code, and music

3. Vision Efficiency Training (assist in training of eye motor skills for efficient focusing and reading, when doctor prescribed)

4. Concept Development (teaching concepts such as: around, up, over, left, right, next, etc. without sight)

5. Keyboarding instruction and computer operation (keyboarding instruction in early elementary grades along with speech access and enlarging adaptation to computers)

6. Social Skills Training (facial expressions, manners, friendships, how to handle frustration)

7. Daily Living Skill Training (cooking, cleaning, shopping, handling money, dressing, etc.)

8. Parent Training (expectations of child, braille, mobility, how to include the child at home,)

9. Training in Gross and Fine Motor Skills (running, skipping, cutting, signatures for blind)

10. Evaluations (functional vision and others)

11. Teacher Consultation (train teachers on student's adaptations needed)

12. Mass and Selective Vision Screenings (Vision testing in K, 3rd, and 6th in all schools)

13. Training in Organizational Skills (strategies are taught for organization in all aspects of life)

14. Material Adaptations (materials adapted into braille, tactual, large print, and audio)

15. Provide low and high tech assistive technology (assist in adapting computer tech for child)

16. Liaison among medical profession, parents, and school

17. Vocational Training (Assist in work experiences, mentoring, job shadow, and summer employment)

18. Collaborating with outside agencies for transitions


The Bismarck Special Education Department assists other District staff in conducting both mass and selective screenings. Mass screenings, which are activities designed to identify potential concerns regarding vision, are conducted at the beginning of the school year for all students after their parents are notified. Vision screenings are conducted in preschool and grades K, 3, and 6.

Selective screenings are the same as mass screenings except that specific students are identified rather than entire grades and classes of students. Parental consent must be obtained before staff conduct selective screenings. If, after conducting a screening, staff have concerns about a student's vision, parents will be notified of the need for another screening or further assessment.

For more information, contact:
Wayne Triska
For more information about services for preschool students, contact:
Michelle Hougen


American Council of the Blind (link)

The American Council of the Blind strives to improve the well-being of all blind and visually impaired people by: serving as a representative national organization of blind people; elevating the social, economic and cultural levels of blind people; improving educational and rehabilitation facilities and opportunities; cooperating with the public and private institutions and organizations concerned with blind services; encouraging and assisting all blind persons to develop their abilities and conducting a public education program to promote greater understanding of blindness and the capabilities of blind people.

American Foundation for the Blind (link)

Priorities of the American Foundation for the Blind include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources.

National Federation of the Blind (NFB) (link)

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is a consumer organization of blind people working together to improve opportunities for the blind and the understanding of blindness by the general public.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) (link)

Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of Braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail.

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