Blindness/Visual Impairment (BVI)

Services for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (TxBVI) is a component of Texas Sensory Support Network (TxSSN) of the Texas Education Agency (TEA).  TxBVI ensures the provision of support to children (0-21) with blindness/visual impairment or deafblindness, their families, and the professionals who serve them, through collaboration which is essential for the education of students in this population.  
Regional ESCs in Texas have BVI Specialists who provide educational consultative services. 

If Region 17 may be of service to you, please contact Deanne Goen, BVI Specialist.

photo of Deanne Goen TxBVI logo photo of Evelyn Gilson
        Deanne Goen Evelyn Gilson
        Education Specialist Support Specialist
   (806) 281-5712 (806) 281-5867
  (806) 780-6694 fax (806) 780-6694 fax
  deannegoen@esc17.net    egilson@esc17.net 

BVI Resources  (listed alphabetically)

  • Low Vision Evaluation (LVE) Request form  LVE Digital Request Form
    TSVI should send completed referral form to Region 17 ATTN: Evelyn Gilson at egilson@esc17.net or fax (806)780-6694.
    Low Vision is a Loss of Sight that Makes Everyday Life Challenging   
           The process for LVE referral is also detailed on page 13 of Resources for People with Visual Impairments (link below).
  • MathType Add-in usable in Microsoft 365 Word online and desktop versionsMathType logo
  • Visual Impairment Scales of Service Intensity of Texas    VI  Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas logo     O&M VISSIT O and M Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas logo
  • Wonder Baby CaringCalm.org
    Website dedicated to helping parents of young children with BVI as well as children with multiple disabilities.   
  • Year At-A-Glance LiveBinder for New VI Professionals BVI Statewide Network logo

BVI Professional Learning Community - SY 2023-2024 Sessions Note: BVI PLC is open only to VI Professionals, VI Program students, & invited stakeholders. Click date to REGISTER. Sep 15 Oct 20 So. F Nov 17 So. F
Dec 15 So. F
Jan 19 So. F Feb 16 So. F March 4-6, 2024 TxAER Conference - San Marcos Apr 19 So. F
May 17 So. F

Braille & Nemeth Resources 

Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC)

Download the ECC Flyer (pdf 228kb)(opens PDF document)

What is the 
Expanded Core (opens external link in new window)Curriculum(opens external link in new window)?  
The term expanded core curriculum (ECC) is used to define concepts and skills that often require specialized instruction with students who are blind or visually impaired in order to compensate for decreased opportunities to learn incidentally by observing othersIn addition to the general education core curriculum that all students are taught, students with visual impairments, starting at birth, also need instruction in the ECC.  The ECC areas include (A) needs that result from the visual impairment that enable the student “to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and (B) other educational needs that result from the child’s disability” as required by IDEA (34 CFR 300.320 (a)(2)(A)(B)). Texas Education Code (TEC) 30.002(c)(5) and (e)(5) require the flexibility of school districts to make arrangements for services to occur “beyond regular school hours to ensure the student learns the skills and receives the instruction” in the ECC.

With the passage of Senate Bill 39 in 2013 (Texas 83rd Legislative Session), evaluation in all areas of the ECC is required for students with visual impairments.  Priority needs must be identified by the IEP team and instruction provided in these areas.

Nine Areas of the ECC:
Assistive Technology
 2.  Career Education
   3.  Compensatory Skills

 4.  Independent Living Skills
   5.  Orientation & Mobility (O&M)
Recreation & Leisure
   7.  Self-Determination
   8.  Sensory Efficiency
   9.  Social Interaction Skills

SY 2023-2024:  4 Events of the ECC

for eligible students with VI & their parents/guardians 
hosted by the West Texas VI Cluster at Plains Camp, Floydada

  FREE!!  Includes activities, lodging & meals!

red maple leafFALL 2023 - VI ECC Weekend Events!
1.   OCT 6-8 1st-5th graders (on gd level) & parents (no siblings)
    2.   DEC 1-3 Birth-KG (not MDVI) & parents (no siblings)
drawing of a daisySPRING 2024 - VI ECC Weekend Events!
3.   MAR 8-10 MDVI all ages & parents (no siblings)
    4.   APR 19-21 6th-12th graders & parents (no siblings)
  This is Transition Weekend!  Don't Miss It!

~ ECC Resources ~

Understanding the Expanded Core Curriculum
Perkins School for the Blind

Expanded Core Curriculum
Paths to Literacy

Teaching Students with Visual Impairments - ECC
Carmen Willings

ecc wheel graphic

9 More Than Core logo
Join the Public Group 9 More Than Core at at https://www.facebook.com/groups/144982806238924/


2020 Guidelines and Standards for Educating Students with Visual Impairments in Texas  shape of texas
English and Spanish versions available (2020 is the most recent version) 

Commissioner's Rules Concerning Special Education Services, Eligibility   Texas shape
Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part 2
89.1040 Section C.2. Deafblind, Section C.12. Visually Impaired

H.B. 590 - regarding a student's eligibility as visually impaired for special education services & related services Texas shape

Legal Framework legal framework logo Visual Impairment          Deaf-Blindness          Multiple Disabilities

Eligibility for Special Education for Students with Visual Impairment - guidance document

Required Information for Parents at ARD Meetings clipboard with checklist

          - TSBVI Information Parent flyer     English     Spanish
          - Expanded Core Curriculum flyer   English     Spanish
          - Benefits of Braille     English      Spanish
          - Benefits of O&M    English & Spanish (2-sided)
          - Consent form     English     

Welcome, new VI Professional!


Technical Assistance:

  • Assist districts with TEA VI Registration
  • Assist districts with the Deaf/Blind Census
  • Acquisition of APH materials
  • Assistive Technology Loan Program
  • Interagency Coordination


  • Staff development for assessing students with suspected blindness/visual impairments, and for reassessing students with blindness/visual impairments
  • Staff development for serving students with blindness/visual impairments


  • Provide technical support for assistive device considerations
  • Coordinate Low Vision Clinics
  • Provide technical support for Functional Vision Evaluations, Learning Media Assessments, Orientation and Mobility Evaluations, and assessing areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum

TEA logoStudent Assessment Accommodation Resources 

Most frequently requested information for STAAR-testers with VI:
Contact Regional VI Specialist at (806) 281-5712 for additional information.

  • Students who read and write Braille automatically get an Extra Day for STAAR testing.  No ARF is needed.
  • Complex Transcribing training is required for the test administrator of STAAR Braille version.
  • Large Print (LP) version of STAAR is in Verdana font, point size 18+.  (Regular print size is point 12.)
  • Students with VI who effectively and regularly use Assistive Technology, such as low vision magnification devices and Braille production devices, that are noted in their IEPs, are allowed to use their devices for taking the STAAR, even if they receive a Large Print version test.  Sometimes, even 18 point font size is not large enough.
  • The Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI) should always be included in the before-during-and-after process of STAAR testing for students with VI
  • For Released STAAR Tests in Braille Version, the TSVI should send an order request to the Regional VI Specialist, including gd levels & subjects needed.
    Released STAAR Tests in Braille Version may be used to practice testing and/or to provide benchmark information.

TEA logo STAAR Alternate 2 Resources

new!STAAR Alternate 2 PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS form for SY 2023-2024

Each school year, STAAR Alternate 2 Resources are updated with the most current information.  Use currently posted information by TEA.
See Participation Requirements and the Texas definition of a student with a significant cognitive disability.
Other documents on the STAAR Alt 2 Resources webpage include Educator Guide, Medical Exception form, NAAR form, Test Administrator Manual, Released Tests, and more.

STAAR Alternate 2 is administered one-on-one in a sensory-controlled environment to minimize distractions.  Only accommodations and modifications noted in the eligible student's IEP and used effectively and regularly are provided as needed by the test administrator.

Contact Deanne Goen, Region 17's STAAR Alternate 2 specialist, for additional information and training. 

Tips for Teachers (non-VI professionals) who have students with blindness/visual Impairments in all educational settings!

vision path graphic

Unique Visual Needs for Students Following Standard Course of Study (regular TEKS, not the prerequisite skills) - by Carmen Willings

http://www.teachingvisuallyimpaired.com  (See section for modified curriculum information below.)

Visual Functioning

  • Visual performance may fluctuate due to changes in light, fatigue, or illness.
  • The student may experience eye fatigue and may need extra testing time. Extra time is defined as (e.g. time and a half, double time, etc.). The student should notify the teacher when eye fatigue occurs and he should be given a break, if needed.
  • Allow the student extra time and/or breaks as need to process visual information and reduce visual fatigue.

Seating Placement

  • The student should have preferential seating (*definein the classroom. The student should be encouraged to move to a better location, if necessary.
  • The student should have preferential seating for all films and assemblies, and demonstration lessons. Please allow the student to be accompanied by a peer to avoid social isolation.
  • When possible, the student should be permitted to lean in or move closer for visually challenging activities. Permit student to sit or stand near any demonstrations or where visual material is being presented.
  • The student should face away from windows.
  • Extra storage space and/or desk surface for assistive technology/devices.

Board Presentation 

  • The student should be given copies of distance presentation activities (e.g. Active Board, dry erase board, chalkboard, etc.) to be viewed at his/her desk as needed.
  • The teacher or presenter should verbalize all information as it is written on the board or overhead and be as descriptive as possible in your presentations.
  • Information presented on the board should be in a high contrast color. For example, white chalk on a green board, black or dark colored markers on a white board.
  • Vary the methods of presentation using concrete objects and descriptive language as much as possible. If the use of real objects is not possible, make use of realistic models (e.g. animals, people, objects).
  • During movies, videos or Active Board presentations, allow student to sit as close as necessary to the screen or arrange for screen sharing.
  • To the extent possible, keep the board clean to maximize contrast.

Demonstration Lesson

  • Student should be permitted to handle the materials before, during and after the demonstration.
  • Do not stand with your back against the window when presenting.
  • The student should be allowed to move about the room as needed to see information presented away from his/her desk.


  • Avoid glare in general from overhead lights.
  • Provide adequate lighting for activities, particularly when lights are dimmed for Active Board presentations.

Safe Travel

  • Familiarize the student to new environments, with special attention to surface level changes, at school (pay particular close attention to novel playgrounds) and during field trips. 

Material Adaptations

  • Worksheets should be bold and of good copy quality.
  • Avoid visually cluttered materials.
  • Permit the student to use optical devices to access information at near and distance.  
  • The student should be permitted to write directly on a test. No Scantron tests.
  • Use of auditory text as needed.
  • Provide adaptations or avoid tasks that are dependent on color vision.
  • Permit and encourage the student to use low vision tools to complete tasks.
  • Provide large print math worksheets and maps for labeling.
  • Provide the student with a reading guide to assist in keeping place while reading and completing worksheets.
  • Allow students to use (bold marker, 20/20 pen, mechanical pencil, or other unique writing tool) to complete assignments.
  • Preferential locker position and locks with keys vs. combination locks.

General Classroom Adaptations

  • Allow the student extra time to process visual information
  • Modified assignments (when appropriate and needed) to accommodate for visual fatigue (extended time and/or shortened amount of assignments).
  • When using a computer, the screen should be tilted to avoid glare.  Mouse pointer speeds may need to be slowed.  Mouse pointer may need to be enlarged.  Screen may need magnification.

Responsibilities that the teacher should encourage the student to assume

  • The student must wear prescribed glasses for all academic activities.
  • The student needs to wear a hat and/or sunglasses during outdoor play on sunny days as well as days that are bright or produce a glare.

When taking the class on field trips, be aware that

  • The field trip site should know that a student with a visual impairment will be in the group in case extra assistance will be necessary
  • The student will need sighted guide or support personnel in unfamiliar areas particularly when adjusting to changes in lighting or weather conditions.

Patching Program 

  • Be aware that the student participates in a patching schedule that potentially changes every 3 weeks.  Therefore, during these periods she has no vision in her patched eye producing a field loss.  Parents will keep teachers informed of changes to the patching program. 
  • Replace the patch if it becomes soiled or wet/sweaty.  A supply of “back-up” patches will be provided by the parents.

Handling of Contact Lenses

  • The student wears contact lenses.  If there is an issue with the contacts (such as one coming out), the teacher will need to collect the lens, if found place it in solution, and contact the parents immediately.  A case and solution will be provided by the parents and will remain at school and stored according to the school’s procedures.  Keep in mind that without the contact in place, the student’s vision is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced.
  • Be aware that with the wearing of contacts, the student is especially sensitive to granules of sand or other eye irritants sticking, or becoming lodged behind the lens.  If it is noticed that granules/irritants are in the student’s eyes, the student’s eyes should be rinsed with a solution designed for contact lenses as other solutions may contaminate her lenses.  Parents should be contacted immediately if the student’s eyes are washed so contacts can be inspected and removed if necessary.
  • The student’s parents should be contacted immediately if any child or teacher in the class, or that she has been in direct contact with, develops pink eye or other contagious eye disease.

Unique Visual Needs for Students following a Modified Curriculum (the prerequisite skills found in the vertical alignment docs)

Visual Functioning
  • Be aware that the student’s visual functioning may differ from one time to another or from one environment to another. Differences in visual functioning are due to a variety of factors, such as the student’s physical state, the particular materials used, and how those materials are presented. 

Minimize Glare

Glare is a constant consideration for all individuals with low vision.  Glare can create discomfort or inhibit visual functioning depending on the source or type of glare experienced.  Highly reflective surfaces – including flooring, walls, ceilings, work and play surfaces, and instructional and play materials (particularly those that have been laminated) – can all be sources of glare for individuals with low vision.  The following suggestions can be helpful in minimizing glare for children with low vision:
  • When selecting positioning for the student, avoid creating shadows and reflecting light directly into the student’s eyes
  • Care should be taken to select materials that maximize light absorption (for example, matte-finish rather than glossy finish photos)
  • Be sensitive to changing lighting conditions outdoors as well.  Sunglasses, visors or hats with a minimum three-inch brim can help to eliminate some of the glare experienced outdoors.


Space is an important organizer of visual perceptions for individuals with low vision.  The following considerations will help in planning positive visual experiences:
  • Simple and regular patterns are more easily viewed than complex ones.
  • Provide appropriate and regular spacing between items to avoid visual clutter and overwhelming sensory input for the student.  Objects placed too close together may be difficult for the student to distinguish from one another.


Individuals who are visually impaired may require additional time to complete tasks that require the use of vision or when adjusting to changes in lighting.  The student may need additional time to complete tasks that depend on the use of vision.  With regard to time, the following approaches may help young children feel more confident and complete tasks more successfully:
  • The student should be given extra time to complete visual tasks.
  • The student will likely be more successful in tracking a slow-moving target than a fast-moving target because he will have more time to do so.
  • Allow The student adequate time to adjust to changes in lighting prior to asking him to negotiate obstacles or stairs or complete part of a daily routine.


Maximizing contrast between objects and work and play surfaces can help children who have low vision maintain a greater sense of control over the items that they manipulate.  Contrast can be enhanced through the use of increased illumination, careful choice of colors, or selection of black and white materials.  Higher-contrast items are easier to locate, distinguish, and keep track of.  The following approaches can be used to enhance contrast:
  • Contrasting mats on the tabletop help children to define their space and to locate items more efficiently.
  • Present items against a plain background; do not hold them up in space, as this tends to make them appear to “blend in” to the background.
  • Use a good contrast background for items in order to help the student visually detect and fixate on them.

Visual Attention

  • Encourage the student to visually fixate on items before giving them to her.
  • When attempting to gain the student’s visual attention, place items in her visual field and move them slightly if necessary.
  • The student needs longer than average time to visually attend to materials/toys.
  • Familiarity and hands on experience with items will increase the student’s ability to understand what they are visually.  Imbed visual tasks into functional routines (feeding, diapering, dressing, etc.)


  • Remember that comfortable positioning is important for visual alertness.

• VI and O&M Preparation in Texas:  Programs to Become a VI Professional 

• Reach Across Texas Scholarship Program     Texas Tech University logo     Application

     Scholarship Program available to students entering the VI/O&M Preparation Program

• Typical Roles and Responsibilities of VI Professionals

• Professional Preparation in Visual Impairments TSBVI logo  - Learn more about the application process, job responsibilities, Texas Fellows, Mentor Program.