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The National Agenda was developed through the efforts of parents, professionals, and persons with visual impairments. The following history summarizes the process by which the National Agenda project was developed:

October 1993 Informal discussions about the need for a national agenda took place at the annual meeting of the American Printing House for the Blind.

January 1994 An open letter from professors Phil Hatlen, Anne Corn and the late Everett Hill, described the desire of a group of professionals to establish priorities for improving educational programming for children with visual impairments. The letter was placed in a variety of professional journals; readers were asked to provide input for goal statements. A committee was formed to guide the development of the National Agenda. Using responses from the open letter, members of the committee grouped tentative goal statements into five categories.

March 1994 The American Foundation for the Blind adopted the National Agenda as a major project for the 1994 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI); those in attendance held discussions and provided further input for the agenda goal statements. Five committees were formed to finalize the goal statements. During the 1994 JLTLI, a steering committee of four organizations was initiated. The committee represents AFB, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Vanderbilt University.

April 1994 Using the discussions from AFB's Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute and further committee deliberations, each committee submitted 3-5 goal statements which met the following criteria: high priorities for the education of children and youths with visual disabilities, attainable by the year 2000, and high impact for the field. Nineteen goal statements were created.

May 1994 The 19 goal statements were distributed to parents and professionals on lists gathered by the American Foundation for the Blind. Two thousand copies of the goal statements were mailed to professionals, parents of children with visual impairments, and individuals who are visually impaired. Recipients were asked to duplicate and distribute copies to any other interested parents and professionals. Each person was asked to rate the likelihood of a goal statement being achieved and its impact on the education of children and youths with visual disabilities.

June 1994 Over 500 responses from 44 states were received. Using a likelihood-impact analysis, 11 goal statements emerged to be included in the National Agenda. The steering committee decided to condense these times into 8 agenda items and to use language which would be clear and direct, without losing the intent of any item.

September 1994 Eight hundred letters were sent to organizations and agencies across the United States requesting their endorsement of the National Agenda's eight goals.

December 1994 A national Advisory Board of educators, parents and consumers was identified to work with the Steering Committee. One hundred letters of endorsement were received from agencies, schools, institutions of higher education, and parent and consumer organizations.

January 1995 A document detailing the programmatic and policy framework to improve educational programming for children and youths with visual impairments was prepared for publication by American Foundation for the Blind Press. The document is intended for school board members, parents of children with visual impairments, personnel preparation programs, public policymakers, educators, rehabilitation specialists, and consumers.

February 1995 Eight National Goal Leader (NGL) organizations accepted the leadership role to carry out the five-year project of achieving the goals.

March 1995 At AFB's 1995 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute, 96 participants, led by the eight National Goal Leader organizations developed strategies for achieving the goals of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those With Multiple Disabilities.

May 1995 One hundred and twenty-three organizations and agencies have endorsed the National Agenda's goals.

September 1995 A 32 page booklet describing the eight goals, as well as the operational framework of the National Agenda Project, has been published by AFB Press. Setting forth national and regional strategies for achieving the goals and identifying eight organizations serving as National Goal Leaders (NGLs), the document has received widespread distribution among public policymakers, educators, parents of children with visual impairments, school board members, and others. It serves as a valuable resource for communities across the United States in their efforts to improve educational services for visually impaired children.

October 1995 A "Work-in-Progress" meeting was held in Louisville, Kentucky. Representatives of the eight NGL organizations together with the project's National Advisory Board elected National Co-chairs of this project. They are Phil Hatlen, Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Donna Stryker of New Mexico, a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired.

January 1996 A network of State Coordinators has been established consisting of more than fifty professionals, parents and consumers. They serve as liaisons between the NGLs and National Advisory Board and constituents within their respective states.

March 1996 National Agenda Goal Leaders have worked closely with the National Co-chairs, Dr. Phil Hatlen and Ms. Donna Stryker to complete the baseline data-gathering for each goal area.

Developing the National Agenda, authored by Phil Hatlen, Kathleen Huebner, Anne Corn, Mary Ann Siller and Frank Ryan was published in the Spring, 1996 issue of RE:view. This article chronicled the evolution of and rationale for a "national agenda" to address changes needed in the field of education for students with visual impairments.

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, serving as NGL for National Agenda Goal #8, authored The Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Including Those With Additional Disabilities identifying disability-specific instructional needs which must be addressed through an expansion of the core curricular offered to nonvisually impaired students. This position paper was published in the Spring, 1996 issue of RE:view and distributed to the field as a stand-alone handout .

June 1996 The eight National Goal Leaders (NGLs), together with the National Agenda Advisory Board, convened their second "Work-in-Progress" meeting in Austin, Texas.

May 1996 Public Education Packets calling attention to the National Agenda were developed and distributed to 2,000 parents, professionals, and policymakers throughout the United States through the American Foundation for the Blind and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. State Coordinators of the National Agenda distributed these packets to local legislators and policymakers. State Coordinators have been instrumental in establishing state-level committees or task forces with the goal of achieving the National Agenda's eight goals within their local communities.

February 1997 An informational video detailing the background and structure of the National Agenda, featuring co-chairs, Phil Hatlen and Donna Stryker, was produced by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Copies of the video were distributed to the State Coordinators for use in promoting the National Agenda at local and state levels.

Through the efforts of their respective state coordinators, Ohio, Arkansas and Florida implemented plans for achieving the National Agendas eight goals on statewide bases.

March 1997 Education Work Group participants at the 1999 AFB Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) have set the stage by which a network of State Coordinators, in conjunction with the NGLs, would increase the impact of the National Agenda at national and local levels. The number of organizations and agencies formally endorsing the National Agenda exceeds one hundred and fifty.

The initial data-gathering against which achievement of the National Agendas eight goals ultimately will be measured was completed. This wealth of base-line data identified the degree to which each of the priority goals were being met throughout the country. This data, together with additional reports from the state coordinators, was incorporated into the first "National Agenda: A Report to the Nation."

August 1997 The Hilton/Perkins Foundation awarded a grant to The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) for development and dissemination of programmatic guidelines for educating blind or visually impaired students. The National Agenda, which provided the operational framework for this NASDSE document, is represented by Phil Hatlen and Donna Stryker as stakeholders in this process.

The National Agenda continued to receive wide-spread notice and attention as a presentation topic on the agendas of state and national conferences of professionals, parents and consumers as well as articles in their journals and newsletters.

International attention was drawn to the National Agenda in a featured presentation by Anne Corn and Susan LaVenture at the conference of the International Council for Education of the Visually Impaired (ICEVI) in Sao Palo, Brazil.

October 1997 The National Advisory Board, Goal Leaders and State Coordinators met at the American Printing House for the Blinds (APH) Annual Meeting. Educators were encouraged to forge partnerships with parents and consumers in all states.

Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts reported statewide efforts for implementing goals of the National Agenda.

December 1997 Two dedicated web site pages were created for posting information regarding The National Agenda. The Web addresses are www.tsbvi.edu  and www.afb.org

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, NGL for Goal #8, published The Annotated Bibliography of Curricular Materials Related to the Core Curriculum.

March 1998 In keeping with the theme, "Consumer-Provider Partnerships: Mobilizing for Specialized Services," the 12th Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) emphasized the mutual stakes parents and consumers have in achieving the National Agenda. JLTLI-98 Education Work Group participants encouraged State Coordinators to establish parent/professional/consumer partnerships in all states.

"The National Agenda: A Report to the Nation," published by AFB Press, was unveiled at JLTLI-98. The Report details the current status of each goal area and identifies progress made in 27 states toward achievement of the Agenda's eight goals. Descriptions and results of surveys and other data-gathering procedures utilized by the eight NGLs, together with examples of activities for implementing them at local levels, make this book a significant resource tool for educators, parents and others advocating for appropriate educational services.

Two national projects evolved as a direct result of the National Agenda. They are the NASDSE "Blind Initiative Project" and the federally funded "National Plan for Training Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and Low Vision" (NPTP). The latter is a collaborative project involving CEC, AER and AFB.

A draft outline for A Call to Action: Practical Suggestions for Achieving the Goals of the National Agenda was presented to the National Advisory Board. A commitment was made to develop this additional National Agenda publication by JLTLI-99.

The roster of organizations and agencies formally endorsing the National Agenda has grown to one hundred and seventy-five.

September 1998 Vermont, Georgia and Wisconsin were added to the list of states reporting structured plans for achieving the goals of the National Agenda.

October 1998 AFBs Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum was formed to identify and implement solutions for assuring timely provision of textbooks and instructional materials in appropriate media for students who are visually impaired. This collaborative national effort was a direct outgrowth of National Agenda Goal # 7. Representatives of the publishing industry, producers of specialized media, educators, assistive technology specialists, parents, and consumer organizations are working to address issues in the following five categories: Electronic Files, Legislation, Production, Training, Communication and Collaboration.

The National Agenda Advisory Board, meeting in conjunction with the APH Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY, hosted an update and input session for educators of visually impaired students.

January 1999 At a meeting of the National Agenda Advisory Board, NGLs and State Coordinators, held in Austin, TX, progress reports and action items were developed to further national implementation of the Agendas eight goals.

The National Agenda continues to be a pertinent topic for presentations at conferences of educators, parents, consumers and others.

March 1999 A Call to Action: Practical Suggestions for Achieving the Goals of the National Agenda was unveiled at the 13th annual Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI). The Institutes theme, "Leadership for the 21st Century: Negotiating Our Future" and the National Agenda proved to be a natural fit. This document was designed to be a dynamic, hands-on tool for parents, educators and others advocating for local implementation of the National Agenda. "A Call to Action" is available from the Texas School for the Blinds Website (www.tsbvi.edu) and the American Foundation for the Blinds Education Program.

JLTLI-99 Education Work Group Sessions focused on two specific National Agenda goals; Personnel Preparation (Goal #3) and Instructional Materials (Goal #7). Both the National Plan for Teacher Preparation (NPTP) and the AFB Textbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum were further developed in keeping with the spirit and intent of the National Agenda.

The New Hampshire Agenda For The Education of Students Who Are Blind & Visually Impaired, Including Those With Multiple Disabilities was unveiled at JLTLI-99, thus adding New Hampshire to the growing list of states with structured plans for local achievement of the National Agenda.

April 1999 Donna McNear, immediate past president of Division on Visual Impairment of the Council for Exceptional Children, joined the National Advisory Board.

The following states have state plans to implement the National Agenda: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin.