Close up image of young boy wearing glasses

Vision Services

Programs for the Visually Impaired

Programs for the Visually Impaired (VI) are supported by the NIA 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.


Teachers of the Visually Impaired

  • Provide direct or consultative services
  • Teach efficient use of vision
  • Provide instruction in Expanded Core Curriculum
  • Provide Braille instruction
  • Provide low vision aids and adaptive technology
  • Share current resources and information with team and parents

Orientation and Mobility

  • Provide direct or consultative services
  • Provide instruction in safe, effective travel and mobility skills
  • Provide instruction in schools, neighborhoods and communities
  • Teach confidence and independence in travel

Vision Supervision

  • Technical assistance supervision for programs and teachers
  • Deliver professional development and coaching
  • Support program and curriculum development
  • Connect districts to specialized resources
  • Share current research, policy and procedural information

Vision Technology

  • Provide technical assistance to vision professionals and IEP teams to meet the specialized needs of individuals with visual impairments in the area of assistive technology instruction.
  • Assist IT and AT specialists in providing AT tools/devices to ensure LRE and access to curriculum.
  • Conduct research based assessments for vision AT assessments.
  • Provide data-driven recommendations for Blind and Visually Impaired Assistive Technology
  • Assist vision teachers with the instructional tools and teaching strategies for effective teaching of AT

Who We Are

We hire Licensed Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists. Leadership and support is provided by supervisors who are also licensed in the area of Vision and Orientation and Mobility. On average our Vision/O&M team members have 12 of years experience. We access ongoing and continuing education through the Illinois AER conference as well as other state and local training. We also provide professional development and technical assistance to Vision professionals across the NIA Region.

Additionally, through vision specific assistive technology technical assistance, our Vision Technology team offers technical assistance for vision professionals, IEP teams, district IT and AT specialists in the forms of assessment and education to best meet the unique AT needs for students who are blind and visually impaired.

Close up image of young girl's hands reading Braille

Vision Services Contacts

Jean Deptolla
Assistant Coordinator Vision Program
2422 W. Main Street, Suite 3A
St. Charles, IL 60175
Phone: (630) 513-5012
Fax: (331) 249-8495
Email Jean
Diane Tyrrell
Supervisor, Vision Program
245 West Exchange Street, Suite 4
Sycamore, IL 60178
Phone: (815) 895-9227
Fax: (815) 205-4401
Email Diane

Additional Resources

Illinois State Ocular Report for Persons with Visual Problems is available for download.

This form requires 8 1/2 X 14 (legal size) paper.

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. These clinics are held throughout the year in partnership with the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision’s Seeing is Believing Program.

  • Funded through grants and donations
  • For students K-12th grade who have a significant loss of vision which cannot be fully corrected with medical treatment, surgery, conventional glasses or lenses
  • Comprehensive low vision evaluation and upon completion, receives optical devices to maximize vision in the educational setting
  • Held throughout the NIA region
  • Students are referred through their vision teachers
  • Evaluation and the equipment is free of charge for the family
  • Resources are available for the families

Difficult To Test Clinics

In conjunction with our member districts, NIA sponsors Difficult-to-Test Vision Clinics. The clinics are located at school buildings or administration centers, and are offered to the districts on a yearly basis.

  • One-time-only optometric examination for students age 3-21 who are considered “difficult to test”
  • Many students served have multiple disabilities, are deaf or hard of hearing, use alternative communication or have difficult behaviors
  • No cost to parents
  • The educational team is encouraged to attend the exam
  • Possible recommendations include:
    • Prescription for glasses
    • Referral to the teacher of the visually impaired
    • Further testing
  • Does not fund glasses or other equipment

Project Reach

Project Reach is the Illinois State Technical Assistance Project. It provides free technical assistance, information, and training to address the early intervention, education, related service, and transition needs of children and youth with DeafBlindness in order to improve services and outcomes for children and their families and increase state capacity.

  • Supports the activities of DeafBlind specialists
  • Statewide family specialist
  • Work with local school programs and community service providers and families
  • Identify and provide technical assistance to children (ages birth to 21)
  • Information brochures, trainings, and on-site consultation for program staff and families
  • Presentations at statewide conferences

For more information contact Michelle Clyne at or Jean Deptolla at, or look on the Project Reach website.

Find us in Northwestern Illinois

4 Office Locations

  • Sycamore
  • Rockford
  • St. Charles
  • Sterling

5 Hearing Clinic Locations

  • Aurora
  • St. Charles
  • Rockford
  • Sterling