BESB: Children's Services Policy Manual

CHILDREN’S SERVICES
POLICY MANUAL 2007
REVISED 10/2009

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Preamble.......... 4

 

Legislative Authority.......... 6

 

Confidentiality and Availability of Case Records..........10

 

Referral and Eligibility..........14

 

Services to Non-Visually Impaired Children..........16

 

Preschool Age Children..........17

 

Special Hiring Requirements-Birth to Three Teachers.......... 20

 

Legally Blind and Visually Impaired Children.......... 22

 

Multi-handicapped Visually Impaired Children.......... 23

 

BESB Education Consultants for School Age Children.......... 25

 

Teacher Reimbursement Process.......... 30

 

Reporting Requirements.......... 33

 

Adaptive Devices and Services.......... 34

 

Braille and Large Print Texts.......... 41

 

Educational Items Stocked at BESB.......... 42

 

Request for Educational Items Not In Stock.......... 44

 

Low Vision Services.......... 45

 

Orientation and Mobility.......... 48

 

Psychological Evaluation.......... 49

 

Vocational Rehabilitation.......... 50

 

Enrollment in Private or Parochial Schools.......... 51

 

Services to Local Education Agencies.......... 52

 

In-Service Education.......... 53

 

Use of 90171 Account Funds (formerly 314).......... 54

 

Funding Disbursement Process.......... 55

 

Appeals Procedures.......... 62

 

Independent Living Programs.......... 64

 

Paraprofessional Training.......... 67

 

 

Preamble

 

This policy and procedure manual is an update of prior issuances. The agency wishes to acknowledge the valuable perspectives and collaboration of the following individuals and agencies, who collectively represented the “Stakeholder’s Group” for Children’s Services. Their efforts, experience and dedication resulted in the creation of the first edition of this policy manual, issued in 2003, and their roles and job titles held in 2003 are noted below.  Our gratitude goes out to each and every member whose time and commitment to the improvement of services for children who are blind and visually impaired is reflected in this manual.

 

The “Stakeholder” Group:

 

Eileen Akers, BESB Board Member

Christine Ashburn, Office of Fiscal Analysis

David Banigan-White, Education Consultant, BESB

James A. Blair, Director of Pupil Personnel, Plainfield Schools

Christine Boisvert, BESB Board Member

Barbara Bostwick, Southeast Community Center f/t Blind

Janet Brinkman

Mary Brunoli, BESB Board Member

Anthony Cavallaro, Pupil Services Director, Branford Schools

Donald Civitello, Special Services Director, Milford Schools

Joseph Clary, Director of Communications, BESB

Philip Cowit, Itinerant Teacher, Waterbury Schools

Marybeth Dean, Education Supervisor, BESB

Joseph Dominello, Director, Business Office, BESB

George Dowaliby, Bureau Chief, State Department of Education

Richard Fairbanks, Co-Chair BESB Oversight Council

Anne Fortunato, Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic

Jeanette Haines, Education Consultant, BESB

Jill Jensen, Legislative Program Review & Investigations

  Committee

Junerose Killian, Agency Consumer Advisory Committee

Irina Kozubenko, Budget Analyst, Office of Policy & Management

Christopher Kuell, Co-Chair BESB Oversight Council

Robert Labanara, Connecticut Conference of Municipalities

Rev. Marie Langer

George Langer

Kenneth Olson, BESB Board Member

Andrea Pasquale, Executive Director, CRIS Radio

John Purdy, Vice-Chair, State Rehabilitation Council

Paul Rennick, Director of Student Programs, EASTCONN

Leonard Roberto, Foundation Fighting Blindness

Brian Sigman, Executive Director, BESB

Ben Snow

Catherine Summ, Education Consultant, BESB

Alan N. Sylvestre, Chairman BESB Board

Carol Taylor, CT Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Norman Turgeon, BEP Representative

Betty Woodward, National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut

Craig Zimmerman, Department of Social Services

 

Legislative Authority

 

Sec. 10-295 of the Connecticut General Statutes, effective June 24, 2005.

 

“Specialized vision-related instruction, educational programs, goods and services. Expense of services. Teachers and educational resources; funding. Adult home instruction. Adaptive equipment.”

 

(a) All residents of this state, regardless of age, who, because of blindness or impaired vision, require specialized vision-related educational programs, goods and services, on the signed recommendation of the director of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, shall be entitled to receive such instruction, programs, goods and services for such length of time as is deemed expedient by said director. Upon the petition of any parent or guardian of a blind child or a child with impaired vision, a local board of education may provide such instruction within the town or it may provide for such instruction by agreement with other towns as provided in subsection (d) of section 10-76d. All educational privileges prescribed in part V of chapter 164, not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter, shall apply to the pupils covered by this subsection.

      (b) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall expend funds for the services made available pursuant to subsection (a) of this section from the educational aid for blind and visually handicapped children account in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. The expense of such services shall be paid by the state in an amount not to exceed six thousand four hundred dollars in any one fiscal year for each child who is blind or visually impaired. The Board of Education 
 

and Services for the Blind may adopt such regulations as it deems necessary to carry out the purpose and intent of this subsection.

      (1) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall provide, upon written request from any interested school district, the services of teachers of the visually impaired, based on the levels established in the individualized education or service plan. The agency shall also make available its resources, including, but not limited to, the Braille and large print library, to all teachers of public and nonpublic school children. The agency may also provide vision-related professional development and training to all school districts and cover the actual cost for paraprofessionals from school districts to participate in agency-sponsored Braille training programs. The agency shall utilize education consultant positions authorized as of July 1, 2001, funded by moneys appropriated from the General Fund, to supplement new staffing that will be made available through the educational aid for the blind and visually handicapped children account, which shall be governed by formal written policies established by the agency.

      (2) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall use funds appropriated to said account, first to provide specialized books, materials, equipment, supplies, adaptive technology services and devices, specialist examinations and aids, preschool programs and vision-related independent living services, excluding primary educational placement, for eligible children without regard to a per child statutory maximum.

      (3) The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may, within available appropriations, employ certified teachers of the visually impaired in sufficient numbers to meet the requests for services received from school districts. In responding to such requests, the agency shall utilize a formula for determining the number of teachers needed to serve the school districts, crediting six points for each Braille-learning child and one point for each other child, with one full-time certified teacher of the visually impaired assigned for every twenty-five points credited. The agency shall exercise due diligence to employ the needed number of certified teachers of the visually impaired, but shall not be liable for lack of resources. Funds appropriated to said account may also be utilized to employ rehabilitation teachers, rehabilitation technologists and orientation and mobility teachers in numbers sufficient to provide compensatory skills evaluations and training to blind and visually impaired children. In addition, up to five per cent of such appropriation may also be utilized to employ special assistants to the blind and other support staff necessary to ensure the efficient operation of service delivery. Not later than October first of each year, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall determine the number of teachers needed based on the formula provided in this subdivision. Based on such determination the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall estimate the funding needed to pay such teachers' salaries, benefits and related expenses.

      (4) In any fiscal year, when funds appropriated to cover the combined costs associated with providing the services set forth in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection are projected to be insufficient, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall be authorized to collect revenue from all school districts that have requested such services on a per student pro rata basis, in the sums necessary to cover the projected portion of these services for which there are insufficient appropriations.

      (5) Remaining funds in said account, not expended to fund the services set forth in subdivisions (2) and (3) of this subsection, shall be used to cover on a pro rata basis, the actual cost with benefits of retaining a teacher of the visually impaired, directly hired or contracted by the school districts which opt to not seek such services from the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, provided such teacher has participated in not less than five hours of professional development training on vision impairment or blindness during the school year. Reimbursement shall occur at the completion of the school year, using the caseload formula denoted in subdivision (3) of this section, with twenty-five points allowed for the maximum reimbursable amount as established by the agency annually.

      (6) Remaining funds in such account, not expended to fund the services set forth in subdivisions (2), (3) and (5) of this subsection, shall be distributed to the school districts on a pro rata formula basis with a two-to-one credit ratio for Braille-learning students to non-Braille-learning students in the school district based upon the annual child count data provided pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, provided the school district submits an annual progress report in a format prescribed by the agency for each eligible child. 
 

 

Confidentiality and Availability of Case Records

 

All information, both medical and personal, given or made available to the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall be held confidential.  Use of such information will be limited to purposes directly connected with the administration of the child’s Individualized Family Service Plan, Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan, as applicable.  Information will not be disclosed, directly or indirectly, to any individual, agency or organization without the written consent of the child’s parent or legal guardian unless:  1) sharing or releasing of information is needed to protect the child or another person from possible physical harm or violence, 2) the agency is ordered to share the information by a court order or subpoena, or 3) the information is required by mandatory reporting laws from the agencies that BESB reports to such as the State Auditors of Public Accounts.

 

When information is requested but is not required by law to be released, the authorization to so release shall be obtained from the parent or legal guardian, prior to release of the information.  Medical, psychological, or other information which the Agency believes may be harmful to the child may not be released directly to the parent or guardian but must be provided to the designated representative and/or a physician or psychologist.

 

A parent or guardian of a child receiving services from the Board of Education and Services for the Blind has the right to:  (a) request in writing an appointment to review the case record with such appointment scheduled within ten (10) working days after receipt of a written request; (b) have copied (at cost) any part of the record with copies to be furnished within five (5) working days after receipt of a written request; (c) challenge the content of the record and request deletion or change with written notice of action on such request to be furnished within ten (10) working days.

 

All parents or legal guardians shall receive written information in their preferred language regarding the scope of confidentiality at the time of application for services.  Such written information shall:

 

a)        identify the agency authority to gather and collect information;

b)        explain the intended purpose for using or releasing such information;

c)         provide an explanation of whether the provision of information is mandatory or voluntary and the effect that withholding requested or required information will have on the receipt of services;

d)        identify the situations where the agency does or does not require informed written consent of the parent or guardian before information may be released, and;

e)        identify the other agencies to which information is routinely released.

 

Procedures

 

       1.  All parents or legal guardians shall be informed, at application, that client information will be kept confidential to the extent required by law.

 

2.   No applicant or client information may be released to any other party, either orally or in writing, without the informed written consent of the parent or legal guardian.  A release of information form must be signed by the parent or legal guardian.

 

       3.  When personal information has been obtained from a third party (i.e., another agency or organization), it may be released only by, or under the conditions established by that party.  If that source has indicated that the information is not to be re-released, then the requester is to be referred back to the original source.

 

       4.  All parents or legal guardians are to be informed of the confidentiality of personal information and the conditions for accessing this information.

 

       5.  The Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired must make all data in the case record accessible or release it to the parent or guardian when requested in writing.  Requests must be honored within ten (10) working days of the receipt of the written request.

 

            However, information which the Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired believes may be harmful to the child, parent or legal guardian may not be disclosed directly, but may be released to an authorized representative, physician or licensed/certified psychologist, as identified by the parent or legal guardian.  The determination of whether information would be harmful to the client, parent or legal guardian must be made with input from the supervisory staff or the appropriate consultant.  Parents or legal guardians must be advised of their right to appeal any denial of release of records.  Furthermore:

   

            a. An official of the Agency shall be present at all inspections.  This person will interpret the record, if appropriate.

 

            b. A record shall be kept of the people who have seen the record.  The parent or legal guardian must sign the review form.

 

            c. Psychological reports, clinical diagnoses, and subjective evaluations, when developed for a case study and when shared with other personnel are accessible.  Routine medical and eye reports may be reviewed; however, copies will be generally furnished only with the written permission of the physician or optometrist.

 

d.   The client’s parents or legal guardians have the right to request and receive a copy, at cost, of any or all parts of their records.  This copy will be furnished within five business days after receipt of a written request.  A charge will be made, based upon the prevailing rate for photocopying services.

 

 

Referral and Eligibility

 

In order to be eligible for services from the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, Division of Children’s Services, a child must meet the statutory definition of legal blindness or vision impairment and have at least one parent or legal guardian who is a bona fide resident of the State of Connecticut.  In addition, children of school age must be eligible for special education services through a Local Education Agency within the State, as supported by the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or be eligible for a service plan in the form of a 504 Accommodation Plan.  Children in the age range of birth to age 3 must meet the eligibility criteria for the State-wide Birth to Three System as supported by the development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).

 

The legal definition of blindness states that the best corrected visual acuity of the indivdual can be no greater than 20/200 in the better eye; or that a loss of visual field in the better eye retains no greater than 20 degrees of field vision.

 

For a person to meet the legal definition of visually impaired, their best corrected visual acuity in the better eye can be no greater than 20/70.

 

Anyone may refer a child to the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, Division of Children’s Services.  Upon request, an Eye Report Form is sent to the parents, who instruct their Physician or Optometrist to complete it and return it to the agency.  After the Eye Report has been reviewed by the agency and the child's vision has been determined to fall within the legal guidelines for eligibility, a clerical staff person from BESB contacts the child's home in order to have the parents fill out the

Application for Services, and to explain to the parents the resources available to them.

 

When the agency has received the completed Application for Services and officially enrolled the child on the Registry of the Board, a letter is sent to the parents and the local Superintendent of Schools, with a copy to the Teacher of the Visually Impaired  or Education Consultant, informing them that the child is now eligible for special educational services from BESB.

 

 

Services to Non-Visually Impaired Children

 

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) pursuant to Connecticut General Statute 10-295a may provide time-limited educational services to a child whose vision may be greater than as defined in Section 10-294a  and is eligible under Section 10-76a-h of the Statutes.

 

These services will apply to children who have: (1) a diagnosed progressive vision loss or; (2) was a BESB client immediately preceding identification as no longer qualifying for services from this agency.  Services will continue for the remainder of the current school year, following the guidelines of the approved Individualized Education Program or Service Plan.

 

The extent of services to said children in the subsequent school year will be limited to no-cost services such as consultation by a BESB-employed teacher of the visually impaired twice per school year (as available), and the loan of large print textbooks and materials available within the Resource Library at BESB.  No additional services will be provided unless a reevaluation indicates that the child once again qualifies for BESB services by meeting the statutory definition for legal blindness or vision impairment, or if there is clear evidence from a Physician or Optometrist that the child’s eye condition has continued to deterioriate and will result in vision impairment or legal blindness within the subsequent school year.

 


Preschool Age Children

 

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind collaborates in the State-wide Birth to Three Program per Memorandum of Understanding with the State Department of Mental Retardation.    Education Consultants from BESB assume a consulting role for children enrolled in the State-wide Birth to Three Program who are experiencing vision impairments that meet the definition of “visually impaired” or “legally blind.”  Preschool Education Consultants from BESB work directly with parents, guardians, children and educators on vision related issues and may purchase such items and services as are necessary for the visual development of the child. 

 

The Preschool Education Consultants from BESB remain involved in the provision of vision related educational and consultation services until the child is enrolled in kindergarden in the school district, unless the school district opts to serve the child directly upon the child becoming three years of age (as confirmed through the development of an Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan).  At the time of school enrollment (or upon the third birthday if applicable), the involvement of BESB-provided Education Consultants is determined by the preference of the school district the child is being served in.

 

BESB eligible preschool children who turn 3, and are not eligible for an IEP, may continue to receive consultation services from a BESB preschool consultant, with supervisory approval. Low vision services and aids to maintain normal development will also be provided. These children may participate in BESB sponsored events to address the expanded core curriculum.

 

BESB is able to cover the costs of eligible vision related services and items as noted in the Individual Family Service Plan (Birth to age 3), Individualized Education Program (age 4 and 5) or Individualized Service Plan (Section 504 children), consistent with state fee schedules from approved vendors.  Services and items that are not directly related to the visual development of the child may be covered by another public or private agency that has been assigned case coordination responsibilities under the State-wide Birth to Three Program. Parents who desire services and items that are determined by the BESB Education Consultant to not be directly related to the visual development of the child, shall be instructed to contact the case coordinating agency to request those services and items through them. Services provided by BESB to preschool children who are visually impaired or legally blind shall be pre-authorized through the issuance of purchase of service commitments by this agency, and are not directly reimburseable to the school district.

 

Where applicable, BESB will utilize comparable benefits through third party insurance of the parent or guardian prior to committing agency funds for services, except in situations where the exploration of comparable benefits could result in a significant delay in the provision of services, placing the child at medical or developmental risk.

 

Parents or guardians who decline to participate in the State-wide Birth to Three Program remain eligible for those vision related services under BESB authorizing statutes that are listed in the Individual Family Service Plan (Birth to age 3), Individualized Education Program (age 4 and 5) or Individualized Service Plan (Section 504 children) of the child, consistent with state fee schedules from approved vendors.

 

Assignment of Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired will be done by the Education Supervisor, based upon caseload size, geographic location and availability of staffing.  Periodic adjustments in the caseload composition resulting in Teacher reassignment will be implemented by the Education Supervisor as necessary to ensure the appropriate allocation of staffing resources to cover the requests for services.

 

Education Consultants from BESB will provide literature on and inform parents of the State-wide Birth to Three Program at the time of application for BESB services. The agency will further make literature on the State-wide Birth to Three Program available at health fairs, educational programs and related events.  For children that are enrolled in the State-wide Birth to Three Program and who are also receiving services through BESB, all services provided through this agency will be listed under the “Early Intervention Services and Supports” section of the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) if the service is required under the State-wide Birth to Three Program, or under “Other Services” on the IFSP if the service is offered by BESB but is not a required early intervention service under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

 

The Birth to Three provider that has been designated as the service coordinating agency will be responsible for coordinating all services across agency lines and serve as a single point of contact in helping parents to obtain services and assistance from BESB and other required Birth to Three service providers. Not later than the 15th of each month, the BESB Education Consultant providing services in conjuction with a comprehensive program for a child enrolled in the State-wide Birth to Three Program will mail, fax or email the attendance information with dates and locations of services and any accompanying progress notes for the previous month to the Birth to Three Program.  


Special Hiring Requirements for Preschool Teachers of the Visually Impaired

 

Prior to extending a job offer to any applicant under consideration for hire into a position within the Preschool Program at BESB that involves direct and ongoing contact with clients and/or family members of clients, the individual must first undergo a criminal background check.  This background check will include biometric/fingerprinting through the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, Division of the State Police, and verification that the individual is not a registered Sex Offender within the State of Connecticut.

 

This policy is not retroactive to existing direct service employees in the Preschool Program, including those contractual individuals employed through CREC prior to July 10, 2002. However, all new potential hires after July 10, 2002, either through BESB or third party contractors, must successfully pass a criminal background check prior to a job offer.  Written results of this background check shall be maintained in the personnel file of the applicant if employment is offered and accepted.  A statement acknowledging that the results of the background check were reviewed by the Director of Human Resources shall be maintained within the personnel file of the employee.

 

The agency shall utilize the standard State of Connecticut PLD-1 employment application that requires employees to disclose if they have past convictions.  Falsification of information regarding past convictions will disqualify the applicant for employment.

 

Only the Executive Director shall have the authority to extend a job offer to an individual who has a prior conviction in the following categories:

 

Arson, burglary and related offenses, conspiracy, domestic violence, forgery and related offenses, harassment, kidnapping and related offenses, manslaughter, sexual offenses, threatening, weapons violation, assault and related offenses, child pornography, cruelty to persons, drug offenses, fraud, homicide, larceny, robbery and related offenses, perjury and subordination, stalking, unlawful restraint.

 

The Executive Director will review the following factors prior to making a decision to hire or not hire an applicant with prior convictions in the aforementioned categories:

 

a)               Applicant’s age at the time the offense was committed;

b)              Mitigating factors at the time the offense was committed;

c)               Number of offenses for which the individual was convicted;

d)              Efforts and success at rehabilitation;

e)               The amount of time since the offense was committed;

f)                 The likelihood the offense will be repeated;

g)              Individual’s employment related references (history) since committing the offense;

h)              The relationship between the job and the offense committed;

i)                  The training, structure and supervision available on the job.

 

The results of this review shall be issued by the Executive Director in writing, with a copy maintained in the employee’s personnel file if a job offer is extended and accepted.  Such written decision shall include the rationale for approval and shall further note any special restrictions or requirements necessary by supervisory staff to assure the safety of clients and family members served in the Birth to Three Program.


Legally Blind and Visually Impaired Children

 

The initials of “LB” are used to refer to the classification of children who meet the eligibility criteria for legal blindness.

 

The initials of “VI” are used to refer to the classification of children who meet the eligibility criteria for vision impairment.

 

While the Local Education Agency  (LEA) has the responsibility for the education of legally blind and visually impaired children within their service area, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind is authorized through Statute to assist with the vision related special educational needs of these children.  The Division of Children's Services discharges this responsibility by providing certified teachers of the visually impaired upon written request of the Local Education Agency to offer direct instruction to eligible children in vision-related skills and consultation services to local education agencies and families, by distributing books and materials, and by purchasing vision related equipment and services as noted in the Individualized Education Program or Service Plan that are necessary for the child to experience full inclusion in the educational setting.

 


Multi-handicapped Visually Impaired Children

 

The initials of “MH” are used to refer to the classification of children who meet the eligibility criteria for legal blindness or vision impairment, where other documented secondary, significant disabling conditions are present.

 

The initials of “DB” are used to refer to the classification of children who meet the eligibility criteria for legal blindness or visual impairment, where documentation of deafness or significant hearing loss is also present.  Children classified as “DB” fall within the category of “Multi-handicapped.”

 

The education of children with vision impairments or blindness, who also have additional, significant disabling conditions as documented through medical professionals or others so licensed or certified to make such determinations, is also the responsiblity of the Local Education Agency (LEA).

 

While the Local Education Agency  (LEA) has the responsibility for the education of chidren who meet the definition of “Multi-handicapped” within their service area, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind is authorized through Statute to assist with the vision related special educational needs of these children.  The Division of Children's Services discharges this responsibility by providing certified teachers of the visually impaired, upon written request of the Local Education Agency, to offer direct instruction to eligible children in vision-related skills and consultation services to local education agencies and families, by distributing books and materials, and by purchasing vision related equipment and services as noted in the Individualized Education Program or Service Plan that are necessary for the child to experience full inclusion in the educational setting.

 


BESB Education Consultants for School Age Children

 

The Board of Education and Services for the Blind may, within available appropriations, employ certified teachers of the visually impaired in sufficient numbers to meet the requests for services received from school districts.  Based on such determination the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall estimate the funding needed to pay such teachers' salaries, benefits and related expenses.

In responding to such requests, the agency shall utilize a formula for determining the number of teachers needed to serve the school districts, crediting six points per each Braille learning child and one point for each other child, with one full-time certified teacher of the visually impaired for every twenty-five points.  The agency shall exercise due diligence to employ the needed number of certified teachers of the visually impaired, but shall not be liable for lack of resources.

Assignment of Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired will be done by the Education Supervisor, based upon caseload size and point distribution as noted above, geographic location and availability of staffing.  Periodic adjustments in the caseload composition resulting in Teacher reassignment will implemented by the Education Supervisor as necessary to ensure the appropriate allocation of staffing resources to cover the requests for services.

By July 1 of each year, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall determine the number of teachers needed for the upcoming school year based on the formula provided in the above paragraph.  Through the completion of a form provided by BESB, school districts will be given the option of selecting to receive the services of a BESB provided certified teacher of the visually impaired to provide direct instruction and consultation services for eligible children.

The option for selecting a BESB provided teacher will be at the discretion of each school district.  Those school districts opting to make their own arrangements for the provision of a certified teacher of the visually impaired shall be fully responsible for the service delivery to all eligible school age students within their district.  BESB will be under no obligation to provide the services of a certified teacher of the visually impaired to supplement these services for school age students within the school district.  In emergency circumstances that occur during the course of a school year, such as the loss of a certified teacher of the visually impaired who is directly hired or contracted by the school district, BESB will make every effort to cover the short term needs of the school district while they recruit for a replacement, or the school district may opt to request a BESB provided teacher of the visually impaired, if available.  In such emergency situations, first priority will be coverage for students who are actively learning Braille.

In any fiscal year, when funds appropriated are projected to be insufficient to cover the combined cost of providing certified teachers of the visually impaired and providing vision related purchased services as set forth in statute, the agency shall be authorized to collect revenue from all school districts that have requested such services on a per student pro rata basis, if the sums necessary to cover the projected portion of these services for which there are insufficient appropriations.  In such circumstances, school districts will receive written notification

by no later than January 1st of the school year, indicating the projected shortfall and the prorated fee necessary to cover the costs for the remainder of the school year.  Funds will be due to BESB within the school year, within such time as specified by BESB, in order to avoid interuptions in services.

 

In circumstances where a school district has chosen to hire or contract for its own certified teacher of the visually impaired to serve school age children within their district, the following exceptions will apply, unless the school district specifically requests a waiver in writing of these provisions:

 

·       BESB will provide Education Consultant services to all students who are classified as deaf-blind on a state-wide basis;

·       BESB will provide Education Consultant services to all eligible students who attend state vocational technical schools;

·       BESB will provide Education Consultant services to all eligible students who attend Perkins School for the Blind.

·       BESB will provide In-service training and orientation on topics related to the education of children who are blind or visually impaired to all interested staff of the Local Education Agency at no cost.

·       BESB will make available textbooks and materials from the Agency’s loaning library at no cost to the Local Education Agency, provided the books are returned at the completion of the school year, or when no longer needed for the educational needs of the child.

·       BESB will cover the applicable cost of adaptive technology services including recommending appropriate, vision related devices and aids, and training in their use.

 

BESB is able to offer the following services to the communities that opt to receive services from this agency rather than hiring or contracting for a certified teacher of the visually impaired:

 

·       Braille Instruction for students who have this service identified in their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Individualized Service Plan;

·       Curriculum consultation for classroom teachers to assist with maximizing the participation of the student in the educational process;

·       Direct instruction and guidance to the student in social skills development, self advocacy and independent living;

·       Adaptive technology services including recommending appropriate, vision related devices and aids, and training in their use.

·       In-service training and orientation on topics related to the education of children who are blind or visually impaired to all interested staff of the Local Education Agency at no cost.

·       Textbooks and materials from the Agency loaning library at no cost to the Local Education Agency, providing the books are returned at the completion of the school year, or when no longer needed for the educational needs of the child.

 

For those communities that are receiving the services of Education Consultants from BESB, the agency will serve as a resource in the provision of the above noted services.  However, in unusual circumstances, where an Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan stipulates a level of service for a student that exceeds the time availability of the Education Consultant, the LEA will assume primary responsibility for the provision of services in excess of those that can be reasonably covered by the BESB staff member.

 

All school districts within the state shall receive the “REQUEST FOR TEACHER FORM” by no later than May 1st of each year in order to have sufficient time to determine their preference for a certified teacher of the visually impaired through BESB or other means.  The due date for returning the form to BESB shall be the last working day in May of each year.

 

REQUEST FOR TEACHER FORM

 

LEA (Please fill in)__________________

 

Requesting BESB Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired:

q   Yes, please send a BESB teacher to serve the children in our district who are eligible for services.

q   We currently have no BESB eligible students, but would like BESB to send a teacher if a child in our district is identified as eligible for services during the school year.

q   No.  Our district will hire or contract our own teacher.

 

Total Number of Students _________________

 

Number of Braille Learning Students from attached list _____

 

Signed___________________________              _______

                Special Education Director                    Date

 

Instructions for attached list of students:

 

1.               Cross off any student(s) no longer served by your LEA

2.               Add any new students identified as BESB eligible

3.               Put an asterisk next to any Braille learning student(s)

    (Services must be noted in IEP)

4.               Return this form and the attached list of students by May 31st        to:

 

        Jeanette Haines

        Education Supervisor

        Board of Ed. & Services for the Blind

        184 Windsor Avenue

        Windsor, CT   06095

           

  

Teacher Reimbursement Process

 

School Districts that choose to make their own arrangements for the provision of a certified teacher of the visually impaired may seek reimbursement for the cost of the teacher with benefits, based on the following conditions:

 

·       The teacher, whether contracted, or hired directly by the School District, must hold a valid certification as a teacher of the partially sighted or teacher of the blind, issued through the Department of Education, State of Connecticut;

·       The School District must submit written certification of the salary or contractual rate paid to the teacher, and calculate the fringe benefit costs associated with the actual salary of the teacher or contractor;

·       The School District must submit written certification regarding the number of Braille learning and non-Braille learning students that are directly served by each certified teacher of the visually impaired hired or contracted by the School District.

 

Only students directly served by the certified teacher of the visually impaired on an assigned caseload, under an Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan will be included in the formula reimbursement process.

 

·       BESB will distribute these forms to each School District that has opted for direct hiring or contracting of a certified teacher of the visually impaired by no later than December 1st of each year, with a due date of December 31st.  The maximum reimbursement cost for a certified teacher of the visually impaired shall not exceed the actual cost of a BESB hired Education Consultant 2 at the maximum pay step, plus the cost of the full fringe benefit rate associated with this salary level.

 

BESB shall calculate the level of reimbursement on a pro rata formula basis, with 25 points representing full reimbursement for one full time certified teacher of the visually impaired, up to the maximum agency reimbursement for the year.  Points shall be assigned based upon six (6) points for each Braille learning student on the teacher’s caseload and one (1) point for each non-Braille learning student on the teacher’s caseload, as noted in the Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan of each student.  For school districts that employ or contract for a teacher of the visually impaired at less than full time status, a pro rata credit shall be utilized to first determine the adjusted caseload points that would be associated with the part time status of the teacher before applying the reimbursement formula.  Reimbursement in these part time situations shall be on a pro rata basis utilizing the percentage of full time equivalent status that the certified teacher of the visually impaired works directly for or is contracted for by the school district.

 


Request for Reimbursement - Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired

 

Town:

School District (if different):

 

Teacher Name:

Teacher Certification Number:

 

Years of Experience as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired:

 

Teacher is:   _____employee,  OR  _____contractor  (check one)

 

Total hours per week Teacher is employed or contracted for: _____________

How many hours per week equals a FULL TIME EQUIVALENT Teacher?:_____________

What percentage of FULL TIME EQUIVALENT is this teacher?: ____________

 

Base Annual Salary (or annual contract cost):

 

Fringe Benefit Total Cost:

 

Total Cost with Benefits included:

___________________________________________________

 

Number of students on the caseload of the certified teacher of the visually impaired as of December 1st that meet the legal requirement for visual impairment or legal blindness for whom there is a current Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan that includes Braille instruction (ATTACH COPY FOR EACH STUDENT): ___________( MUST fill in number)

 

Number of students on the caseload of the certified teacher of the visually impaired, as of December 1st that meet the legal requirement for visual impairment or legal blindness for whom there is a current Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan that does not include Braille instruction (ATTACH COPY FOR EACH STUDENT): __________(MUST fill in number)

 

NOTE: If you are seeking reimbursement for more than one Teacher, please include a separate form for each teacher, only completing the top portion for the second teacher.  FUNDS WILL PAYABLE TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR THE LEA.

 

Signature and Name of Administrator certifying accuracy:

 

Signature: _____________________

Print Name:

Title:

Date:


Reporting Requirements

Because of its legislative mandate to provide for the special educational needs of children with visual impairments in Connecticut, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind has the legal responsibility for maintaining:

 

1)               a list of all children within the State of Connecticut who meet the statutory definition of Legal Blindness or Visual Impairment;

 

        2)     a list of Legally Blind children for the American Printing House for the Blind (Federal Quota money);

 

3)     an inventory of state-owned books and equipment;

 

        4)     an account of the expenses charged to the state grant for each child's education.

 

The cooperation of the Teachers of the Visually Impaired is essential if the Board is to fulfill its legal responsibilites.  All teachers are expected to furnish updated student data to the agency as soon as possible:

 

                - changes in address or in visual status;

                - changes in location of books;

 

                       - an annual report on the educational progress and placement of each student, on an agency-supplied form.  Copies of the minutes of the Planning and Placement Team (PPT) and the Individualized Education Program (IEP) are also required.

                        - an annual Learning Media Assessment is required for any Legally Blind or Visually Impaired child who is not receiving instruction in Braille, regardless of age or presense of additional disabilities.

Adaptive Devices and Services

      

BESB will provide funding for the purchase of the most effective, least expensive, vision-related adaptive equipment, computers and peripherals that are essential to the child’s participation in education.  All equipment, including computers, adaptive devices, printers and peripherals must be noted in the Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan before ordering of the equipment can occur.  Comprehensive, turn-key adapted computer systems require the assessment of a qualified Rehabilitation Technologist to ensure compatibility of products, prior to ordering.

 

A computer will NOT be considered as necessary for vision- related needs, and therefore not be ordered with BESB funds when no adaptive products such as large print or text-to-speech software are required by the student in order to use the computer.

 

Ownership of all adaptive technology equipment, computers and peripherals  purchased with funds from BESB shall be with the child or child’s guardian. The cost of maintenance or repair of the equipment shall rest with the child or child’s guardian. In circumstances where a child or child’s guardian requests, the agency shall reimburse the child or child’s guardian for the documented cost of the repair and applicable shipping of said equipment to and from the repair location.  Temporary loan of equipment to clients to address short-term needs (such as a loan while the client’s equipment is being repaired) shall be assigned through the agency loan agreement process and will not transfer in ownership. 

 

 

Rehabilitation Technology services are necessary to:

 

1)   evaluate the most appropriate vision-related adaptive technology products that potentially include the provision of a computer system or combination of devices that could impact on software compatability;

2)   train the eligible student how to use the adaptive devices.

 

 

These services may be funded through BESB, provided that the services are listed in the current Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan of the child.

 

All adaptive technology devices, computers and peripherals will be purchased in accordance with State of Connecticut purchasing procedures, using authorized vendors.

 

 

A.  Ordering Devices and Materials for Preschool children

 

Vision loss impacts all areas of a child’s development.  Educational materials are necessary to facilitate and assess the development of play, social skills, motor skills, language skills and daily living skills for the preschool child.  Materials are needed to assess prereading and writing skills, including tactual sensitivity, motor coordination and relative strengths in tactual, visual and auditory modes.  Prebraille materials are needed to encourage literacy skills in the tactile learner.  Preschool children with low vision require materials to make the preschool experience accessible in all developmental domains both at home and at school.

 

Materials that may be ordered include:

 

·       Appropriate developmental toys related to skills listed in the Oregon Project Skills Inventory for Blind and Visually Impaired Preschool Children.

 

·       Visually stimulating materials to promote visual efficiency and increased visual access to the environment.

 

·       Braille and Prebraille materials for literacy development, including adaptations to the environment that provide appropriate access to the materials. ( i.e. story boxes)

 

·       Materials to compensate for the child’s visual loss. (i.e. slant boards, brightly colored arts and crafts materials, switches & switch activated toys.)

 

·       Materials to enhance tactile and auditory learning modes. (i.e. calendar boxes,  tape recorders, textured switches)

 

BESB will order adaptive software, large monitors, computer switch interface, Intellikeys, and touch screens IF adaptive devices are identified in the Individualized Family Service Plan or the Individualized Education Program, AND the Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired concurs that such vision related devices are necessary for the student to participate in an academic program.  Computers may be ordered to support the use of the above referenced adaptive devices if supported by the written request of the Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, after their review and acceptance of the written recommendation of a Rehabilitation Technologist.

 

B.  Ordering Devices and Materials for School-Age Students

 

A variety of devices and materials may be needed throughout the education process to support Braille, tactile and low vision learning.  This includes instructional materials that relate to the expanded core curriculum.

 

Daily Living Skills:

 

·       Materials that are modified for blind and low vision students, including watches, labels, etc.

 

Recreation/Leisure/Social:

 

·       Tactual or auditory materials such as Beep balls, modified board games, card games, etc.

 

Compensatory Skills:

 

·       Reading and writing materials

·       Talking/large print calculator, talking dictionary

·       Subscriptions to accessible literature such as but not limited to Bookshare.org, Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, National Braille Press Book Club, etc.

·       Assessment materials for evaluating literacy and functional vision such as but not limited to Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired materials, Learning Media Assessment, functional vision assessment materials, etc.

·       Art supplies that are specifically needed for modification purposes, beyond those supplies typically provided to all students in the art class.

·       Academic software, when necessary to facilitate the student’s learning of keyboarding programs

 

Visual Efficiency:

 

·       Low vision aids as recommended by an agency approved Low Vision provider, or Low Vision Center.

 

Career Education:

 

·       Money handling materials from APH, banking templates, large print check registry, address books, etc.

 

Orientation and Mobility:

 

·       American Printing House materials

·       White Canes and instruction in their use

 

C.   Guidelines for Purchases of Adaptive Devices

 

The following principles serve as guidelines for Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Rehabilitation Technologists to consider when reviewing recommendations for adaptive devices.  Individual circumstances will predicate the applicability to each student situation.  The Education Supervisor should be consulted for additional guidance regarding unique circumstances that fall outside of the scope of these guidelines, prior to the the submission of a written purchasing request.

 

·       Computer/adaptive software/printer/embosser may be purchased as early as the kindergarten year for school use by the paraprofessional for Braille production on behalf of a Braille learning student in an academic program.

·       Scanners for school use can be considered for second grade and higher as a reflection of the increased volume of material needed for Braille production for a child in academic program.

·       Screen reading software for home can be ordered when the child has demonstrated the ability to use such devices independently and has mastered keyboarding.

·       Scanners and printers for home use by the student may be considered in conjunction with a home computer for the student to independently complete homework assignments.

·       Braille embossers for home use may be provided when deemed essential for the student to produce their own Braille materials outside of the school setting.

·       Either an electronic notetaker OR a laptop computer can be provided when the Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, in consultation with a Rehabilitation Technologist concludes that it is necessary for the student to have portability for the completion of educational assignments.  Students and their guardians should be afforded the opportunity to choose between the lap top computer or notetaker option for their child, based upon their review of the recommendations of the members of the Planning and Placement Team.

·       Adaptive low vision magnifying software may be purchased for low vision students to access the school and/or home computer.

·       Computers will be considered for low vision students on an individual basis in conjunction with the necessity for low vision magnification software when written justification for the computer is provided by the Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired after review of the recommendation of a Rehabilitation Technologist.  Typically, adapted computers will be provided in academic situations where a student is not able to read their own handwriting or is not able to handwrite rapidly enough to take notes in class.

·       Scanners will be considered for low vision students when needed for the efficient production of enlarged materials.

·       Electronic magnification devices such as closed circuit televisions (CCTV’s) are typically provided when the Placement and Planning Team determines that the child is able to utilize such equipment responsibly and where the team determines that such equipment will increase the child’s independence and involvement at home or school. Where a child requires magnification at both home and school, the agency will consider the purchase of a portable magnifying device, or if more appropriate, fixed location magnifying devices for home and school.  The purchase of a second fixed location magnifying device will be considered after the completion of a 90 day trial with the initial device.

·       The purchase of an adjustable table with battery pack that is produced specifically for a closed circuit television will be considered when portability is needed, and access to electrical outlets is limited.

·       Age appropriate switch-adapted devices may be purchased for a child with motor impediments for such situations when the switich devices are necessary for the operation of vision related software or devices.

·       Sensory devices may be purchased for students where the devices are directly related to the vision functioning of the student.  Ancillary devices that enhance or augment speech or motor functioning, are not considered to be vision related.

·       Under the special provisions of statutory authority provided to BESB, individuals with deafness and blindness may receive though agency funds sensory aids and devices that maximize the use of residual hearing, or facilitate communication.


Braille and Large Print Texts

 

A library data and bar code system is in place for the

Materials Resource Center book inventory.

 

All Braille and large print text and leisure reading books must be checked out by the bar code system by staff members of the Materials Resource Center.  Books and materials cannot be removed unless this has occurred.

 

Braille, large print or electronic media books that are either directly purchased for the student using BESB funds from their individual accounts, or loaned to the student through the Materials Resource Center, remain the property of the State of Connecticut and shall be returned to the Materials Resource Center when no longer needed for the student’s educational program.

 


Educational Items Stocked at BESB

 

BESB maintains an inventory of adaptive devices, educational aids and materials that are available for immediate use by eligible children of the agency.

 

 

American Printing House (APH) Items

 

Children’s Services designates a clerical staff person to order materials and to oversee the tracking of inventory available. Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired may request these items directly by completing a “Taken from Stock Request Form” and forwarding it to the designated BESB clerical staff person by email, fax or print copy.  Items may be for multiple students on the same request form.

 

 

Old Stock Items

 

Old stock items are also kept in the Children’s Services Stockroom.  They are listed on a separate inventory form. Quantities for most items are tracked.  Items are typically not reordered when depleted.  Children’s Services designates a clerical staff person to dispense these items upon receipt of requests submitted by Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired, using the “Taken from Stock Request Form.”  Those teachers who come to the agency may directly remove old stock items from the stockroom after submitting the “Taken from Stock Request Form” to the Children’s Services clerical staff person designated to maintain the inventory.


Bulk Ordered Stock

 

Bulk ordered stock items are located within a locked area in the Children’s Services Stockroom.  A spreadsheet of the available items along with current quantities is maintained by the designated Children’s Services clerical staff person.

 

Teachers may request items from this inventory by completing a separate “Taken from Stock Request Form,” checking the box titled “From Bulk Ordered Stock.”

 

Forms should be submitted to the designated Children’s Services clerical staff person by email, fax or print copy.  Orders will be filled and shipped to the address noted on the form.

 

 

Viewing Inventory

 

To assist Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired to know what is available within inventory at any given time, all spreadsheets are available for viewing on the Share Drive of the BESB network.  Staff can feel free to view the inventory directly or request that a copy be emailed to them.

 

To Access the Children’s Services Inventory Database:

·       Click on BESB Links Icon

·       Click on Children’s Folder

·       Scroll down to “Children’s Business Inventory” Folder

 

Click on any of the four folders for the up-to-date inventory:

·       APH

·       Bulk Order

·       CS Canes

·       Old Stock

 

Request For Educational Items Not In Stock

 

Items not listed on the inventory spreadsheets, or depleted bulk order stock needs to be requested on a BESB Form 403.  The BESB Form 403 form must specify the individual child for whom the item(s) are to be ordered.  For individual items that are expected to cost more than $600, the applicable page(s) of the current IEP must be attached to the request.  The form will be submitted to the Children’s Services Division by email, fax or print copy.  The Children’s Services clerical staff members will confirm that items are not available in stock prior to creating a requisition to purchase.  The Education Supervisor will review the request prior to issuing approval for items costing more than $600.

 

If the items requested on the BESB Form 403 form include APH or Old Stock inventory, then the form will be directed to the designated clerical staff person handling that inventory for retrieval and shipping of the items, and inventory updating.


Low Vision Services

 

For the child who has some functional vision, it is important that he or she gain maximum benefit from that vision.  A thorough low vision evaluation and the accompanying optical aids, if recommended, is an essential part of helping the child make the best use of his/her vision.

 

Low vision evaluations should become a continuing facet of the student's educational program, because through the years various changes occur, including:

 

- changes in the eye conditions of the child;

 

- developments in technology;

 

- increasing efficiency in the use of vision;

 

- improvement in the manipulation of optical aids.

 

The Board of Education and Services of the Blind will pay

directly for a complete low vision evaluation, including an initial

visit to a BESB approved ophthalmologist or optometrist, one follow-up training visit, and the optical aids prescribed, every two years, unless a degenerative eye condition or significant, noticeable reduction in functional vision within the preschool or school setting requires an interim visit.

 

To obtain a low vision evaluation, the Teacher of the Visually Impaired should:

 

·       Request a Referral for Low Vision Evaluation Card, Parent Request Form and Educator's Low Vision Report Form from the Division of Children's Services.

·       Fill out the Referral Card and the Educator's Report.  This check list gives the examiner some functional information about the child before the evaluation.

·       Have a parent choose a low vision specialist from the approved list of BESB consulting providers, noting the selection on the Parent Request Form.  The parent will need to specify if the report should be sent to their regular eye care specialist and sign the Request Form.

·       Write the child's name and the name of the Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired on the top of the Parent Request Form and send all three items back to the Childrens Services Office.

 

After the request has been given supervisory approval through the agency computerized requisition system, a BESB Form 6 letter of authorization along with the above referenced forms and invoices are sent to the low vision specialist.  A written notification form is sent to the parents, who may then call the examiner's office to schedule an appointment.

 

After the low vision evaluation has been completed, the examiner will forward to the agency a copy of the results, along with any recommendations for magnifying aids or glasses.  A copy of the report will be submitted to the Agency designees for fee schedule review and creation of a requisition for the aids.

 

Upon supervisory approval, a BESB Form 6 letter will be sent to the examiner for the aids to be dispensed.  The examiner will contact the parents when the devices are available.  A subsequent office visit will occur, where the examiner will teach the child how to use the devices.

 

Teachers of the Visually Impaired are encouraged to go along with the child and parent to the evaluation, particularly if there are specific educational questions.

 

It will  be the responsibility of the Teacher of the Visually Impaired to verify the provision of low vision aids to the child before the agency will release funds to cover the costs associated with the low vision process.

 

The Low Vision Evaluation may be repeated every two years if needed, unless a degenerative eye condition or significant, noticeable reduction in functional vision within the school setting requires an interim visit.  It is not intended to replace the regular eye care and examinations which are the responsibility of the parents.

 

Low Vision services are purchased directly by BESB as an essential part of a child’s development (where applicable) using available funding and therefore need not be listed in the Individualized Family Service Plan, Individualized Service Plan or the Individualized Education Program of the child.


Orientation and Mobility

 

Children with vision impairments or legal blindness may be referred for orientation and mobility training at any age.  The Board of Education and Services for the Blind employs Mobility Specialists whose function is to assist and train children to move more confidently and safely through their environments.

 

Orientation and Mobility Instructors are used to:

 

·       acquaint a student with a new school, or a new wing of an old school;

·       train a student to walk to/from school safely;

·       help a student learn to get on and off the school bus at home

    and at school;

·       orient a student to the downtown business center, the bus

    routes, a summer job, a discount store, etc.

 

As a student moves into the teenage years, and expectations of his or her independence rise, the services offered by an Orientation and Mobility Instructor become more significant.  Most legally blind students should be seen, at least for evaluation and planning, by an Orientation and Mobility Instructor by the time they are 16.

 

Referral is made by contacting the Orientation and Mobility Program at the Board of Education and Services for the Blind. Services available through BESB staffing need not be listed in the Individualized Service Plan or Individualized Education Program (IEP) of the student.


Psychological Evaluation

 

It may be desirable at times for a student with vision impairment or blindness to have an individual evaluation of his or her intellectual functioning, interests and aptitudes, emotional health and stability and social interaction.

 

If a child has enough sight to function visually, then the school psychologist may properly administer the same sort of tests that are used for all the children in the school system.  If, however, the child functions non-visually, then it may be more helpful for the testing to be done by a psychologist who is familiar with the modifications and adjustments that are made for the blind individual.

 

It is essential that the psychological examiner be acutely sensitive to the subtle ways in which a visual disability may have limited a child's experience or understanding, and thus influence the results of an examination.

 

Evaluation by a private psychologist may be done at the expense of a local school system or the school staff may request that BESB fund this service and provide authorized testing through approved psychologists and/or other professionals so certified or licensed to administer intellectual and developmental testing.

 

The Teacher of the Visually Impaired should contact the Supervisor of the Children’s Services Division to discuss the options that are most appropriate in each situation.  BESB also maintains a list of psychologists that are skilled in the assessment of children who are visually impaired.

It is important that the LEA provide a copy of all psychological reports directly to BESB so that they may become part of the child's permanent file.


Vocational Rehabilitation

 

Students who are legally blind are served by the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.  Referral to the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of BESB for students who are legally blind may occur as early as the 14th birthday, but should not occur later than the 16th birthday for a student that has a pre-vocational or vocational component to his/her Individualized Education Program, or Individualized Service Plan.  The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation takes full case management responsibility for the student at the time of graduation from high school.  During the transition years, it is critically important to involve the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor in the Planning and Placement Team process to ensure a smooth transition into employment, vocational training or higher education after graduation.

 

Students who meet the criteria of Visual Impairment can be referred to the State Department of Social Services, Bureau of Rehabilitation Services and may be referred any time after age 16.

 

Specialized services and funding are available through the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Division for transition school to work activities, such as, but not limited to mentoring programs with former recipients of BESB services who are successfully employed, job shadowing experiences, leadership development camps, independent living training, adaptive technology training and related skills development opportunities during the school year and over the summer break.  Further information on activities can be obtained by contacting the Supervisor of Vocational Rehabilitation.


Enrollment in Private or Parochial Schools

 

A parentally or legal guardian placed student in a Connecticut private or parochial school may access funding for services through BESB if the student has an IEP, 504 Accommodation Plan, or IDEA service plan that includes BESB services.  BESB would then provide for the vision related service needs of the student as detailed in the applicable plan. Disbursement of funding shall only apply to the school district serving the child, as supported by the current IEP or 504 Accommodation Plan.


Services to Local Education Agencies

 

Augmenting the legally mandated services which BESB provides to children with visual impairments, their parents and teachers, the Division of Children’s Services is interested in providing some additional help to Teachers of the Visually Impaired.

 

BESB staff members are available to speak to community groups, career education fairs, other professional organizations on topics related to the education of the blind.

 

Staff members and Education Consultants are available to act as leaders or speakers in local school workshops or seminars for regular classroom teachers if desired.

 

Staff members and Education Consultants are able to offer help in some specialized areas such as science for the visually impaired, preschool needs, orientation and mobility or needs of children with multiple disabilities.

 

BESB provides training to staff members of Local Education Agencies on the reimbursement process.


In-Service Education

 

The Division of Children’s Services has a commitment to provide

in-service professional development and enrichment opportunities to Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Connecticut by utilizing such approaches as one-day workshops, lectures and seminars, an annual conference and Connecticut based publications.

 

BESB’s Children’s Services Division strives to assist Teachers of the Visually Impaired in their efforts to learn about new materials and techniques; solve specific problems; assimilate new concepts in educational theory; discover new or different approaches to teach children with vision impairments; gain new perspectives on their roles as educators; and work cooperatively to improve the education of children with visual impairments.

 

Suggestions concerning topics or speakers for in-service

education are always welcome.


Use of 90171 Account funds (formerly 314)

 

The funds provided by DMR for reimbursement of case management services within the Birth to Three System shall be available to support both direct client service and administrative support of the programs administered by the agency that benefit children, ages birth to high school graduation or age 21 (whichever comes first).  These funds may be accessed to cover essential, critical vision related purchases and services in individual situations.  The funds may also be used for individual or group activities that increase the skills, knowledge or socialization of children.  In addition, these funds may be used to support administrative functions of the Children's Services Division that enable the program to fulfill its mission.

 


Funding Disbursement Process

 

Under legislative authority, BESB may disburse funds that remain in the Educational Aid for the Blind and Visually Impaired Children account at the completion of each school year to local school districts that provides services to children who are blind or visually impaired.  Such funding shall be disbursed to the Department of Special Education of each school district, and shall not exceed $6400 per each enrolled student.  The amount of funding available for disbursement at the completion of each school year will vary, based on the total costs associated with the following items and services:

 

·       Purchased services for children in the preschool program, including adaptive items, consultations, contracted services and associated items, services and activities that either directly or indirectly benefit the vision related preschool needs of students who are legally blind or visually impaired;

·       Purchased services for school age children including but not limited to vision related items such as large print or Braille  textbooks and materials, adaptive technology devices, low vision examinations, low vision aids, specialist evaluations, independent living evaluations and training, rehabilitation technology services, leadership development camps, transition school to work activities, and associated items, services and activities that either directly or indirectly benefit the vision related educational needs of students who are legally blind or visually impaired;

·       Salaries, fringe benefits and related expenses associated with the additional certified teachers of the visually impaired needed to serve all communities that request services from BESB;

·       Reimbursement for the cost of the salaries and fringe benefits for certified teachers of the visually impaired, hired directly or contracted for by school districts, up to the maximum level as established by BESB;

 

Remaining funds shall be calculated by subtracting the cost of above referenced items and any outstanding purchasing commitments that can be reasonably expected to be liquidated by June 30th of the applicable school year.  Disbursements shall be distributed to the school districts on a pro rata formula basis with a two-to-one credit ratio for Braille learning students to non-Braille-learning students in the school district based upon the annual child count data of eligible BESB students as determined by the agency on or about December 1st of the current school year.

 

BESB shall provide to school districts in April of each year a listing of all eligible childen who are legally blind or visually impaired as determined by the agency for the annual child count report.  In reviewing this data, each school district will identify those students who are learning Braille as noted in their Indiviualized Service Plan or Individualized Education Program.  The current Individualized Service Plan or Individualized Education Program for each student will be submitted to BESB along with confirmation of the accuracy of the child count data.  In addition, in order to be eligible for funding disbursements for each student, the following information must be submitted, where applicable on forms provided by BESB:

 

·    an annual summary on the educational progress and placement of each student, on an agency-supplied form;

·     Copies of the Individualized Education Program or Service Plan;

·     an annual Learning Media Assessment is required for any Legally Blind or Visually Impaired child who is not receiving instruction in Braille, regardless of age or presence of additional disabilities;

·    a narrative summary of transition school to work activities offered to each student age 14 and up (or explanation for why no services were offered if applicable), including a summary of those activities and the outcomes achieved;

·    a narrative summary of the expanded core curricula and extracurricular activities provided to the student (or explanation for why no services were offered if applicable).

·    An annual reading rate assessment form for each child, age 7 and over who has been identified in the BESB database as a visual, auditory or Braille reader.

 

The due date for the receipt of this information will be the last business day in May of each year.  BESB shall distribute funds on or about June 30th of each school year.

 

 


STATE OF CONNECTICUT

Board of Education and Services for the Blind

Division of Children’s Services

 

ANNUAL EDUCATION REPORT

Date: ___________________

Teacher of the Visually Impaired :  ________________

Student Name: _____________________________

DOB: ______________

School: _______________________Grade: _____________

Classification/Acuity Code: ___________________

Reading Mode: ___________

Visual Diagnosis:________________________

Acuity: Left Eye:  ________  Right eye: ________  

Both eyes: __________     Visual Field: ______________

 

q       Learning Media Assessment is attached (not required for braille readers)

 

Child is served under:

q       IFSP (for Birth to Three)

q       IEP

q       504 service plan

 

 

Expanded Core Curriculum Annual Checklist:

Check only areas addressed this year in the child’s program.  For all items checked, narrative summary should be included in text of the BESB Annual Education Report.

 

__       Compensatory skills for accessing curriculum (such as braille, tactile graphics, calendar systems, large print, audio books, etc)

__       Technology

__       Orientation & mobility

__       Social skills

__       Daily living skills

__       Recreation and leisure

__    Transition activities (age 14 and up only)

 


Narrative Summary

Students using braille or print/braille

 

Name: 

School Year:

TVI:

Adaptive equipment used by student:

 

Visual Functioning:

 

Expanded Core Curriculum

 

          Braille Reading Skills:

 

          Braille Writing Skills:

 

          Adaptive Math Skills:

 

          Organization:

         

Technology:

 

          O & M:

         

Social Skills:

 

          Daily Living Skills:

 

          Recreation and Leisure:

 

          Transition Activities:

         

          Additional Goals Addressed:

 

Recommended Goals for Next Year:


Narrative Summary

Children with Modified Curriculum

 

Name: 

School Year:

TVI:

 

Eye dominance:

Hand dominance:

 

Visual Gaze Behaviors:

 

Supports for Best Visual Functioning:

 

Hearing Status:

 

Communication:

 

Teaching Strategies:

 

 

Recommended Goals for Next Year:

 

 

 

 


Narrative Summary

Visual Learner

 

Name: 

School Year:

TVI:

Adaptive equipment used by student:

 

Visual Functioning:

 

 

Summary of all areas of the expanded core curriculum addressed this year:

 

 

Recommended goals for next year:

 


Appeals Procedures

 

Any parent or guardian of an eligible child who is legally blind or visually impaired, who is dissatisfied with any determinations made by an Education Consultant who is employed or contracted through BESB concerning the furnishing or denial of services may request a timely review of those determinations.

 

The parent or guardian must make a written request for a review of the decision that was made by the Education Consultant, and state in the written request the nature of the matters to be addressed in the review.  The Agency may not institute a suspension, reduction, or termination of services being provided under an Individualized Family Services Plan, Individualized Education Program or Individualized Services Plan pending a review, unless the parent or guardian so requests, or the Agency has evidence that services have been obtained through misrepresentation, fraud, collusion, or criminal conduct on the part of the parent or guardian.

 

 

Review Options

 

1.   Informal Resolution:

 

A parent or guardian may seek an informal review of a decision by sending a written request to the Education Supervisor.  This review will be conducted within twenty business days of receipt of the written request for such a review.

 

2.   Subsequent Review:

 

A parent or guardian may seek a formal review of a decision by sending a written request to the Executive Director of the agency.  This review will be conducted within twenty business days of receipt of the written request for such a review.  The purpose of this subsequent review is to offer the parent or guardian an option to provide written documentation of their concerns for timely resolution of disputed decisions that could not be resolved in the informal review process.

 

3.   Formal Hearing Procedures:

 

Additional formal hearing options are available to parents or guardians of children who are enrolled in the Statewide Birth to Three System, administered through the Department of Mental Retardation for disputed matters.

 

 

Disputes with School Districts

 

A parent or guardian who is in disagreement with a determination made by a certified teacher of the visually impaired that is directly hired or contracted through a school district or local education agency should direct their concerns to the immediate supervisor of the individual within the school district.  BESB can assume a consultation role to facilitate clarifying understanding of agency policy as it pertains to the provision of vision related services on the child’s behalf.

 


Independent Living Programs

 

The Children’s Services Division offers opportunities for students who are legally blind and visually impaired to develop independent living skills in individual and group settings.  These programs and initiatives include training in specific skills that facilitate the development of self-esteem, competency and preparation for the transition from school to careers.  These programs and initiatives frequently involve collaboration and coordination with other Divisions within the agency, such as Adult Services, Vocational Rehabilitation and Business Enterprises, with accompanying funding available in certain circumstances as defined by the policies for each Division.  As these programs are often multi-divisional in sponsorship, with a specific focus leading towards successful transition beyond secondary education, it is not a requirement for these independent living opportunities to be listed in the Individualized Education Program or Individualized Service Plan for a student to participate or to access funds from the Children’s Services Division.

 

Examples of programs and initiatives available may include but not be limited to the following:

 

A.      Internship Opportunities

 

These opportunities are designed to promote the development of worker traits and job readiness in school age students, to better prepare them for the transition from school to careers. The Children’s Services Division may provide for a training stipend to clients of the Division that is equal to the State of Connecticut minimum wage rate, for the equivalent number of hours that the client is present at the internship location, which shall be a bona fide employment site.  The Internships shall be made available to students of the Children’s Services Division who are referred by Certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired, or by Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors of the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of BESB.  In certain situations, Vocational Rehabilitation funding may also be available for this purpose.

 

B.      Summer Upward Bound Experiences

 

These programs include day camps and residential camp experiences that are operated by the agency or another public or private entity, agency, or person who has sufficient experience, training, expertise, and personnel to enable secondary education students of the Children’s Services Division to learn skills that promote the achievement of greater self-sufficiency and independence.  These experiences may include immersion into physically challenging programs in an environment that promotes self-confidence, problem solving, analytical skills, self understanding, self advocacy, and social interaction with peers who are blind or visually impaired.

 

C.      Summer Technology Camp Experiences

 

These camps shall be administered by this agency or a public or private entity or person with sufficient experience, training, expertise, and personnel to meet the requirements of this Policy.  The camp experiences shall take place in a facility that is equipped with state of the art adaptive technology for student clients who are blind or visually impaired.  The goal of the learning experience shall be to develop positive skills with adapted computer hardware and software that will encourage or allow children who are blind or visually impaired to achieve greater self-sufficiency, proficiency, and independence.

 

D.      Mentoring Experiences

 

Children’s Services Division funds may be utilized for student client participation in events, seminars, immersion camps (including residential situations) and related experiences that afford students of the agency who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to interact with mentors who are blind and who are successfully employed.  Said experiences may include but shall not be limited to job shadowing experiences, tours of companies that employ people who are blind, tours of business enterprise locations, tours of other self-employment situations operated by individuals who are blind, and related experiences that promote career development for students who are blind or visually impaired.

 


Paraprofessional Training

 

BESB offers Braille instruction classes to paraprofessionals employed or contracted by school districts in Connecticut. Priority for participation shall be granted first to paraprofessionals who are assigned to work directly with BESB-eligible students and who are endorsed to participate by the Teacher of the Visually Impaired assigned to the child.

 

To assist school districts with enabling paraprofessionals to participate in these training classes, BESB offers financial incentives for the actual cost of participation of any paraprofessional whom the agency has selected to participate in the training program. 

 

BESB may reimburse the full cost of any substitute paraprofessional brought in to cover the time period when a paraprofessional assigned to a BESB-eligible student is participating in BESB-sponsored Braille instruction classes. A written request from the Teacher of the Visually Impaired and the Special Education Director of the school district, in advance of each day of substitute paraprofessional coverage is required, along with an estimate of the cost for the substitute hours for each day. When it is known in advance that a substitute will be needed for coverage over multiple dates, the request may be submitted to cover the full scope of dates.  Upon completion of the substitute hours for each approved day, a billing invoice from the school district, verifying the actual cost incurred, shall be submitted to BESB for processing.

 

In addition, BESB may also cover the mileage reimbursement costs for the paraprofessional to participate in Braille instruction classes. Such reimbursement shall be at the state approved mileage reimbursement rate for actual miles incurred for a round trip from the school to the training location. Reimbursement will be directly to the school district. Such requests shall be submitted by the school district in advance of participation in each Braille instruction class, and may cover multiple dates of participation. The written request will state the total mileage estimated for the participation in the classes.  Upon completion of each training session, billing invoices may be submitted for the round trip mileage incurred.

 

Paraprofessionals who participate in the Braille Instruction classes, and who are required by their school district to take accrued leave time (excluding educational or professional development leave) such as vacation or personal leave, or who are otherwise uncompensated directly by the school district for the hours required for participation at BESB-sponsored Braille instruction classes, may seek reimbursement for the actual cash value of vacation leave, personal leave, or lost wages. In such matters, a letter will be required by the Special Education Director in advance of participation of the paraprofessional at the training classes, attesting to the lost wages, or requirement that vacation or personal leave time must be used for the paraprofessional to participate in the Braille instruction classes. Such written certification shall include the hourly wage rate of the paraprofessional and the total number of hours of accrued leave charged or wages lost. Upon completion of each training session for which the school district has not provided direct compensation to the paraprofessional, the paraprofessional may seek reimbursement from the agency by submitting an invoice that includes the date of the session.

 

BESB reserves the right to terminate participation of a paraprofessional who does not demonstrate satisfactory progress or continuous, sequential participation in the Braille Instruction classes.






Content Last Modified on 10/6/2009 2:15:44 PM