Families and Caregivers

CVI and the IFSP/IEP

The Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) is a legally mandated document under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) used for early intervention services from birth to age 3. The Individualized Education Program (IEP), also mandated by IDEA, is a legal document for students who require special education services in public schools. The IEP describes a child’s service plan, which includes present levels of performance, accommodations, supplementary aids and supports, goals, and placement.

A CVI-rich IEP
Students with CVI must have a CVI-rich IEP to ensure all services, interventions, and accommodations are meaningful, intentional, and based on the CVI Range© score and the 10 CVI characteristics. 

A precise and specific IEP includes the CVI Range score, phase, and how each of the 10 CVI characteristics is affecting the student. Interventions, strategies, goals, modifications, accommodations, instructional supports, and service plans are designed to match the student’s level of visual functioning. The primary disability category must note vision or visual impairment as a major cause of learning difficulty and as having the greatest impact on access to the curriculum. Vision drives all learning.  

An intentional IEP reflects the expectation of improvements in vision with purposeful, systematic CVI interventions and strategies included throughout the day, in all tasks, daily routines, and learning activities. IEP present levels, goals, and objectives need to reflect how your child with CVI currently uses his or her vision functionally, while engaging in the specified learning and social activities mentioned in the present levels and addressed by the goals and objectives. The Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) or Supplementary Aids and Supports (this section might be called something different your state) should then provide specific CVI accommodations, supports, and strategies that will allow your child to visually engage in specific activities, routines, and tasks addressed during the school day. The Present Levels pertaining to functional vision should include the “+” and “+/-” scored statements in the child’s CVI Range score report and the goals should be created around any “-” scored statements. Go to our section on education for more information.

What to Include in an IEP for a Student Who Has CVIBrenda Biernat, CVI Mom and creator of Start Seeing CVI, and Matt Tietjen, TVI and CVI expert, share some considerations when developing an IEP for a student with CVI (accommodations and modifications, goals and objectives, instructional supports, and the Expanded Core Curriculum).

A CVI Schedule1 includes a list of CVI-adaptations for daily routines and activities throughout the school day to encourage the use of vision. This is an important part of program planning. The schedule should be developed and implemented by the IEP team. For students with CVI, looking and understanding what they see is extremely fatiguing. Included in the CVI Schedule should be vision breaks to recharge a child’s visual battery. Vision breaks are not breaks from learning or rewards, just a switch in senses. See a sample CVI Schedule. 

The "What’s the Complexity?" Framework, created by Matt Tietjen, enables educational teams to plan for how to manage the visual demands for students with CVI throughout their school day. When there is a consistent balance between environment and task complexity, teams can increase visual access and visual participation for students with CVI, as well as reduce cumulative visual fatigue (often a major trigger for CVI meltdowns). Read more about the Framework in Cortical Visual Impairment: Advanced Principles

"Individuals with cortical visual impairment (CVI) deserve a visually accessible school day...this is their right and ensuring this right is one of the primary responsibilities of the educational team." 2

"Individuals with CVI confront visual complexity and the related CVI characteristics during every part of their day. When left unaddressed, this complexity stands between the individual and an accessible, appropriate education. To avoid such an outcome, CVI interventions must be applied rigorously and consistently across an individual’s entire school day. Visual complexity must be evaluated and addressed at every turn." 3

Matthew Tietjen

CTVI, CVI Range Endorsed

"Parents are the true experts when it comes to their children with CVI, and the importance of the information they can provide should not be underestimated."
Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy

The Parent Concerns section of the IEP is an opportunity to include your expectations and a list of CVI-related concerns and considerations. For example, you may note the concerns around the characteristics, educational approach, cognitive testing for a student with a visual impairment, correct assessments around CVI, staff training, TVI training and service delivery, placement, communication systems, social and emotional development, behavior (CVI meltdowns), and medical. You may note the expectation for visual improvement and need for the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).

Know that as a parent of child with an IEP, the school district must send the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP)/Prior Written Notice (PWN) form to you (this may be called something else in your state), which proposes a certain action or refuses an action regarding your child. Parents must provide consent before the district moves forward. Parents have every right to not provide consent if there is a disagreement.

Everyday CVI Strategies

Expanded Core Curriculum

1Roman-Lantzy, Christine. (2018). Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention. 2nd ed., New Yorl, NY: AFB Press. 
2,3Tietjen, Matthew. (2019). The “What’s the Complexity?” Framework. In Roman-Lantzy, Christine. (2019) Cortical Visual Impairment: Advanced Principals (pp. 92-150). Louisville, KY: APH Press.

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