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Assessment Program

California School for the Blind

The Assessment Program of the California School for the Blind is a statewide resource offering expertise in the education of children and young adults who are blind, visually impaired and deafblind. Our mandate is to provide the following services to California's school districts:

  • Student assessments
  • Parent and staff consultation
  • Professional development for administrators,

teachers, specialists and paraprofessionals

Eligibility for Service

We serve students who:

  • Are residents of California
  • Have been identified as visually impaired or blind by an eye care specialist
  • Have exhausted local assessment resources
  • Continue to have educational issues which are not resolved at the local level

Low Vision Assessments

We work with the University of California Eye Center in Berkeley to schedule appointments for our assessment students who can benefit from a low vision examination in the course of the educational assessment. Young students and those who are not reading are scheduled for an eye examination at the Special Visual Assessment Clinic for the Handicapped. Students who are reading are scheduled for an appointment at the Low Vision Clinic where the use of low vision devices, such as sunshades, magnifiers and monoculars, is explored and prescribed.

Center-Based Assessments

Students who are residents of California are offered a week-long, comprehensive assessment during which they stay with their families at the CSB campus in Fremont, California. Transportation to and from CSB is usually provided by the local district. The cost of the assessment itself is covered by the California School for the Blind at no expense to the district. Food and lodging for the student and family are also provided by CSB.

The staff of the Assessment Program works as a collaborative team to assess each area of the child's educational needs in order to put together as accurate a picture of the whole child as possible.

Both before and during the assessment week, the student's home district teachers are consulted and school and medical records are reviewed.

While at CSB, parents and caregivers are interviewed about the strengths and needs of the child being assessed. They are offered counseling and education about raising a child who is blind or visually impaired. Although assessment services are not related to referral to the California School for the Blind as a student, parents and caregivers are offered a tour of the school to observe educational activities and assistive technology in action.

The student is assessed in the following areas, as appropriate:

  • Functional vision
  • Speech and language
  • Cognitive development
  • Academic achievement
  • Learning/reading media
  • Technology needs
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Daily living skills
  • Social and emotional functioning

During the week of living on campus, assessment students and their families are invited to participate in after school activities with the residential students at the school which include swimming in our warm, indoor pool, playing games with equipment chosen for its accessibility for visually impaired children and perusing the school library's collection of descriptive video tapes, books on tape and large print and braille books. Meals are provided by CSB in the school dining hall, offering another opportunity to meet other students who are blind and visually impaired. (Meals may also be eaten in the privacy of the apartment provided if the family prefers.)

The week ends in an exit conference with family and home district professionals to discuss the findings and recommendations which have been derived from the assessment. A comprehensive written report follows within six to eight weeks.

Field-Based Observation/Consultation

Specialists from the Assessment Program travel to districts throughout California to observe students whose skills will best be demonstrated in a familiar environment. Field-based consultation usually addresses one or two specific questions from district professionals or from parents or caregivers.

Field-based services include observation in the home and school environments, consultation with local teachers, specialists and administrators, as well as consultation and education for parents and caregivers.

Referral Process

  • Local teachers and administrators complete referral form.
  • Parents complete referral form.
  • Parents and district submit other required documents.

Student is placed on the waiting list when the referral process is complete.

Training and Workshops

California teachers and specialists may come to the CSB campus for week-long training in assessment of students who are blind, visually impaired, multiply impaired and deafblind. District professionals may accompany a student with whom they work during a comprehensive assessment week at CSB in order to observe the assessment process.

Assessment staff is available to travel to a student's district in California to offer workshops for parents and caregivers, professionals and paraprofessionals.

Possible training topics include:

Assessment of Students with Visual Impairments

This workshop, lasting up to a week, is designed to train professionals in the assessment of visually impaired students. Members of assessment teams may be employed by districts, county offices, SELPAs, or Regions, or any combination. The administration must agree to allow time for the team to conduct assessments of visually impaired students. Teams can consist of teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility specialists, speech and language specialists, psychologists, and others.

Collaboration and Consultation Techniques

Teachers serving students in special education are often much more comfortable delivering direct service than providing consultation. This workshop will stress the importance of providing high quality consultation. It will describe a model and techniques that will help teachers support their students in a way that will enable them to reach their highest level of independence and inclusion.

Assessing and Facilitating Concept Development

One good area for collaboration among professionals is the assessment of concept development. This workshop, presented by a speech and language pathologist and an orientation and mobility specialist, is geared toward specialists and teachers who want ideas for assessing concept development beyond using pictures. Tools used by specialists trained in working with visually impaired and blind children will be presented, as well as adaptations to tools commonly used by speech and language pathologists.

This workshop will also assist teachers and specialists to infuse concept development, that will be fully accessible to students with visual impairments, into the classroom curriculum.

Assessment of Communication in Students with Visual Impairments

This workshop is designed to train speech and language pathologists to assess students who are visually impaired. Practical strategies for adapting formal tests and choosing appropriate informal tests will be targeted.

Daily Living Skills Assessment and Program Implementation

It is often difficult to fit daily living skills assessment and teaching into the busy school schedule, particularly for students in academic programs. This workshop provides information on assessing, including which tools and materials to use, and ideas for implementing a daily living skills program for all levels of students.

Cognitive and Emotional Development of Visually Impaired Students

This workshop is usually presented in a one to three hour format, and the target audience can include parents, regular class teachers who serve visually impaired students, and specialists not specifically trained in serving students with visual impairments.

Causes of Visual Impairment

This workshop, approximately 3 hours in length, is designed as a general introduction to visual impairment. It examines the structure of the eye, areas where defects or damage can occur, and some of the various syndromes that cause visual impairment. It also presents information on the additional disabilities sometimes associated with visual impairment. Basic strategies for working with students who are visually impaired and blind are presented. Target audiences can include professionals and paraprofessionals not trained in visual impairment, parents, and even professionals trained in serving students with visual impairment who want to update their knowledge and skills.

Cortical Visual Impairment

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), is the most frequent cause of visual impairment among infants in Northern California, according to Blind Babies Foundation. It can be caused by a number of conditions and students with CVI can be extremely varied. This workshop is intended for professionals and paraprofessionals working with visually impaired students, regular education teachers, and for parents. Usually lasting from one to three hours, it can be presented in combination with other workshops of similar length.

Retinopathy of Prematurity

ROP is also a common cause of blindness and visual impairment in infants. In this workshop we discuss the various stages of ROP and the other affects of prematurity, which also accompany ROP. Specialists, paraprofessionals, teachers and care givers may all learn from this workshop.

Collaboration: Joining Forces to meet the needs of Students with Visual Impairment and Learning Disabilities

This workshop emphasizes the importance of collaboration between the teacher of the visually impaired and the speech and language specialist to provide intervention that addresses language-based learning disabilities.

Nurturing Early Braille Literacy Skills

Parents, teachers of the visually impaired and paraprofessionals who work with students who are visually impaired will appreciate this workshop, providing an over-view of curriculum materials and ideas to enhance early braille literacy skill

Creating a Functional Academics Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments and Additional Disabilities

Often times the needs of students who are visually impaired with additional disabilities are challenging to meet within traditional school programs. This workshop, based on case studies and including video examples, describes a functional academics approach to meeting the needs of these students.

If you are a California administrator or teacher and would like more information about arranging training or workshops, please contact:

Frances Dibble, Director
CSB Assessment Program
Fremont, CA 94536

Phone: (510) 794-3800 X220
Email: fdibble@csb-cde.ca.gov

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