Vision Education & Services

A teacher works with a visually impaired young boy.

The Rhode Island Vision Education and Services Program (RIVESP) provides direct instruction and consultative services to students between the ages of 3 and 22 who are blind, visually impaired and/or multi-impaired, including those with Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) and Deafblindness, within the school environment.  

Our teachers offer consultation and support to parents, educators and school districts. Our educational staff teaches students specific compensatory skills and supports their access to the curriculum. The Rhode Island Department of Education and the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities support our program. 

Eligibility, assessment and referrals

Who is eligible

A visually impaired student reads a braille book as a teacher sits next to him.

Children must meet the definition of visually impaired to be eligible for assessment. A student who has a condition expected to worsen and cause significant vision loss also will qualify for an assessment. A doctor or ophthalmologist must confirm this diagnosis. The school district must get a report from an ophthalmologist that includes a visual diagnosis and acuities. 

Once it confirms eligibility, the school district must request an assessment and/or services via a referral for services from the special education office in the school district at the request of a parent, teacher or administrator. 

The assessment process

A teacher works with a visually impaired young boy wearing glasses in a classroom as another child looks on.

All eligible students referred to the Rhode Island Vision Education and Services Program for an assessment will receive a Functional Vision Assessment (FVA) conducted by a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). The purpose of a FVA is to determine whether a visual impairment is interfering with a student's educational performance.

Reading and writing skills, ability to use classroom materials, environmental factors, and use of non-prescription and prescription aids are assessed. An FVA provides suggestions for accommodations, modifications, or specialized instruction that allows the student to access the general curriculum independently.  

If a child is legally blind, the TVI also will conduct a Learning Media Assessment (LMA). The purpose of a LMA is to assess learning and literacy media needs and to provide recommendations for instructional programming. A student may need a variety of learning and literacy media to access curriculum and these needs may change. 


The referral process

A young girl sits in a chair reading a braille book.

Once eligibility is verified, the school district must send a complete referral request with all the needed documents. 

The supporting documents include: 

  • Referral Form
  • District “Consent to Evaluate” form or prior written notice (if applicable)  
  • Eye report from ophthalmologist (required) 
  • Eye report from optometrist  
  • RIVESP “Authorization for Release of Confidential Information” form  
  • Current IEP or 504 Plan (if applicable)  
  • Medical reports (if applicable)  
  • Other reports (OT, PT, educational, prior FVA/LMA/O&M assessments etc.)  
  • Please include any additional information that may be helpful to our providers. 

Districts should choose a liaison to be responsible for gathering this information, scheduling assessments, arranging a testing area, etc. 

Referral and Release of Information Forms - Fillable PDF

Districts can send referral requests to RIVESP Coordinator Stefanie Davit at or by fax at 401-456-8150. 

After sending the referral request 

When we receive a referral request, the RIVESP coordinator will contact the district and establish a timeline for assessments. The start date depends on when a certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) is available. Our team will do everything possible to complete the evaluation within that timeline. If a TVI is unavailable to conduct the assessment, we will inform the special education director. The school district is still responsible for providing services using all available resources to do so. 


Vision Education & Services Resources

View all Vision Education & Services Resources
  • Online Resource

    American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

    AFB advocates for better policies that promote accessibility and ensure equality and opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired, creating a culture of inclusion at work, at school and in communities. It also expands and shares knowledge through a variety of initiatives, including original research and its peer-reviewed Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.

  • Online Resource

    American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

    APH is a not-for-profit corporation in Kentucky that promotes independent living for people who are blind and visually impaired. For over 150 years, APH has created unique products and services to support all aspects of daily life without sight.

  • Online Resource

    Career Advantage for V.I.P.s

    Career Advantage for V.I.P.s is an Employment Preparation Primer for Individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Career Advantage offers eight instructional modules to explore at your own pace.

  • Online Resource

    CareerConnect, FamilyConnect and VisionAware

    These resources provide free curated information and resources to assist children, parents, job seekers and adults who are blind or low vision.