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Fall 2005 Table of Contents
Versión español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

The National Agenda: What's New

By Cyral Miller, Outreach Director, TSBVI

Abstract: This article provides an update on the National Agenda.

Key Words:Programming, visual impaired, blind, deafblind, National Agenda, parents.

Eleven years ago, a National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youth with Visual Impairments, including those with Multiple Disabilities set out a new vision for this field. This initiative was endorsed by the US Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and embraced by organizations and agencies across the country. The movement came about by imagining what our world would look like if ideal services were in place. Goals in ten areas have now been established which, if achieved, would guarantee that students with visual impairments were quickly identified, appropriately assessed, and properly educated with quality services addressing unique needs for themselves and their families. These are the goals:

  1. Students and their families will be referred to an appropriate education program within 30 days of identification of a suspected visual impairment. Appropriate quality services will be provided by teachers of the visually impaired.
  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 visual impairment will prepare a sufficient number of teachers and O&M specialists for students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.
  4. Caseloads will be determined based on the assessed needs of students.
  5. Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of service delivery options.
  6. All assessments and evaluations of students will be conducted by and /or in partnership with personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments and their parents.
  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. All educational goals and instruction will address the academic and expanded core curricula based on the assessed needs of each student with visual impairments.
  9. Transition services will address developmental and educational needs (birth through high school) to assist students and their families, in setting goals and implementing strategies through the life continuum commensurate with the student's aptitudes, interests, and abilities.
  10. To improve student learning, service providers will engage in on-going local, state, and national professional development.

Although these ideals were not realized by the year 2000, as originally proposed, a process was established that has enabled states and organizations to continue to actively pursue these goals on an ongoing basis.

Here are some outstanding accomplishments, spurred on by hopes of achieving all ten National Agenda goals:

These kinds of achievements demonstrate that the National Agenda has become an important catalyst for moving the field of visual impairment forward. Much remains to be done. You can get involved, too. Listings of the goals and goal leaders, state coordinators, National Agenda PowerPoint presentations, state reports and plans and more is available at http://www.tsbvi.edu/agenda/index.htm. Contact your state coordinator and see how you can help guarantee that students with visual impairments are quickly identified, appropriately assessed, and properly educated with quality services addressing their unique needs for themselves and their families.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010