Legal blindness is among the criteria for admission to the School. In addition, our students have other disabilities such as intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and hearing impairment. Some of our students are considered to be medically fragile.
Parents may hear about the School from ophthalmologists, pediatricians, early intervention providers or other sources. Some parents elect to visit the School and observe programming prior to meeting with either their school district, or in the case of preschool-age students, the Mutually Agreed Upon Written Arrangement (MAWA) holder. In Pennsylvania, the MAWA designates an entity to provide Early Intervention services for students aged three until school age. While the School accommodates requests from families to learn about the programs we offer, parents are encouraged to speak directly with representatives of their local education agency (LEA) to learn about placement options.
For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact Donna Salovay, School Registrar at [email protected] or by calling 412-621-0100 ext. 1222.
The referring school district or MAWA holder has sole responsibility for determining eligibility for specially designed instruction. The District or MAWA holder organizes a conference to develop the Individualized Education Program (IEP). This document identifies the actual place where the program will be delivered.
To be eligible for enrollment at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, the prospective student must have a severe vision impairment as diagnosed by an ophthalmologist. Additionally, school-age students must be further disabled by other conditions that impede matriculation in general education programs. It is the responsibility of the child's family to provide documentation from medical specialists concerning the child's diagnosis. The Pennsylvania Department of Education reviews the application materials and issues an approval, which signifies state funding will be available to offset the referring school district's costs for specialized school placement.
After approval, a starting date is established between the family and the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. The family escorts the child to school on the first day to share important information with the educational team. Parents of residential students will stay overnight on campus in a Guest Suite. Every effort is made for a smooth transition into the School.
Our students come from diverse economic and social backgrounds. The School maintains an open-door admission policy, which provides full and equal opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, ancestry, physical disabilities or cognitive development.