When children are diagnosed with blindness or low vision, a referral can be made to the local Blind – Low Vision Program by a physician, ophthalmologist, optometrist, parent or caregiver.
The Blind Low-Vision Program offers three types of services:
- Family support
- Intervention services
- Consultation services
1. Family support
The program provides support to parents when their child has been diagnosed with blindness or low vision. These services are provided by family support workers who are graduate-level social workers specially trained in the impact of a visual impairment on child development.
The family support worker will help the family understand and cope with the implications of the diagnosis and help them make informed decisions about support services.
2. Intervention services
For a child with visual impairment, touch, hearing and the use of remaining or residual vision are critically important for learning and development. Support by trained and knowledgeable professionals in the area of visual impairment is essential to help the child develop these senses to the best of his or her abilities.
Intervention services are provided by specially trained early childhood blind/low vision consultants in the family’s home. The consultant teaches parents how to support their child’s development in the following areas:
- intentional movement (orientation and mobility)
- development of motor skills (e.g., rolling, reaching, crawling, walking, and use of hands to manipulate and explore objects)
- daily living skills (e.g., eating, dressing, toileting)
- concept development (e.g., object identification, function, and characteristics)
- social and emotional development
- language and communication development
- how to make the most of residual vision
- how to use all the senses to promote development
3. Consultation services
When your child enters a child care or early learning centre, Blind – Low Vision Program staff will help the early childhood educators at the centre learn how to best work with and teach you child.