About the Project

Special Education Eligibility Criteria in the United States Related to Students with Visual Impairments and Deafblindness

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes special education policy in the United States, including the definition of students who are eligible to receive services. IDEA includes several definitions of disabling conditions, including definitions for ā€œvisual impairment including blindnessā€ and ā€œdeafblindness.ā€ The law was last amended in 2004. States are permitted to set criteria for how they will determine whether students meet the definition provided in IDEA.

For this project, researchers reviewed state regulatory and policy documents to explore the variability in eligibility requirements for students with visual impairments and deafblindness across the US. Specifically, these data represent a state-by-state snapshot of 2021 variability in eligibility and licensure requirements (inclusive of Washington DC and US territories (American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands)).

In short, the data provided was collected to assist families, policymakers, educators, researchers, advocates, and teacher preparation programs. The data is meant to help individuals understand the special education eligibility criteria for students with visual impairments or deafblindness in each state/territory. The eligibility criteria reported in the data was collected in 2021 and is for informational purposes only. The information presented in the data is based on Schles and colleaguesā€™ (2022) research.

* The original data collection for this site was done in 2021, and our goal is to keep the information current going forward. Please check the year found on the specific state page to see when the content was most recently updated. If you encounter any information that you believe is out of date, we would appreciate being notified at connectcenter@aph.org or 1 (800) 232-5463.Ā 


Schles R. A., Travers H. E., Brusegaard C., Savaiano M., Vo H., Kaiser J. T., Anderson D. L. (2022). Special education eligibility criteria and professional certification requirements in the United States related to students with visual impairments and deafblindness. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2022-07-11. https://doi.org/10.3886/E174948.

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