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School Age

NMSBVI Residential Program

About the Program: 
The New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NMSBVI) provides intensive compensatory skill development related to blindness/visual impairment on its residential campus, located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Services in this setting are part of the full continuum of services for blindness education. The services are a partnership between the student’s local education agency (LEA) and NMSBVI. Placement and services are developed in a joint IEP with participation by family, LEA and NMSBVI staff.

In addition to a placement on the residential campus, short-term programs are also available.


Short-Term Programs Summer Programs



Who should be referred to NMSBVI?
NMSBVI’s residential services are available to New Mexico students who have an identified visual impairment that has been determined, through assessment, to impact their learning. Families and school districts should consider a placement when the student needs intensive instruction in skills related to visual impairment (ex: Braille, life skills, technology). In addition, a placement on the campus may be appropriate when a school district has been unsuccessful in hiring or replacing its teacher of the visually impaired; when a student is nearing the completion of their high school years and is not ready for their next life step; when a student is ready to move to their district’s middle or high school but the student’s team thinks the student could benefit from an ‘extra’ year to prepare for middle/high school. Often, districts contact NMSBVI when a high school student needs credit recovery.

NMSBVI will also accept students who need 3-year re-evaluations or who need a 45-day placement to help a district determine if intensive instruction specific to a student’s visual impairment can make a difference in the trajectory of a student’s learning.


Who can make a referral to NMSBVI?
Because all admissions to the residential program are a coordinated effort between school district and NMSBVI, a phone call from family member or school district will begin the process of exploring the appropriateness of a placement. 


What happens after an inquiry is made? 
NMSBVI will request an eye report and current IEP; a functional vision/learning media evaluation; any other assessments that are pertinent to the admission. NMSBVI staff will ask probing questions to help a family and LEA team determine the vision-specific focus areas for the placement. If needed, the team will travel to the student’s school district to observe the student prior to the meeting of the NMSBVI admissions team.

All placements must include discussion of the following:
• Specific vision-related goals and objectives to accomplish during their placement;
• Visual needs related to academic and expanded core curriculum; • The ability to be transported safely to and from NMSBVI’s residential campus in Alamogordo.


What services are available from NMSBVI’s residential campus staff?
The residential campus serves students from the local communities and throughout the state. Local students or very young students are day students only. Residential students have the benefit of a longer day: instruction begins when they wake and ends with lights out. Students have opportunities to learn household skills such as meal planning, laundry, housekeeping skills as well as the opportunity to experience a varied number of recreation and leisure activities such as swimming, skiing, goal ball, bike riding, camping, sewing, painting and pottery. Activities vary widely depending upon the interests of the students on campus.


  • Academic, career and ability option programs (Common core and expanded grade band standards are used for all programming)
  • Day programming and Residential programming 
  • Preschool (day program only) through high school
  • Inclusion program: opportunity to take classes in local public schools
  • Expanded Core Assessment and Instruction; orientation and mobility instruction; assistive technology; Braille instruction and all other components of blindness/VI education 
  • Physical, occupational, speech therapies
  • Nursing and nutrition
  • Counseling
  • Assessment related to vision specific needs; 3-year re-evaluations
  • Music instruction including private lessons
  • Transportation to and from school each weekend and holiday so that students are able to spend the weekends with their families
  • Special programs include:
    • Jump Start: students who need an extra year to prepare for middle school. In this ungraded year, students work on reading, writing and math skills, life skills, organizational skills, spatial skills, social skills. It is designed to help students and their families feel more prepared for the rigors of middle school.
    • Take Flight: this program is designed specifically for students with vision impairment and cognitive impairment. It provides functional academics and opportunities to develop independent skills.
    • Post School Program: Students who have completed the alternative assessment, have finished their program of high school study and who need additional skill development in one or more of the areas of independent living skills, community based instruction or employability skills may qualify for this intensive program.
    • Career Preparation Program: Students with an IEP who have completed their standards based education, graduated on the career option and who need job skill development or additional preparation before entering college can use the years between high school and age 22 to develop additional skills in this program.
    • Short-term Stay: Many skills can be taught in a few days or weeks. Short-term programming is available throughout the year.
    • Weekend Activities: NMSBVI offers a limited number of weekends of programming each year. These vary and may include weekends of music, sports, Braille competition, camping, etc.
    • Summer camps: Programming varies. Due to construction summer camps are currently held in communities throughout the state. Contact residential campus for information about upcoming camps.


Why should I consider a placement for my child on a residential campus? 
Most school-based programs have 6-hour days. Your child’s district has an obligation through the public education department (PED) to teach a set number of courses and content. There is no time in the school day to address the additional needs that are naturally associated with blindness/VI. Many of New Mexico’s students who are blind/visually impaired risk being unprepared for adult life because they have not yet received direct instruction related to all aspects of their development: social skills, life skills, employment skills, travel skills, recreation and leisure, self-advocacy.


Because NMSBVI works closely with families and with school districts, a transition plan back home is in place from the first day of attendance on the residential campus. Students will receive intensive instruction and the school district will receive support to be ready to receive the student back at the end of the placement.


Perhaps the most compelling reason to consider a placement on the residential campus can be found in the students who attend. They frequently report that for the first time in their lives they are regularly talking with other students who are just like themselves; who have the same struggles and the same successes. They appreciate the expert staff who help them understand their vision impairment and help them learn to ask for what they need to be successful. They report that they have a lot of fun, work hard, and are glad they decided to come to NMSBVI.

For more information about the residential campus, short term placements and its programs, please contact:

Julie Johnson
Email: Julie Johnson

For summer camp information, please contact:

Ron Later, TVI/O&M
Email: Ron Later

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