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Blind and Visually Impaired

Definition in State Rule: Blind and Visually Impaired

Blind and visually impaired means even after correction a child's visual functioning adversely affects educational performance. The IEP team may identify a child as blind and visually impaired after all of the following events occur: 1. A teacher of the blind and visually impaired licensed under s. PI 34.051 conducts a functional vision evaluation which includes a review of medical information from an ophthalmologist or optometrist, formal and informal tests of visual functioning, and a determination of the implications of the blindness or visual impairment on the educational and curricular needs of the child. 2. An orientation and mobility specialist licensed under s. PI 34.089 evaluates the child to determine if there are related orientation and mobility needs in home, school, or community environments. A child may meet the criteria under this subdivision even if they do not have orientation and mobility needs. PI 11.36 (3), Wis. Admin. Code

For more information and guidance on implementing the updated rule, see the
“Blind and Visually Impaired Criteria” section of this web page.

Incidence and Disproportionality


For the 2022-23 school year, 453 students (0.1%) of total public school enrollment (822,804 students) were identified as being blind or visually impaired. The 453 students with blindness or a visual impairment made up 0.4% (less than 1%) of all students with IEPs (122,187). In Wisconsin, IEP teams are not required to identify secondary or tertiary impairment areas and are only required to submit a “reporting” disability and may also report an “other” disability category. Thus the number of students identified as having an “other” disability category of blind or visually impaired is not reflected in this data. To view additional data including district level information, go to the WI DPI public WISEdash portal.


In Wisconsin, like many other states, we see district data demonstrating race-based patterns of identification for some impairment areas compared to others. Although districts rarely demonstrate these patterns in the area of blind and visually impaired, as an equity issue, we strongly encourage all districts to disaggregate their special education data to ensure evaluation practices and procedures are culturally responsive and address bias when conducting and analyzing assessments used to make eligibility decisions. Go to the DPI Culturally Responsive Problem Solving web page for more information.

Blind and Visually Impaired Criteria

Blind and Visually Impaired Criteria

§300.304 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) outlines two purpose of special education evaluations (i) Whether the child is a child with a disability; and (ii) The content of the child’s IEP, including information related to enabling the child to be involved in and progress in the general education curriculum (or for a preschool child, to participate in appropriate activities). The disability category criteria IEP forms only assist IEP teams with (i) and are not sufficient in completing an evaluation and developing a student’s IEP. To ensure compliance with implementing a full, individual, and comprehensive evaluation, go to the Wisconsin DPI Comprehensive Special Education Evaluation web page.

Forms and Guidelines

Other Special Education Resources

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