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Blind students with white canes waiting to cross Congress Avenue, a busy six lane road.

Phil Hatlen, Superintendent
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

What is it that I would like to share with you about full inclusion of students with disabilities? Is it my frustration that a movement is sweeping the country that does not take into consideration the individual needs of children? Is it my fear that some students with disabilities will be tragically "mis-served"?Is it my concern that a philosophical position that sounds so humanitarily "correct" has depersonalized services to children with disabilities?

No, what I want to share with you today is my enthusiastic support for an addition to the array of service delivery options available for students with disabilities. Responsible inclusion is an appropriate and effective service for some students with disabilities. If its momentum continues, and it is carefully defined, responsible inclusion has the potential to move literally thousands of children with disabilities out of inappropriate facilities and services and into educational settings offering dignity and opportunities to truly learn. I applaud the leaders in the "inclusion" movement and offer my services in order to assure that this new educational option is appropriately used by students who can truly benefit from it.

But, alas, my colleagues who are the leaders in the full inclusion movement have made a serious, but correctable, error. They use terms such as "...all means all...", and "...just do it!!...".Their position is that we no longer must seriously consider the needs of each individual child when making a decision about educational placement. They believe that placement transcends needs. They have generalized successes with some students with disabilities to all students with all disabilities. They make no distinction between the educational needs of a child who is deaf, a child with cerebral palsy, a child who is learning disabled, or a child who is blind. It is as though the type of disability has no effect on educational needs and services. They tell us that disability labels are only appropriate for medical reasons. They believe that all educational planning and delivery of service can ignore the type of disability and concentrate on needs. 

Let me dispel that myth immediately. Some of my colleagues in special education are proud to point out that disability labels are almost a thing of the past. They argue that labels stigmatize children, that they are simply medical labels and have no relationship to educational need. This is not true. To avoid the label "blind" or "deaf" is to seriously stigmatize children who have an obvious disability, and who need to learn to live proudly and with dignity with the disability. Avoidance of using the label is to make children wonder if there is something terribly wrong with being blind or being deaf. If people won't even use the word, what message is delivered? Secondly, I contend, as do all of my colleagues, that blindness and visual impairment are not only medical labels, they are educational labels. All children with visual impairments share similar needs because of their disability. Loss of vision has a direct and often profound effect on learning, and this impact can be generalized across all children with visual impairments. Use of the label is fundamental to delivering appropriate educational services.

Educators of students who are deaf have made a strong case for the communication needs of the students whom they serve. These needs are so intensive that any decision about inclusion of students who are deaf must be made with extreme caution. For many years, I have thought about the equivalent for children with visual impairments to that of children who are deaf with regard to communication. I am convinced that the answer is "experiential". How much fundamental knowledge does the child with a visual impairment have regarding her world? Often, the world of the child with a visual impairment is the length of her arms. Think about this fact. Consider the effect on casual, incidental learning. Consider the profound effect that a visual impairment has on growth and learning. Think about the capability of a full inclusion setting to offer experiential learning.

Educators of students with visual impairments pioneered inclusive education. In a small scale, we began early in the 20th century, then expanded rapidly and dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s.This is long before other areas of special education began exploring ways in which children with disabilities could be included more fully and appropriately in regular classrooms. Many years ago we learned some vital lessons about inclusion. Some students benefited from inclusive education from the outset of their education; others needed various amounts of preparation before they could benefit from inclusion; still others were best served in non-inclusive settings for educational purposes so that they would have the best possible chance for inclusion as adults.

I know with no doubt, with no hesitation, that full inclusion will not appropriately serve all students with visual impairments. I know this because I know a great deal about the educational needs of children who are blind or visual impaired. My colleagues who are most actively promoting full inclusion know, just as surely, that inclusion works for students with retardation, with students with severe and profound disabilities, and with some children with other disabilities. I acknowledge and admire their understanding and expertise with children who have disabilities that they are knowledgeable about. I do not question their findings and their positions. However, I fail to understand how these good, well-meaning people can take their findings on certain populations of students with disabilities and generalize them to all populations. If any of you are present today, I ask that you stop doing this, and that you grant me my expertise as I acknowledge yours.

Having established this difference of opinion within the ranks of special education, let me emphasize to you that full inclusion is not for all students with disabilities. And beware of those who say it is. They do not have the knowledge or expertise to hold this belief.

Let me share with you some things about the educational needs of students who are visually impaired, and I suggest to you that you consider the application of what I say to other populations.

The population of blind and visually impaired students is very heterogeneous. Some are totally blind; others have good, useful vision. Some are only visually impaired; others have additional complex, challenging disabilities. Some are visually impaired from birth; other lose vision later in their school years. Some live in urban areas; others live in rural parts of the country. Some live in school districts that have extensive resources for education of students with visual impairments; others live in school districts with no resources. The differences go on and on...

How would you propose to meet the educational needs of this population with one placement option?  It cannot be done. 

I mentioned earlier that we pioneered inclusive education.  We were placing children who were blind or visually impaired in regular classrooms in large numbers as early as 1955.  We naively began this process by assuming that if we provided adaptations for academic learning, and if we spent a short time preparing students to use these adaptations, then students with visual impairments could have all of their educational needs met in the regular classroom.  We were wrong, and we paid the price for that error as we watched helplessly as hundreds of the products of our early efforts in inclusion became unemployed social isolates as young adults.

Among the lessons we learned about inclusion were:

  1. Even though we were good at adapting the academic curriculum for accessibility by students with visual impairments, the use of that curriculum in the regular classroom needed careful introduction and orchestration by us.
  2. Social interaction skills are not learned by imitation or by proximity to students who are not disabled.  Most of the students we placed in inclusive settings were social isolates.   
  3. Beginning Braille reading did not lend itself well to curriculum adaptation.
  4. Many students with visual impairments could learn academic subjects in inclusion settings.  If prepared for using adapted curriculum, there is no reason why the child with a visual impairment cannot learn academic subjects in a regular classroom along-side sighted peers.
  5. Students with visual impairments have a second set of educational needs.  These are now referred to as "disability-specific needs".  It is inappropriate and impossible to provide instruction for meeting these needs in the regular classroom. Therefore, significant amounts of time must be spent meeting these needs outside the regular classroom.

From these findings, my profession has developed the following positions:

  1. "Inclusive education" is a new label to define a particular educational placement for students with disabilities.  The profession of education for students with visual impairments is pleased that this placement option has been added to the list of options.  Some students with visual impairments, at some times in their lives, will benefit significantly from placement in an inclusive setting.
  2. In order to meet the complex, diverse educational needs of students who are visually impaired, a full array of placement and service delivery options must be available.
  3. There is no best educational program for students with visual impairments.  There is a best program for an individual student at a particular time in her life.

So, let's accept "full inclusion" for what it is: one more viable option in a full array of placement options for students with disabilities.


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Download the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities agenda.brf (54K ASCII braille format) or agenda.meg (63K Megadots Format) - Distributed with permission of the American Foundation for the Blind. © AFB Press. This material is available for purchase in print and ASCII disk formats and can be obtained by calling (800)-232-3044.

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by

Donna Stryker, Parent and Co-Chair the National Agenda
Kathleen Huebner, Assistant Dean, Graduate Studies Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Co-Chair the National Agenda

presented at Josephine Taylor Leadership Institute in Washington, DC on March 7, 1999

Introduction

The eight goals of the National Agenda (listed below) will be accomplished only if parents, professionals, and blind and visually impaired persons work together to make it happen. The effort to achieve the National Agenda must take place at local, regional, and state levels. This "Call To Action" has been prepared to assist those charged with meeting the goals of the National Agenda. On first glance, the job of meeting these goals may seem so overwhelming as to be discouraging. But, by utilizing the suggestions in this guide and developing your own goals, we remain certain that the National Agenda will be achieved.

The history of the National Agenda is well-known to many of you, and we will not repeat it here. For detailed information on the National Agenda see the TSBVI website. We urge you to read The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (NA) booklet published in 995 by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB Press). Single copies are available at no cost from AFB (See resource section for contact information). Familiarize yourself with other documents that are products of this movement. These include the following: "The Core Curriculum for Blind Visually Impaired Students" also available on the TSBVI website. A Report to the Nation: The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (998 AFB Press), Annotated Bibliography of Curriculum Materials Related to the Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Children and Youths, Including Those with Additional Disabilities (available from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and also on its website), and Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP); Policy Guidance on Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students (Appendix in A Report to the Nation, and the TSBVI Website.

Goals of the National Agenda

Students and their families will be referred to an appropriate education program within 30 days of a suspected visual impairment.

Policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the right of all parents to full participation and equal partnership in the education process.

Universities, with a minimum of one full time faculty member in the area of visual impairment, will prepare a sufficient number of educators of students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.

Service providers will determine caseloads based on the needs of students, and will require ongoing professional development for all teachers and orientation and mobility instructors.

Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of placement options.

Assessment of students will be conducted, in collaboration with parents, by personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments.

Access to developmental and educational services will include an assurance that instructional materials are available to students in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers.

Educational and developmental goals, including instruction, will reflect the assessed needs of each student in all areas of academic and disability specific core curricula.

Each of the National Agenda's goals will be achieved by parents, professionals and blind consumers working together, sharing a dream, and always keeping in mind that the beneficiaries of our efforts will be children and youths who are entitled to an education that is at least equal to that provided for their sighted peers. Achievement of the National Agenda will begin a new era for education of students with visual impairments.

Eight National Goal Leaders (NGLs), one for each of the goals, have gathered data from across the country on the current status of the eight goals. Most have completed their analyses, and their findings are in A Report to the Nation. Other NGLs continue to gather information. As you search for ways to become involved in achieving the goals of the National Agenda, we urge you to consider the following:

Determine the geographic area that you will target, such as a school, school district, county, part or whole state, or region. Bring together leaders who are, and those who express an interest in becoming, committed to the National Agenda. Involve parents, professionals from the field of blindness and visual impairment as well as related service providers, and adults who are visually impaired. Decide on a plan of action: Commit to achieving the National Agenda. Assess where your targeted geographic area is in relation to the national findings for each goal so you can prioritize the ones you need to address. Identify the goals that present the most urgent needs in your state or region, and concentrate on them. Customize the national goals to meet particular needs in your state or region. Develop sub-committees for each of the goals to be addressed. Co-chairs for each sub-committee should consist of a parent and a professional whenever possible. Utilize state of the art data already collected by National Goal Leaders as well as information about other state activities that are presented in A Report to the Nation. Involve all existing parent, professional and consumer organizations in your state or region. Bring them in as partners. Involve policy makers and administrators. Establish timelines, assign responsibilities, and provide support for each team and individual. Share information about the National Agenda with others and recruit them to work on the effort. Maintain the commitment and enthusiasm for the National Agenda by recognizing your group's accomplishments.

We urge you to join the growing movement of professionals and parents who are committed to achieving the National Agenda. You won't be sorry.

March 1999


Goal 1

Students and their families will be referred to an appropriate education program within 30 days of identification of a suspected visual impairment.

When a child is diagnosed with a visual impairment and the family has no one to answer their many questions and concerns, an opportunity is lost to inform, educate and encourage the family. The future is bright for their child. Blindness and visual impairment means a different way of learning and growing. The child can grow, learn, read, interact, and succeed to whatever ability he/she has. The achievement of Goal  will start the families and the children on the road to early intervention so that every opportunity to learn will be made available as quickly as possible after diagnosis. It is a well documented and known fact that children benefit from appropriate early intervention.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Delayed referrals by the medical community of blind and visually impaired children and their families for early intervention services.
  2. Lack of understanding and support for early intervention services by the medical community.
  3. Lack of knowledge by the medical community of early intervention resources.
  4. Negative attitudes of the medical community toward blindness and visual impairments and how those attitudes impede early referral.
  5. Lack of ease of availability of information to parents on blindness, early development, and early intervention services in their area.
  6. Lack of a national system for identifying and registering young blind and visually impaired children.
  7. Lack of understanding by regular education and special education early interventionists of the importance of vision in early development and the need for specialized services.

CURRENT STATUS:

Address each major issue to determine current status in your state/region.

Contact and work with your State Department of Special Education, State Early Intervention System, Birth: Three (Part H Funding) medical professionals, hospital neonatal unit nurses, social workers, special school administrators, early interventionists, outreach workers, and local education agency administrators. It would be helpful to familiarize yourself with PL 99-457, the federal law relating to special education services for preschool age children. Determine:

  1. How the medical community currently makes referrals in your region/state. Be sure to broadly define medical community to include ophthalmologists, neurologists, pediatricians, optometrists, neonatalogists, hospital specialty clinics, i.e. prematurity clinics, hospital social workers, and nurses.
  2. How state early intervention systems, birth to three, and state departments of special education refer parents for services.
  3. How local school districts, and health and human service agencies refer parents for services.
  4. The partnerships that are in place for your area for early referral between referral services and early intervention/education service systems.
  5. What information, and in what media, is currently available and what is needed to be developed to help educate the medical community on the importance of early referral to help them make early referrals, and to help parents find early intervention resources in their area.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Establish a committee with an identified leader(s) to address early referral.
  2. Identify the primary audiences to be contacted and with whom the committee will work.
  3. Develop an education/marketing plan focused on developing partnerships with the medical community.
  4. Involve the medical community in early intervention systems by inviting them to sit on advisory boards, providing and participating in inservice workshops, and helping them know the systems to which they need to be making referrals.
  5. Develop materials, with the medical community's input, that educate both parents and the medical community about the importance of early referral and intervention. With these materials, develop a plan for dissemination to critical audiences. These materials will include a list of reasons that early referral and intervention are important, and identify available resources to provide early intervention/education services.
  6. Provide inservice workshops for medical society meetings, grand rounds at hospitals, and neonatal nurses' groups.
  7. Where possible, work with medical residency programs to expose and educate residents about the importance of early referral and intervention. A half-day rotation through an early intervention program can be effective.
  8. Develop partnerships with other early intervention/education providers, educating them on the unique aspects of vision loss, the need for specialized services, and local resources.
  9. Develop partnerships with parents that empower them to advocate for early referral and intervention services.
  10. Develop opportunities to publish articles on early identification in intervention and professional and parent newsletters and other publications. Develop partnerships with local newspapers, television, and radio stations to promote community awareness of the need for early referral and intervention.
  11. Consult successful regional and national organizations who have strong early referral systems and relationships with their medical communities.
  12. Develop opportunities for medical communities and parents to become aquatinted with successful adults who are blind or visually impaired, as this can be a powerful tool for changing attitudes.
  13. Be as inclusive of medical, early intervention/education, parent, and consumer communities who have a common goal to help children who are blind/visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities to be all that they can be.

Goal 2

Policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the right of all families to full participation and equal partnership in the education process.

For many years families have not been equal partners in the education of their children with visual impairments. Families, teachers of children with visual impairments, Orientation & Mobility instructors, regular education teachers, and others must work as a team for any child's individual education plan to be a success. The unique learning needs of each child with a visual impairment must be identified and communicated to all team members to insure success. This can be more complicated when the child has additional disabilities and more professionals are involved in the process.

At home, families reinforce the different methods used by professional team members that enable the child to learn. At school, the professionals reinforce the learning that occurs at home and introduce new concepts and skills as appropriate. Together, families and professionals prepare the child to function at his/her highest level. With this collaborative support children who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, develop independence and self esteem. They become active team members themselves by working with their families and teachers.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Families are initially overwhelmed with the diagnosis of visual impairment whether or not additional impairments are diagnosed.
  2. Families are not viewed as full partners in their child's educational plan.
  3. Families are not taught how to be full partners in the educational process.
  4. Families do not have access or knowledge of existing educational resources.
  5. Families often find themselves without support from others because of the low prevalence of blindness/visual impairment.
  6. Regular education teachers and others may not be aware of the state and federal mandates for family participation in the educational process.

CURRENT STATUS:

The federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), mandates family participation in the planning and implementation of their childrens' education programs. Determine:

  1. The level to which your LEAs, region, and state have implemented and comply with the federal mandates for family participation.
  2. If your state has a family/teacher training center, determine if your state has a federally funded family training project. Determine if families find it easy to be connected to these resources.
  3. How information regarding state and federal laws effecting special education are disseminated. Ascertain if the information is being provided to all families in a language and/or media that they use and understand. The information should be in "family friendly" language not professional jargon. For those families who are blind or visually impaired themselves the materials should be an accessible media such as braille, large print or electronic format.
  4. The extent to which families are fully informed about all placement options including special classrooms and schools (See Goal 5).
  5. The extent to which families are aware of and have access to the core curriculum (See Goal 8).
  6. The information that LEAs are providing to parents regarding other agencies and organizations that could assist families. Such information should include national resources such as the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI), and the parent divisions of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), (See Resource Section).

PLAN OF ACTION

  1. Provide families with information sheets on local, state and national agencies that are potential resources. A range of short fact sheets about resources, including family training centers and programs enable families to get connected with other families. Information sheets can be distributed through SEAs and LEAs.
  2. Refer families to professional and consumer organizations such as the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired [(AER), AFB, ACB, NFB, NAPVI]. (See Acronym and Resource Sections).
  3. Provide families with a copy of the core curriculum for students who are blind/visually impaired (National Agenda and TSBVI's website, and a description of the full array of placement options to assist in choosing the most appropriate placement for their child (A Report to the Nation).
  4. Refer families to training and education opportunities to facilitate learning about their, and their childs', rights and responsibilities under current federal and state special education laws.
  5. Encourage families to educate their legislators regarding: the unique learning needs of children who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities; the full array of placement options; the need for materials and appropriate media at the same time as their sighted peers; and, the need for children with visual impairments to receive services from a teacher certified in blindness/visual impairment and a certified Orientation & Mobility instructor.
  6. Inform families of conferences and workshops that will assist them in raising a child with special needs. Let them know that financial assistance may be available from their LEA. Conferences and educational opportunities help to increase knowledge and networks.
  7. Invite families to speak at workshops and conferences for educators and families to share their experiences raising children with visual impairments, including, those with additional disabilities.
  8. Regular education teachers should be encouraged to attend inservice training and workshops given by teachers certified in the education of blind/visually impaired children, and Orientation & Mobility instructors in partnership with families. Other individuals involved in the child's education should also be invited to participate.

Goal 3

Universities, with a minimum of one full-time faculty member in the area of visual impairment, will prepare a sufficient number of educators of students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. A chronic and serious shortage of teachers and orientation and mobility instructors for students with visual impairments exists throughout the nation. There is an urgent need to prepare local teachers to serve local needs.
  2. University administrative support for teacher preparation programs in the area of visual impairments is lacking.
  3. An inconsistent supply of teachers exists across the country.
  4. Not all states have certification standards for teachers of children who are blind/visually impaired.
  5. Few states have orientation & mobility certification.
  6. State certification requirements for teachers of children who are blind/visually impaired are often considerably less than those required by the profession through AER/CEC.
  7. Lack of universal certification reciprocity among states.
  8. Difficulties in recruiting potential teachers and orientation & mobility instructors.
  9. Shortage of qualified university faculty to prepare teachers for children with visual impairments.
  10. Shortage of leadership training programs to prepare qualified university faculty and other leadership personnel.
  11. Most university programs are dependent on federal funding.

CURRENT STATUS:

Many states do not have university personnel preparation programs in the areas of teaching children, who are blind/visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities, or orientation and mobility. The majority of existing programs are funded through federal grants for which there is much competition and which may not be available in the future. There are critical teacher and O&M instructor shortages in most parts of the country. As a result many children who need specialized services are not receiving instruction in the core curriculum or O&M.

Determine:

  1. Whether your state/region has enough specially trained/appropriately certified teachers and O&M instructors for its population of children with visual impairments. Refer to A Report to the Nation.
  2. If your state is meeting the demand for qualified teachers and O&M instructors.
  3. If your university teacher training programs in blindness/visual impairment are dependent on federal funding alone. Such dependency puts programs at risk for termination.
  4. If university administrators need to be educated about vision program needs and their anticipated small enrollments so adjustments can be made in full time equivalency (FTE) policies.
  5. The extent to which there are personnel preparation programs at the preservice and inservice levels in your state.
  6. The level of parent and consumer advocacy for hiring qualified and appropriately certified teachers and O&M instructors in your state or region.
  7. The level of shared responsibility (SEA, LEA, consumers and families) in the recruitment of teachers and O&M instructors.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Discuss with university faculty, in your state and region, how consumers, families, and educators can support their programs. Be prepared to advocate with university administrators, state officials, and legislators.
  2. If you do not have a university program for training teachers and O&M instructors in your state, establish a close relationship with whatever university has the most potential to be effective in supplying your state with teachers and O&M instructors.
  3. Explore a variety of approaches to teacher preparation and O&M instructor preparation. Explore alternatives to on-campus, matriculated, full-time students. Consider distance education, summers only programs, part-time students, non-degree certification programs, and extension classes.
  4. Parents, consumers, and professionals should work together with university personnel in advocating for a lower FTE for programs that prepare teachers and O&M instructors for low prevalence disabilities. These programs should not be canceled if their enrollment does not meet overall university class size requirements. Strong advocacy with Boards of Regents and SEAs will be required.
  5. Sometimes faculty are hired directly with university funds and sometimes they are hired with federal grant and/or state contracted funds. Grant and state contract funded positions have no stability or security. Universities usually employ faculty in visual impairment on grant funds if there is federal money supporting the program. If the federal grant ends, so does the program. Many programs have closed because federal funding was discontinued. Discuss with your faculty how you can help in advocating for the moving of grant and contract supported faculty positions to university supported positions. Assurance of a stable program (university funded) facilitates student recruitment.
  6. Explore and implement ways to increase enrollment in personnel preparation programs.
  7. If your state does not require certification of teachers for visually impaired students or O&M instructors, make every effort to change that. Compare the differences between your state certification requirements and those of AER for each of these professions. While stronger certification requirements may work to our disadvantage in the short haul by reducing our supply of teachers, it will help in the long run by assuring that all children are served by qualified teachers.
  8. In recent years, a major source of new teachers who become certified in visual impairments has been experienced classroom teachers and those previously certified in other areas of special education. We can take advantage of this by informing other teachers of the challenges and joys of working with children with visual impairments, and by making it possible for experienced teachers to complete course work and practicum requirements without leaving their homes or jobs.
  9. A teaching credential earned in one state should be acceptable in all states. Full reciprocity among all states needs to be a reality.

Goal 4

Service providers will determine caseloads based on the needs of students and will require ongoing professional development for all teachers and orientation and mobility instructors.

Some states have guidelines for determining caseloads and class size for teachers of children with visual impairments. For a review of 46 states' caseload guidelines see A Report to the Nation. Below are factors to consider for ensuring appropriate caseloads and class sizes for teachers of children with visual impairments.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Teachers for children with visual impairments may serve as consultants, itinerants, resource room, or classroom teachers. Each of these service models requires different amounts of direct teaching time with students who are blind/visually impaired.
  2. Many factors need to be considered in determining the amount of time a student needs from a teacher of the visually impaired. The most important factor is what amount of time is needed to provide effective instruction in the core curriculum (See Goal 8). Other factors include geographic distribution of the students, severity of students' visual impairment, age of onset of visual impairment, presence of additional disabilities, and availability of certified teachers/O&M instructors.
  3. Some believe that excessive "pull-out" from regular education classes (removing the student from their regular classroom activity for instruction in the core curriculum) might be detrimental and should therefore be minimized.
  4. Service delivery systems need to be examined, and modified as necessary, to be sure the "frequency and duration" needs for instruction in the core curriculum are met.
  5. Teachers of children with visual impairments need to accept their responsibility for teaching all areas of the core curriculum and to advocate for the needed time with students.
  6. Guidelines for caseloads and class sizes may help LEAs and teachers of blind and visually impaired children to determine the most appropriate service delivery systems.
  7. There is a need to examine the potential benefits of legislation that would "cap" the caseloads and class size of teachers for visually impaired students and for orientation and mobility instructors.

CURRENT STATUS:

There is no one "best way" for a particular SEA/LEA to determine caseloads. Some states have regulatory language that creates a means by which LEAs can justifiably seek a waiver or extension, while other states have guidelines that allow for flexibility and individualization, while still other states have neither guidelines nor regulations.

  1. Address each major issue to determine the current practice regarding caseloads in your state. Determine if your state has caseload size guidelines for students with visual impairments. Contact your SEA or refer to A Report to the Nation for this information.
  2. Determine the caseload and class size for every teacher and Orientation and Mobility instructor of children who are blind and visually impaired.
  3. Ask teachers and O&M instructors who have large and small caseloads whether they believe their pupil/teacher ratio is adequate to meet their students' core curriculum and O&M learning needs and how much time they spend in direct teaching, consulting, driving, and other activities. Determine if:
    1. There is a difference of opinion between the teachers and administrators regarding appropriate caseload/class size.
    2. All placement alternatives are available to every student, thereby making it possible to change placement if the current one does not allow enough time to meet the student's goals and objectives (See Goal 5).

PLAN OF ACTION:

It will be most helpful to have SEA and LEA administrative representation on any committees or efforts dealing with caseloads. In addition, as with all National Agenda committees, it will be helpful to include parents, consumers, and teachers of blind and visually impaired children and O&M instructors who have different size caseloads and serve in a variety of service delivery systems.

  1. Establish sub committees to address the issues above.
  2. Obtain copies of your state's guidelines, mandates, or regulations regarding class size for students who are blind/visually impaired. Some states will not have disability specific guidelines. You need to determine which ones are in practice.
  3. Discuss the concepts of mandatory caseloads, caseload regulations, caseload guidelines, and identify criteria to include in formulating caseload policy.
  4. Examine IEPs to determine if:
    1. All IEP goals and objectives are being met for each student;
    2. All IEP goals and objectives include adequate frequency and duration of instruction; and,
    3. All core curriculum areas are included as IEP goals and objectives.
  5. Determine which factors the state considers in setting, or should consider when developing, state guidelines/regulations on class size. Such factors might include:
    1. Severity or intensity of student's need; (some states and regions have developed "Severity Rating Scales" to help determine class size and caseload. The authors can provide information on request on this)
    2. Amount of time needed for direct intervention, assessment, teaching, and evaluation;
    3. Core curriculum learning needs;
    4. Student's IEPs;
    5. Amount of time for consultation with parents, classroom teachers, and other service providers; Time needed to secure and prepare specialized material, media, and equipment e.g., braille and adaptive canes; Time needed for supervision of support staff, meetings, report preparation, and professional development; and,
    6. Existing/available service delivery options.
  6. Determine other factors that may be driving caseload decisions such as too few O&M instructors, financial limitations, administrators who are not convinced of the importance of specialized services, and geographic distribution of students, etc. Resulting actions will be dependent on your findings.
  7. Formulate recommendations and approach the SEA/LEA with your findings and recommendations.
  8. Approach the state education legislative committee and/or other appropriate policy makers.

Goal 5

Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of placement options.

Do the families and caregivers of children with visual impairments receive information about all the placement options available to their child? Children with visual impairments are often placed in settings that fit the availability of teachers of students with visual impairments and/or orientation and mobility instructors. Due to the critical shortages of these professionals and the vast geographic distribution of children, a "full" array of service options is seldom available.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Parents do not always receive information about what constitutes a full array of placement options.
  2. Parents are not informed of the unique learning needs of children with visual impairments including those with multiple impairments.
  3. A full array of placement options does not always exist, especially in suburban, rural or outlying areas.
  4. Parents are often unaware of their rights and their child's rights as they apply to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as defined in IDEA.
  5. Parents are not exposed to, and therefore are not aware of, the accomplishments of children who have successfully completed their educational programs through services offered from a variety of educational placements.
  6. Position papers and policy guidance papers like OSERS' "The Policy Guidance on the Education of Blind or Visually Impaired Students" (Appendix in A Report to the Nation and TSBVI's Website) are not known to or easily assessible to parents or teachers.
  7. In-service training about the unique ways children who are blind/visually impaired learn are not offered, and when they are, regular education teachers are not required to attend.
  8. LEA decision makers are unaware of OSERS' "The Policy Guidance on the Education of Blind or Visually Impaired Students" (Appendix in A Report to the Nation and TSBVI's Website) and the National Agenda.

CURRENT STATUS:

Results of research, conducted by The New York Institute for Special Education on behalf of the Council of Schools for the Blind, included in A Report to the Nation, demonstrate that nearly three-quarters of over 350 parents reported they were informed of only the placement option the school district recommended. Half of the remaining parents had only two placement options explained to them rather than the full continuum of services. A continuum of placement options should include regular class, resource room, separate class, public special day school, private special day school, public residential, private residential, and home bound/hospital. Determine whether:

  1. Students and parents in your SEA and LEAs have access to a full array of placement options. If not, which ones do they not have and why?
  2. Parents in your SEA and LEAs are aware of why a full array of placement options are not available, for example, teacher shortages, no materials center, no state certification requirements, low incidence, etc.
  3. Parents in your state are able to access materials easily to facilitate informed decisions about placement, for example parent training centers, parent groups, advocacy training, etc.
  4. There is a state approved description available of each placement option, along with strengths and weaknesses of each relative to the needs of children who are blind/visually impaired.
  5. Your IEP team always provides materials describing parent and child rights and due process.
  6. The IEP team includes the parent as a full partner.
  7. Parents are part of the assessment team as it directly relates to placement.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Develop an information package addressed to administrators of regular and special education programs and parents which includes, but is not limited to: all relevant OSEP policy statements (The National Agenda) and TSBVI's Website), all relevant position papers on full array of placement options, Council for Exceptional Children-Division for the Visually Impaired (CEC-DVI) position papers, (See Resources) descriptions of each placement option within the array, description of parents rights and due process with new updated IDEA information.
  2. Provide parents with a list and descriptions, along with strengths and limitations, of each nationally recognized placement option in the continuum of services.
  3. Encourage parents to participate at the local and state level to implement changes in educational programs.
  4. Provide all teachers, involved with visually impaired students, and parents with a copy of the Core Curriculum For Children With Visual Impairments Including Those With Multiple Impairments.
  5. Provide parents with samples of IEP forms, assessment forms, etc. prior to meetings, so they are comfortable with the forms.
  6. Conduct public education campaigns which illustrate personal success stories of youths and adults who are blind and visually impaired and have participated in a variety of educational placements.
  7. Each state is required by IDEA to have an approved three year plan for meeting the needs of the state's children with disabilities. When these plans come up for revision and approval you should insure that the OSERS' Federal Policy Guidance Memorandum and The National Agenda are included, or at least specifically referenced beforeplans are approved.

Goal 6

Assessment of students will be conducted in collaboration with parents, by personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments.

An educator of students with visual impairments and the child's parents must be co-captains of the assessment team. Personnel who administer assessments must understand the needed adaptations of the testing instrument for a child who is visually impaired. If not, the test will not be valid and will not accurately assess the child. Specific instruments that address the learning methods of children with visual impairments are often required. Consistent instruments with standardized terminology addressing every area of the core curriculum are also necessary.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Children with visual impairments must be assessed using assessment tools that recognize the unique differences in the processing of information that children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities have.
  2. Currently there is no single set of guidelines for selecting and administering assessment instruments and the interpretation of subsequent results.
  3. Currently there is no central resource center for articles, books, and tools that address the assessment needs for children who are visually impaired.
  4. There is no easily accessible list of assessment tools, with descriptions, for use by parents or professionals.
  5. Presently, there are limited training curricula for educators, O&M instructors and related service providers who typically assess children and youths with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  6. Presently, there are few, if any, training opportunities for teachers of blind and visually impaired, O&M instructors, school psychologists, reading specialists, and other education personnel who are responsible for student assessments.

CURRENT STATUS:

Assessment tools are used to determine students' abilities in many areas such as academics, psychological, language, motor skills, functional skills, core curriculum and vocation interests, etc. Determine whether:

  1. Your SEA/LEA encourages policies to ensure participation of teachers of students with visual impairments and Orientation and Mobility specialists in assessment processes for all students diagnosed with or suspected to have visual impairments.
  2. Your SEA/LEA uses the core curriculum for students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities to select, administer and interpret results.
  3. Training opportunities for individuals in assessing children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities exist in your area on adapting existing assessment tools for use when testing students with visual impairments.
  4. A personnel preparation program exists in your state or neighboring state. Once you locate the closest personnel preparation program, determine their pre and in-service training capabilities with regard to assessment of children who are blind and visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.
  5. Parents and professionals in your SEA/LEA are aware of the Council for Exceptional Children-Division for Visually Impaired (CEC-DVI) position paper on assessment of children and youths with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  6. Your SEA/LEA has standardized testing instruments for use with students who are visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities.
  7. The composition of the assessment team in your SEA/LEA is representative of all appropriate individuals including parents.

PLAN OF ACTION:

Parents must be full partners on assessment teams for children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. Adaptations of assessments, tools, devices, and the conditions by which assessments are administered are most often necessary for application with children who are blind or visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.

  1. Encourage SEAs to develop and implement policies to ensure participation of teachers and O&M instructors on assessment teams of children who are blind or visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.
  2. Develop standardized state adopted testing program guidelines for addressing the needs of students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  3. Contact developers of standardized state-adopted testing programs and provide guidelines for addressing the needs of students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  4. Develop assessment team training curricula for educators and related service providers who assess children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities.
  5. Develop and distribute a resource list of professionals and parents with expertise in assessment of children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities who can provide consultation and training services.
  6. Facilitate assessment training for regular education, reading and other specialists, and psychologists regarding adaptations needed by students with visual impairments.

Goal 7

Access to developmental and educational services will include an assurance that materials are available to students in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers.

Essential learning opportunities are seriously forfeited when students who are blind or visually impaired do not receive textbooks, workbooks, maps, tests, etc., in the appropriate media, at the same time as sighted peers. In the course of academic development and the programmed progression of subject matter, blind and visually impaired students are placed in a disadvantageous position when materials are not available for them. The idea that these students will be able to "catch up" once materials are received is misguided, unfair, and largely impossible. When materials are not delivered in a timely manner, gaps in knowledge are routine due to the inability to access the same information as the rest of the class. Untimely delivery and/or lack of materials also has a secondary effect. The implication is that blind and visually impaired students do not really need to learn everything, and, therefore, are not able students. The goal of providing materials in a timely manner is important to the maximum academic success of each individual student who is blind or visually impaired.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Timely delivery of braille, large print, and recorded textbooks.
  2. Timely availability of workbooks, supplementary materials, and recreational reading materials.
  3. Appropriate use of optical devices as a viable alternative medium.
  4. Presentation of visual and graphic materials from textbooks to braille readers.
  5. Use of technology to interface with instructional materials.
  6. Development of national, regional, and local material delivery systems.
  7. Access to textbooks on electronic files.

CURRENT STATUS:

Many states have an instructional resource (materials) center that coordinates the materials' production, acquisition, and/or distribution of specialized materials in their individual state. These centers have the responsibility for the delivery of large print, braille, and/or recorded materials and often, the coordination of the state's Federal Quota Allocation Program. In order to accomplish their objective, these centers often utilize volunteers for materials production, materials duplication, machine repair and other general services. The state instructional materials center would be the first point of contact for teachers, parents and/or administrators in need of specialized instructional materials.

The organization of persons who have statewide responsibility for the delivery of large print, braille and/or recorded textbooks to school-age visually impaired students is known as The Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped (AIRC). As an information sharing organization, AIRC can be very helpful to a state trying to start a new statewide resource center or expand existing services.

As with all National Agenda Committees, it is recommended that committees specific to this goal also engage the services of parents, consumers, and professionals and in addition, secure the assistance of the state instructional materials resource center and braille producers (volunteers/commercial). If your state does not have an instructional materials resource center, request participation from the SEA.

  1. Some states are providing most books and materials in a timely manner, in part because they have legislation that requires the cooperation of textbook publishers. In many states, without such legislation, there are serious problems in getting educational materials to the students. This is particularly true in those states that do not have statewide adoption of school textbooks. States that do not have statewide adoption of textbooks may adopt thousands of textbooks each year requiring the transcription of significantly greater numbers of books needing to be produced in alternate media.
  2. The availability and appropriate use of optical devices instead of large print or recorded material remains a national concern. There is some evidence that the need for large print would be reduced substantially if education programs were established that provided appropriate assessment and training in the use of optical devices. Procurement of large print materials is often difficult, and optical devices might substantially increase the availability of instructional materials at the right time for low vision students.
  3. Current technology has significantly reduced the time needed for materials transcribed in literary braille. Standards for braille production exist for literary braille. A major problem is the production of graphic materials into an accessible and understandable format. In some states, producers of instructional materials have explicit instructions to reproduce, in raised line form, all graphics and pictures from the print text, where as others have none. Our profession has not determined when to use, and when not to use, raised line materials.
  4. The development of "Louis", (a database of instructional materials for children who are blind and visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities), and its continual updating, housed at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), has greatly enhanced the ability of educators to access nationwide sources of materials. States that have instructional resource centers have a significant advantage in producing, storing, locating, and retrieving appropriate materials for visually impaired students. The national and interstate networks are working well, but every state does not have an instructional resource center for children who are visually impaired.
  5. Textbook publishers continue to increase their production of basic textbooks on electronic files and increasingly states are adopting books in this format. Many textbooks produced on CD-ROM are often not compatible with the learning medium required by specific students. With predictions that the majority of school textbooks will be provided to students in electronic file format, accessibility of textbooks will continue to be a serious problem for our students.
  6. Some legislation and current agreements that apply to the production of textbooks do not apply to supplementary materials and workbooks. Therefore, these materials are often difficult to obtain even though a state might have laws pertaining to textbooks.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Survey your SEA/LEAs to ascertain the timely delivery of materials. If children are receiving textbooks, supplementary materials, workbooks, etc. after their sighted classmates, determine why. There is evidence that state legislation may make a difference in this area, and you might want to find out how other states have assured timely delivery of material by passing laws that require students with visual impairments to have instructional materials at the same time as their classmates. Consult your usual and/or nearest providers of braille, large print, or recorded materials and explore ways in which delivery can be expedited.
  2. Determine the classes and the teachers who will have visually impaired students for the coming year. Complete this task by March or April of the year preceding the coming school year. Discuss with classroom teachers the necessity for the student with visual impairments to have learning materials at the same time as sighted classmates. There are teachers who reserve the right to select their books at the beginning of the semester. Many teachers of visually impaired children have discovered that if they emphasize the importance of the child to have the materials in a timely manner, classroom teachers will adjust their schedules. Other roadblocks include state adoption cycle timelines, LEA adoption cycle timelines, individual school adoption cycle timelines, and students' changing schools.
  3. Large print continues to play a major role in our efforts to accommodate instructional materials for low vision children. Some believe that the dependence on large print is, in part, because we have not utilized optical devices to the extent that we should. Optical devices are more versatile than large print books. If children can easily access regular print textbooks by using optical devices, then perhaps in some cases, the use of optical devices is more appropriate than a large print textbook. Ask yourself these questions: Do you have functional and clinical low vision assessment information on your students? Is there an indication that they will benefit from using an optical device? Has an optical device been tried rather than automatically opting for the use of large print books?
  4. Contact SEA/LEA authorities to request training in functional low vision assessments and interventions, and application of optical aids.
  5. Tactile graphics are being increasing used in regular education. Though our capability to produce literary braille has increased dramatically, we now realize that the timely delivery of books is not related solely to literary braille, but to graphics. At the federal and state levels we must explore the role of tactile graphics in the learning of children with blindness or visual impairments. Some professionals and parents have made a distinction between tactile graphics (used in mathematics, science, map reading) and raised line pictures.
  6. If your state is not delivering textbooks in a timely manner to braille reading students, check into the status of the production facility in your state. Maybe your state needs to invest in a high tech production center, or contract with a firm in a neighboring state. It is no longer acceptable that children receive their literary braille instructional materials after their sighted peers.
  7. Establish guidelines for staffing state and regional centers that produce specialized materials.
  8. Assist in the establishment of guidelines that will promote standardization of the production of tactile graphics.
  9. Work with other states to ensure access to all instructional materials by creating uniform access standards for text in braille, large print, recorded, electronic, descriptive video, and on-line formats.
  10. A national repository of electronic files at a single location where we can receive either a file or braille/large print book quickly and efficiently is needed.
  11. There are increasing numbers of books in electronic format. These must be accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities. Urge textbook publishers to involve us at the birth of a book, not after the fact, when the only hope is retrofitting. Do not assume that books on CD-ROM are accessible to students who are blind/visually impaired.
  12. Materials other than basic textbooks must be available in accessible media. Check your state definition of "textbook" in the education code to determine if it defines workbooks and supplementary materials as part of the term textbook. If so, and your state has legislation requiring that textbooks be made available in braille, large print, and recorded form, point out to the appropriate officials that workbooks and supplementary materials are included in their state definition.
  13. If your state does not have a definition of "textbook" in your state education code consider introducing legislation that would require that all workbooks and supplementary materials be included and therefore available in alternative format.
  14. Facilitate needed accommodation that ensures access to assistive technology and classrooms that have students with visual impairments, and work cooperatively with your IRC.

Goal 8

Educational and developmental goals, including instruction, will reflect the assessed needs of each student in all areas of academic and disability-specific core curricula.

MAJOR ISSUES:

Educators define "core curriculum" as the knowledge and skills expected to be learned by students for high school graduation. Generally the core curriculum consists of academic knowledge and skills. The core curriculum may vary from state to state but it serves in each state as the foundation for learning. The term core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students is being used to define the basic educational needs of these students. Areas of study that are common to visually impaired learners and their sighted peers include: English, Language Arts and other languages, Mathematics, Science, Health, Physical Education, Fine Arts, Social Studies, Economics, Business, Vocational Education, and History. Areas of study that students who are blind or visually impaired that are most often required for successful completion of their education and are not common to their peers include: compensatory or functional academic skills (braille); O&M; social, independent living, recreation, and leisure skills; career education; listening and visual efficiency skills; and use of assistive technology (National Agenda and TSBVI's Website).

  1. The core curriculum for learners who are blind and/or visually impaired has not been fully accepted, therefore not implemented, by many teachers.
  2. Children in inclusive and mainstreamed settings do not have time during the school day for instruction in disability specific core curricula.
  3. Parents are not aware of the core curriculum needs of their children.
  4. Teachers and administrators are not aware of the core curriculum needs of children who are blind and/or visually impaired.
  5. Personnel preparation programs do not adequately train teachers in all the core curriculum areas.
  6. Some teachers not only do not have the skills to teach core curriculum subjects, they do not have the time or resources.

CURRENT STATUS:

At this time no single, simple method has been developed that ensures students who are blind/visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities, to have access to both traditional and expanded core curricula. The additional experiences contained in the expanded core curricula are not easy to implement as they require time to teach and professionally prepared teachers and O&M instructors to provide appropriate assessments, to develop relevant education plans, and to provide instruction and evaluation in the unique and specialized curricula.

  1. Lack of knowledge and recognition by teachers and administrators that children who are blind/visually impaired have specialized needs.
  2. There is insufficient time during the school day, week, or years, for students in community regular education programs, to complete the traditional and expanded core curricula.
  3. Most parents are not informed advocates for their children. They have little knowledge about the potential needs and abilities of their children. They are not familiar with the core curriculum and are therefore ill-prepared to be effective advocates.
  4. The concept the core curriculum is new to parents and professionals in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired. Continued dissemination about the core curriculum is needed.
  5. University personnel preparation programs need to review their programs and the competencies required for graduation as they relate to teaching the core curriculum.
  6. Teachers and O&M specialists whose caseloads are too high and/or whose geographic area is too large will seldom have time to be anything more than a consultant. Instruction in the core curriculum requires skill in understanding the impact of visual impairment on learning, and it would be seldom appropriate to expect classroom teachers to take responsibility for the core curriculum.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. All parents, teachers of blind/visually impaired children and O&M instructors will know the core curriculum and accept responsibility for its implementation.

    All teachers and parents will receive information about, and instruction in, the core curriculum, through conferences, meetings, workshops, print or electronic media. State AER chapters, together with local, regional and state NAPVI, ACB, NFB, and other organizations, should be approached to endorse the core curriculum and be provided with information about the National Agenda, A Report to the Nation, and the Call to Action so they can be informed and in turn work for it's implementation. SEAs/LEAs will be asked to endorse or adopt the core curriculum. Systematic monitoring of IEPs will ensure the implementation of the core curriculum. Implementation of the core curriculum will result in a demonstrable difference in the independence, socialization, and employment of former students.
  2. Areas of the expanded core curriculum need to become recognized and have the same status of traditional courses in school.

    Subjects in the expanded core curriculum need to be required for students and can be substituted for traditional core courses. Students will be allowed to take fewer semesters of traditional core subjects in order to fit in the expanded core. Subjects, such as "Independent Living Skills" will achieve equal status in importance to, for example, "Social Studies". Instruction in expanded core curriculum areas are required on the student's transcript in order to graduate.
  3. Professionals and informed parents assume responsibility for assisting all parents to become advocates for their children.

    Accept the concept that the prepared and informed parent is the professional's strongest ally in the IEP meeting. Professionals and parents set up a systematic process for providing every parent in the state/region with knowledge about the educational needs and opportunities for their children. Conduct informal information sharing and more formal workshops for parents, professionals, and consumers.
  4. Establish a system for developing knowledge and skills relating to the core curriculum with experienced teachers and administrators. Work to include the core curriculum into your state's Comprehensive Systems for Personnel Development (CSPD). Knowledge areas to be addressed include:
    1. What constitutes the core curriculum;
    2. Skills in teaching areas of the core curriculum;
    3. How to orchestrate instruction in all areas of the teacher's responsibility; and,
    4. How administrators can support teachers in the implementation of the core curriculum.
  5. University programs must include skills in teaching the core curriculum in their personnel preparation programs for teachers of children who are blind/visually impaired.

    University programs will review required competencies by CEC/AER as they relate to the core curriculum. University programs will modify their curriculum as necessary to include the core curriculum. University programs will facilitate opportunities for student teaching, practica, and internship experiences that provide opportunities to teach the core curriculum to students who are blind/visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities.
  6. Provide teachers with the time and resources to teach the core curriculum.

    Some assessment instruments and curriculum materials are available in all areas of the core curriculum. (See reference to Annotated Bibliography of Curriculum Materials, page ) Teachers must have access to these materials through SEAs/LEAs. In addressing the time issue, teachers must first demand a reasonable case load or class size (See Goal 4). Some strategies to consider include: Teachers work a flex day, allowing time to teach core subjects in settings that make the most sense such as the community and home. Slow down students' schedules, allowing them to take two- to- three years longer to graduate. Consider enrollment in a special school for children who are blind/visually impaired for one or two years, to concentrate on subjects in the expanded core curriculum. Extended school year (ESY) or summer programs and other possible short term programs might address some of the need for time to teach the core curriculum.

    To not teach the core curriculum because there is insufficient time is not an option. The expanded core curriculum needs to be accepted as required for graduation for all students who are blind or visually impaired.

CONCLUSION

Join the National Agenda movement. Address the goals that are most critical for the infants, toddlers, children and youths who are blind and visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities in your state.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the National Agenda's Steering Committee and the National Goal Leaders, without their diligence and commitment this Call To Action would not be possible.

Acronyms

ACB--American Council of the Blind

AER--Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

AFB--American Foundation for the Blind

AIRC--Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped

APH -- American Printing House for the Blind

CEC--Council for Exceptional Children

CEC-DVI--Council for Exceptional Children-Division for the Visually Impaired

CSPD--Comprehensive System for Personnel Development

FTE--Full Time Equivalency

IDEA-- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IEP-- Individualized Education Program

IRC--Instructional Resource Centers

LEA--Local Educational Agency (School District, Cooperative, and County)

NA--National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments Including Those with Multiple Disabilities

NAPVI--National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired

NFB--National Federation of the Blind

NGL--National Goal Leader for National Agenda

NLS-- Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

O&M-- Orientation and Mobility

OSEP--Office of Special Education Programs (U.S. Department of Education)

OSERS-- Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Programs (U.S. Department of Education)

RFB&D-- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic

SEA--State Education Agency (State Education Department)

TSBVI--Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

TVI-- Teacher of the Visually Impaired Resources

American Council for the Blind 1155 15th Street, N.W. Suite 720 Washington, DC 20005 (202) 467-5081 (800) 424-8666 (202) 467-5085 fax Website: http://www.acb.org

American Foundation for the Blind 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300 New York, NY 10001 (212) 502-7600 (800) 232-5463 (212) 502-7777 fax Website: http://www.afb.org

American Printing House for the Blind 1839 Frankfort Avenue Post Office Box 6085 Louisville, KY 40206-0085 (502) 895-2405 (800) 223-1839 (502) 899-2274 fax Website: http://www.aph.org

Council for Exceptional Children 1920 Association Drive Reston, VA 20191-1589 (703) 620-3660 (800) 328-0272 (703) 264-9494 fax Website: http://www.cec.sped.org

Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped 1291 Taylor Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20542 (202) 707-5100 (800) 424-8567 (202) 707-0712 fax Website: http://www.loc.gov/nls

National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired P.O. Box 317 Watertown, MA 02272-0317 (800) 562-6265 (617) 972-7444 fax National Federation of the Blind 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, MD 21230 (410) 659-9314 (410) 685-5653 fax Website: http://www.nfb.org

Office of Special Education Programs 330 C Street, S.W., Room 3086 Washington, DC 20202 (202) 205-5507 Website: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexia 20 Roszel Road Princeton, NJ 08540 (609) 452-0606 (800) 221-4792 (609) 987-8116 fax Website: http://www.rfbd.org

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired 1100 West 45th Street Austin, TX 78756 (512) 454-8631 (512) 206-9242 (512) 454-3395 fax (512) 206-9320 fax Website: http://www.tsbvi.edu

References

Corn, A.L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K.M., Ryan, F., & Siller, M.A. (1995). The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. New York: AFB Press.

Corn, A.L. & Huebner, K.M. (Eds.), (1998). A Report to the Nation: The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. New York: AFB Press.

Hatlen, P. (1996). "The Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Including Those with Additional Disabilities".

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Policy Statements: "Policy Guidance on Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students" in A Report to the Nation: The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. New York: AFB Press, and Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Policy Guidance from OSERS.

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The Facts

  • Although you may have only a few children with visual impairments in your school district, you are obligated to serve them appropriately under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • IDEA mandates that a continuum of placement options be made available to all students with visual impairments and that districts make students and their families aware of those options.
  • Early intervention can improve the educational outcomes for these children.
  • Visually impaired students need to learn disability-specific skills such as reading and writing with braille or using low vision devices, travel skills, career education, and independent living skillsfrom specially trained and certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS).
  • Access to instructional materials in appropriate formats is critical to assuring educational progress.

What Must Be Done?

  • Offer an array of service delivery options for children with visual impairments.
  • Support opportunities for partnerships among parents, the medical community, and school personnel that address early detection and services for children with visual impairments.
  • Ensure that a person with expertise in visual impairments is available to all students including those in early intervention programs.
  • Support the efforts of higher education facilities that train teachers to work in the field of visual impairments and hire their graduates.
  • Ensure that teachers who work with children with visual impairments have reasonable caseloads so that special skills can be taught to support educational programming.
  • Be aware of community resources, including rehabilitation agencies, consumer and parent organizations, as well as businesses, that can supplement your educational offerings.
  • Know the professionals in your area who have expertise in visual impairmentsand use them!
  • Provide in-service training opportunities for staff who may work with visually impaired children.
  • Require efforts to provide timely access to quality materials in braille, large print, and taped formats.
  • Ensure that children with visual impairments receive comprehensive assessments under the guidance of personnel trained in visual impairments.
  • Require the teaching of disability-specific skills to students with visual impairments.

How Can You Get More Information?

Visit National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (includes contact information for your state coordinator and the OSEP Policy Guidance Paper).

Contact your state's special school for the blind or visually impaired. If you are unsure of how to reach a special school, call Dr. Phil Hatlen at 512/206-9133; e-mail: .

This material was prepared by participants in the National Agenda effort, which is endorsed by the American Foundation for the Blind, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the American Printing House for the Blind, the Council of Schools for the Blind as well as numerous other organizations of and for the blind throughout the United States.

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Summer 2002

NATIONAL AGENDA

STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Parent Co-Chairs:

Donna Stryker & Brunhilde Merk-Adam

Professional Co-Chairs:

Kathleen M. Huebner & Karen Wolffe

Dr. Anne Corn, Nashville, TN

Dr. Phil Hatlen, Austin, TX

Dr. Kathleen M. Huebner, Elkins Park, PA

Susan LaVenture, Watertown, MA

Donna McNear, Cambridge, MN

Brunhilde Merk-Adam, Southfield, MI

Dick Pomo, Madison, WI

Mary Ann Siller, Dallas, TX

Dr. Susan Spungin, New York, NY

Donna Stryker, Las Cruces, NM

Dr. Karen Wolffe, Austin, TX

What is the National Agenda?

The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (Corn, Hatlen, Huebner, Ryan, Siller, 1995) is a grassroots effort to change the way visually impaired and blind children are being educated. Even with IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and FAPE (Free Appropriate Public Education) the fact remains that children with visual impairments do not always learn enough in school to get a job or live independently after graduation.

The National Agenda is the result of parents, teachers, and administrators working as partners to make changes for students with visual impairments. These partners have looked at the most important things needed to make education better for visually impaired and blind children. These things make up the eight goals of the National Agenda. We believe that working toward these goals can make a difference in the lives of students with visual impairments.

Why is the National Agenda important to parents of students with visual impairments or blindness?

The National Agenda is important because sometimes months or years go by before someone, usually a parent or teacher, realizes that a child can't see well. More time may go by before the child receives the kinds of services that are needed to learn well. Children with blindness or visual impairments may receive an inferior education because there are not enough teachers and specialists who can meet their special needs. Often children with visual impairments are placed in schools or classrooms that are not right for them, without thought to where the child might learn best.

As parents, we believe using the National Agenda will help our children learn what they need to know to be successful. When parents, teachers, and school administrators use the National Agenda and its eight goals, blind and visually impaired children will receive an appropriate education.

The eight goals of the National Agenda, followed by questions parents may want to ask themselves, follow. Although some answers are included, ours is not an inclusive list and you and your family may want to consult local resources for additional information.

Goal 1: Students and their families will be referred to an appropriate education program within 30 days of identification of a suspected visual impairment.

  • If you have a young child (birth through age 5) have you been referred to an educational program?
  • Were you given a range of choices regarding placement options?

New Parents-- If answer is no to either question, you may want to contact your State Department of Special Education Early Intervention Services (EIS)....make a note of the telephone number below:

________________________________________

Experienced parents-- You may want to advocate on behalf of other parents and their children for early intervention services or simply breathe a sigh of relief that you no longer need worry about this point.

Goal 2: Policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the right of all parents to full participation and equal partnership in the education process.

  • Did you receive information about parent involvement from professionals working with your child?
  • Do you feel that you are an equal partner in the formal educational process as it applies to your child? If not, what would you do to change that? What would have to change in the system?
  • Were you given information about resources outside of the special education system such as parent support groups, consumer advocacy organizations, and so forth? If not, please see resources at the end of this document.

In the formal educational process (i.e., during IEP meetings, transition planning, etc.) equal partnership roles may change as the child gets older-- with younger children, parents are more directly involved, with older students, the student becomes the partner).

In order to be a full and equal partner in the formal education process, parents must be involved in the entirety of the educational process from initial assessment and planning through implementation and continuing assessment.

Goal 3: Universities, with a minimum of one full-time faculty member in the area of visual impairment, will prepare a sufficient number of educators of students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.

  • Are you aware of the critical shortage of Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Instructors throughout the country?
  • Does your state have a college or university program that prepares Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation & Mobility Instructors?
  • Does your school district hire certified Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and Orientation & Mobility Specialists (COMS)?

You can help address this critical shortage : please contact your state National Agenda Coordinator or state parent organization, addressing the needs of children with visual impairments.

Goal 4: Service providers will determine caseloads based on the needs of students and will require ongoing professional development for all teachers and orientation and mobility instructors.

  • Do you feel your child receives disability-specific services from a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and/or a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS) frequently enough?
  • How many students does your child's Teacher of the Visually Impaired have to teach?
  • How many students does your child's O&M Instructor have to teach?
  • Is there a limit on how many children your child's teachers have?

Goal 5: Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of placement options.

  • Did you receive information from your child's current school about alternative placement options available to you? Do you know the pros and cons of each?
  • Do you feel that your child can enroll in the placement option you feel is most appropriate?
  • Do you feel you can change the placement option according to the educational needs of your child as he or she gets older?

Goal 6: Assessment of students will be conducted, in collaboration with parents, by personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments.

  • Have school district personnel assessed your child? Did the assessment team have experience with children like yours?
  • Were you involved in the assessment process?
  • Does your State have resources for assessment or have staff experienced in assessing students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities?

Assessment includes: 1) initial assessments to determine eligibility for special education services, 2) assessments to determine specific services, 3) routine classroom assessments (including Braille proficiency, speed of Braille reading, use of the abacus, etc.), and 4) standardized testing.

Goal 7: Access to developmental and educational services will include an assurance that instructional materials are available to students in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers.

  • Does your child receive his or her textbooks and instructional materials in the appropriate medium (for example, in Braille or large print)?
  • Does your child receive his or her textbooks and instructional materials at the same time as sighted peers?
  • Does your child have the correct adaptive equipment (for example, closed circuit television set (CCTV), computer with speech or enlarged print, or adaptive software, tactile measuring devices, manipulative and accessible science equipment etc.) to participate fully in classes?

You may need to advocate for both textbooks and instructional materials, including assistive technology such as electronic note takers or speech access to the Internet for your child.

Goal 8: Educational and developmental goals, including instruction, will reflect the assessed needs of each student in all areas of academic and disability-specific core curricula.

  • Do you feel your child's school program addresses his or her disability-specific needs (for example, use of low vision devices, Braille, O&M, assistive technology, instruction in sign language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social skills, activities of daily living, career education)?
  • Does your district, region or state mandate that children with visual impairments receive instruction in disability-specific skills as well as standard academic content?
  • Have you heard of the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments and do you use it when developing your child's IEP goals?

Although the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Impairments currently contains only the eight goals reviewed above, many parents and professionals believe another goal concerning the importance of Transition Services needs to also be considered. In some states, the local stakeholders have added such a goal to their state agendas. This is certainly an option in your state if you and other parents and professionals believe it can strengthen your efforts on behalf of students with visual impairments.

The critical importance of the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments

The expanded core curriculum (Hatlen, 1996) is the body of knowledge and skills that are needed by students with visual impairments because of their unique disability-specific needs. Students with visual impairments need the expanded core curriculum (see below) in addition to the core academic curriculum of general education.

Core Academic Curriculum

  • English language arts
  • Other languages to the extent possible
  • Mathematics
  • Health
  • Science
  • Physical education
  • Social studies
  • History
  • Economics
  • Business education
  • Fine arts
  • Vocational education

Expanded Core Curriculum

  • Compensatory academic skills, including communication modes
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Social interaction skills
  • Independent living skills
  • Recreation and leisure skills
  • Career education
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Visual efficiency skills

Compensatory or functional academic skills include learning experiences such as concept development and spatial awareness, organizational skills, using braille or low vision devices to read and write, using alternative communication systems such as sign language or the use of calendar systems, using recorded materials, and so forth.

Orientation and Mobility training focuses on alternatives to using sight for safe and independent travel purposes. In this instructional area, children are taught the use of the long cane and techniques for using any remaining vision that they may have such as the use of optical devices such as telescopes or monoculars.

Social interaction skills must be taught to children with visual impairments because they are unable to casually observe how people interact and socialize with one another. They must be taught when and how to smile, frown, nod, wink, shrug, and the many other nonverbal communication skills.

Independent living skills are the chores people perform, according to their abilities, which enable them to manage their homes and personal lives. These chores include grooming, eating and preparing meals, taking care of household chores, money and time management, and so forth.

Recreation and leisure skills may include traditional as well as adapted physical education activities. However, as with social interaction skills visually impaired children need help identifying the array of choices available to them in this area and must be taught how to perform leisure skills that most children learn through observation.

Career education for students with visual impairments needs to begin as early as possible and include self-awareness and career exploration activities, job seeking skills instruction, information about job keeping, and encourage opportunities for gaining work experience.

Instruction in the use and maintenance of assistive technology is needed in the curriculum for students with visual impairments. Assistive technology enables blind and visually students to access and store information from libraries around the world and the Internet. In addition, students with visual impairments can use assistive technology for notetaking, studying for tests, research and a variety of other academic uses.

Visual efficiency skills are those skills that children with impaired, but good remaining vision use to make the most use of their remaining sight. Instruction in this area may focus on the use of optical devices such as magnifiers, bioptic aids, telescopes, closed circuit televisions, and so forth.

How can the National Agenda impact the lives of you, your family, and your child?

Knowledge is power. With the knowledge that parents and professionals from all over the United States developed and support the eight goals of the National Agenda, you can use them as tools when working with your child, in your district, with school administrators, teachers and support staff to guarantee that your child's educational program meets his or her needs. The eight goals of the National Agenda provide guidelines to consider for your child's successful educational outcomes.

Some of the goals may not seem related to your child or your situation. However, consider this example. Your child is blind and needs Braille instruction; the district cannot provide a teacher of the visually impaired because although they have advertised, they are having difficulty finding a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. Goal 3 is Teacher Preparation; this does affect you, your child and your situation because your child is not receiving services. Perhaps in the larger picture you can affect change for your child by bringing this issue to your state representatives and senators, or your State Board of Education (SBOE).

References

Corn, A. L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K. M., Ryan, F., Siller, M. A. (1995). The national agenda for the education of children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. NY: American Foundation for the Blind.

Hatlen, P. (1996). The core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students, including those with additional disabilities. RE:view 28, 25-32.

Notes:

Acronyms of Interest to Parents

ACB American Council of the Blind

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act

AER Association for Education & Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

AFB American Foundation for the Blind

APH American Printing House for the Blind

AT Assistive Technology

CEC Council for Exceptional Children

COMS Certified O&M Specialist

DVR Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

ECI Early Childhood Intervention

FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education

FERPA Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act

IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IEP Individualized Education Program

IFSP Individualized Family Services Plan

ILS Independent Living Skills (AKA ADL & DLS)

ISD Independent School District

ITP Individualized Transition Plan

LEA Local Education Agency

LRE Least Restrictive Environment

NAPVI National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired

NFB National Federation of the Blind

NLS National Library Service

NOPBC National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

O&M Orientation & Mobility

OSEP Office of Special Education Policy

OT Occupational Therapy

P&A Protection & Advocacy

Para Paraprofessional (aide)

PAC Parent Advisory Council

PT Physical Therapy

RFB&D Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic

SEA State Education Agency

S&L Speech & Language

Section 504

SSA Social Security Administration

TCVI Teacher Consultant for the Visually

Impaired (see TVI)

TVI Teacher of the Visually Impaired (see TCVI)

VRC Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

VRT Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher

Resource List

American Council of the Blind (ACB)
Council of Families with Visual Impairments
1515 15th Street N.W. Suite 720
Washington, DC 2005
(800) 424-8666
(202) 467-5081
Fax (202) 467-5085
URL: http://www.acb.org

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
11 Penn Plaza
Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
(800) 232-5463
(212) 502-7600
URL: http://www.afb.org

American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
(800) 223-1839
(502) 895-2405
FAX (502) 895-1508
URL: http://www.aph.org

Descriptive Video Service, WGBH (DVS)
125 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 492-2777 x 3490
URL: http://www.wgbh.org/dvs

Hadley School for the Blind
700 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
(800) 323-4238
(847) 446-8111
URL: http://www.hadley-school.org

Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
111 Middle Neck Road
Sands Point, NY 11050
(516) 944-8900
TDD (516) 944-8637
FAX (516) 944-7302
URL: http://www.helenkeller.org

National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI)
PO Box 317
Watertown, MA 02272-0317
(800) 562-6265
(617) 972-7441
URL://www.napvi.org

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659-9314
URL: http://www.nfb.org

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
Library of Congress
1291 Taylor Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20542
(800) 424-8567
URL: http://lcweb.loc.gov/nls/html

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc. (RFB&D)
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
(800) 221-4791
(609) 451-0606
FAX (609) 987-8116
URL: http://www.rfbd.org

In the space below, write in the names and contact information for individuals in your state who can help you implement the National Agenda.

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National Agenda Goal Statements

  1. Students and their families will be referred to an appropriate education program within 30 days of identification of a suspected visual impairment.
  2. Policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the right of all parents to full participation and equal partnership in the education process.
  3. Universities, with a minimum of one full-time faculty member in the area of visual impairment, will prepare a sufficient number of educators of students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.
  4. Service providers will determine caseloads based on the needs of students and will require ongoing professional development for all teachers and orientation and mobility instructors.
  5. Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of placement options.
  6. Assessment of students will be conducted, in collaboration with parents, by personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments.
  7. Access to developmental and educational services will include an assurance that instructional materials are available to students in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers.
  8. Educational and developmental goals, including instruction, will reflect the assessed needs of each student in all areas of academic and disability-specific core curricula.

The National Agenda goal statements apply to all children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. Parents, teachers, and adults with visual impairments identified these goals as critical outcomes to insure that children with visual impairments receive a quality education and these goals are the focal point of the National Agenda effort.

The goals in the National Agenda represent a wide spectrum of issues that have an impact on the quality of services provided to students in educational programs. Some goals have a direct relationship to teachers, such as Goal #4 (caseload management and continuing education), Goal #6 (assessment), Goal #7 (access to instructional materials), and Goal #8 (importance of teaching the expanded core curriculum). Other goals have an indirect relationship to teachers such as Goal #1 (timely referral) and Goal #3 (personnel preparation). Regardless of the relationship, your interest and involvement is important in achieving all of the National Agenda goals.

The National Agenda is designed to help support teachers and parents as they work to assure a quality education for children and youth through the school years. What teachers know and do has great impact on student progress and achievement. As a teacher of students with visual impairments, you play a pivotal role in the long-term success of your students. The purpose of this document is to provide you with information about the importance of the National Agenda and to identify how you can effectively embrace its mission and improve the lives of children and youth who are blind or visually impaired.

Implementation of the National Agenda

Role of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVIs)

As a teacher of students with visual impairments, you play a key role in the overall functioning of the school program and you are in contact with a wide range of school personnel and your students' families and support systems. Specialized activities of a teacher of students with visual impairments include performing assessment and evaluation of students, mediating the learning environment and adapting the curriculum, providing guidance and counseling to students, communicating with administrators, providing supervision to instructional assistants, record keeping, and maintaining school community relations (Spungin & Ferrell, 1991). In addition to these supportive activities, TVIs provide direct instruction in the Expanded Core Curriculum content areas. Although teachers of students with visual impairments teach in a variety of settings such as general education classrooms as itinerants, resource rooms, residential schools, and so forth, their presence is essential to the educational process for their students. The National Agenda supports your role and responsibility as a teacher. In addition, families, administrators, and your professional colleagues can more easily understand the unique needs of students with visual impairments when you use the goals of the National Agenda to structure your involvement.

Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVIs) have a challenging job. In many states, they are isolated from their colleagues in the field of blindness and low vision, because they are often the only teacher in their district or even county. They often work on their own, providing crucial services on a daily basis with little time to focus on issues outside of their sphere of influence. For these reasons, it is important that TVIs connect with the larger community of professionals serving students with visual impairments in efforts such as implementing the National Agenda. The following are suggestions for helping you gain and maintain knowledge about the goals of the National Agenda:

  1. Obtain copies of the National Agenda publications for distribution and ongoing reference. Most publications can be obtained by downloading them from the National Agenda web page.
  2. However, some of the hardcopies of publications are available from the American Foundation for the Blind and other organizations. See the resources section at the end of this document for specifics and contact information.
  3. Review the National Agenda web page periodically for updates and general information on how to contact your state coordinator or National Agenda Steering Committee Members. The
  4. National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities
  5. Use the eight goal areas of the National Agenda as a way to evaluate your school program or services provided statewide.
  6. Discuss your state's progress towards achieving the goals of the National Agenda with colleagues and parents of students with whom you work.
  7. Use the eight goals of the National Agenda as a framework for in-service training or for presentations at local parent or professional groups.
  8. Attend conference sessions that focus on updating teachers about the progress of the National Agenda.

Communicating with Parents, Administrators, and Colleagues

The National Agenda presents a framework for improving services to children and youth with visual impairments. This framework allows for the development of concrete issues to be identified, strategies to be implemented and a distinct message to be delivered to the public concerning the needs of children with visual impairments. The National Agenda is a set of priorities, stated as goals, which have been advanced by a unique network of state coordinators (Corn & Huebner, 1998). No less significant is the powerful grassroots base that supports the efforts of the National Agenda. The focus at the grassroots level emphasizes the power of individuals to have an impact on local, regional and national changes that impact the education of students who are blind or visually impaired.

The National Agenda offers you a valuable communication tool. Parents, administrators, and other school personnel view TVIs as the primary resource for ideas and information related to working with students who have visual impairments. The National Agenda materials (see the resource section at the end of this document for a listing of materials available) provide recognized documentation to assist educators in defining best practices in education and the provision of instructional services to students with visual impairments. Because many states have adopted state plans and have active committees working to implement the goals of the National Agenda, there are teams ready to give you support and supply you with additional, local resources.

The following are suggestions for how you can participate in this important effort by communicating with parents, administrators, and colleagues.

  • Learn if your state has an active National Agenda working group. If such a group is available, communicate with the state coordinator(s) about opportunities to participate.
  • If your state does not have an active National Agenda working group, work with colleagues in your state to develop and implement a state agenda that includes relevant National Agenda goals. Examples of state agendas are available for review on the National Agenda web site. The state agendas typically focus on specific local needs.
  • Make sure that parents, administrators, and colleagues are aware of the goals of the National Agenda and the benefit of applying the framework of the National Agenda to educational plans for individual students.
  • Use the framework of the National Agenda to communicate the necessary essential elements for educating children and youth who are blind or visually impaired. By using this framework, you are building a common base of understanding among parents and professionals.
  • Use the framework of the National Agenda to organize IEP objectives for parents and students. For example, you might begin IEP meetings by providing a list of the expanded core curriculum areas (see Appendix A) and moving through each of the areas while discussing the student's strengths and needs.
  • Provide information to administrators and professional colleagues about the National Agenda and how its structure provides support for communicating the importance of specialized services to parents and policy makers. (You may want to use the flyer designed for administrators that describes the National Agenda and tells how they can support it.)
  • Coordinate local partnerships among people involved in the education of students with visual impairments to advocate for high quality services as outlined in the National Agenda.
  • Structure your argument for adding new professionals to your school district or cooperative team around the National Agenda. Provide policy makers with a list of areas of the expanded core curriculum to point out the necessity for ongoing, intense support and direct instruction from qualified teachers of students with visual impairments.
  • Be instrumental in recruiting parents, administrators, and other teachers to join your state and local National Agenda committees.
  • Develop a master list of your favorite web sites related to goals of the National Agenda and areas of the expanded core curriculum and share it with your colleagues, students, and their families.
  • Make time to regularly speak to your students and their families about issues related to the shared goals of the National Agenda and opportunities for addressing the expanded core curriculum.
  • Use consistent language regarding the Expanded Core Curriculum at every opportunity so that students and families have a clear understanding of the assessed needs and instruction provided.
  • Respond to questions and concerns posted on listservs based on your experiences and reference the National Agenda.
  • Write articles for local, state or national newsletters or journals, including those for parents and focus on at least one of the eight goal areas.

Caseload Management

Teachers of students with visual impairments are often in a position to provide information to parents and administrators that will have an impact on decisions that are made about caseloads and hiring qualified teachers. In many cases, teachers are in school districts as the single person employed to address the needs of students with visual impairments. When this is the case, it may be difficult for a teacher to advocate for additional qualified personnel because such an argument may seem self-serving. In fact, advocating for appropriate levels of service for students with visual impairments is a professional responsibility.

In 1998, there were approximately 93,600 children and youth with visual impairments age 0-21 who received special education services. Of that number, it is estimated that 32,700 (35%) had a visual impairment as their only disability and 50,100 (53%) who had at least one additional disability (except deafness). In addition, 10,800 (12%) of these students were diagnosed as deaf-blind (Mason, Davidson, & McNerney, 2000).

It is difficult to determine the actual number of teachers of students with visual impairments needed nationwide, since the number of teachers is dependent on the unique needs of individual students. However, if the student:teacher ratio of 8:1 is used as an estimate, then for the approximately 93,600 children, 11,700 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers are needed. The current estimated number of FTE specialized teachers (visual impairment and deaf-blindness combined) is 6,700, leaving a deficit of 5,000 (Mason, Davidson, & McNerney, 2000).

The following are activities in which the use of the aforementioned demographic data might be helpful to advocate for appropriate services or to solicit additional funding to support your efforts:

  • Provide rationale to administrators and/or school boards for services, manageable caseload sizes, qualified teachers, orientation and mobility specialists, and braille transcribers based on the assessed needs of students.
  • Advocate for program emphasis on provision of services in areas of the expanded core curriculum (instruction in braille reading & writing, use of low vision devices, assistive technology, social skills, O&M, career education, activities of daily living, etc.).
  • Document the need to purchase optical devices or assistive technology (electronic note takers, speech and or braille output devices for computers, screen enlargement programs, etc.); and adaptive tools (audible levels, talking scales, beeping athletic equipment, brailled measuring devices, and so forth).
  • Communicate information to parents and students about the population of students with visual impairments, emphasizing the need for parents and students to reach out to the broader community to connect with others who have the same needs and interests.
  • Study the effectiveness of local, state or regional programs, especially the level of specialized services available to children and youth with visual impairments. (This type of accountability requires performance-based measures that are tied to student achievement.)
  • Provide the local media with accurate information about students' unique programs, accomplishments and capabilities.
  • Involve the local community in support of summer employment opportunities, volunteerism, or related activities.
  • Solicit assistance (fiscal or volunteer) from service organizations such as Lions' Clubs, Delta Gamma, and others.
  • Write grant proposals requesting additional monies, resources, or innovative programming.

Assessment

The most important result of the National Agenda will be the provision of timely, quality educational services for students with visual impairments. A critical component for assuring the success of the goals is ongoing assessment of students to determine their unique educational needs. By conducting appropriate assessments, teachers of students with visual impairments identify students' specific needs related to the general curriculum and the content areas identified in the expanded core curriculum and their progress in each area. The following suggestions can help you prepare for this important role:

  • Conduct ongoing specialized assessments including functional vision assessments, learning media assessments, assessments in the content areas of the expanded core curriculum, and assistive technology assessments.
  • Support assessment of concept development and travel skills by certified Orientation & Mobility Instructors.
  • Engage in diagnostic teaching activities designed to determine effective strategies for teaching specialized skills;
  • Communicate results of assessments to parents and school administrators to gain support for appropriate services.

Timely Access to Instructional Materials

Students with visual impairments need to have accessible materials available in a timely manner in order to make steady progress in school. Given the often lengthy process of preparing or developing adapted or modified instructional materials, it is important for the teacher to take direct steps to assure that students have the materials at an appropriate time. These steps may include the following:

  • Use the results of both clinical and functional vision assessments as well as a Learning Media Assessment to determine the types of instructional materials students need.
  • Begin the process of ordering appropriate media for your students (adapted textbooks in large print, recorded format, electronic format, or braille) as early as possible in the school year.
  • Facilitate in securing appropriate nonoptical and electronic low vision devices as well as prescribed optical devices for students with low vision.
  • Collaborate with a local braillist to assure that braille textbooks and other instructional materials are prepared appropriately and in a timely manner. If a qualified braillist is not available and if one is needed, work with school administrators to train or hire such an individual.
  • Follow closely the work of the Solutions Forum, a working group of professionals and adults with visual impairments who advocate nationally for the provision of accessible educational materials.
  • For information on the Solutions Forum, visit the American Foundation for the Blind web site (www.afb.org).

Importance of Teaching the Expanded Core Curriculum

Although states differ in policy and practice, there is a model for broad programming that reaches beyond state borders"the National Agenda's expanded core curriculum (Hatlen, 1996). The expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments describes the skill areas necessary for students to develop and be prepared for a successful adult life. This disability-specific curriculum goes beyond the academics skill areas and emphasizes an expanded learning base that is needed by every student with visual impairments. The expanded core curriculum offers the IEP team a base to review students' strengths and weaknesses.

The expanded core curriculum includes:

  • Compensatory or functional academic skills, including communication modes;
  • Orientation and mobility;
  • Social interaction skills;
  • Independent living skills,
  • Recreation and leisure skills;
  • Career education;
  • Technology; and
  • Visual efficiency skills.

Compensatory or functional academic skills include learning experiences such as concept development and spatial awareness, organizational skills, using braille or optical devices to read and write, using alternative communication systems such as sign language or the use of calendar systems, using recorded materials, and so forth.

Orientation and Mobility training focuses on alternatives to using sight for safe and independent travel purposes. In this instructional area, children are taught the use of the long cane and techniques for using any remaining vision that they may have such as the use of optical devices such as telescopes or monoculars.

Social interaction skills must be taught to children with visual impairments because they are unable to casually observe how people interact and socialize with one another. They must be taught when and how to smile, frown, nod, wink, shrug, and the many other nonverbal communication skills.

Independent living skills are the chores people perform, according to their abilities, which enable them to manage their homes and personal lives. These chores include grooming, eating and preparing meals, taking care of household chores, money and time management, and so forth.

Recreation and leisure skills may include traditional as well as adapted physical education activities. However, as with social interaction skills visually impaired children need help identifying the array of choices available to them in this area and must be taught how to perform leisure skills that most children learn through observation.

Career education for students with visual impairments needs to begin as early as possible and include self-awareness and career exploration activities, job seeking skills instruction, information about job keeping, and encourage opportunities for gaining work experience.

Instruction in the use and maintenance of assistive technology is needed in the curriculum for students with visual impairments. Assistive technology enables blind and visually students to access and store information from libraries around the world and the Internet. In addition, students with visual impairments can use assistive technology for notetaking, studying for tests, research and a variety of other academic uses.

Visual efficiency skills are those skills that children with impaired, but good remaining vision use to make the most use of their remaining sight. Instruction in this area may focus on the use of optical devices such as magnifiers, bioptic aids, telescopes, closed circuit televisions, reading spectacles, and so forth.

The following are things you can do to focus on the expanded core curriculum areas in the work you do with your students:

  • Make sure that all the expanded core curriculum areas needed by each student are included in his or her IEP.
  • Make sure that appropriately qualified professionals (TVIs/COMS) teach the expanded core curriculum to students with visual impairments.
  • Memorize the areas of the expanded core curriculum and be able to "rattle them off" at a moment's notice when an administrator, classroom teacher or parent asks "What exactly do you do?"
  • Use materials from the Annotated Bibliography of Curricular Materials Related to the Core Curriculum for Children and Youths with Visual Impairment, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (Levack, 1997) and add to the bibliography as you discover additional relevant materials. This resource can be downloaded from the National Agenda web site.
  • Develop new and different approaches to teaching the expanded core curriculum and share them with your peers in professional journals and monographs, through conference presentations, and organizational newsletters.

Summary

The goals in the National Agenda represent a wide spectrum of issues that have an impact on the quality of services provided to students in educational programs. The National Agenda's success in bringing attention to the need to achieve these goals has occurred as a result of the shared roles, responsibilities and commitments of professionals, parents, and consumers throughout the United States (Corn & Huebner, 1998).

Your knowledge, skills, and experiences as a teacher of students with visual impairments provide a perspective that is critical to forming and implementing solutions to all of the National Agenda goals. The following practical strategies summarize how you can promote a teacher's voice in the National Agenda effort:

  • Read and reflect on the goals of the National Agenda. Develop your own positions and discuss the issues with colleagues.
  • Periodically visit the National Agenda website to stay current on the National Agenda issues and materials. Copy and distribute key information to administrators, general educators, parents, policymakers, and other interested parties.
  • Participate in your state on committees or task forces that promote or support the National Agenda initiatives.
  • Encourage discussion of the National Agenda goals and promote and implementation of the goals at local and state professional meetings.

Thank you for your interest in the National Agenda and welcome.

Publications authored by members of the National Agenda working groups include a flyer for administrators, which describes the National Agenda and how an administrator can support the effort; a booklet for parents, The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities: A Parent Perspective; and this booklet, The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities: A Teacher Perspective. These publications are all available on-line at the National Agenda web page.

Power Point presentations are also available to download on the National Agenda web site to facilitate your efforts in presenting information about the National Agenda effort to parents, administrators, and other concerned professionals. Use them or modify them for your own presentations.

References

Corn, A. L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K. M., Ryan, F., Siller, M. A. (1995). The national agenda for the education of children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. NY: American Foundation for the Blind.

Corn, A. L., & Huebner, K. M. (1998). A report to the nation: The national agenda for the education of children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press.

Hatlen, P. (1996). The core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students, including those with additional disabilities. RE:view 28, 25-32.

Levack, N. (1997). Annotated bibliography of curricular materials related to the core curriculum for children and youths with visual impairment, including those with multiple disabilities. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Spungin, S. J., & Ferrell, K. A. (1991). The role and function of the teacher of students with visual handicaps. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

Resource List

There are a number of documents available to you that support practical application of the National Agenda. Although many of these materials are listed below, including publications that were generated as an outgrowth of National Agenda activities, this is not an inclusive list. Please continue to add to this list and share it with others.

Benoff, K., Lang, M. A., & Beck-Viisola, M. (2001). Compendium of instruments for assessing the skills and interests of individuals with visual impairments or multiple disabilities. New York: Lighthouse International.

Corn, A. L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K. M., Ryan, F., & Siller, M. A. (1995). Developing the national agenda for the education of children and youths with visual disabilities, including those with multiple disabilities. RE:view, 28(1), 5-15.

Corn, A. L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K. M., Ryan, F., & Siller, M. A. (1995). The national agenda for the education of children and youths with visual disabilities, including those with multiple disabilities. New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press.

Corn, A. L., & Huebner, K. M. (1998). A report to the nation: The national agenda for the education of children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. New York: American Foundation for the Blind Press.

Hatlen, P. (1996). The core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students, including those with additional disabilities. RE:view, 28(1), 25-32.

Levack, N. (1997). Annotated bibliography of curricular materials related to the core curriculum for children and youths with visual impairment, including those with multiple disabilities. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Mason, C., Davidson, R., & McNerney, C. (2000). National plan for training personnel to serve children with blindness and low vision. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

Pugh, G. S., & Erin, J. (Eds.). (1999). Blind and visually impaired students: Educational service guidelines. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.

Stryker, D., Huebner, K., & Hatlen, P. (1999). National agenda: A call to action. Unpublished paper presented at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute.

Wolffe, K. (2001). National agenda implementation in action. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 95(5), 308-310.

Printed with financial support from the American Foundation for the Blind and CEC Division on Visual Impairments.

Notes:

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

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Wisconsin National Agenda

THE WISCONSIN COMMITTEE FOR THE NATIONAL AGENDA PRESENTS:

A 2 or 3 credit graduate class offered through the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. DPI clock hours available. Cost: per credit pay scale UW Whitewater; about $210/cr.; no cost for clock hours except for cost of one book (approximately, $50 00) August 2-5,1999. Those taking the class for two credits will attend class in August, with one possible evening class. In addition to the August dates, those taking the class for three hours will need to return for follow-up classes which include a day of clinical on site assessments in Sept. at WSVH and a day for case study analysis on either November 6th or 20th. Those taking the class for two credits who wish to come to the follow-up classes may do so for clock hours. Instructional site: The Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, 1700 W. State street, Janesville, WI.

Lodging: WI National Agenda funds will be available to provide lodging at a local hotel and the lunch meal will be provided each class day.

Applications by July 23, 1999.
Class size: limited; applicants will be accepted on a first come first serve basis

Prerequisite: Preliminary course work in Structure and Function of the Eye
Instructor: Dr. Susan Hunt, Ed.D., F.A.A.O.

Course Outline

  1. Taking Visual Acuities, Distance and Near
  2. Taking Other Vision Measurements (Contrast, Color, Field)
  3. Making Use of Ophthalmic Information
  4. Finding Magnification Solutions with Telescopes, Hand and Stand Magnification
  5. Finding Solutions in Glare Reduction, Contrast Enhancement or medication
  6. Communicating Findings, Making Recommendations
  7. Training Students to Use Adaptive Lenses and Equipment
  8. Networking with the Ophthalmic Community

Included in the course will be guest speakers; hands-on, practical low vision assessment and applications; case studies and evaluation and summary of the course.

Textbooks and Materials:

The Art and Practice of Low Vision. Freeman & Jose (1991)

Low Vision. A Resource Guide with Adaptation or Students with Visual Impairments. Levack, (1994)

Student evaluation: All students will be evaluated in a variety of ways. These will include but are not limited to: participation in class, knowledge of ophthalmic and low vision terminology, case studies of students, ability to interpret medical/ophthalmic records, and an essay regarding some aspect of low vision care.

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

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Wisconsin National Agenda

Cover design shows an eye reflecting the image of an adult holding a child's hand; the child is holding a cane.

Cover Design: Vanessa Braasch, A 6th Grade Student, with a Visual Impairment, Cambridge, WI
5/2000

When Your Child's Diagnosis Is a Visual Impairment ...

  • "Our pediatrician has diagnosed our child as having a serious visual impairment. What does this mean? How will our child learn to do things?"
  • "My visually impaired daughter is afraid to walk by herself. How can I help her gain confidence?"
  • "My son holds things very close to look at them and sits right in front of the TV. Why does he do this even with his glasses on?"
  • "Our four-year old son who is blind has little interaction with others his age ... how can he learn the social skills he needs to make friends?"
  • " My daughter has multiple disabilities and I have just found out she is also legally blind, but I know that she sees her favorite large stuffed animal. How can this be?"

The purpose of this brochure is to provide information about where to seek assistance for a child who is blind or has a vision loss.

  • A visual impairment impacts all aspects of a child's life.
  • Most learning comes from seeing what is happening around us.
  • The earlier a child receives interventions and learning opportunities, the easier it will be for him/her to develop adaptive skills.

Making the Right Connections

Who Can Help?

There is a wide variety of people, services and agencies that can assist a child who is blind or visually impaired to learn and develop skills. Some are listed below.

Special Education Directors:

Your local school district has personnel that can assist you in locating programs that are appropriate for your child's age.

County Nurses:

These professionals can assist you in locating agencies, and in helping you understand medical information.

Teachers of the Visually Impaired:

  • These professionals are trained to work with you and your child.
  • They can assist you with understanding your child's vision loss and how it impacts his/her education.
  • They will work with your child to develop independence in their educational setting through the use of instructional adaptations and special materials.

Orientation and Mobility Instructors:

These professionals teach your child to develop an understanding of where they are in their environment and how to travel as safely and independently as possible within his/her home, school and community.

State Services:

Department of Public Instruction (DPI)

Ask for the Educational Consultant for Students with Visual Impairments

PO Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841
1-800-441-4563 or 1-608-266-3522

Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Ask for the birth to 3 consultant or for the school age child consultant

1700 West State Street
Jnesville, WI 53546
1-800-832-9784

Wisconsin First Step

1-800-642-STEP (7837)

Center for Blind and Visually Impaired Children

(Private Birth-5 Agency)

5600 West Brown Deer Road
Milwaukee, WI 53223
1-414-355-3060

County and Local Agencies

Child Find:

For children 3 years of age and older, contact your local school district office.

County Nurses:

For children of all ages, look in the directory under local government agencies for county nurses.

Local School District:

For school age children, ask for the special education director.

National Parent Organizations:

(These people can refer you to your local chapters.)

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)

1800 Johnson St.
Baltimore, MD 21230
1-410-659-9314, ext. 360

National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI)

PO Box 317
Watertown, MA 02471
1-800-562-6265

Final Note:

Remember that your child will need to see his/her eye care specialist regularly.

Ophthalmologist/Optometrists:

These professionals help by making sure your child's eyes are healthy and can see as well as possible through eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, special visual aids and other services.

Developed by The Wisconsin National Agenda Committee. This and other documents may be found www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/dlsea/ wcbvi/index.html

This brochure may be photocopied as needed.

Braille or large print copies of this brochure may be obtained from the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired 1-800-832-9784

2/2001

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Wisconsin National Agenda

December 30, 1999--Introduced by Representatives Brandemuehl, Olsen, Kestell, Nass, Musser, Ainsworth, Plale, Wood, Albers, Spillner, Sykora, M. Lehman, Freese, Stone and Gronemus, cosponsored by Senators Grobschmidt, Breske, Rosenzweig, Wirch, Baumgart and Schultz. Referred to Committee on Colleges and Universities.

AN ACT to create 20.235 (1) (cx) and 39.398 of the statutes; relating to: creating a loan program for teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils, granting rule-making authority and making an appropriation.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill creates a loan program, to be administered by the higher educational aids board (HEAB), to defray the educational costs of Wisconsin residents who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program that prepares them to be licensed as teachers or as orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils. The maximum loan that a person may receive during any fiscal year may not exceed $10,000. After a loan recipient has completed his or her degree program, HEAB must forgive 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the first fiscal year, 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the second fiscal year and 50% of the loan's principal and interest for the third fiscal year that the loan recipient is licensed and employed full-time by a school district, the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired or a cooperative educational service agency as a teacher of students with visual impairments or an orientation and mobility instructor of the visually impaired.

For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as an appendix to this bill.

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. 20.005 (3) schedule) of the statutes; at the appropriate place, insert the following amounts for the purposes indicated:

20.235 Higher educational aids boa (1) STUDENT SUPPORT ACTIVITI (cx) Loan program for teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils GPR 1999-00--0; 2000-01--100,000

SECTION 2. 20.235 (1) (cx) of the statutes is created to read:

20.235 (1) (cx) Loan program for teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils. The amounts in the schedule for the teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils loan program under s. 39.398.

SECTION 3. 39.398 of the statutes is created to read:

39.398 Teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils loan progra

(

(a) The board shall establish a loan program to defray the cost of tuition, fees and expenses for residents of this state enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program that prepares persons to be licensed as teachers of visually impaired pupils or as orientation and mobility instructors, as defined by the board by rule, at an accredited institution of higher education in this state or in a physically adjacent state, as defined in s. 175.46 (1) (d). To the extent possible, the board shall give preference, to persons who are likely to return to this state to work with visually impaired persons.

(b) The board shall make loans under this section from the appropriation under s. 20.235 (1) (cx). The maximum amount of a loan for a person during any fiscal year is $10,000. The maximum amount that a person may receive under this section is $40,

(

(a) After the recipient of a loan under sub. (1) has completed the degree program described in sub. (1), the board shall forgive 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the first fiscal year, 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the 2nd fiscal year and 50% of the loan's principal and interest for the 3rd fiscal year that the recipient is licensed and employed full-time as a teacher of pupils with visual impairments or as an orientation and mobility instructor by a school district, the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired or a cooperative educational service agency. The board may forgive loans on a prorated basis for persons employed less than full-time.

(b) The board shall promulgate rules to administer this section.

(END)

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

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Wisconsin National Agenda

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

from http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/een/pdf/2015.pdf

INSTRUCTIONS: To completed by a vision care specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist). Send a completed copy to the referring individual or to the child's school district.
TYPE OR PRINT
CONFIDENTIAL
COMPLETE BOTH PAGES

I. GENERAL INFORMATION

Student's Name ----
Sex ----
Date of Birth ----
Name of Parent ----
Address of Parent Street, City, County, State, Zip ----
Telephone Area/Number ----
Signature of Parent* ----
Date Signed ----

*Consent: Parent signature for Voluntary Release to county agency (if the child is B-3), local school district, Department of Public Instruction for purposes of educational programming and/or registry with the American Printing House for the Blind. This consent can be revoked at any time, cannot be redisclosed to others for any purpose, and is valid for three years from date signed.

II. REFERRAL

Name of Person Making Referral ----
Address Street, City, State, Zip ----
Telephone Area/Number ----

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS BY REFERRING PERSON ----
PHYSICIAN RESPONSE ----

Were Low Vision aids recommended?
Yes ---- If Yes, please list.
No ----

III. Signatures

Name of Examiner Please Print ----
Date of Examination ----
Recommended Date For Next Exam ----
Signature of Examiner ----
M.D. ----
O.D. ----
Date Signed ----
Address Street, City, State, Zip ----
Telephone Area/Number ----

Student's Name: ----

IV. MEASUREMENTS

Measurements are:
Accurate ----
Approximate ----

Visual Acuity
Right Eye (O.D.)
Left Eye (O.S.)
Both Eyes (O.U.)
Distant Vision Without Correction With Best Correction
Near Vision in M Sizes Without Correction With Best Correction
Prescription Sph. Cyl. Axis Add
Instruments Used Preferential looking tests VEP (Visual Evoked Response) Lighthouse Feinbloom Snellen Lea Symbols HOTV Other

Is child determined to be legally blind (equivalent to 20/200 Snellen Acuity) for distance vision?
Yes ----
No ----

Field Loss
Tested Yes ---- No ----
If Yes Central ---- Peripheral----
Widest Diameter of Remaining Visual Field In Degrees
O.D. ----
O.S. ----

Is Child Legally Blind for field Restriction: 20 degrees or less
Yes ----
No ----

Does child exhibit deficits in:
Color Blindness ----
Depth Perception ----
Nightblindness ----
If unable to test, does the diagnosis suggest a visual acuity of 2/70 or less in the better eye after correction or a field restriction of 50 degrees or less?
Yes ----
No ----

V. CAUSE OF BLINDNESS OR VISUAL IMPAIRMENT

Present ocular and/or cortical condition(s) responsible for vision impairment and Etiology.
Etiology: ----
Present Ocular Pathology:
O.D. ----
O.S. ----
O.U. ----
Cortical Visual:
Yes ----
No ----

VI. PROGNOSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A. Student's Vision Impairment
Stable ----
Degenerative ----
Uncertain ----
Potentially Degenerative ----
B. Recommended Treatment:
Patching ----
Drops ----
Pressure Checks ----
Low Vision Evaluation ----
Other Specify ----
C. Glasses Check all that apply:
Prescription ----
Tinted Lenses or Sunglasses ----
Safety Lenses ----
Not Needed ----
Worn constantly ----
Worn for distance viewing ----
Worn for close work ----
D. Physical Activities Is there a medical reason for limiting
participation in contact sports or physical education?
No ----
Yes ---- If yes, explain.