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Education

The Individuals With Disabilities Act, as amended by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA or IDEIA), provides that each child with a disability is entitled to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.  Blind and visually limited pupils without other impairments generally attend regular classes in their home schools although an itinerant vision teacher or orientation and mobility trainer may work with them and they are entitled to certain accommodations.  These may include extended time and the use of dictation for tests, note takers, use of computers and other assistive technology, enlarged print and, if necessary, instructional aids.  An Individual Education Program (IEP) will be prepared for the student annually at a spring meeting in which teachers, representatives from the school system’s vision program, school counselors and administrators, the student’s parents and, for older students, the student participate.  The IEP will set forth goals and accommodations for the student for the upcoming academic year.  Private schools are not subject to IDEA or IDEIA and the extent to which they offer assistance and the types of accommodations they provide may vary significantly.  Information should be obtained from the pupil’s DC or county school system for public schools and from the individual school for private schools.  Information about services offered by the DC Public Schools’ Office of Special Education can be found by calling (202) 442-4800 or by visiting the web site at:
 
http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/In+the+Classroom/Special+Education

Testing accommodations are available for standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT, AP and GRE exams.  These must be requested from the organization responsible for the test and should generally be sought at least two months prior to the desired testing date.  Once approved, the accommodations usually remain in place for as long as the student stays at the same school the student was attending at the time the accommodations were sought.  Information about ACT accommodations can be found by calling (319) 337-1332 or by visiting the web site at:
 
http://www.actstudent.org/regist/disab/
 
Information about SAT, AP and GRE accommodations can be found by calling (866) 387-8602 or (609) 771-7780 or by visiting the web site at:
 
http://www.ets.org/disabilities/
 
Accommodations and assistance offered by colleges and universities vary greatly.  Most institutions have a disabilities office.  It is useful to contact the disabilities office of each school in which you are interested before applying or visiting to see if it offers the supports you desire.

"College Bound: A Guide for Students With Visual Impairment, 2nd Edition, by Ellen Trief, helps students prepare for their new life in college, develop useful skills, and negotiate for and coordinate appropriate services.

A number of scholarships are offered by the American Foundation for the Blind  each year for both undergraduate and graduate college students who are legally blind.  All qualifications and submission forms are available from:

https://www.afb.org/info/afb-2015-scholarship-application/5.
3.     

The Washington Volunteer Readers for the Blind (WVRE) also offers a Bradford Scholarship Award to a qualified person for education or career training expenses.  For more information, see the description of WVRE on the link Recreation and Entertainment on this site.

Other scholarships available to blind or visually impaired students include the following:

American Council of the Blind Scholarship Program

• Sponsor: American Council of the Blind
• Application Deadline: March 1, 2016
• Eligibility: Must be legally blind in both eyes, registered as full-time students with a GPA of 3.3, though extenuating circumstances outside of this
GPA may be considered.

The Fred Scheigert Scholarship

• Sponsor: Council of Citizens with Low Vision International
• Amount: $3,000
• Application Deadline: March 1, 2016
• Eligibility: Must have low vision of at least 20/70 in the better eye; should have low vision but are still able to effectively use low vision devices
to perform daily tasks. Must be registered for at least 12 undergraduate or nine graduate units as full-time students, with a GPA of 3.2.

NFB Scholarship Program

• Sponsor: National Federation of the Blind
• Amount: $3,000 – $12,000
• Application Deadline: March 31, 2016
• Eligibility: Must be legally blind in both eyes and registered as full-time students or part-time students while working full time.

The College Bound Scholarship

• Sponsor: The Lighthouse Guild
• Amount: Up to $10,000
• Application Deadline: March 31, 2016
• Eligibility: Must be legally blind in both eyes and planning to enroll as a college freshman in the upcoming school year; all other qualifications are
based on merit.

The Graduate School Scholarship

• Sponsor: The Lighthouse Guild
• Amount: Up to $10,000
• Application Deadline: March 31, 2016
• Eligibility: Must be legally blind in both eyes and pursuing a post-baccalaureate degree; all other qualifications are based on merit.

The Brother James Kearney Scholarship Program for the Blind

• Sponsor: The Lavelle Fund for the Blind
• Amount: Up to $15,000 per student, per academic year, for up to four years.
• Application Deadline: Ongoing; currently admitting new applicants enrolled through June 30, 2019
• Eligibility: Must be legally blind as determined by Lavelle Fund-affiliated vision specialists and demonstrate financial need. Students must be studying
at one of
11 participating schools
 in NYC.

The Delta Gamma Foundation Florence Margaret Harvey Memorial Scholarship

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• Sponsor: American Foundation for the Blind
• Amount: $1,000
• Eligibility: Must show proof of legal blindness with application; open to applicants in undergraduate or graduate study in blindness/visual impairment
rehabilitation or education.

The Rudolph Dillman Memorial Scholarship

• Sponsor: American Foundation for the Blind
• Amount: $2,500
• Eligibility: Must show proof of legal blindness with application; open to applicants in full-time undergraduate or graduate study in blindness/visual
impairment rehabilitation or education.

The Karen D. Carsel Memorial Scholarship

list of 3 items
• Sponsor: American Foundation for the Blind
• Amount: $500
• Eligibility: Must show proof of legal blindness with application; open to full-time graduate students.

The Paul and Ellen Ruckes Scholarship

• Sponsor: American Foundation for the Blind
• Amount: $2,000
• Eligibility: Must show proof of legal blindness with application; open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students in engineering or physical, life
or computer science.

Discharge of federal student loan debt is available to borrowers who are disabled an unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity(employment) because of a physical or mental impairment.  If you have received a notice of award for SSDI or SSA you can submit this to the Department of Education (DoE) to review.  Your physician can submit a certified form stating that you are totally and permanently disabled.  If you are a veteran, the Veterans Affairs office can provide documentation to you that you are unemployable due to a service related injury.  If Approved your lenders will be contacted by the DoE with instructions that your loans are being discharged, and also to return any money paid by you on your student loans from when your disability began.  You can no longer apply for student loans unless you obtain a letter from a physician that you are now able to engage in gainful activity, as well as signing a statement acknowledging that your new student loans cannot be discharged again based on any illness you had prior to takeing out the new loans.  The balance of your loans that are discharged are reported to the IRS as taxable income on the year they are discharged as long as the amount is over $600.  For more information, visit the web site at:

http://www.studentdebtrelief.us/forgiveness/total-and-permanent-disability-discharge/