School Age Itinerant Services
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit offers the following School Age Itinerant Services:
Blind/Visually Impaired Support Program
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit facilitates and provides any needed specialty designed instruction to local school districts and programs where a student's visual impairment adversely affects their educational performance. Vision support is vital to the Local Education Agencies providing basic education programs to students with visual impairments, so that each student can function as independently as possible and meet their educational needs and requirements in the least restrictive environment.
The roles and responsibilities of Teachers of the Visually Impaired include:
- Providing Braille Instruction
- Keyboarding and Handwriting Instruction
- Orientation and Mobility Instruction
- Ensuring student specific competencies as outlines in the Expanded Core Curriculum such as compensatory academic skills, orientation and mobility, social interaction skills, recreation and leisure skills, independent living, career education, use of assistive technology relating to visually impaired, and visual efficiency skills
- Assisting students by exploring and implementing strategies and technologies to help compensate for their vision loss by acquiring specialized materials and assistance with acquiring and training students to use assistive devices for the visually impaired
- Acting as an integral part of the Transition Planning Team
How is Eligibility for Services Determined?
Eligibility for services includes a referral and a comprehensive assessment by a multidisciplinary evaluation team. A written report detailing the student's most recent eye examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist is highly recommended during the referral process. As part of the evaluation process, an Educational Functional Vision Evaluation will be conducted, a Learning Media Assessment may be done, and if needed, an Orientation and Mobility Evaluation.
Link to referral form will be at the bottom of this section:
All teachers of the Blind/Visually Impaired Support Program are certified by the State of Pennsylvania in the education of students with visual impairments.
Specialized Material Production:
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit also offers specialized material production services to support students with visual impairments. These services include, but are not limited to:
- Transcribing classroom materials in UEB and Nemeth
- Enlarging textbooks and teacher materials to meet student specific requirements
- Creation of tactile graphics needed for classroom instruction
Building Experiences for Student Transition (B.E.S.T.)
Contact: Dr. Elizabeth Young at 724-219-2322 or email@example.com
WIU B.E.S.T. Program is designed to afford opportunities for students in Westmoreland County with hearing and/or visual impairments to develop and refine the skills necessary for transitioning to higher education or employment after graduation, while cultivating friendships with students who have similar interests and needs.
The B.E.S.T. program is available to all seventh through twelfth grade students who receive deaf/hard of hearing and/or vision support in Westmoreland County's seventeen school districts.
Goals of Program
- Provide opportunities for students to build friendships through shared experiences
- Prepare students for post-graduate education and work
- Build independent living skills
- Focus on improving social and communication skills
- Promote community services
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program
The Deaf and Hard of Hearing program at the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit supports students throughout the county identified with hearing loss by collaborating with member school districts and educational programs. Our team is comprised of Itinerant Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing and an Educational Audiologist. Team members focus on each student's individual needs by providing consultative support to ensure student success in the educational setting, as well as, direct intervention and instruction. Our team works collaboratively to provide in-services to teachers, parents, and school administrators related to each individual student. By collaborating with district/program professionals and family we strive to ensure all team members are familiar with the effects of a student's hearing loss on their education, as well as the technology required to support the student's ability to participate.
Evaluation Process for Hearing Support Services
- Itinerant Services Supervisor receives all referrals for hearing services. Referrals must be submitted on the WIU Referral for Hearing Evaluation form. Referrals will then be assigned to a Teacher of the DHOH.
- Referrals must be accompanied by an Audiogram from a clinical audiologist.
- The Teacher of the DHOH and Educational Audiologist will conduct a screening of the information to determine if a full evaluation for special education eligibility is warranted.
- If further testing is recommended, the teacher of the DHOH and the educational audiologist will assess a student's educational needs relating to functional hearing in the educational setting. The functional hearing evaluation will consist of the following:
- Review of audiogram
- Records review
- Functioning listening assessment
- Classroom observation
- Teacher questionnaire
- Parent questionnaire
- Specific assessment tools, such as:
- TAPS (Test of Auditory Processing Skills -- this gives a good overview of auditory strengths and needs to drive programming
- Rhode Island -- normed on DHOH students -- addresses language concepts based on sentence structure
- The Teacher of the DHOH will make a recommendation of eligibility of services and enter the information into the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Report as needed.
- Reports are sent to parents, districts, etc.
- Evaluation Reports/Reevaluation Reports and IEP meetings are held pending eligibility.
- Hearing Support Services begin after the IEP meeting.
All teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program are certified by the State of Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Safe Feeding Consultations
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) included provisions for students with health care related issues to be provided with supports and services, so that a student can fully participate in their educational program and ensure their access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). School districts are responsible for ensuring that students are able to safely consume adequate nutrition and hydration during their mealtimes at school. To support the safe feeding for all students in Westmoreland County schools, the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit has established a Safe Feeding Team to provide consultation services at a district's request for students who demonstrate oral or pharyngeal dysphagia or have behavioral concern that impact their ability to safely eat while at school. The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's safe feeding consultant(s) specialize in dysphagia management.
School districts or educational programs can request a Safe Feeding Consultation for a student by completing a Safe Feeding Consultation Packet and submitting it to the Itinerant Services Supervisor.
Speech and Language Program
Contact: School-Age - Amanda Winnor at 724-219-2351 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Childhood - Denise Knedeisen at 724-219-2312 or email@example.com
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's Speech and Language Program provides a wide range of speech and language supports and services, by contracting with member school districts and educational programs to support students with communication disorders (which could include language, articulation, fluency, voice/resonance and swallowing disorder) to ensure educational benefit. Speech Language Pathologists in the school environment are responsible for:
- Assessing students to identify communication disorders as part of a multidisciplinary team
- Providing interventions through evidence based practices to promote student success utilizing a variety of service delivery models
- Monitoring student performance by collecting and interpreting data to ensure student progress through data based decision making
- Collaborating with district/program staff to design school-wide programs that support services delivery in the least restrictive environment
- Complying with federal, state, and program mandates that adhere to IDEA, Chapter 14, and SBAP requirements
- Addressing student's communication needs through preventive initiative in the form of Response to Intervention (RTI)