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Overview

picture of child reading Braille

The Children's Program was established by the Florida Legislature in 2000 to facilitate blind and visually impaired children's fullest participation within the family, community, and educational settings.

The program supplements services already offered by the school system to foster the child's learning and ability to function independently. The student's parents, family, and caregivers are an integral part of the program to foster independence.

Children's Program Specialists serve eligible children so that they may reach educational and independent living goals. Successful outcomes enable students to transition from school to Vocational Rehabilitation or other appropriate community programs.

Services

Specific services from kindergarten through high school include:

  • Compensatory Skills (example: Braille, Listening Skills, Handwriting Skills; Abacus)
  • Orientation and Mobility (Travel Skills)
  • Social Interaction Skills
  • Independent Living Skills and Personal Management
  • Recreation and Leisure
  • Career and Vocational Education
  • Assistive Technology
  • Visual Efficiency Skills

Students exiting eighth grade or that are 14 years of age may be eligible for our School-to-Work or Transition Program which is sponsored through our Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

Florida Blind Services and its community partners have established outcomes relating to expanding the core curriculum of the school system for students who are blind or severely visually impaired. These outcomes include:

  • Important Functional and Household Management Skills integrated into daily routines
  • Self-advocacy Skills
  • Critical Assistive Technology Skills that allow them to access and work with print
  • Independent Orientation and Mobility Skills at a level commensurate with age, physical, and cognitive development
  • Age-appropriate Recreation and Leisure Skills
  • Age-appropriate Awareness and Participation in work and work-related activities
  • Successful Transition to High School, appropriate school programs, and/or other community providers

Eligibility

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, 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.

Rights and Review Process

An applicant or eligible individual has a 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 Childrens 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.

Useful Websites

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.