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Winter 2003 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

The National Agenda: A Parent's Perspective

By Donna Stryker, Parent, Las Cruces, NM

For the past 8 years or so since Phil Hatlen asked me to co-chair the National Agenda I have had the opportunity to watch miracles happen.

Miracles are not always fishes and loaves, or the parting of a large body of water. Miracles occur when everyday folks work on great plans and bring them to a reality.

The miracles I have seen as a parent are a set of goals that a group of dedicated people actually agreed upon that would affect forever the way a child who is visually impaired or blind, including those with multiple impairments, would be able to learn.

The miracle of a number of states across this county that embraced the notion that students with visual impairments learn differently and need "equal yet different" services in order to learn to the best of their ability.

The miracle of parents and professionals operating as true partners within the National Agenda to such a degree that many of the existing projects within AFB (American Foundation for the Blind), AER (Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired), APH (American Printing House for the Blind) are as a result of the belief that the National Agenda is the change agent in educating children with visual impairments. Goals that address training teachers of the visually impaired, ensuring the right of full participation and partnership of parents, early referral, on-going professional development, full array of placement options, access to materials (The Instructional Materials Accessibility Act is a direct result of the National Agenda), expanded core curricula, etc., are all miracles in progress as the impact of the National Agenda results in dramatic changes.

As a parent of a college student, I have seen my son benefit from the "miracle" of the National Agenda. When the National Association of State Directors of Special Education collaborated with parents, professionals, and consumers to produce a set of guidelines for administrators who may or may not have had experience with a blind or visually impaired student I had the document I needed to help my local district understand the differences in the way my son learned.

There are many more pages of examples I could share about how the National Agenda is a miracle to me, but suffice it to say that in this time of fear from outside sources, in this time of rethinking of our personal and professional priorities, in this time of getting back to basics within our families, whether that be our sons and daughters or extended families of friends, teachers, professionals that touch our lives daily and the lives of our children…The National Agenda has made a difference, is a miracle of people working together toward a common goal that they believe in their heart of hearts to be of great importance. And is of great importance—just ask a parent who is able to help a teacher understand why a book in their child's hands at the same time as their sighted peers is important. That is the miracle of the National Agenda.

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Last Revision: August 25, 2003