The demographic characteristics of students with visual impairments do not differ significantly from those of students in the general population (figure 1). Approximately half are male, 61 percent are white, 20 percent are African American, 13 percent are Hispanic, and 15 percent live in households with incomes below the poverty level.
School personnel reported that 60 percent of students in the category of visual impairment have no coexisting disabilities (figure 2); however, approximately 21 percent have one other disability, and 19 percent have two or more additional disabilities. The most common coexisting disabilities for students categorized as visually impaired are mental retardation and learning disabilities (41 percent and 37 percent, respectively, of students with visual impairments and coexisting disabilities). Parents reported that 28 percent of students in the category of visual impairment are blind and 72 percent are partially sighted (figure 3).
The majority of students categorized as having a visual impairment (81 percent) attend regular schools. These students are significantly less likely to have coexisting disabilities than students attending special schools serving only students with disabilities (31 percent vs. 74 percent, p < .001, figure 4)4. Further, at special schools, the percentage of blind students is larger than at regular schools (54 percent vs. 21 percent, p < .001).