Ohio House Bill 188 prohibits a court, public children services agency, private child placing agency, or private noncustodial agency from using a person’s blindness as a reason to deny or limit that person’s adoption/care for a minor, except when necessary to serve the best interests of the minor.

The Bill provides that a “detrimental impact determination” may be considered in determining a child’s best interest when a blind person seeks to adopt or care for a child, essentially permitting a court, etc. to determine that a person’s blindness has or could have a detrimental impact on a minor. The burden is on the party asserting the detrimental impact to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that a blindness-connected behavior endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the minor.

Under this Bill, a blind person can demonstrate to the court how supportive services could alleviate any detrimental impact on the minor, and the court could order that said supportive services be implemented, with a review of the need for continuation of the services after a reasonable amount of time.

Despite the Bill’s uncertainty, it is likely those child-caring situations are the situations in which detrimental impact would be raised. However, with respect to serving as a foster caregiver, it is not clear how courts would become involved since certification of foster caregivers is an administrative function. It is also not clear if the detrimental impact process established in the Bill could be used in other situations that might involve the care of a child by a blind person.