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Go to Summer 1998 Table of Contents.
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

by Jean Robinson, Family Support Coordinator, TSBVI VI Outreach with help from Cyral Miller & Mary Ann Siller

In the Winter 1998 edition of SEE/HEAR we included an article about the National Agenda, a national movement to establish eight goals as standards for programs serving children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. These goals have been ratified by many local, regional, and national organizations and now, across the country, there are groups designing action plans to meet state needs. In each edition of the newsletter during the coming school year we plan to highlight some of the creative strategies being used to meet these goals at a local or regional level. We would like to invite you to share your successes with us so we can let others know what works!

Let's take a look at some of the innovative approaches to addressing Goal 1.

Goal 1

Students and their families will be referred to an appropriate educational program within 30 days of identification of a suspected visual impairment.

  • This goal has become a public relations issue, as all the strategies center around advertising and marketing vision services. Some areas of the state have printed brochures listing the local agencies serving the visually impaired.
  • Achieving this goal involves meeting and informing the medical community, including public health screeners, family doctors, pediatricians, and ophthalmologists of the services available for children with visual impairments. Personal contact to explain the referral process and the state eye report has been effective.
  • Some districts host luncheons or seminars for local eye specialists to get to know them and talk about family and educational services their patients may find beneficial.
  • One school district invited the state Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) staff to provide an inservice to both local ECI and general education staff hoping to increase referrals of children for vision services before entering Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD). The transition from ECI to PPCD can be facilitated if information is shared regularly and routinely.
  • Most vision teachers around the state are providing a routine inservice to general educators.
  • Communication and cooperation between the different entities (medical staff, schools, special education co-ops, and preschools) is critical to achieving this goal. Some vision teachers volunteer to speak to their area civic clubs, such as Lion's, Rotary, etc.

Addressing the eight goals of the National Agenda at the local level gives focus and structure to regional planning. We have gone to several gatherings of VI personnel to encourage regional and local action. (It would be exciting to include parents and related agencies in these discussions, too.) When time was set aside for brainstorming these goals, ideas and strategies poured out. It gave staff the opportunity to customize these goals to their area and take ownership of the outcomes. The enthusiasm is contagious, which is a morale boost for everyone. The "to do" list is never-ending and vision teachers cannot do it alone. It is important to forge creative partnerships with parents, community agencies, and civic groups and get them on the National Agenda bandwagon. We would be happy to help your area brainstorm fabulous National Agenda plans. So in the future when you hear "Why a National Agenda?" answer "It takes a village..."

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