When your child is legally blind, help is available through the Commission for the Blind Children's Services Program. Children's Services Social Workers have a wide range of information about all aspects of legal blindness in children. Many parents find it helpful to have a knowledgeable and experienced worker answer their questions. Additionally, the Children's Services Social Worker provides a wide range of services geared towards assisting the child to reach his or her full potential. Approximately 40% of the children who are registered as being legally blind have disabilities in addition to blindness and are very medically involved/fragile.
Children's Social Service Workers can assist families with the following:
Information and referral with regard to MCB and other community resources such as:
- Early Intervention (EI) Division
A child between birth and three years of age who has a vision loss that is not corrected by medical intervention or prosthesis is eligible for services provided by the Department of Public Health Early Intervention Program. Community- based Early Intervention Programs can help families obtain appropriate services from professionals with specialized training in visual impairments and infant/toddler development. A legally blind child has what is called a low-incidence disability and is also eligible to receive appropriate services from a vision specialist/teacher and someone, who is knowledgeable about blindness and safe "travel" or exploration for children, and Orientation and Mobility specialist. Each Early Intervention Program can access the additional funding that DPH has set aside for low incidence populations to receive specialized services.
- Social Security and Medical Benefits
- Chapter 766 Educational Services
- Respite Care Coordination
- Socialization/Recreation Program, where available
- Advocacy in obtaining benefits and services for the child
- Case Management: Assistance to coordinate needed services
- Support Counseling to children and their families to assist with problems and concerns related to vision loss
- Recreation: Limited funding is available for recreation programs to encourage participation in social activities
- Apply for Children's Services
Your child's eye care specialist is required by law to submit an eye report to MCB's Central Register if your child's vision is determined to meet the legal definition of blindness, your child will be registered as being legally blind. This information is forwarded to the Children's Services Social Worker who contacts the parent(s) or legal guardian to arrange an appointment in your home. This home visit by the CSW explains what services your child may be eligible to receive. After having MCB services explained, having many questions answered, many parents decide that MCB Children's Services would be helpful and complete the simple application process that allows the CSW to assist the child and family and to provide services. Not all children are actively using Commission For The Blind services, but the Children's Service Worker is always available to help. A family member or child may contact us and request assistance at any time.
Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Symposium
In May 2015, MCB in collaboration with the Perkins School for the Blind, hosted a 2-day symposium at Perkins that brought together Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) experts from New England including medical doctors, psychologists, social workers and educators, and was attended by 60 MCB staff. It was an exciting and informative event.
CVI is a visual disorder related to brain function and is highly correlated with pre-mature births. CVI is now the leading cause of childhood blindness in the US. For individuals with CVI, the relationship between visual function and functional vision is misaligned or lacking. Visual function describes the ability to process visual input whereas functional vision describes how well an individual employs vision in their day-to day-activities. MCB is likely to see a continued increase in the number of consumers with CVI in the coming years.
The symposium presentations were recorded. View the presentations and handouts at:
Contact the Commission for the Blind Children's Services
- Susan Lavin
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind.