First page of the Fix the Glitch White paper.
First page of the Fix the Glitch White paper.
Second Page of the Fix the Glitch White Paper
third page of the Fix the Glitch White paper.
4th page of the Fix the Glitch White paper
Final page of the fix the glitch white paper.
Fix the Computer Glitch!
Computer glitches have become synonymous with modern life and are the cause of irritations big and small. A small glitch occurred when I allowed my friend to share my hotel room. The next day she turned in her key card to the bellman; he gave it to the front desk and they checked me out of my room. When the receptionist looked at the computer, all she could tell me is I didn’t exist in the system so I had no room at the Inn. Computers don’t think; it took a veteran hotel manager to fix the glitch.
There has been one on-going glitch that has had a negative impact on too many young children with visual impairments across New York State and the fix seems simple. Just add two missing professions through NYS licensure and passage of Bill A. 3597 to the list of services under blindness and visual impairment, and the lives of children and adults will be changed forever for the better.
The Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, is “spending clause” legislation, meaning that all States that have accepted funding under this statute are subject to meeting the mandates. IDEA ensures that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.
IDEA Part C Early Intervention. Part C mandates Early Intervention for Children with Visual Impairments. This mandate requires the provision of related services for children’s academic readiness by Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs); safe, oriented travel through orientation and mobility services, (O&M), by Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists [Related Service Orientation and Mobility (Sect 602.Definitions (26)] and daily living skills by Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (VRTs) [Transition Services that Provide Instruction in Activities of Daily Living (Sect 602.Definitions (34)].
IDEA is very clear. These services are to be provided and to be taught by qualified professionals. However, the computer systems that New York State uses to generate referrals for these critically important and mandated services for children with visual impairments do not list two of these three qualified professionals to provide these services. Nowhere in the NYS computer systems are the professions of Orientation and Mobility (O&M) and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT) listed.
New York State Early Intervention System Hiring and Billing:
The New York State Early Intervention System (NYEIS) lists only one of the three mandated specialty areas and specialists in the area of visual impairment: Vision services and the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (See screen shots below). The other two mandated services, Orientation and Mobility and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy are omitted. When O&M and VRT services are provided, the certified professionals who provide these services are contracted under the “Special Instruction” and paid under the “Other” Category.
Above screen shot was provided by a dually certified TVI O&M professional of NYEIS service authorizations page. Under Service Type only two options are given for implementing Vision and O&M services 1. Vision and 2. Special Instruction.
Above is a screen shot of EI Billing webpage, a drop down menu lists all of the professions from which to choose. Other is highlighted and the list of professionals includes TVI – Teacher of the Visually Impaired, O&M and VRT are not listed.
IDEA Part B for Children and Youths (ages 3-21). Part B mandates children and youths (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services defined in Section 300. The 2004 reauthorization went further to require all teachers including special education teachers be highly qualified. “Highly qualified teachers” are consistent with any State-approved or State-recognized certification, licensing, registration, or other comparable requirements that apply to the professional discipline in which those personnel are providing special education or related services.
Section 300 Regulations. The IDEA Regulations define in detail what specific instruction and professionals are to provide Special Education or “specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
Relevance to Students with Visual Impairments. Both IDEA Parts B and C in spelling out the requirements for related services list or describe the services provided by all three specialized vision service areas – TVI, O&M, and VRT. TVIs, provide academic support, curriculum adaptation, braille, and assistive technology instruction, O&M specialists teach mobility, orientation, and safety skills, and VRTs, teach activities of daily living specific to the needs arising from vision impairment. However, the New York State Education Department lists only one of these three specialists for hire on their website (See screen shot below).
IDEA Part B – Preschool and School Age Programs Hiring and Billing:
When students with visual impairments aged 3-5 enter preschool programs and students aged 5-21 enter school, once again the problem of only having one named specialist of the three specialty areas who can be hired by county health departments and school districts under New York State Education Department requirements occurs. As can be seen on their website, NYSED hires only Classroom Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired (See screen shot below).
Consequently O&M specialists and VRTs when they are hired by school districts to fulfill IDEA mandated related services must carry NYS teacher certification as Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired. In the rare instances where O&M specialists and VRTS are hired as single certified professionals, they have to be retained as Support Staff, a non-teaching position. Thus, there is no parity for these highly qualified professionals with TVIs, yet these professionals nevertheless are required to perform pedagogical functions in fulfilling IEP requirements and mandates.
Some school districts are able to hire a Classroom Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired who holds two or three certifications, i.e. professional certification in orientation and mobility and vision rehabilitation therapy in addition to the NYS teaching credential. However, this teacher is hired under the single TVI provider line (See screen shot above). This results in personnel that are hired and reported as TVIs actually fulfilling IEP goals that are outside the scope of TVI practice. Also, this hiring practice results in billing conflicts or rejection of authorization to evaluate when the TVI requests three evaluations (academic, orientation and mobility, daily living skills) that can only be billed under one service authorization area.
Fix the Glitch!
The fix is clear and straightforward. License O&M specialists and VRT’s so they can be listed in the Office of Professions as New York State Licensed professions and finally allow New York children full access to vital and IDEA mandated education.
You have heard how I was taught—how a little word from the fingers of another, a ray of light from another soul touched the darkness of my mind, and I found myself, found the world, and found God! It is because my teacher cared about me and broke through the dark, silent imprisonment which held me that I am able to work for myself and for others. If you care, if we can make the people of this great country care, the blind will triumph over blindness.
This is the opportunity I offer you, Lions—to foster and sponsor the work of the American Foundation for the Blind. Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness, no little deaf blind child untaught, no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you, Lions—you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind—will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in my crusade against darkness?