Visual Impairment Law and Legal Definition
Visual impairment or low vision is reduction in vision that can't be corrected with standard glasses or contact lenses and it reduces a person's ability to function at certain or all tasks. It includes (1) inability to see images clearly and distinctly; (2) loss of visual field; (3) inability to detect small changes in brightness; (4) color blindness; and (5) sensitivity to light.
Following is an example of a state law dealing with visual impairment
405 ILCS 80/2-3:
(l) "Severe and multiple impairments" means the manifestation of all of the following characteristics:
(1) The evaluation determines the presence of a developmental disability which is expected to continue indefinitely, constitutes a substantial handicap and is attributable to any of the following:
(A) Mental retardation, which is defined as general intellectual functioning that is 2 or more standard deviations below the mean concurrent with impairment of adaptive behavior which is 2 or more standard deviations below the mean. Assessment of the individual's intellectual functioning must be measured by a standardized instrument for general intellectual functioning.
(B) Cerebral palsy.
(E) Any other condition which results in impairment similar to that caused by mental retardation and which requires services similar to those required by mentally retarded persons.
(2) The evaluation determines multiple handicaps in physical, sensory, behavioral or cognitive functioning which constitute a severe or profound impairment attributable to one or more of the following:
(A) Physical functioning, which severely impairs the individual's motor performance that may be due to:
(i) Neurological, psychological or physical involvement resulting in a variety of disabling conditions such as hemiplegia, quadriplegia or ataxia,
(ii) Severe organ systems involvement such as congenital heart defect,
(iii) Physical abnormalities resulting in the individual being non-mobile and non-ambulatory or confined to bed and receiving assistance in transferring, or
(iv) The need for regular medical or nursing supervision such as gastrostomy care and feeding.
Assessment of physical functioning must be based on clinical medical assessment by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches, using the appropriate instruments, techniques and standards of measurement required by the professional.
(B) Sensory, which involves severe restriction due to hearing or visual impairment limiting the individual's movement and creating dependence in completing most daily activities. Hearing impairment is defined as a loss of 70 decibels aided or speech discrimination of less than 50% aided. Visual impairment is defined as 20/200 corrected in the better eye or a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Sensory functioning must be based on clinical medical assessment by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches using the appropriate instruments, techniques and standards of measurement required by the professional.
(C) Behavioral, which involves behavior that is maladaptive and presents a danger to self or others, is destructive to property by deliberately breaking, destroying or defacing objects, is disruptive by fighting, or has other socially offensive behaviors in sufficient frequency or severity to seriously limit social integration. Assessment of behavioral functioning may be measured by a standardized scale or informal appraisal by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
(D) Cognitive, which involves intellectual functioning at a measured IQ of 70 or below. Assessment of cognitive functioning must be measured by a standardized instrument for general intelligence.
(3) The evaluation determines that development is substantially less than expected for the age in cognitive, affective or psychomotor behavior as follows:
(A) Cognitive, which involves intellectual functioning at a measured IQ of 70 or below. Assessment of cognitive functioning must be measured by a standardized instrument for general intelligence.
(B) Affective behavior, which involves over and under responding to stimuli in the environment and may be observed in mood, attention to awareness, or in behaviors such as euphoria, anger or sadness that seriously limit integration into society. Affective behavior must be based on clinical assessment using the appropriate instruments, techniques and standards of measurement required by the professional.
(C) Psychomotor, which includes a severe developmental delay in fine or gross motor skills so that development in self-care, social interaction, communication or physical activity will be greatly delayed or restricted.
(4) A determination that the disability originated before the age of 18 years.
A determination of severe and multiple impairments shall be based upon a comprehensive, documented assessment with an evaluation by a licensed clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
If the examiner is a licensed clinical psychologist, ancillary evaluation of physical impairment, cerebral palsy or epilepsy must be made by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches.
Regardless of the discipline of the examiner, ancillary evaluation of visual impairment must be made by an ophthalmologist or a licensed optometrist.
Regardless of the discipline of the examiner, ancillary evaluation of hearing impairment must be made by an otolaryngologist or an audiologist with a certificate of clinical competency.
The only exception to the above is in the case of a person with cerebral palsy or epilepsy who, according to the eligibility criteria listed below, has multiple impairments which are only physical and sensory. In such a case, a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches may serve as the examiner.