Public school services are available for infants and toddlers who have visual impairment, hearing loss, or deafblindness. Children from birth to three years old who have a medically diagnosed vision and/or hearing loss or deafblindness can get free services from both Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and the local school district at the same time.
Note that not all services are free. Only the AI (auditory impairment), VI (visual impairment), or DB (deafblind) services and ECI evaluation and service coordination are free. Other services, such as physical, occupational or speech therapy and nutrition services fall under ECI’s Family Cost Share, so you may have to pay for them.
ECI will contact your local school district to have your child evaluated. With your permission, both ECI and a certified vision teacher, orientation and mobility specialist, and/or parent advisor from your school district will evaluate your child to see if she is eligible for their services. If your child is eligible, ECI will invite you and the school district’s teacher for infants and toddlers with visual impairments and/or hearing loss to an ECI team meeting. There you will work with them to develop an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
Even if your infant or toddler is enrolled in ECI, she also needs to be enrolled with the school district to get public school services. If you experience difficulty enrolling your infant or toddler in a public school, contact your ECI service coordinator or case manager, or a contact in visual impairment or deafness/hearing loss (PDF) at the Education Service Center near you. Or download this document (PDF) for step by step information for registering in your local public school or Texas School for the Deaf.
ECI is responsible for making sure your child has all the necessary vision and/or auditory evaluations and medical examinations. School district AI/VI teachers will use those evaluations to provide the vision and/or hearing services that are on the IFSP. Your child’s medical reports will be shared with the school district vision and/or hearing teachers only with your permission.
To understand how ECI and school districts are supposed to work together to serve infants and toddlers who have visual impairments and/or hearing loss, consult Early Transition Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the DARS-ECI and the Texas Education Agency.