The Northwestern Illinois Association


Programs for the Visually Impaired

Programs for the Visually Impaired (VI) are supported by the N.I.A. for students aged 3-21 with mild to severe vision impairments, including multiple disabilities and blindness. Services are accessed through the local school districts and special education cooperatives. These services include:

Illinois State Ocular Report for Persons with Visual Problems is available for download.
This form requires 8 1/2 X 14 (legal size) paper.
Click here to download the Ocular Report Form.

Teachers of the Visually Impaired

  • Direct or consultative services
  • Teach efficient use of vision
  • Provide vision stimulation
  • Teach use of technology and adapted materials
  • Provide Braille instruction
  • Share current resources and information with team and parents

Vision Supervision

  • Technical assistance supervision for programs and teachers
  • Functional vision evaluations
  • Program and curriculum development
  • Current information on eye conditions
  • Links to specialized resources
  • Current research, policy and procedural information

Orientation and Mobility

  • Direct or consultative services
  • Instruction in safe, effective travel and mobility skills
  • Instruction in schools, neighborhoods and communities
  • Confidence and independence in travel

Comprehensive Transition Resource for Students with Visual Impairments
To view a summarized list of the Transition Resource websites, click here.
To view the comprehensive Transition Resource packet, click here

Low Vision Clinics

One of the unique opportunities available to assist students, parents, and local school districts through the Vision Department are the Low Vision Clinics held throughout the year.

These statewide clinics are sponsored by the Lions of Illinois Foundation through their Seeing is Believing Program. A doctor from the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision, provides a comprehensive visual evaluation. The doctor is an optometrist who, through additional training, has specialized in the area of low vision. Upon completion of the evaluation, he or she prescribes specifically crafted optical devices such as glasses, telescopes, magnifiers, and sunwear to maximize sight. In addition, the program includes the opportunity for students and their families to meet with a counselor and discuss adaptive training and future goals. Resources are also available. Students with low vision kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible to participate in the program.

Low vision refers to severe vision impairing disorders which cannot be corrected with medical treatment, surgery, conventional glasses or lenses. The NIA clinics are held throughout the ten county region and are based on the need of each area. For more information or to register for a student for a clinic please call Kathy Derr at 815-964-0937.

Difficult To Test Clinics

In conjunction with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, NIA sponsors a limited number of Difficult-to-Test Vision Clinics each year. The clinics are located in various areas throughout the NIA region, and are provided on an annual or biannual basis.

The clinics are designed to provide one-time-only optometric examinations for students who are considered "difficult to test". Many of the students served have multiple disabilities, are deaf or hard of hearing, use alternative communication, or have difficult behaviors. The clinics serve children age 0-21, so infants currently being served through Early Intervention are also appropriate referrals. Often there is not a local eye doctor who is skilled in providing services to this population. The clinics should not be considered a source of yearly exams. The clinic does not fund glasses or other equipment.

There is no cost to the school districts or parents. The clinics are provided in a school building or local administration center. The classroom teacher, vision teacher, classroom paraprofessional, and parents are encouraged to attend the exam. Possible recommendations may include a prescription for glasses, referral to the teacher of the visually impaired, or further testing.

Contact Information

Diane Finn, Coordinator
3626 East State Street
Rockford, IL 61108
(815) 964-0937
FAX (815) 964-2210

Jean Deptolla, Assistant Coordinator
2422 W. Main Street, Suite 3A
St. Charles, IL 60175
(630) 513-5012

FAX (630) 513-1957