What is the UPBC?

The purpose of the organization is to create a climate of opportunity for blind children in home, school and society; to provide information and support to parents of blind children; to facilitate the sharing of experiences and concerns among parents of blind children; to develop and expand resources available to parents and their blind children; to help parents of blind children gain understanding and perspective through partnership and contact with blind adults; and to function as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children in their ongoing efforts to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against the blind and to achieve for the blind security, equality and opportunity.

The membership is open to parents of blind children, educators of blind children and others interested in promoting the purposes of this organization.

We are a division of the National Federation of the Blind which is the largest organization of the blind in the country. Refer to: http://www.nfb.org/

Utah Parents of Blind Children is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

Saturday, February 9, 2008

How Can I Prepare for My Child's IEP? Top 3

I have been very fortunate the past 8 years to have worked with very open minded, team spirited, professionals on my children's IEP. It is not uncommon when I receive a telephone call from a parent who is asking for advice on how to prepare for an IEP. If the need is there, then I have attended an IEP as a parent advocate. Unfortunately, my eyes have been opened and realize the fact that all IEPs are not created equal. I have witnessed IEPs where a parent doesn't speak a word, have seen a lack of cooperation and power struggle between team members, the strong presence and intimidation of politics, and the low expectations.

I don't claim to be an expert when it comes to IEPs, but I have lost track on how many I have attended. I think experience is a great teacher, and I continue to learn. Any comments or advice on this post is welcomed. Today I will mention my top three...

1. The Utah Parent Center (
www.utahparentcenter.org) was the first parent resource group whom I turned to when my daughter was transitioning from PIP services to preschool. They have a wonderful handbook entitled, "The Parents As Partners in the IEP Process". This simple handbook is designed to ask questions so you as a parent can create a thorough child profile. After answering the questions (strengths and weaknesses), then it's simple to type up a summary which you can hand out when discussing your child's current level of performance and goals. I have always include a picture of my child on their profile, so it helps us remember who we are focusing on.

2. Bring your spouse, friend, parent advocate or blind mentor. If you feel like you are alone in this process, then reach out for help. IEPs can be very intimidating and it's always a great support if you have another person there. An IEP is typically once a year, so my husband has it on his "time off schedule" and makes it a priority. We discuss goals and objectives before the meeting to make sure we are on the same page. We also sit next to each other, so we can reach underneath the table to give a squeeze if things start to get heated (smile).

3. Understand the laws, regulations, and procedural safeguards. This will not only help you feel more comfortable, but the team will recognize and respect parents that are smart advocates. The National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities (NCSSD), formerly known as the National Center on Low-Incidence Disabilities created a webpage entitled "IEP Pop Up". It was developed to help parents recognized typical "conversation stoppers" that may be heard in an IEP. Knowing what the "real" issues might be, some respectful but effective responses, and what the laws say about educating children with disabilities can assist you in getting your IEP team meetings moving again in a more positive direction! http://www.unco.edu/ncssd/bviIEP/index.shtml

Here are the questions. When you click on the question, you will find an appropriate response.

1. "It is not reasonable to expect the classroom teacher to describe everything to your child. She has 30 other students."
2. "We were excited to discover how well your child can see!"
3. "We think the cane could pose a hazard to other students. We’d like your child to leave it at the door or in the locker."
4. "Your child doesn’t seem to want to use any specialized devices,” (e.g., a cane, braille, optical aids, assistive technology, etc.)."
5. "We don’t normally recommend a cane for children this young."
6. "We’re sorry. We are not going to be able to provide a one-on-one aide to care for your child like you do.” Or “Of course your child will need a personal aide. We can’t expect our teachers to do all that extra work."
7. "We are concerned about your child’s safety. We can’t let him/her be involved in that activity because we don’t want him/her to get hurt."
8. "Don’t worry, she’s doing fine. It’s normal for children who are blind to be a year or two behind."
9. "Sorry, our school is not equipped with and does not have the money for the assistive technology your child needs."
10. "We can’t get a certified teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired/orientation and mobility specialist (TVI/O&M) to come way out here!” or “Since our TVI/O&M has a large caseload, we can only provide _____ hours/minutes of services per week. "
11. "We don’t do things the way they did in your old school, and so we have to rewrite the IEP."
12. "We did our best to schedule everyone, but the general education teacher is unable to attend."
13. "These are the only job training opportunities we offer at this school."
14. "Some of the braille textbooks haven’t come in yet, but we’re getting them translated as fast as we can."
15. "We don’t feel your child needs braille."
16. "We don’t normally write that into the IEP."

Good luck on your next IEP.

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