First Advisor

Joel Arick

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Administration


Educational Leadership and Policy




Children with visual disabilities -- Identification, People with disabilities -- Functional assessment, Children with visual disabilities -- Education



Physical Description

3, viii, 92 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


Since the inception of special education legislation, the identification of severely visually impaired children has become a difficult task. Official prevalence rates for severe visual impairment currently vary from 8 per 10,000 to 120 per 10,000 school aged children. With such a large discrepancy in rates, it is difficult to plan and provide appropriate specialized services to this group of children.

Given this wide variance of reporting, several questions have arisen: (1) What is the prevalence of severely impaired vision as a secondary handicap when another handicapping condition is already known and identified? (2) Is there a significant difference between the reported prevalence rates of severe visual impairment and documented prevalence? Once these questions are answered, educational implication questions arise. (1) Are students receiving services by a person trained to provide specialized assistance? (2) Is there a perception of need for such services? (3) If services are being offered, are they adequate?

Such results are vitally important for visually impaired students, for the lack of vision severely restricts all areas of learning and life skills. Level of functional vision determines educational methodology, range and variety of experiences, independent travel skills, and one's ability to control the environment. Teacher training programs are running behind of current need, and should the rates of visual impairment be higher than prevailing calculations, the need for teachers and/or training could multiply several-fold.

Using a cluster sampling method, 658 special education students in the Portland metropolitan area were screened for visual impairment. Eleven of the 658 had previously been identified as visually impaired, which coincided with the national rates used as comparison for this study. Upon screening, a total of 86 students were identified as severely visually impaired resulting in a prevalence rate of .130 for handicapped children, a significant difference from the numbers reported under Education of the Handicapped Act and to the American Printing House for the Blind.

Perceived need for services for these children indicated a desire to have a better understanding of the implications of visual impairment. Although there was not strong evidence that each child needed a teacher of the visually impaired, respondents expressed a desire to know of curricular adaptations needed.


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