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4515

1999-2000 Regular Sessions

IN SENATE

April 12, 1999

Introduced by Sens. MAZIARZ, MARCHI – read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education AN ACT in relation to enacting the blind student’s literacy rights and education act

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEMBLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “blind student’s literacy rights and education act”.

§ 2. Definitions. As used in this act:

1. “Visually impaired student” is a student with an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a student’s educational performance. The term includes both partial sight and blindness.”

2. “Braille” means the system of reading and writing through touch commonly known as standard English Braille.

3. “Individualized education program,” has the meaning provided in section 614(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. section 14(d)). The Committee on Special Education (“CSE”) has the meaning provided in section 4402 of New York State Education Law.

§ 3. Individualized education program. In developing the individualized education program in the case of a student who is visually impaired, the school district shall make provisions for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the CSE determines, after an evaluation of the student’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media, including an evaluation of the student’s future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille, that such instruction or use is not appropriate for the student. (Note: Nothing in this section shall require the exclusive use of Braille if other special education services are appropriate to the student’s educational needs; provided, however, that the provisions of such other appropriate services shall not preclude Braille use or instruction.)

§ 4. Standards of competency and instruction. Instruction in Braille reading and writing shall be sufficient to enable each blind or visually impaired student to communicate effectively and efficiently with the same level of proficiency expected of the student’s peers of comparable ability and grade level. The student’s individualized education program shall specify:

1. under present levels of performance, the results obtained from the evaluations required under section three of this act;

2. if instruction in and the use of Braille is recommended, list measurable annual goals including benchmarks or short-term instructional objectives;

3. the date on which Braille instruction will commence;

4. the frequency, location and duration of such services.

§ 5. Certification. Braille instruction shall be provided by a certified teacher of the blind and partially sighted pursuant to Part 80 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

§ 6. This act shall take effect immediately.

BILL: S04515 MAZIARZ

Same as A 3606-A

ON FILE: Education

TITLE . . . . . Makes provision with respect to providing appropriate educational services to students who are visually impaired and training teachers in standard English Braille 

04/12/99 REFERRED TO EDUCATION

BILL NUMBER: S4515

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To ensure that Braille instruction would be made available to any child requesting it; the certification of teachers of the blind in Braille.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill is the title. Section 2 of the bill sets forth definitions. Section 3 of the bill requires the department of education to make provisions for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP (Individualized Education Program) Team determines, upon evaluation of the child, that such instruction is not appropriate for the child. Section 4 of the bill sets standards of competency and instruction for the blind or visually impaired child. Section 5 of the bill requires teachers certified in the education of the blind and visually impaired to demonstrate competence in reading and writing Braille. Section 6 is the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: It is generally agreed that literacy is the single most important quality which one must possess in order to become successful in our society. The need to be able to read is as essential for someone who is visually impaired as it is for someone who is sighted. Currently, the teaching of Braille in our public schools is being ignored or discouraged. Blind children must be equipped with all the tools necessary for their ultimate competition in the job market and the community.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : Similar to S7157.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None

EFFECTIVE DATE : Immediately