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Winter 2000 Table of Contents
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Highlights of the November AVIT Meeting

By Kate Moss, Family Support Specialist, TSBVI, Texas Deafblind Outreach

AVIT is an inter-organizational coalition committed to speak on behalf of Texas' children and adults with visual impairments. AVIT met on November 18 at TSBVI. Here are some highlights of the November meeting:

AVIT acknowledged the new Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) umbrella should not be seen as a defeat for Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) (TCB) since most of the program functions of TCB will continue as they have in the past. The HHSC changes were done to increase interagency administrative efficiency and to save money. Additionally, members were pleased to hear about the approval of additional funds which will be used to hire three additional TCB children's caseworkers in Dallas, Waco, and Austin.

A report was made about the Literacy Conference held in San Francisco in November. One of the major debates at this conference was about teaching grade 1 braille (uncontracted), grade 1 1/2 (some contractions), or grade 2 braille (contracted) to the child just learning to read braille. AVIT will encourage blindness organizations to pursue research on braille literacy to address this issue.

AVIT wants to encourage more parental involvement in guiding the state agenda for individuals with visual impairment. This is especially important when the state Legislature is in session and parents are needed to testify about specific pieces of legislation that may affect their children. A letter will be drafted and sent to parents to inform them about AVIT and parent organizations in Texas and encourage their involvement in advocating for services for individuals with visual impairment.

AVIT also wants to remind consumers, parents and professionals concerned with issues related to visual impairments, about the toll-free number they can call to hear what the latest issues are. That number is (800) 394-0666. It is important for interested individuals to stay abreast of changes that may effect them and/or their family by calling this number periodically.

The next AVIT meetings will be on March 23, 2000 at TCB in Austin and on June 22, 2000 at TSBVI in Austin. If you would like to become a member of AVIT, whether you represent an organization (organizational dues $50) or just yourself (individual dues $10), please contact Mary Ann Siller, AVIT Treasurer at (214) 352-7222 or write to her at American Foundation for the Blind, 260 Treadway Plaza, Dallas, TX 75235.


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