028-12 Eligibility – Visual Impairment
What consideration should eligibility groups give to visual acuity “in the better eye with best possible correction” when determining a child eligible for special education and related services as a child with a Visual Impairment?
Virginia Regulations governing special education mandate eligibility criteria for determining a child with blindness if, in part, the child demonstrates “Visual acuity in the better eye with best possible correction of 20/200 or less at distance or near…” (emphasis added) (8 VAC 20-81-80 W.2.a). This same standard element, in the better eye with best possible correction, is omitted in the mandated eligibility criteria for determining a child with a visual impairment. The specific language mandates that eligibility groups determine the child to have a visual impairment if the child demonstrates having a “visual acuity better than 20/200 but worse than 20/70 at distance or near…”. (8 VAC 20-81-80 W.3.a).
Until the cited regulation is revised, we encourage eligibility groups to understand the following section of the Virginia Regulations to mean:
A child with a visual impairment demonstrates the following:
- Visual acuity better than 20/200 but worse than 20/70 [in the better eye with best possible correction] at distance and/or near; or
- Visual field restriction in the better eye of remaining visual field of 70 degrees or less but better than 20 degrees.
NOTE: Please see 8 VAC 20-81-80 W for the complete criteria for eligibility as a child with a visual impairment.