The Blind Babies Program was established by the Florida Legislature in 2000 to provide community-based early intervention education for children from birth through five years of age who are blind or visually impaired, and for their parents, families, and caregivers.
The program promotes early development with a special emphasis on vision skills to minimize developmental delays. This education lays the groundwork for future learning by helping a child progress through normal developmental stages. It teaches children to discover and to make the best use of their skills for future success in school.
The program helps ensure that visually impaired and blind children enter school as ready to learn as their sighted classmates. It also links children and their families to other available resources that could assist these families in the future. Early intervention services offered through the Blind Babies Program are delivered by community-based provider organizations.
Specific services from birth through age two include:
- Family involvement
- Attachment, communication, and social skills
- Childcare routines
- Motor, orientation and mobility
- Sensory development, touch and hearing (compensatory skills)
- Interaction with objects (play, cognition and concept development)
- Early literacy experiences
Specific services from age three through five include:
- Interaction with people (language, social skills and play, behavior and mannerisms)
- Early literacy experiences and learning media
- Self-care and independence
- Orientation and mobility
- Cognition and concept development
- Assessment, Individualized Education Plan (IEP), program planning and transitioning
The Florida Blind Services and its community partners have established outcomes relating to the children’s age appropriate developmental stages. These outcomes include:
- Knowledge of assistive technology
- Proficiency in daily living activities
- Ability to participate in preschool and school
- Participation in their communities
- Ability to be literate
There are only two criteria for eligibility:
- The child must have the presence of a bilateral visual impairment which, with best correction for that individual, constitutes or results in a substantial impediment to the child’s ability to learn, or function independently, or to become employed; and
- A reasonable expectation that services may benefit the child and family in terms of education, independence, and transition.
It is preferred the child have a Social Security Number, legal status in the United States, and Florida residency at least six months of the year.
An individualized plan for services will be developed for each child. The plan may take the form of:
- A Family Support Plan
- An Individualized Education Plan
- An Early Intervention Plan and/or
- A DBS Individual Plan for Services.
Rights and Review Process
An applicant or eligible individual has the right to request a review of any decision made by DBS concerning the provision or denial of services. Read about the Rights and Review Process as it applies to the Blind Babies Program.
Florida's Response to the National Agenda
The National Agenda is a grassroots effort by professionals and parents to ensure that children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities, are not left behind or overlooked in today’s fast-paced and generic service delivery model. The National Agenda consists of ten goals. Florida has developed a statewide workgroup whose mission is to create a shared vision, an agenda, and an ongoing plan of action for Florida that closely aligns with the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, including those with Multiple Disabilities. Read details of Florida’s response to the National Agenda.
If you are the parent or caregiver of an infant or young child who is blind or severely visually impaired, you might find these Florida links helpful.