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Types of Plans

Depending on which laws cover them and what stage of transition students are in, young people who are blind or severely visually impaired will have one or more plans. Below is an overview of the following four types of plans:

Individualized Education Plan

The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a detailed, evolving plan for educating a student with a disability. 

IDEA requires that all the students in special education have IEPs, which are written by teams that vary in composition according to the needs of each student. IEPs are updated at least every year.

Students who are covered by IDEA and required to have IEPs are between the ages of 3 and 21, are evaluated by the appropriate professionals, and are determined by a multidisciplinary team to be eligible because of one or more of 13 specific categories of disability. The categories are autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, hearing disabilities, mental retardation, multiple disabilities, orthopedic disabilities, other health disabilities, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, speech or language disabilities, traumatic brain injury, and visual disability.

Those who are covered by IDEA are also eligible for assistance under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, but during the person’s school years, the requirements of IDEA are more specific. To be sure a child receives the services he or she needs, IDEA spells out a concrete and specific process.  That process guarantees that useful steps will be taken to give the child equal access to an education.

504 plans

Students with disabilities who are not covered by IDEA may qualify for services covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Plan. In Florida this is called a 504 Plan. Normally, a student who is blind or severely visually impaired will not have a 504 plan as services are provided under and IEP.

A 504 plan, like an IEP, specifies the steps to be taken to give the young person an equal chance to be educated. It describes the kind of education that is right for him or her and the services and technology to make it possible.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act covers people who have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one of the legally defined major life activities ( walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, writing, performing math calculations, working, caring for oneself or performing manual tasks ) but do not need all the special instruction and related services that are covered by IDEA.

The 504 plan can and should be handled as carefully and thoroughly as the law requires for an IEP.  The person with a disability, his or her parents and any advocate has a right to insist on a thorough process and all necessary services and benefits for which the student is eligible.

Examples of federally funded programs include, but are not limited to: institutions of higher education, national parks and recreation facilities and almost any other kind of government program that receives federal funds. Elementary and secondary school students, parents, and teachers are also covered.

The law also provides for reasonable accommodations.  For someone who is blind or visually impaired an example of an accommodation might be to provide materials in alternative formats such as Braille, in an audio format, or in electronic format so a person can read materials using  assistive technology such as a screen reader or magnification program so that they can use a computer.

Transition Individualized Education Plan

Students covered by IDEA are required to have a further plan as they grow into their later teens. In Florida, it’s called a Transition Individualized Education Plan, or a TIEP. It can be either a separate plan or a section of an IEP.

Students who have 504 plans are not legally required to have separate transition plans, but they are entitled to transition planning as part of their 504 plans.

Individualized Plan for Employment

The student who attends school with an IEP or a 504 Plan may qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation Services. If your child is blind or severely visually impaired most likely is already recieving services from Florida Blind Services under its Children's Program.

However, when the focus of services is to meet an employment outcome, including plans for post-secondary education, goals and services on developed using an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE). You can talk to your child's rehabiliation counselor about this plan.