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National Agenda Logo

Kathleen M. Huebner, Ph.D.
Pennsylvania College of Optometry

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What is the National Agenda ?

  • A set of common goals designed to improve the QUALITY and QUANTITY of educational opportunities for children who are blind or visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.

Why a National Agenda ?

  • A realization that our children were not all receiving the QUALITY and QUANTITY of education services specific to their needs -- and that
  • Parents, Professionals and Persons with visual impairments TOGETHER have the power to create positive change

A Quick Review of the 8 Goals

  • REFERRAL of appropriate program --30 days
  • Full PARENTAL PARTICIPATION and partnership
  • Universities prepare sufficient specialized PERSONNEL
  • SERVICE DELIVERY-caseloads based on needs of students-on-going professional development
  • Full array of service PLACEMENT OPTIONS
  • ASSESSMENT- with appropriate expertise
  • INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS available in appropriate media and at the same time as sighted peers

Relevant Publications

The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. Corn, Hatlen, Huebner, Ryan, & Siller, 1995, AFB Press.

The Report to the Nation, Corn & Huebner, (1998), AFB Press.

A Call to Action: Practical Suggestions for the Achievement of the National Agenda Goals, Stryker, Huebner, Hatlen, 1999. TSBVI

The National Agenda
"little blue book"

  • Brief History of Development
  • The National Goal Statements
  • Importance of Statements
  • Strategies for Achievement
  • National Committees and Endorsements

The Report to the Nation
"bigger blue book"

  • National baseline data on each goal
  • Reports of 28 state-level activities
  • Vehicle for communicating about the status as of 1997
  • Appendices on caseload policies
  • Resource information
  • OSERS Policy Statement

A Call to Action
A Dynamic Document

For each goal the following is presented:

  • Major issues
  • How to determine current status
  • How to develop a plan of action for your state

Locate it on the Call to Action page.

National Agenda: Replications

  • NA in Australia, New Zealand, and England
  • National Agenda on Vision and Aging

Significant National Off-Shoot Activities

NTPT - National Plan for Training Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and Low Vision, 2000,Council for Exceptional Children.

NASDE Guidelines - Blind and Visually Impaired Students Educational Service Guidelines, Pugh, & Erin, 1999. Perkins School for the Blind.


National Plan for Training Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and Low Vision--NTPT

3 Goals

  • Personnel Preparation and Development
  • Leadership Development
  • Recruitment and Retention


  • National Personnel Preparation Coordinating Council

Personnel Preparation/Development

  • Establish a Personnel Preparation Technical Assistance Network (PPTAN)
    • to facilitate and support collaboration
    • facilitate the application of national program standards
    • provide technical assistance to new and existing programs
  • Extend OSEP program support
    • 5 years
    • increase the award size

Leadership Development

  • Establish a Leadership Development Institute
    • Doctorates
  • Establish a Research to Practice Institute
    • design, collect, analyze, and disseminate data affecting personnel needs in blindness and visual impairment
    • validate practices
    • conduct outcome studies
    • collect accurate counts of children and service providers

Recruitment and Retention

  • Establish a Recruitment and Retention Project
  • We all need to recruit

National Personnel Preparation Coordinating Council

  • Comprised of representatives of each of other components and other stakeholders
  • Mission is to guide and provide formative evaluation to facilitate implementation and outcomes of the National Plan

NTPT and NA Goals

Addresses Goals

  • 2 Parent Participation
  • 3 Personnel Preparation
  • 4 Caseloads-Recommends 8 :1 Student:Teacher Ratio
  • 5 Full-Array of Service Options
  • 6 Assessment
  • 8 Expanded Core Curriculum

NASDE Guidelines

  • Over 70 stakeholders including parents involved
  • 13 Participating organizations, including professionals, parents and consumers
  • Intention: Present best practices without value judgements of existing programs or personnel

NASDE Guidelines Content

5 Chapters

  • Foundations
  • Supportive Structure and Administration
  • Assessment
  • Program Requirements and Placement Options
  • Personnel

NASDE Guidelines-Chapter Structure

  • Foundations
    • 10 unique needs, policy/legislation, philosophies, array of options, diversity, multiple disabilities
  • Supportive Structure and Administration
    • 8 roles of personnel and supportive LEA/SEA administration
  • Assessment
    • 6 comprehensive, formal, informal, clinical, expanded core
  • Program Requirements and Placement Options
    • 11 families, options, mentors, extracurricular, equal access, technology, multiple disabilities
  • Personnel
    • 12 specialized training, parent-professional relationships, diversity, O&M, expanded core curricula, certifications

NASDE Guidelines and NA Goals

Addresses All Goals

  • 1 Referral
  • 2 Parent Participation
  • 3 Personnel Preparation
  • 4 Caseloads
  • 5 Full-Array of Service Options
  • 6 Assessment
  • 7 Instructional Media
  • 8 Expanded Core Curriculum

Textbook and Instructional Materials Forum


  • Lack of standardization of electronic file formats provided by textbook publishers
  • Inaccessibility of multimedia textbooks
  • Variation in sate textbook regulations
  • Inconsistent interpretation of copyright law
  • High expense of producing specialized materials and lack of fiscal incentives to develop new technologies
  • Shortage of qualified braille transcribers and production resources
  • Communication and collaboration barriers

5 Workgroups

Solutions Forum and NA Goals

Addresses Goals

  • 2 Parent Participation
  • 3 Personnel Preparation
  • 7 Instructional Media
  • 8 Expanded Core Curriculum

NA Reported Challenges

  • Full Inclusion prevailing philosophy
  • Special schools/services threatened
  • Too few qualified staff/emergency credentialing
  • Loss of staff at all levels, state level leadership to direct service
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of outcome research


National Agenda Reported



Loss of Personnel

Additional Personnel

Lack of mutual goals

Mutual goal setting

Lack of information

Widespread understanding

Lack of funding

Financial support

Lack of state adopted texts

Statewide textbook adoption

Lack of leadership

Strong leadership

Lack of planning

Strong action planning

NA not on state conference agendas

NA on conference agenda or special conferences

LEA Control

LEA Control

NA Reported Effective Strategies

  • Partnerships
    • Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Legislators
  • Infusion into many activities
  • Development of best practice guidelines
  • Grass roots infusion of philosophies and actions
  • Increase and/varied tools for communication
  • Adoption of new policies
  • Everyone thinking "expanded core curricula"
  • National backing opens doors/gives backbone to efforts

NA Predominant Positive Responses

  • Feeling of working on common goals--across the country, within the state, within an LEA, within a special school
  • Feeling of HOPE for the future
  • Not alone
  • So many working on so many different aspects toward a common good
  • Family involvement growing
  • Encourages holistic view of our students/services


  • Recognize need for more effective advocacy and tools
    • Spanish NA booklet (TSBVI)
    • Mentoring program between NGLs and State Coordinators
    • Parent document about NA by parents
    • Teacher document about NA by CEC-DVI
    • Data for State and local administrators-handy and persuasive

What Else Can YOU Do?

  • Commit yourself professionally to the philosophy and let it show in all of your efforts
  • Stay on top of what your state, your colleagues in state and in the nation are doing
  • Familiarize yourself and USE the NA and related materials such as Solutions Forum, NASDE guidelines
  • Be an active advocate and support your colleagues
  • Teach your students and help their parents become strong self-advocates
  • Believe in quality services and let that belief drive your actions
  • Take pride in what you and your students do
  • Recruit others into the field

And Most of All

Believe and have high expectations for your students, their families and yourself!