New Mexico School For the Blind & Visually Impaired
New Mexico School For the Blind & Visually Impaired
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Alamogordo, New Mexico
Costs for Services
Fees vary, Check with provider
Serving the Youth of New Mexico and Their Families since 1903
The New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired was founded in 1903 as a land grant school governed by a Board of Regents. Three years later, the school opened its doors in Alamogordo, New Mexico with 21 students, two teachers and a superintendent. It is a specialized school which provides residential, academic, support, and outreach services to the students who are blind and visually impaired in New Mexico. Today, the residential campus is still located on the original site in Alamogordo with a second campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico that houses an Early Childhood Program and as well as the school’s statewide services.
NMSBVI, an innovative leader and unifying entity in the field of educating students birth-high school who are blind or visually impaired, will identify and ensure quality education through collaborative relationships with students, families, and local/ state/national partners to provide outstanding advocacy, training, resources, and support services, thus ensuring that all students who are blind or visually impaired will become independent, productive members of their communities.
Birth to 3
The New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NMSBVI) provides statewide direct services to families of young children who have a diagnosed visual impairment or who are considered to be at risk for receiving a VI diagnosis. Services are a partnership with NMSBVI, New Mexico’s Family, Infant, Toddler Program (FIT) and the Navajo Nation; all children are served by IFSP team decision. Services are delivered in the family home or in another community environment that supports the child and his/her family.
Who should be referred to NMSBVI?
- Any child between the ages of birth and three years old:
- Any child who has been diagnosed with a vision impairment
- Any child who has an established condition that places them at risk for vision impairment; Established conditions can include but are not limited to: prematurity, syndromes, a family history of visual impairment, or traumatic events such as oxygen deprivation, meningitis, or shaken baby syndrome
- Any child whose family or team is concerned about some aspect of the child’s vision
- Any child whose results on the New Mexico Vision Screening Tool indicate need for referral.
Who can make a referral to NMSBVI?
Anyone who has concerns about a child’s vision can, with the family’s permission, make a referral. Referrals can be made by calling 1-800-437-3505, extension 3066 or by calling the Developmental Vision Specialist responsible for an agency’s referrals. (Please see attached list of contacts by area of the state). List of specialists
What happens after a referral is made?
Within 48 hours of receiving a referral, a developmental vision specialist from NMSBVI will contact the family. An initial functional vision evaluation will be completed; eligibility will be determined and, in conjunction with the family and the child’s team, services will be outlined if recommended.
What services are available from NMSBVI for infants and toddlers?
- Consultation to the family and/or community service providers, therapists, etc.
- Direct services to the child and family;
- Functional Vision Evaluations;
- Developmental intervention strategies to support the development of visual/compensatory visual skills;
- Information about blindness/visual impairment;
- Referral and resource information for families;
- Consultation/participation in agency assessments;
- Participation in IFSP and other team meetings;
- Orientation and Mobility Evaluations;
- Orientation and Mobility Services for children and families;
- Orientation and Mobility Consultation and Training for Teams and Agencies;
- Transition support from birth to three to preschool programs;
- Parent support; and
- Training for child-specific teams as well as for organizations seeking additional knowledge about vision and its impact on development.
NMSBVI is committed to providing a comprehensive program of developmental, educational, training and support services to infants and toddlers who are blind or visually impaired or those who are at risk for visual impairment. NMSBVI’s developmental vision specialists are trained as teachers of the visually impaired and/or as orientation and mobility specialists. They have specialized skills in the field of early childhood that encompass the developmental domains of young children. NMSBVI’s services do not replace, but supplement other specialized services in the community. Services are available state-wide; each child is served in his/her natural environment.
Welcome to the Early Childhood Program (ECP)
The academic program for Preschool and Kindergarten consists of literacy (print and Braille), math, concept development, socialization and all aspects of the expanded core curriculum for blindness. Students are encouraged to explore and to become familiar with their immediate environment; then expand outward to travel successfully into new and unfamiliar areas. Guided exploration and self-discovery are used to support learning at every level. All children are placed in the preschool programs by IEP team decision because they require daily support from a teacher of the visually impaired
The Preschool and Kindergarten Program offers additional services to students who qualify. These services include:
Classroom instruction from Teachers of the Visually Impaired
Orientation and Mobility instruction
NMSBVI Residential Program
About the Program:
The New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NMSBVI) provides intensive compensatory skill development related to blindness/visual impairment on its residential campus, located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Services in this setting are part of the full continuum of services for blindness education. The services are a partnership between the student’s local education agency (LEA) and NMSBVI. Placement and services are developed in a joint IEP with participation by family, LEA and NMSBVI staff.
In addition to a placement on the residential campus, short-term programs are also available.
Who should be referred to NMSBVI?
NMSBVI’s residential services are available to New Mexico students who have an identified visual impairment that has been determined, through assessment, to impact their learning. Families and school districts should consider a placement when the student needs intensive instruction in skills related to visual impairment (ex: Braille, life skills, technology). In addition, a placement on the campus may be appropriate when a school district has been unsuccessful in hiring or replacing its teacher of the visually impaired; when a student is nearing the completion of their high school years and is not ready for their next life step; when a student is ready to move to their district’s middle or high school but the student’s team thinks the student could benefit from an ‘extra’ year to prepare for middle/high school. Often, districts contact NMSBVI when a high school student needs credit recovery.
NMSBVI will also accept students who need 3-year re-evaluations or who need a 45-day placement to help a district determine if intensive instruction specific to a student’s visual impairment can make a difference in the trajectory of a student’s learning.
Who can make a referral to NMSBVI?
Because all admissions to the residential program are a coordinated effort between school district and NMSBVI, a phone call from family member or school district will begin the process of exploring the appropriateness of a placement.
What happens after an inquiry is made?
NMSBVI will request an eye report and current IEP; a functional vision/learning media evaluation; any other assessments that are pertinent to the admission. NMSBVI staff will ask probing questions to help a family and LEA team determine the vision-specific focus areas for the placement. If needed, the team will travel to the student’s school district to observe the student prior to the meeting of the NMSBVI admissions team.
All placements must include discussion of the following:
• Specific vision-related goals and objectives to accomplish during their placement;
• Visual needs related to academic and expanded core curriculum; • The ability to be transported safely to and from NMSBVI’s residential campus in Alamogordo.
What services are available from NMSBVI’s residential campus staff?
The residential campus serves students from the local communities and throughout the state. Local students or very young students are day students only. Residential students have the benefit of a longer day: instruction begins when they wake and ends with lights out. Students have opportunities to learn household skills such as meal planning, laundry, housekeeping skills as well as the opportunity to experience a varied number of recreation and leisure activities such as swimming, skiing, goal ball, bike riding, camping, sewing, painting and pottery. Activities vary widely depending upon the interests of the students on campus.
- Academic, career and ability option programs (Common core and expanded grade band standards are used for all programming)
- Day programming and Residential programming
- Preschool (day program only) through high school
- Inclusion program: opportunity to take classes in local public schools
- Expanded Core Assessment and Instruction; orientation and mobility instruction; assistive technology; Braille instruction and all other components of blindness/VI education
- Physical, occupational, speech therapies
- Nursing and nutrition
- Assessment related to vision specific needs; 3-year re-evaluations
- Music instruction including private lessons
- Transportation to and from school each weekend and holiday so that students are able to spend the weekends with their families
- Special programs include:
- Jump Start: students who need an extra year to prepare for middle school. In this ungraded year, students work on reading, writing and math skills, life skills, organizational skills, spatial skills, social skills. It is designed to help students and their families feel more prepared for the rigors of middle school.
- Take Flight: this program is designed specifically for students with vision impairment and cognitive impairment. It provides functional academics and opportunities to develop independent skills.
- Post School Program: Students who have completed the alternative assessment, have finished their program of high school study and who need additional skill development in one or more of the areas of independent living skills, community based instruction or employability skills may qualify for this intensive program.
- Career Preparation Program: Students with an IEP who have completed their standards based education, graduated on the career option and who need job skill development or additional preparation before entering college can use the years between high school and age 22 to develop additional skills in this program.
- Short-term Stay: Many skills can be taught in a few days or weeks. Short-term programming is available throughout the year.
- Weekend Activities: NMSBVI offers a limited number of weekends of programming each year. These vary and may include weekends of music, sports, Braille competition, camping, etc.
- Summer camps: Programming varies. Due to construction summer camps are currently held in communities throughout the state. Contact residential campus for information about upcoming camps.
Why should I consider a placement for my child on a residential campus?
Most school-based programs have 6-hour days. Your child’s district has an obligation through the public education department (PED) to teach a set number of courses and content. There is no time in the school day to address the additional needs that are naturally associated with blindness/VI. Many of New Mexico’s students who are blind/visually impaired risk being unprepared for adult life because they have not yet received direct instruction related to all aspects of their development: social skills, life skills, employment skills, travel skills, recreation and leisure, self-advocacy.
Because NMSBVI works closely with families and with school districts, a transition plan back home is in place from the first day of attendance on the residential campus. Students will receive intensive instruction and the school district will receive support to be ready to receive the student back at the end of the placement.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to consider a placement on the residential campus can be found in the students who attend. They frequently report that for the first time in their lives they are regularly talking with other students who are just like themselves; who have the same struggles and the same successes. They appreciate the expert staff who help them understand their vision impairment and help them learn to ask for what they need to be successful. They report that they have a lot of fun, work hard, and are glad they decided to come to NMSBVI.