Main content

Alert message

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

National Agenda Logo

Anne L. Corn

Vanderbilt University
Downloadable PowerPoint presentation at end of article

What is the National Agenda?

  • Parents, professionals, and adults with visual impairments who have a passion for making education services for children with visual impairments and blindness better (numbers unknown)
  • A journey with a destination but without a complete roadmap


  • A satirical presentation
  • An open letter to professionals and parents
  • A topical meeting
  • A steering committee formed
  • Five committees write goals
  • 19 goals are written
  • Likelihood-impact analysis
  • Data from 400 responses analyzed
  • Eight goals are drafted
  • Reviews by professionals, parents, and consumers
  • National Agenda established
  • National Goal Leaders
  • Advisory board
  • Endorsing organizations
  • Publication of data
  • Publication of the National Agenda booklet

Ten Goals of the Agenda

  • Goal 1: Early referral
  • Goal 2: Parent participation
  • Goal 3: Professional personnel
  • Goal 4: Caseloads
  • Goal 5: Array of services
  • Goal 6: Assessment
  • Goal 7: Access to instructional materials
  • Goal 8: Expanded core curriculum
  • Goal 9: Transition *
  • Goal 10: On-going professional staff development *

* New goals added by the National Agenda goal leaders and work teams

Expanded Core Curriculum (Hatlen, 1996)

  • Compensatory
  • Orientation and mobility
  • Social and interpersonal
  • Independent living
  • Career education
  • Recreation/Leisure
  • Technology
  • Visual efficiency
  • Self-determination *

* Newly identified ECC content area

Basic Premises

  • Change is measurable
  • Empowerment of parents, professionals, adult consumers
  • No ownership
  • Parent-professional partnerships
  • Flexibility at state and local levels for goal setting and activities
  • National supports with state and local efforts
  • Local and state efforts drive national directions
  • The National Agenda is not the solution  people are the solution


  • Steering committee
  • Parent and professional leadership
  • Advisory board
  • National goal leaders (NGLs)
  • State co-coordinators
  • Endorsing organizations and school programs

National Snapshot of Services

  • National goal leaders gather data for their goals
  • Report to the Nation is published
  • States use national data to compare, contrast, set goals

National, State, and Local Strategies

  • A Call to Action
  • National Web Site
  • Assessment compendium
  • Babies Counts
  • NAPVI parent training in IDEA
  • IMAA included in the newly reauthorized IDEIA
  • Caseload analysis tools and position papers
  • NASDSE Educational Guidelines Training
  • RECC
  • Hadley courses
  • Video
  • Pamphlets developed in both English and Spanish
    • Parents
    • Teachers
    • Administrators

States Efforts

  • Publications
  • Web Sites
  • Legislation (VA)

Spin-off Projects (examples)

  • National Plan for Training Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and Low Vision (goal 3)
  • Education Guidelines from the National Association of State Directors of Special Education
  • American Foundation for the Blind Textbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum (goal 7)
  • Research on the Expanded Core Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments (goal 8)

Uses of the National Agenda

  • Vehicle to garner political support for change
  • State planning
  • Support for parents
  • Organizer for communications, e.g., newsletters to parents (goal 8)
  • Organizer for personnel preparation (goal 8)


  • Functions as a change agent at the national level
  • Facilitates parents and professionals forming partnerships
  • Enhances communications among professionals
  • Identifies assessments and a curriculum that all students with visual impairments should receive
  • Helps administrators understand the roles and functions of the TVI, COMS
  • Facilitates cross agency and cross-disciplinary communications
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Commitment of professionals and parents
  • Empowers professionals and parents to make change (when state or government supports are not available)


  • Politics within states
  • States and organizations needing technical support
  • Funding
  • Communications and meetings
  • Organizational status
  • Challenges
  • Autonomous efforts (in the name of)
  • Insufficient data to track change
  • Frustrations with how far we still need to go
  • Accepting change that has occurred as accomplishments worthy of celebration

Current Status

  • Five-year re-assessment resulted in continuation of identified national goals and creation of two new goals
  • New efforts to support states that are motivated but in need of mentorship

Affirmation of Beliefs


  • There are early referrals that result in quality services,
  • Parents are true collaborative partners,
  • There are sufficient personnel,
  • There are appropriate case loads for professionals based on the assessed needs of students,
  • Assessments are valid and reliable for the population,
  • There is a fluid array of service delivery options based on the intensity and instruction that each student needs at any point in their educational career,
  • Texts and instructional materials are in appropriate media and available at the same time as for sighted peers,
  • The Expanded Core Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments is taught by highly qualified educational professionals,
  • Transition planning is developed in partnership with student and family, based on their preferences and interests of the student
  • TVIs and COMS receive on-going professional staff development to hone skills and learn new skills&


  • Children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities will receive an appropriate, quality education in their least restrictive learning environment that results in positive adult outcomes.

National Planning

  • Determine levels of satisfaction with current practices
  • Acknowledge needs exist (if any)
  • Volunteer Steering Committee
    • Respected individuals
    • Individuals without personal agendas
  • Strengths and resources
  • Consider barriers
  • Communications
  • A beginning plan
    • Buy-in from individuals and groups
    • Data
    • Review and input from the field
    • Commitment of several agencies to support effort (examples)
      • American Foundation for the Blind
      • National Goal Leader organizations
      • Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
      • American Printing House for the Blind
      • AER
    • Time
    • Flexibility
    • Patience


When education services are not what you want them to be:

  • Believe you can make change
  • Believe others want to join you in making change
  • Believe you will arrive at your destination, even if you dont have the entire road map
  • Believe you can make change
  • Believe others want to join you in making change
  • Believe you will arrive at your destination, even if you dont have the entire road map