It is with great sadness that I share the news with you that Perkins School for the Blind has decided to end the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement. Rather than address any issues they may or may not have had with it, they have abruptly called a halt to their support of the ONLY educational assessment available to children with Cortical Visual Impairment, and have instead perhaps, succumbed to the pressures of the “powers-that-be” who have fought against the Endorsement since its inception five years ago. Below is my response to Ed Bosso, Superintendent , as well as Dave Power, CEO and President of Perkins. I encourage anyone who has fought the fight to support children with Cortical Visual Impairment, anyone who is Endorsed or in the process of becoming Endorsed, as well as the families of children who have benefited from having a professional who is Endorsed work with your child (or those who have fought for one) to write to both Ed Bosso and Dave Power to let them know your thoughts on this news. Here is the link to the statement from Ed Bosso, and below is my letter to both Bosso and Power.
Ed Bosso, Superintendent
Perkins School for the Blind
July 6, 2021
Dear Mr. Bosso,
I realize that my letter, and any other letters you receive from professionals or parents will not change the course Perkins has decided to embark on as you move very clearly away from the work of Dr. Christine Roman-Lanzty under the guise of the ‘inclusive’ title of Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment. However, I feel it is my obligation to the children and families I have served over my long career, to strongly object to the course you have taken.
You and I have never met, but the first time I saw you was the day that Dr. Chrisitne Roman-Lantzy acknowledged the support Perkins School for the Blind had given to the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement. I remember that the crowd at the CVI Symposium cheered enthusiastically, grateful for your support of what was a hard-won victory in the CVI world: to create a program that would recognize the ability for an individual to score the CVI Range (Roman, 2007) with fidelity.
From its inception, the Endorsement was not limited to Teachers of the Visually Impaired, but opened to individuals of any profession who worked with and had experience with evaluating children with Cortical Visual Impairment. Most likely, this was when the Endorsement began to face backlash with Teachers of the Visually Impaired, as they believed it should be open only to them. However, it was exactly those teachers who resisted the Endorsement, and who continue to resist it today. Sadly, Perkins School for the Blind has joined their ranks.
As a TVI for the past 38 years, I was Endorsed during the first year, and was proud to add the title of Perkins-Roman CVI Endorsed Professional next to my signature. I had worked hard on the Endorsement (as any one who has completed it will tell you, it is a challenging task). As a consultant for teams and families across the country, I have given presentations and trainings in the US, Canada, and even China, proud to carry the ‘Perkins’ name wherever I went. I consult with families and teams, and support teachers to complete the CVI Range Endorsement, knowing that the work does not stop there (and was never intended to). However, the Endorsement title gave new meaning and incentive to teachers and therapists (more than 250 completed and perhaps hundreds more in process).
In your statement “Why we’re ending the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement” you stated “… we have seen some unintended consequences; namely, as an institution, we could not assure assessor competency in administering the CVI Range.” I found this rationale quite interesting, as of course, any program that requires a proficiency test (as all TVIs must complete upon graduation in the form of a Praxis) cannot assure the competency of those teachers to actually teach, or to administer any test necessary to accurately assess a child who is blind or visually impaired. As a mother of two sons who are blind, I have seen my share of excellent TVIs and COMS as well as those whose ‘competency’ in working with either my gifted son or my Intellectually Disabled son was in question. And yet, no one takes away their credentials, nor questions their ‘assessor competency’. They are considered ‘experts’ on my boys’ teams, even if they are incpompetent in their work.
In my personal case, however, I do not have to fight for my sons’ TVIs to get the background experience and to show that they are competent to educate a child who is completely blind: that IS the education their TVIs and COMS got in their programs. Not so for the parents of children with Cortical Visual Impairment. They have been fighting the battle for teachers who are competent to AT LEAST assess their child using the CVI Range (Roman 2007). They have spent countless hours at IEP meetings, have paid countless dollars to lawyers and advocates to encourage, push and plead for School Districts to provide competent teachers who could, at the very least, score their child with fidelity.
The pushback across the country has been fierce, and parents have come to the fight prepared, willing to do the work needed for their children to get appropriate assessments. On the other side, the pushback from school districts, and the ‘Powers that Be” in the world of vision has been just as fierce. I have seen that ferocity play out over and over again in IEP meetings across the country, in AER sessions and resolutions, and in my own state of Pennsylvania when those same ‘Powers’ recommended that TVIs not record a child’s CVI Range score in an IEP. I was told by one of those making that recommendation that teams do not want parents to be able to ‘compare’ the level of services one child gets based on the CVI Range score. They feared, not the ‘assurance of assessor competency’, but their own accountability in providing appropriate services to these children with Cortical Visual Impairment. When that was told to me I rejected the premise my state was standing on, and have since encouraged EVERY team to record the CVI Range score for their students.
I could continue with stories of incompetent teams who fight hard against the needs of children with Cortical Visual Impairment, but I realize I will not convince you of the ‘gut-punch’ you have inflicted not only on parents, but on the hundreds upon hudrends of professionals who believe so strongly in the CVI Range, its importance, and necessity in our work. It continues to be the ONLY educational approach for children with Cortical Visual Impairment. We stand behind it not because of the person who researched and created it, but because of the impact we have seen it have on the thousands upon thousands of families we all serve.
The CVI Range Endorsement, I believe will live on, despite Perkins’ abrupt and unnecessary dismissal of its importance. Sadly, the importance of Perkins School for the Blind in the fight for children with Cortical Visual Impairment has died with your announcement.
Teacher of the Visually Impaired
CVI Range Endorsed Professional