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Programs for the Visually Impaired


The current eligibility criteria for a visual impairment under state law is found at PI 11.36 (3), Wis. Admin. Code. The federal definition of "Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness." 34 CFR 300.7 (c)(13). If a student is found to have an impairment, the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team must also determine whether the student has a need for special education.


The department provides supervisory and consultation services to local educational agencies and private schools serving approximately 1,500 children with visual and dual sensory impairments.

The department has adopted the National Accessibility Standard (NIMAS), as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA), 34CFR300.172(a)(1). One NIMAS goal is to ensure that students with print disabilities receive their textbooks and core instructional materials, in alternate formats, at the same time as students without disabilities. For more information visit the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) and Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) website.

Through coordinated services with Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI) in Janesville and American Printing House for the Blind, the department provides braille, large-print books, and specialized equipment for preschool through high school age students as well as training on computer aids and devices. Consultation, assessment and evaluation are available at no cost to local school districts through WCBVI Outreach with a rural office located in CESA #9. See Overview of Outreach Services for additional information. In addition, the department, through the Reference & Loan Library, has access to the Wisconsin Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.



Braille Refresher Course and Wisconsin Braille Competency Exam

The Wisconsin Braille Competency Examination (WBCE) is designed to test the knowledge and skills of teachers of the visually impaired and is required as part of the teacher certification and licensing process. The department has developed a four-day braille refresher course to help prepare teachers for the WBCE. For more information on the course and exam contact WCBVI Outreach, 608-758-6148.

For more information about additional training opportunities to support students with visual impairments click on the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI) events calendar.


Annual APH Census - Federal Quota Program

Each January a census is conducted of blind students enrolled in Wisconsin public and private schools or agencies to determine their eligibility for the Federal Quota Program. Through this program schools and agencies can obtain specialized educational materials and equipment for qualifying students without charge. Since January 2010, the census has originated from Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI) in Janesville. For more information contact WCBVI Outreach, (608) 758-6148.​

For questions please contact Dawn Soto.