Para la traducción hacer clic en el cuadro de arriba
Para tradução em Português, por favor clique a caixa em cima

Specific Disability Information 

RIDE’s Office of Student, Community and Academic Supports (OSCAS) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

What is Autism?

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three that adversely affects a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences." IDEA 2004

Community of Practice (CoP) in Autism in Rhode Island

Join the Community of Practice (CoP) in Autism in Rhode Island. This CoP is led by a group of 69 educators who graduated from the Certificate of Graduate Study (CGS) in Autism program at Rhode Island College (RIC). This CoP is based on the common interest in improving practice.

The goal of this CoP is to:

  • Share information
  • Learn from each other
  • Help each other with challenges
  • Keep up with the field and Evidenced Based Practices
  • Stimulate change
  • Create new kinds of capacity building

Adopted from the IDEA Partnership.

To join the CoP in Autism, email Sue Constable at RIC sconstable@ric.edu


Emotional Disturbance

Social and emotional learning is important for all students, but some students may have more intense challenges and need more support than that which is provided to all students through general education interventions.

Some students with social, emotional and behavioral challenges may be eligible for special education and related services due to an emotional disturbance.

The Definition of Emotional Disturbance, according to RI Regulations, is as follows:

i. Emotional Disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance:

A.    An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors

B.     An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.

C.     Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances.

D.    A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

E.     A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

ii. Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance under (c) (4) (i) of this section.

Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education Regulations Governing the Education of Children with Disabilities, (300.8(c)(4)(i))

The regulation specifies three criteria that must be present in order to meet the definition of “Emotional Disturbance”.  All three of these criteria must be present for at least one of the Characteristics listed.


"Over a long period of time” is typically refers to behavior occurring for approximately 6 months with substantial risk that the pattern of inappropriate behavior will continue.  However, there may also be a pattern of behavior that is so severe, intense and/or unsafe of shorter duration that the team may need to consider.

“To a marked degree” means the student exhibits inappropriate behavior with significant frequency, intensity and duration which is very different when compared to others of a similar age and background.   Teams should ensure they have a basic understanding of the student’s ethnicity, cultural norms and values.  Typically, the behavior is observed in multiple settings (school, home, community) by more than one knowledgeable observer.  The student is unresponsive to direct interventions offered or available in the general education setting.  The behavior is not the result of a developmental phase or a particular situation, such as a death in the family, divorce, moving to a new school or injury.

“Adversely affects a child’s educational performance” means that there is a negative effect on their educational performance. “Education is about more than just academics, and includes physical, emotional, and social needs as well, since special education is designed to prepare students for further education, employment, and independent living” according to Ronald Lospennato, Esq. (Legal Director of the Disability Rights Center) in an analysis of a Maine First Circuit Court Decision.  Care should be taken to ensure a child’s cultural background and previously taught behaviors are not the cause of the problem(s).   A student may perform in a way that appears to be an emotional disturbance, but may really be the result of direct differences in values and experiences.  

Module for Help in Identifying Students with Emotional Disturbance

Blind & Visual Impairments

The Rhode Island Vision Education and Services Program (RIVESP) at the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College, supported by the Rhode Island Department of Education, provides specialized teaching and consultation services to children who are legally blind or visually impaired, their families, and educational staff. (Visual impairment including blindness means impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.)  Direct and consultative services are provided by state certified Teachers of Children with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialists using an itinerant model. The array of services available encompasses educational, social, recreational, and vocational skills needed for successful integration.

Get in Touch!
Clare Irwin, Lead Contact
Rhode Island Vision Education and Services Program
Sherlock Center on Disabilities
600 Mt. Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
Telephone (401) 456-8912
Email: cirwin@ric.edu 

Becky Wright
RI Department of Education
Office for Student, Community & Academic Supports
Telephone (401) 222-8404
Email: Becky.Wright@ride.ri.gov

Be Informed!

Deaf or Hearing Impairment

Every child who is deaf or has hearing loss deserves fully accessible and appropriate environments that meet his or her unique educational, social, linguistic and communication needs and ensure that s/he becomes an independent, contributing citizen. This requires us all to harness the talents of informed families, competent professionals and the linguistically and culturally diverse Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing communities.

Learn more about educational programs for children who are deaf or have hearing loss

Connect with Resources

The Auditory/Oral Program at the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative

Overview: The Rhode Island Auditory/Oral Program offers a statewide educational option for eligible children who are deaf or hard of hearing to learn to listen and talk as their primary way of communicating and learning.  Developed to meet the unique needs of a small subgroup of children who are deaf, the Auditory/Oral Program opened in April 2005 through collaboration among the Rhode Island Department of Education, the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, the Cranston School Department, participating school districts, and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The only one of its kind in Rhode Island, the Auditory/Oral Program is now operated by the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative. Its classrooms are currently located at Orchard Farms Elementary School in Cranston.

Mission:  The program’s mission is to prepare children to successfully join their hearing peers in general early childhood or elementary classroom settings in their home school districts. Through Early Intervention, Preschool and Elementary Intervention, and Educational Outreach, the Auditory/Oral Program offers an array of specialized auditory-oral support services for very young children who are deaf and learning to use hearing technology for listening, talking, relating to peers, and progressing in the standards-based curriculum.

Specialized Instruction:  The curriculum within the Auditory/Oral Program combines specialized instruction and best practice in auditory-oral instruction, targeted to individual student needs.  Highly qualified teachers of the deaf apply the Rhode Island Early Learning Standards through Teaching Strategies Gold and the Common Core Standards adopted by Rhode Island. The program is currently housed at Orchard Farms Elementary School in Cranston. Here are some highlights exclusive to this program: 

  • Acoustically engineered listening environments for consistently effective access to instruction.  This includes synchronized sound field and personal FM technology, structural facility accommodations, and ongoing consultation with local educational audiologists.
  • Highly qualified Teachers of the Deaf specially trained in auditory-oral intervention for children who are deaf and learning to listen and talk using cochlear implant and hearing technology.
  • For preschoolers, daily interaction with hearing peer pals in the integrated preschool classroom.
  • For school-aged children, specially designed inclusion opportunities supported in regular education classrooms by a Teacher of the Deaf and Oral Language Facilitator.
  • Daily individual and small group auditory training with a Speech/Language Pathologist with auditory-oral training and experience.
  • Ongoing consultation with regional hearing centers as part of the management of hearing technology.

Parents as Partners:  Parents are an active, central part of the teaching team.  Parent participation in individual intervention sessions at school is an important program component. The commitment of parents and program staff to working as a team ensures that children have full opportunity to integrate and solidify emerging listening skills and spoken communication through planned practice woven into their daily life at school and at home.

Multidisciplinary Team:  Staff work directly with occupational therapists, physical therapists, classroom teachers, and related service professionals as a multidisciplinary team approach to meet each child’s needs.

Early Intervention:  The Auditory/Oral Program is teamed up with the Rhode Island Early Intervention system and the Rhode Island Department of Human Services to provide early auditory-oral intervention for families who have chosen oral language as a communication modality for their child with hearing loss as well as families who are exploring their options.  Early intervention focuses on family-centered strategies for promoting oral communication and auditory development at home.

Outreach:  In support of its mission to prepare children to successfully join their hearing peers in their home school districts, support services are available to support students as they leave the Auditory/Oral program. This support is individualized for each student, and may include on-site staff training, consultation, and direct services to students in their home school district, as appropriate. The following menu of services is available to school districts statewide:

  • Educational in-service training to school staff regarding hearing loss, personal and FM technology, classroom/school acoustics, and effective teaching strategies.
  • Hearing technology support for cochlear implants, hearing aids, and FM systems.
  • Environmental assessment of classroom/school acoustics and recommendations for modifications.
  • Consultation to school staff about implementation of instructional strategies and best practice for students with hearing loss.
  • Oral Teacher of the Deaf providing direct transitional support to students in the classroom as well as individual instruction to ensure educational progress in light of the impact of auditory and linguistic impact of hearing loss.

For more information, please contact:

Donna Rizzo, Auditory/Oral Specialist
Rhode Island Auditory/Oral Program
Northern Rhode Island Collaborative

Learning Disabilities & Response to Intervention (RTI)

State Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities

On December 19, 2007 the Board of Regents voted to promulgate special education regulations. As part of these regulations, the Rhode Island Department of Education must establish state criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities. The Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education Approved the State Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities June 4, 2009.

The new State Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities includes a timeline which phases in the requirement to use RTI as part of the eligibility determination process beginning September 1, 2010. Response to Intervention is a process of determining appropriate support and interventions to supplement the core curriculum to meet the needs of all learners. This framework for instruction bases decisions on benchmark and progress monitoring data to improve achievement.

Training Materials for the RI Criteria and Guidance for Specific Learning Disabilities

The following training materials are provided to support implementation of the Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities.  These materials include a PowerPoint presentation with a recorded narration, handouts for the four activities included in the presentation, and an excerpt of the guidance document which is referenced during the presentation.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

The RI Department of Education is committed to expanding public knowledge regarding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and increasing coordination and integration within existing service delivery systems, thereby enhancing the infrastructure needed to support students with TBI and their families.

Be Informed!

Severe Intellectual Disability

Be Informed!

Take a look at these related resources:

Other Health Impaired

What is Assistive Technology?

  • What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
  • Who makes decisions regarding an accessibility feature or an accommodation that may utilize AT?
  • Who pays for AT?
  • How to decide what assistive device, service or system will work best for a student?

Assistive Technology Resources and Professional Development


Events/Professional Development

Click on each item to learn more:

  • Assistive Technology Conference of New England - AT Conference November 19-20, 2015 at Crowne Plaza, Warwick, RI
  • http://www.techaccess-ri.org/workshops/ - Variety of on-going workshops held at TechACCESS of RI, Warwick, RI
  • Project AT - 30-hour Class with instruction on performing initial feature matching survey, appropriate use of AT to allow students to access general education curriculum (CCSS) and statewide testing.  Identify student accommodation needs and appropriate documentation.
    • Open to: Special education teacher/leaders who are responsible for classroom instruction & online assessments for students (15 openings - 1 per district)
    • Schedule: Four hands-on lab-based sessions; two taking place after school 4 - 6 PM and two on Saturday mornings 9 - noon.
    • Additional Information: Project AT
    • Register online: https://www.eride.ri.gov/workshopReg/ViewWorkshop.aspx?workshopid=1318
  • Graduate Level Course at RI College: Assistive Technology in the Classroom (3 credits SPED 545)
    • Technology is explored that facilitates success for persons with disabilities in integrated school and community settings. Explore AT topics in depth, including web accessibility, mobility and positioning.  Focus is on the application of varied activities and materials.
    • Prerequisite: Graduate status or consent of department chair.

    Site Documents

    Documents on this site require the use of the following programs:

    DOC - Microsoft Word

    PDF - Acrobat Reader

    PPT - Microsoft PowerPoint

    XLS - Microsoft Excel