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Spring 99 Table of Contents
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Some News Items from AVIT

By Jim Durkel, Statewide Staff Development Specialist, TSBVI Outreach

THE VIP PROGRAM is a preparation program for training education professionals in the field of visual impairment. TEA recognized the need for continuing specialized personnel preparation for VI teachers and O&M instructors. A $3 million grant was awarded in January, 1998 to Region 11 for a project by ESCs, TSBVI, and universities, to develop new collaborative programs in personnel prep that address the continued shortage of VI professionals in Texas. This program includes in part: distance learning through video conferencing, professional mentoring, and curriculum review. There is no continued funding at TEA beyond December, 2001 (beyond the current $3 million). Continued funding is doubtful unless some action is taken.

It was suggested that AVIT work with the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) to develop a proposal for the next legislative session. AVIT members have begun meeting with legislators to request permanent state funding for personnel prep of VI professionals. There is a continuing need for more VI teachers, especially in light of an aging teacher population and the lack of younger teachers to replace them.

ELECTRONIC TEXTBOOKS: Jim Allan updated the group on the status of the State's consideration of electronic materials, including texts, by students in Texas. A report completed and sent to legislators contained recommendations regarding the use of electronic textbooks in Texas. The report ("Computer Network Study Project") is available at the TEA website, with hardcopies available from Chuck Mayo in the Textbook Division of TEA. There is a concern that CD roms, interactive media, and electronic texts be made accessible. The report recommended specific actions to achieve accessibility. A change in the textbook adoption process would have to go through the State Board of Education. It was proposed that a letter be sent to the Commissioner of Education, asking him to require accessibility of textbooks as an administrative action by the Commissioner.

The next AVIT meeting will be held at Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center in Austin, on Thursday, July 22, 1999 from 10 - 3; the fall meeting will be held on November 18, 1999. Anyone interested is invited to attend.

The Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans (AVIT)

AVIT is an interorganizational coalition committed to speak on behalf of Texas's children and adults with visual impairments for:

AVIT's mission is to:

If your organization wants to join AVIT and become part of the "Network Alert System" please contact: Mary Ann Siller, Treasurer, at siller@afb.org,  American Foundation for the Blind, 260 Treadway Plaza, Exchange Park, Dallas, Texas 75235; phone (214) 352-7222. Organizational memberships ($50/year) and associate memberships ($10/year) are available. For additional information about AVIT's activities, contact Dr. Karen Wolffe, Chairperson AVIT, P.O. Box 341, Manchaca, Texas 78652; phone: (512) 707-0525; e-mail: 75254.2250@compuserve.com.

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Last Revision: September 15, 2003