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Wisconsin National Agenda

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The National Agenda was developed through the efforts of parents, professionals, and persons with visual impairments. The following history summarizes the process by which the National Agenda project was developed:

October 1993 Informal discussions about the need for a national agenda took place at the annual meeting of the American Printing House for the Blind.

January 1994 An open letter from professors Phil Hatlen, Anne Corn and the late Everett Hill, described the desire of a group of professionals to establish priorities for improving educational programming for children with visual impairments. The letter was placed in a variety of professional journals; readers were asked to provide input for goal statements. A committee was formed to guide the development of the National Agenda. Using responses from the open letter, members of the committee grouped tentative goal statements into five categories.

March 1994 The American Foundation for the Blind adopted the National Agenda as a major project for the 1994 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI); those in attendance held discussions and provided further input for the agenda goal statements. Five committees were formed to finalize the goal statements. During the 1994 JLTLI, a steering committee of four organizations was initiated. The committee represents AFB, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Vanderbilt University.

April 1994 Using the discussions from AFB's Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute and further committee deliberations, each committee submitted 3-5 goal statements which met the following criteria: high priorities for the education of children and youths with visual disabilities, attainable by the year 2000, and high impact for the field. Nineteen goal statements were created.

May 1994 The 19 goal statements were distributed to parents and professionals on lists gathered by the American Foundation for the Blind. Two thousand copies of the goal statements were mailed to professionals, parents of children with visual impairments, and individuals who are visually impaired. Recipients were asked to duplicate and distribute copies to any other interested parents and professionals. Each person was asked to rate the likelihood of a goal statement being achieved and its impact on the education of children and youths with visual disabilities.

June 1994 Over 500 responses from 44 states were received. Using a likelihood-impact analysis, 11 goal statements emerged to be included in the National Agenda. The steering committee decided to condense these times into 8 agenda items and to use language which would be clear and direct, without losing the intent of any item.

September 1994 Eight hundred letters were sent to organizations and agencies across the United States requesting their endorsement of the National Agenda's eight goals.

December 1994 A national Advisory Board of educators, parents and consumers was identified to work with the Steering Committee. One hundred letters of endorsement were received from agencies, schools, institutions of higher education, and parent and consumer organizations.

January 1995 A document detailing the programmatic and policy framework to improve educational programming for children and youths with visual impairments was prepared for publication by American Foundation for the Blind Press. The document is intended for school board members, parents of children with visual impairments, personnel preparation programs, public policymakers, educators, rehabilitation specialists, and consumers.

February 1995 Eight National Goal Leader (NGL) organizations accepted the leadership role to carry out the five-year project of achieving the goals.

March 1995 At AFB's 1995 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute, 96 participants, led by the eight National Goal Leader organizations developed strategies for achieving the goals of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those With Multiple Disabilities.

May 1995 One hundred and twenty-three organizations and agencies have endorsed the National Agenda's goals.

September 1995 A 32 page booklet describing the eight goals, as well as the operational framework of the National Agenda Project, has been published by AFB Press. Setting forth national and regional strategies for achieving the goals and identifying eight organizations serving as National Goal Leaders (NGLs), the document has received widespread distribution among public policymakers, educators, parents of children with visual impairments, school board members, and others. It serves as a valuable resource for communities across the United States in their efforts to improve educational services for visually impaired children.

October 1995 A "Work-in-Progress" meeting was held in Louisville, Kentucky. Representatives of the eight NGL organizations together with the project's National Advisory Board elected National Co-chairs of this project. They are Phil Hatlen, Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Donna Stryker of New Mexico, a Member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired.

January 1996 A network of State Coordinators has been established consisting of more than fifty professionals, parents and consumers. They serve as liaisons between the NGLs and National Advisory Board and constituents within their respective states.

March 1996 National Agenda Goal Leaders have worked closely with the National Co-chairs, Dr. Phil Hatlen and Ms. Donna Stryker to complete the baseline data-gathering for each goal area.

Developing the National Agenda, authored by Phil Hatlen, Kathleen Huebner, Anne Corn, Mary Ann Siller and Frank Ryan was published in the Spring, 1996 issue of RE:view. This article chronicled the evolution of and rationale for a "national agenda" to address changes needed in the field of education for students with visual impairments.

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, serving as NGL for National Agenda Goal #8, authored The Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Including Those With Additional Disabilities identifying disability-specific instructional needs which must be addressed through an expansion of the core curricular offered to nonvisually impaired students. This position paper was published in the Spring, 1996 issue of RE:view and distributed to the field as a stand-alone handout .

June 1996 The eight National Goal Leaders (NGLs), together with the National Agenda Advisory Board, convened their second "Work-in-Progress" meeting in Austin, Texas.

May 1996 Public Education Packets calling attention to the National Agenda were developed and distributed to 2,000 parents, professionals, and policymakers throughout the United States through the American Foundation for the Blind and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. State Coordinators of the National Agenda distributed these packets to local legislators and policymakers. State Coordinators have been instrumental in establishing state-level committees or task forces with the goal of achieving the National Agenda's eight goals within their local communities.

February 1997 An informational video detailing the background and structure of the National Agenda, featuring co-chairs, Phil Hatlen and Donna Stryker, was produced by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Copies of the video were distributed to the State Coordinators for use in promoting the National Agenda at local and state levels.

Through the efforts of their respective state coordinators, Ohio, Arkansas and Florida implemented plans for achieving the National Agendas eight goals on statewide bases.

March 1997 Education Work Group participants at the 1999 AFB Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) have set the stage by which a network of State Coordinators, in conjunction with the NGLs, would increase the impact of the National Agenda at national and local levels. The number of organizations and agencies formally endorsing the National Agenda exceeds one hundred and fifty.

The initial data-gathering against which achievement of the National Agendas eight goals ultimately will be measured was completed. This wealth of base-line data identified the degree to which each of the priority goals were being met throughout the country. This data, together with additional reports from the state coordinators, was incorporated into the first "National Agenda: A Report to the Nation."

August 1997 The Hilton/Perkins Foundation awarded a grant to The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) for development and dissemination of programmatic guidelines for educating blind or visually impaired students. The National Agenda, which provided the operational framework for this NASDSE document, is represented by Phil Hatlen and Donna Stryker as stakeholders in this process.

The National Agenda continued to receive wide-spread notice and attention as a presentation topic on the agendas of state and national conferences of professionals, parents and consumers as well as articles in their journals and newsletters.

International attention was drawn to the National Agenda in a featured presentation by Anne Corn and Susan LaVenture at the conference of the International Council for Education of the Visually Impaired (ICEVI) in Sao Palo, Brazil.

October 1997 The National Advisory Board, Goal Leaders and State Coordinators met at the American Printing House for the Blinds (APH) Annual Meeting. Educators were encouraged to forge partnerships with parents and consumers in all states.

Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts reported statewide efforts for implementing goals of the National Agenda.

December 1997 Two dedicated web site pages were created for posting information regarding The National Agenda. The Web addresses are www.tsbvi.edu  and www.afb.org

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, NGL for Goal #8, published The Annotated Bibliography of Curricular Materials Related to the Core Curriculum.

March 1998 In keeping with the theme, "Consumer-Provider Partnerships: Mobilizing for Specialized Services," the 12th Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI) emphasized the mutual stakes parents and consumers have in achieving the National Agenda. JLTLI-98 Education Work Group participants encouraged State Coordinators to establish parent/professional/consumer partnerships in all states.

"The National Agenda: A Report to the Nation," published by AFB Press, was unveiled at JLTLI-98. The Report details the current status of each goal area and identifies progress made in 27 states toward achievement of the Agenda's eight goals. Descriptions and results of surveys and other data-gathering procedures utilized by the eight NGLs, together with examples of activities for implementing them at local levels, make this book a significant resource tool for educators, parents and others advocating for appropriate educational services.

Two national projects evolved as a direct result of the National Agenda. They are the NASDSE "Blind Initiative Project" and the federally funded "National Plan for Training Personnel to Serve Children with Blindness and Low Vision" (NPTP). The latter is a collaborative project involving CEC, AER and AFB.

A draft outline for A Call to Action: Practical Suggestions for Achieving the Goals of the National Agenda was presented to the National Advisory Board. A commitment was made to develop this additional National Agenda publication by JLTLI-99.

The roster of organizations and agencies formally endorsing the National Agenda has grown to one hundred and seventy-five.

September 1998 Vermont, Georgia and Wisconsin were added to the list of states reporting structured plans for achieving the goals of the National Agenda.

October 1998 AFBs Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum was formed to identify and implement solutions for assuring timely provision of textbooks and instructional materials in appropriate media for students who are visually impaired. This collaborative national effort was a direct outgrowth of National Agenda Goal # 7. Representatives of the publishing industry, producers of specialized media, educators, assistive technology specialists, parents, and consumer organizations are working to address issues in the following five categories: Electronic Files, Legislation, Production, Training, Communication and Collaboration.

The National Agenda Advisory Board, meeting in conjunction with the APH Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY, hosted an update and input session for educators of visually impaired students.

January 1999 At a meeting of the National Agenda Advisory Board, NGLs and State Coordinators, held in Austin, TX, progress reports and action items were developed to further national implementation of the Agendas eight goals.

The National Agenda continues to be a pertinent topic for presentations at conferences of educators, parents, consumers and others.

March 1999 A Call to Action: Practical Suggestions for Achieving the Goals of the National Agenda was unveiled at the 13th annual Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI). The Institutes theme, "Leadership for the 21st Century: Negotiating Our Future" and the National Agenda proved to be a natural fit. This document was designed to be a dynamic, hands-on tool for parents, educators and others advocating for local implementation of the National Agenda. "A Call to Action" is available from the Texas School for the Blinds Website (www.tsbvi.edu) and the American Foundation for the Blinds Education Program.

JLTLI-99 Education Work Group Sessions focused on two specific National Agenda goals; Personnel Preparation (Goal #3) and Instructional Materials (Goal #7). Both the National Plan for Teacher Preparation (NPTP) and the AFB Textbook and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum were further developed in keeping with the spirit and intent of the National Agenda.

The New Hampshire Agenda For The Education of Students Who Are Blind & Visually Impaired, Including Those With Multiple Disabilities was unveiled at JLTLI-99, thus adding New Hampshire to the growing list of states with structured plans for local achievement of the National Agenda.

April 1999 Donna McNear, immediate past president of Division on Visual Impairment of the Council for Exceptional Children, joined the National Advisory Board.

The following states have state plans to implement the National Agenda: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin National Agenda

December 30, 1999--Introduced by Representatives Brandemuehl, Olsen, Kestell, Nass, Musser, Ainsworth, Plale, Wood, Albers, Spillner, Sykora, M. Lehman, Freese, Stone and Gronemus, cosponsored by Senators Grobschmidt, Breske, Rosenzweig, Wirch, Baumgart and Schultz. Referred to Committee on Colleges and Universities.

AN ACT to create 20.235 (1) (cx) and 39.398 of the statutes; relating to: creating a loan program for teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils, granting rule-making authority and making an appropriation.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

This bill creates a loan program, to be administered by the higher educational aids board (HEAB), to defray the educational costs of Wisconsin residents who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program that prepares them to be licensed as teachers or as orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils. The maximum loan that a person may receive during any fiscal year may not exceed $10,000. After a loan recipient has completed his or her degree program, HEAB must forgive 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the first fiscal year, 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the second fiscal year and 50% of the loan's principal and interest for the third fiscal year that the loan recipient is licensed and employed full-time by a school district, the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired or a cooperative educational service agency as a teacher of students with visual impairments or an orientation and mobility instructor of the visually impaired.

For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as an appendix to this bill.

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:

SECTION 1. 20.005 (3) schedule) of the statutes; at the appropriate place, insert the following amounts for the purposes indicated:

20.235 Higher educational aids boa (1) STUDENT SUPPORT ACTIVITI (cx) Loan program for teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils GPR 1999-00--0; 2000-01--100,000

SECTION 2. 20.235 (1) (cx) of the statutes is created to read:

20.235 (1) (cx) Loan program for teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils. The amounts in the schedule for the teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils loan program under s. 39.398.

SECTION 3. 39.398 of the statutes is created to read:

39.398 Teachers and orientation and mobility instructors of visually impaired pupils loan progra

(

(a) The board shall establish a loan program to defray the cost of tuition, fees and expenses for residents of this state enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program that prepares persons to be licensed as teachers of visually impaired pupils or as orientation and mobility instructors, as defined by the board by rule, at an accredited institution of higher education in this state or in a physically adjacent state, as defined in s. 175.46 (1) (d). To the extent possible, the board shall give preference, to persons who are likely to return to this state to work with visually impaired persons.

(b) The board shall make loans under this section from the appropriation under s. 20.235 (1) (cx). The maximum amount of a loan for a person during any fiscal year is $10,000. The maximum amount that a person may receive under this section is $40,

(

(a) After the recipient of a loan under sub. (1) has completed the degree program described in sub. (1), the board shall forgive 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the first fiscal year, 25% of the loan's principal and interest for the 2nd fiscal year and 50% of the loan's principal and interest for the 3rd fiscal year that the recipient is licensed and employed full-time as a teacher of pupils with visual impairments or as an orientation and mobility instructor by a school district, the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired or a cooperative educational service agency. The board may forgive loans on a prorated basis for persons employed less than full-time.

(b) The board shall promulgate rules to administer this section.

(END)

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by

Donna Stryker, Parent and Co-Chair the National Agenda
Kathleen Huebner, Assistant Dean, Graduate Studies Pennsylvania College of Optometry
Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Co-Chair the National Agenda

presented at Josephine Taylor Leadership Institute in Washington, DC on March 7, 1999

Introduction

The eight goals of the National Agenda (listed below) will be accomplished only if parents, professionals, and blind and visually impaired persons work together to make it happen. The effort to achieve the National Agenda must take place at local, regional, and state levels. This "Call To Action" has been prepared to assist those charged with meeting the goals of the National Agenda. On first glance, the job of meeting these goals may seem so overwhelming as to be discouraging. But, by utilizing the suggestions in this guide and developing your own goals, we remain certain that the National Agenda will be achieved.

The history of the National Agenda is well-known to many of you, and we will not repeat it here. For detailed information on the National Agenda see the TSBVI website. We urge you to read The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (NA) booklet published in 995 by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB Press). Single copies are available at no cost from AFB (See resource section for contact information). Familiarize yourself with other documents that are products of this movement. These include the following: "The Core Curriculum for Blind Visually Impaired Students" also available on the TSBVI website. A Report to the Nation: The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (998 AFB Press), Annotated Bibliography of Curriculum Materials Related to the Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Children and Youths, Including Those with Additional Disabilities (available from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and also on its website), and Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP); Policy Guidance on Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students (Appendix in A Report to the Nation, and the TSBVI Website.

Goals of the National Agenda

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

Policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the right of all parents to full participation and equal partnership in the education process.

Universities, with a minimum of one full time faculty member in the area of visual impairment, will prepare a sufficient number of educators of students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.

Service providers will determine caseloads based on the needs of students, and will require ongoing professional development for all teachers and orientation and mobility instructors.

Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of placement options.

Assessment of students will be conducted, in collaboration with parents, by personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments.

Access to developmental and educational services will include an assurance that instructional materials are available to students in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers.

Educational and developmental goals, including instruction, will reflect the assessed needs of each student in all areas of academic and disability specific core curricula.

Each of the National Agenda's goals will be achieved by parents, professionals and blind consumers working together, sharing a dream, and always keeping in mind that the beneficiaries of our efforts will be children and youths who are entitled to an education that is at least equal to that provided for their sighted peers. Achievement of the National Agenda will begin a new era for education of students with visual impairments.

Eight National Goal Leaders (NGLs), one for each of the goals, have gathered data from across the country on the current status of the eight goals. Most have completed their analyses, and their findings are in A Report to the Nation. Other NGLs continue to gather information. As you search for ways to become involved in achieving the goals of the National Agenda, we urge you to consider the following:

Determine the geographic area that you will target, such as a school, school district, county, part or whole state, or region. Bring together leaders who are, and those who express an interest in becoming, committed to the National Agenda. Involve parents, professionals from the field of blindness and visual impairment as well as related service providers, and adults who are visually impaired. Decide on a plan of action: Commit to achieving the National Agenda. Assess where your targeted geographic area is in relation to the national findings for each goal so you can prioritize the ones you need to address. Identify the goals that present the most urgent needs in your state or region, and concentrate on them. Customize the national goals to meet particular needs in your state or region. Develop sub-committees for each of the goals to be addressed. Co-chairs for each sub-committee should consist of a parent and a professional whenever possible. Utilize state of the art data already collected by National Goal Leaders as well as information about other state activities that are presented in A Report to the Nation. Involve all existing parent, professional and consumer organizations in your state or region. Bring them in as partners. Involve policy makers and administrators. Establish timelines, assign responsibilities, and provide support for each team and individual. Share information about the National Agenda with others and recruit them to work on the effort. Maintain the commitment and enthusiasm for the National Agenda by recognizing your group's accomplishments.

We urge you to join the growing movement of professionals and parents who are committed to achieving the National Agenda. You won't be sorry.

March 1999


Goal 1

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

When a child is diagnosed with a visual impairment and the family has no one to answer their many questions and concerns, an opportunity is lost to inform, educate and encourage the family. The future is bright for their child. Blindness and visual impairment means a different way of learning and growing. The child can grow, learn, read, interact, and succeed to whatever ability he/she has. The achievement of Goal  will start the families and the children on the road to early intervention so that every opportunity to learn will be made available as quickly as possible after diagnosis. It is a well documented and known fact that children benefit from appropriate early intervention.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Delayed referrals by the medical community of blind and visually impaired children and their families for early intervention services.
  2. Lack of understanding and support for early intervention services by the medical community.
  3. Lack of knowledge by the medical community of early intervention resources.
  4. Negative attitudes of the medical community toward blindness and visual impairments and how those attitudes impede early referral.
  5. Lack of ease of availability of information to parents on blindness, early development, and early intervention services in their area.
  6. Lack of a national system for identifying and registering young blind and visually impaired children.
  7. Lack of understanding by regular education and special education early interventionists of the importance of vision in early development and the need for specialized services.

CURRENT STATUS:

Address each major issue to determine current status in your state/region.

Contact and work with your State Department of Special Education, State Early Intervention System, Birth: Three (Part H Funding) medical professionals, hospital neonatal unit nurses, social workers, special school administrators, early interventionists, outreach workers, and local education agency administrators. It would be helpful to familiarize yourself with PL 99-457, the federal law relating to special education services for preschool age children. Determine:

  1. How the medical community currently makes referrals in your region/state. Be sure to broadly define medical community to include ophthalmologists, neurologists, pediatricians, optometrists, neonatalogists, hospital specialty clinics, i.e. prematurity clinics, hospital social workers, and nurses.
  2. How state early intervention systems, birth to three, and state departments of special education refer parents for services.
  3. How local school districts, and health and human service agencies refer parents for services.
  4. The partnerships that are in place for your area for early referral between referral services and early intervention/education service systems.
  5. What information, and in what media, is currently available and what is needed to be developed to help educate the medical community on the importance of early referral to help them make early referrals, and to help parents find early intervention resources in their area.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Establish a committee with an identified leader(s) to address early referral.
  2. Identify the primary audiences to be contacted and with whom the committee will work.
  3. Develop an education/marketing plan focused on developing partnerships with the medical community.
  4. Involve the medical community in early intervention systems by inviting them to sit on advisory boards, providing and participating in inservice workshops, and helping them know the systems to which they need to be making referrals.
  5. Develop materials, with the medical community's input, that educate both parents and the medical community about the importance of early referral and intervention. With these materials, develop a plan for dissemination to critical audiences. These materials will include a list of reasons that early referral and intervention are important, and identify available resources to provide early intervention/education services.
  6. Provide inservice workshops for medical society meetings, grand rounds at hospitals, and neonatal nurses' groups.
  7. Where possible, work with medical residency programs to expose and educate residents about the importance of early referral and intervention. A half-day rotation through an early intervention program can be effective.
  8. Develop partnerships with other early intervention/education providers, educating them on the unique aspects of vision loss, the need for specialized services, and local resources.
  9. Develop partnerships with parents that empower them to advocate for early referral and intervention services.
  10. Develop opportunities to publish articles on early identification in intervention and professional and parent newsletters and other publications. Develop partnerships with local newspapers, television, and radio stations to promote community awareness of the need for early referral and intervention.
  11. Consult successful regional and national organizations who have strong early referral systems and relationships with their medical communities.
  12. Develop opportunities for medical communities and parents to become aquatinted with successful adults who are blind or visually impaired, as this can be a powerful tool for changing attitudes.
  13. Be as inclusive of medical, early intervention/education, parent, and consumer communities who have a common goal to help children who are blind/visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities to be all that they can be.

Goal 2

Policies and procedures will be implemented to ensure the right of all families to full participation and equal partnership in the education process.

For many years families have not been equal partners in the education of their children with visual impairments. Families, teachers of children with visual impairments, Orientation & Mobility instructors, regular education teachers, and others must work as a team for any child's individual education plan to be a success. The unique learning needs of each child with a visual impairment must be identified and communicated to all team members to insure success. This can be more complicated when the child has additional disabilities and more professionals are involved in the process.

At home, families reinforce the different methods used by professional team members that enable the child to learn. At school, the professionals reinforce the learning that occurs at home and introduce new concepts and skills as appropriate. Together, families and professionals prepare the child to function at his/her highest level. With this collaborative support children who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, develop independence and self esteem. They become active team members themselves by working with their families and teachers.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Families are initially overwhelmed with the diagnosis of visual impairment whether or not additional impairments are diagnosed.
  2. Families are not viewed as full partners in their child's educational plan.
  3. Families are not taught how to be full partners in the educational process.
  4. Families do not have access or knowledge of existing educational resources.
  5. Families often find themselves without support from others because of the low prevalence of blindness/visual impairment.
  6. Regular education teachers and others may not be aware of the state and federal mandates for family participation in the educational process.

CURRENT STATUS:

The federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), mandates family participation in the planning and implementation of their childrens' education programs. Determine:

  1. The level to which your LEAs, region, and state have implemented and comply with the federal mandates for family participation.
  2. If your state has a family/teacher training center, determine if your state has a federally funded family training project. Determine if families find it easy to be connected to these resources.
  3. How information regarding state and federal laws effecting special education are disseminated. Ascertain if the information is being provided to all families in a language and/or media that they use and understand. The information should be in "family friendly" language not professional jargon. For those families who are blind or visually impaired themselves the materials should be an accessible media such as braille, large print or electronic format.
  4. The extent to which families are fully informed about all placement options including special classrooms and schools (See Goal 5).
  5. The extent to which families are aware of and have access to the core curriculum (See Goal 8).
  6. The information that LEAs are providing to parents regarding other agencies and organizations that could assist families. Such information should include national resources such as the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI), and the parent divisions of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), (See Resource Section).

PLAN OF ACTION

  1. Provide families with information sheets on local, state and national agencies that are potential resources. A range of short fact sheets about resources, including family training centers and programs enable families to get connected with other families. Information sheets can be distributed through SEAs and LEAs.
  2. Refer families to professional and consumer organizations such as the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired [(AER), AFB, ACB, NFB, NAPVI]. (See Acronym and Resource Sections).
  3. Provide families with a copy of the core curriculum for students who are blind/visually impaired (National Agenda and TSBVI's website, and a description of the full array of placement options to assist in choosing the most appropriate placement for their child (A Report to the Nation).
  4. Refer families to training and education opportunities to facilitate learning about their, and their childs', rights and responsibilities under current federal and state special education laws.
  5. Encourage families to educate their legislators regarding: the unique learning needs of children who are visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities; the full array of placement options; the need for materials and appropriate media at the same time as their sighted peers; and, the need for children with visual impairments to receive services from a teacher certified in blindness/visual impairment and a certified Orientation & Mobility instructor.
  6. Inform families of conferences and workshops that will assist them in raising a child with special needs. Let them know that financial assistance may be available from their LEA. Conferences and educational opportunities help to increase knowledge and networks.
  7. Invite families to speak at workshops and conferences for educators and families to share their experiences raising children with visual impairments, including, those with additional disabilities.
  8. Regular education teachers should be encouraged to attend inservice training and workshops given by teachers certified in the education of blind/visually impaired children, and Orientation & Mobility instructors in partnership with families. Other individuals involved in the child's education should also be invited to participate.

Goal 3

Universities, with a minimum of one full-time faculty member in the area of visual impairment, will prepare a sufficient number of educators of students with visual impairments to meet personnel needs throughout the country.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. A chronic and serious shortage of teachers and orientation and mobility instructors for students with visual impairments exists throughout the nation. There is an urgent need to prepare local teachers to serve local needs.
  2. University administrative support for teacher preparation programs in the area of visual impairments is lacking.
  3. An inconsistent supply of teachers exists across the country.
  4. Not all states have certification standards for teachers of children who are blind/visually impaired.
  5. Few states have orientation & mobility certification.
  6. State certification requirements for teachers of children who are blind/visually impaired are often considerably less than those required by the profession through AER/CEC.
  7. Lack of universal certification reciprocity among states.
  8. Difficulties in recruiting potential teachers and orientation & mobility instructors.
  9. Shortage of qualified university faculty to prepare teachers for children with visual impairments.
  10. Shortage of leadership training programs to prepare qualified university faculty and other leadership personnel.
  11. Most university programs are dependent on federal funding.

CURRENT STATUS:

Many states do not have university personnel preparation programs in the areas of teaching children, who are blind/visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities, or orientation and mobility. The majority of existing programs are funded through federal grants for which there is much competition and which may not be available in the future. There are critical teacher and O&M instructor shortages in most parts of the country. As a result many children who need specialized services are not receiving instruction in the core curriculum or O&M.

Determine:

  1. Whether your state/region has enough specially trained/appropriately certified teachers and O&M instructors for its population of children with visual impairments. Refer to A Report to the Nation.
  2. If your state is meeting the demand for qualified teachers and O&M instructors.
  3. If your university teacher training programs in blindness/visual impairment are dependent on federal funding alone. Such dependency puts programs at risk for termination.
  4. If university administrators need to be educated about vision program needs and their anticipated small enrollments so adjustments can be made in full time equivalency (FTE) policies.
  5. The extent to which there are personnel preparation programs at the preservice and inservice levels in your state.
  6. The level of parent and consumer advocacy for hiring qualified and appropriately certified teachers and O&M instructors in your state or region.
  7. The level of shared responsibility (SEA, LEA, consumers and families) in the recruitment of teachers and O&M instructors.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Discuss with university faculty, in your state and region, how consumers, families, and educators can support their programs. Be prepared to advocate with university administrators, state officials, and legislators.
  2. If you do not have a university program for training teachers and O&M instructors in your state, establish a close relationship with whatever university has the most potential to be effective in supplying your state with teachers and O&M instructors.
  3. Explore a variety of approaches to teacher preparation and O&M instructor preparation. Explore alternatives to on-campus, matriculated, full-time students. Consider distance education, summers only programs, part-time students, non-degree certification programs, and extension classes.
  4. Parents, consumers, and professionals should work together with university personnel in advocating for a lower FTE for programs that prepare teachers and O&M instructors for low prevalence disabilities. These programs should not be canceled if their enrollment does not meet overall university class size requirements. Strong advocacy with Boards of Regents and SEAs will be required.
  5. Sometimes faculty are hired directly with university funds and sometimes they are hired with federal grant and/or state contracted funds. Grant and state contract funded positions have no stability or security. Universities usually employ faculty in visual impairment on grant funds if there is federal money supporting the program. If the federal grant ends, so does the program. Many programs have closed because federal funding was discontinued. Discuss with your faculty how you can help in advocating for the moving of grant and contract supported faculty positions to university supported positions. Assurance of a stable program (university funded) facilitates student recruitment.
  6. Explore and implement ways to increase enrollment in personnel preparation programs.
  7. If your state does not require certification of teachers for visually impaired students or O&M instructors, make every effort to change that. Compare the differences between your state certification requirements and those of AER for each of these professions. While stronger certification requirements may work to our disadvantage in the short haul by reducing our supply of teachers, it will help in the long run by assuring that all children are served by qualified teachers.
  8. In recent years, a major source of new teachers who become certified in visual impairments has been experienced classroom teachers and those previously certified in other areas of special education. We can take advantage of this by informing other teachers of the challenges and joys of working with children with visual impairments, and by making it possible for experienced teachers to complete course work and practicum requirements without leaving their homes or jobs.
  9. A teaching credential earned in one state should be acceptable in all states. Full reciprocity among all states needs to be a reality.

Goal 4

Service providers will determine caseloads based on the needs of students and will require ongoing professional development for all teachers and orientation and mobility instructors.

Some states have guidelines for determining caseloads and class size for teachers of children with visual impairments. For a review of 46 states' caseload guidelines see A Report to the Nation. Below are factors to consider for ensuring appropriate caseloads and class sizes for teachers of children with visual impairments.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Teachers for children with visual impairments may serve as consultants, itinerants, resource room, or classroom teachers. Each of these service models requires different amounts of direct teaching time with students who are blind/visually impaired.
  2. Many factors need to be considered in determining the amount of time a student needs from a teacher of the visually impaired. The most important factor is what amount of time is needed to provide effective instruction in the core curriculum (See Goal 8). Other factors include geographic distribution of the students, severity of students' visual impairment, age of onset of visual impairment, presence of additional disabilities, and availability of certified teachers/O&M instructors.
  3. Some believe that excessive "pull-out" from regular education classes (removing the student from their regular classroom activity for instruction in the core curriculum) might be detrimental and should therefore be minimized.
  4. Service delivery systems need to be examined, and modified as necessary, to be sure the "frequency and duration" needs for instruction in the core curriculum are met.
  5. Teachers of children with visual impairments need to accept their responsibility for teaching all areas of the core curriculum and to advocate for the needed time with students.
  6. Guidelines for caseloads and class sizes may help LEAs and teachers of blind and visually impaired children to determine the most appropriate service delivery systems.
  7. There is a need to examine the potential benefits of legislation that would "cap" the caseloads and class size of teachers for visually impaired students and for orientation and mobility instructors.

CURRENT STATUS:

There is no one "best way" for a particular SEA/LEA to determine caseloads. Some states have regulatory language that creates a means by which LEAs can justifiably seek a waiver or extension, while other states have guidelines that allow for flexibility and individualization, while still other states have neither guidelines nor regulations.

  1. Address each major issue to determine the current practice regarding caseloads in your state. Determine if your state has caseload size guidelines for students with visual impairments. Contact your SEA or refer to A Report to the Nation for this information.
  2. Determine the caseload and class size for every teacher and Orientation and Mobility instructor of children who are blind and visually impaired.
  3. Ask teachers and O&M instructors who have large and small caseloads whether they believe their pupil/teacher ratio is adequate to meet their students' core curriculum and O&M learning needs and how much time they spend in direct teaching, consulting, driving, and other activities. Determine if:
    1. There is a difference of opinion between the teachers and administrators regarding appropriate caseload/class size.
    2. All placement alternatives are available to every student, thereby making it possible to change placement if the current one does not allow enough time to meet the student's goals and objectives (See Goal 5).

PLAN OF ACTION:

It will be most helpful to have SEA and LEA administrative representation on any committees or efforts dealing with caseloads. In addition, as with all National Agenda committees, it will be helpful to include parents, consumers, and teachers of blind and visually impaired children and O&M instructors who have different size caseloads and serve in a variety of service delivery systems.

  1. Establish sub committees to address the issues above.
  2. Obtain copies of your state's guidelines, mandates, or regulations regarding class size for students who are blind/visually impaired. Some states will not have disability specific guidelines. You need to determine which ones are in practice.
  3. Discuss the concepts of mandatory caseloads, caseload regulations, caseload guidelines, and identify criteria to include in formulating caseload policy.
  4. Examine IEPs to determine if:
    1. All IEP goals and objectives are being met for each student;
    2. All IEP goals and objectives include adequate frequency and duration of instruction; and,
    3. All core curriculum areas are included as IEP goals and objectives.
  5. Determine which factors the state considers in setting, or should consider when developing, state guidelines/regulations on class size. Such factors might include:
    1. Severity or intensity of student's need; (some states and regions have developed "Severity Rating Scales" to help determine class size and caseload. The authors can provide information on request on this)
    2. Amount of time needed for direct intervention, assessment, teaching, and evaluation;
    3. Core curriculum learning needs;
    4. Student's IEPs;
    5. Amount of time for consultation with parents, classroom teachers, and other service providers; Time needed to secure and prepare specialized material, media, and equipment e.g., braille and adaptive canes; Time needed for supervision of support staff, meetings, report preparation, and professional development; and,
    6. Existing/available service delivery options.
  6. Determine other factors that may be driving caseload decisions such as too few O&M instructors, financial limitations, administrators who are not convinced of the importance of specialized services, and geographic distribution of students, etc. Resulting actions will be dependent on your findings.
  7. Formulate recommendations and approach the SEA/LEA with your findings and recommendations.
  8. Approach the state education legislative committee and/or other appropriate policy makers.

Goal 5

Local education programs will ensure that all students have access to a full array of placement options.

Do the families and caregivers of children with visual impairments receive information about all the placement options available to their child? Children with visual impairments are often placed in settings that fit the availability of teachers of students with visual impairments and/or orientation and mobility instructors. Due to the critical shortages of these professionals and the vast geographic distribution of children, a "full" array of service options is seldom available.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Parents do not always receive information about what constitutes a full array of placement options.
  2. Parents are not informed of the unique learning needs of children with visual impairments including those with multiple impairments.
  3. A full array of placement options does not always exist, especially in suburban, rural or outlying areas.
  4. Parents are often unaware of their rights and their child's rights as they apply to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as defined in IDEA.
  5. Parents are not exposed to, and therefore are not aware of, the accomplishments of children who have successfully completed their educational programs through services offered from a variety of educational placements.
  6. Position papers and policy guidance papers like OSERS' "The Policy Guidance on the Education of Blind or Visually Impaired Students" (Appendix in A Report to the Nation and TSBVI's Website) are not known to or easily assessible to parents or teachers.
  7. In-service training about the unique ways children who are blind/visually impaired learn are not offered, and when they are, regular education teachers are not required to attend.
  8. LEA decision makers are unaware of OSERS' "The Policy Guidance on the Education of Blind or Visually Impaired Students" (Appendix in A Report to the Nation and TSBVI's Website) and the National Agenda.

CURRENT STATUS:

Results of research, conducted by The New York Institute for Special Education on behalf of the Council of Schools for the Blind, included in A Report to the Nation, demonstrate that nearly three-quarters of over 350 parents reported they were informed of only the placement option the school district recommended. Half of the remaining parents had only two placement options explained to them rather than the full continuum of services. A continuum of placement options should include regular class, resource room, separate class, public special day school, private special day school, public residential, private residential, and home bound/hospital. Determine whether:

  1. Students and parents in your SEA and LEAs have access to a full array of placement options. If not, which ones do they not have and why?
  2. Parents in your SEA and LEAs are aware of why a full array of placement options are not available, for example, teacher shortages, no materials center, no state certification requirements, low incidence, etc.
  3. Parents in your state are able to access materials easily to facilitate informed decisions about placement, for example parent training centers, parent groups, advocacy training, etc.
  4. There is a state approved description available of each placement option, along with strengths and weaknesses of each relative to the needs of children who are blind/visually impaired.
  5. Your IEP team always provides materials describing parent and child rights and due process.
  6. The IEP team includes the parent as a full partner.
  7. Parents are part of the assessment team as it directly relates to placement.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Develop an information package addressed to administrators of regular and special education programs and parents which includes, but is not limited to: all relevant OSEP policy statements (The National Agenda) and TSBVI's Website), all relevant position papers on full array of placement options, Council for Exceptional Children-Division for the Visually Impaired (CEC-DVI) position papers, (See Resources) descriptions of each placement option within the array, description of parents rights and due process with new updated IDEA information.
  2. Provide parents with a list and descriptions, along with strengths and limitations, of each nationally recognized placement option in the continuum of services.
  3. Encourage parents to participate at the local and state level to implement changes in educational programs.
  4. Provide all teachers, involved with visually impaired students, and parents with a copy of the Core Curriculum For Children With Visual Impairments Including Those With Multiple Impairments.
  5. Provide parents with samples of IEP forms, assessment forms, etc. prior to meetings, so they are comfortable with the forms.
  6. Conduct public education campaigns which illustrate personal success stories of youths and adults who are blind and visually impaired and have participated in a variety of educational placements.
  7. Each state is required by IDEA to have an approved three year plan for meeting the needs of the state's children with disabilities. When these plans come up for revision and approval you should insure that the OSERS' Federal Policy Guidance Memorandum and The National Agenda are included, or at least specifically referenced beforeplans are approved.

Goal 6

Assessment of students will be conducted in collaboration with parents, by personnel having expertise in the education of students with visual impairments.

An educator of students with visual impairments and the child's parents must be co-captains of the assessment team. Personnel who administer assessments must understand the needed adaptations of the testing instrument for a child who is visually impaired. If not, the test will not be valid and will not accurately assess the child. Specific instruments that address the learning methods of children with visual impairments are often required. Consistent instruments with standardized terminology addressing every area of the core curriculum are also necessary.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Children with visual impairments must be assessed using assessment tools that recognize the unique differences in the processing of information that children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities have.
  2. Currently there is no single set of guidelines for selecting and administering assessment instruments and the interpretation of subsequent results.
  3. Currently there is no central resource center for articles, books, and tools that address the assessment needs for children who are visually impaired.
  4. There is no easily accessible list of assessment tools, with descriptions, for use by parents or professionals.
  5. Presently, there are limited training curricula for educators, O&M instructors and related service providers who typically assess children and youths with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  6. Presently, there are few, if any, training opportunities for teachers of blind and visually impaired, O&M instructors, school psychologists, reading specialists, and other education personnel who are responsible for student assessments.

CURRENT STATUS:

Assessment tools are used to determine students' abilities in many areas such as academics, psychological, language, motor skills, functional skills, core curriculum and vocation interests, etc. Determine whether:

  1. Your SEA/LEA encourages policies to ensure participation of teachers of students with visual impairments and Orientation and Mobility specialists in assessment processes for all students diagnosed with or suspected to have visual impairments.
  2. Your SEA/LEA uses the core curriculum for students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities to select, administer and interpret results.
  3. Training opportunities for individuals in assessing children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities exist in your area on adapting existing assessment tools for use when testing students with visual impairments.
  4. A personnel preparation program exists in your state or neighboring state. Once you locate the closest personnel preparation program, determine their pre and in-service training capabilities with regard to assessment of children who are blind and visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.
  5. Parents and professionals in your SEA/LEA are aware of the Council for Exceptional Children-Division for Visually Impaired (CEC-DVI) position paper on assessment of children and youths with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  6. Your SEA/LEA has standardized testing instruments for use with students who are visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities.
  7. The composition of the assessment team in your SEA/LEA is representative of all appropriate individuals including parents.

PLAN OF ACTION:

Parents must be full partners on assessment teams for children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. Adaptations of assessments, tools, devices, and the conditions by which assessments are administered are most often necessary for application with children who are blind or visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.

  1. Encourage SEAs to develop and implement policies to ensure participation of teachers and O&M instructors on assessment teams of children who are blind or visually impaired including those with multiple disabilities.
  2. Develop standardized state adopted testing program guidelines for addressing the needs of students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  3. Contact developers of standardized state-adopted testing programs and provide guidelines for addressing the needs of students with visual impairments including those with multiple disabilities.
  4. Develop assessment team training curricula for educators and related service providers who assess children and youths with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities.
  5. Develop and distribute a resource list of professionals and parents with expertise in assessment of children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities who can provide consultation and training services.
  6. Facilitate assessment training for regular education, reading and other specialists, and psychologists regarding adaptations needed by students with visual impairments.

Goal 7

Access to developmental and educational services will include an assurance that materials are available to students in the appropriate media and at the same time as their sighted peers.

Essential learning opportunities are seriously forfeited when students who are blind or visually impaired do not receive textbooks, workbooks, maps, tests, etc., in the appropriate media, at the same time as sighted peers. In the course of academic development and the programmed progression of subject matter, blind and visually impaired students are placed in a disadvantageous position when materials are not available for them. The idea that these students will be able to "catch up" once materials are received is misguided, unfair, and largely impossible. When materials are not delivered in a timely manner, gaps in knowledge are routine due to the inability to access the same information as the rest of the class. Untimely delivery and/or lack of materials also has a secondary effect. The implication is that blind and visually impaired students do not really need to learn everything, and, therefore, are not able students. The goal of providing materials in a timely manner is important to the maximum academic success of each individual student who is blind or visually impaired.

MAJOR ISSUES:

  1. Timely delivery of braille, large print, and recorded textbooks.
  2. Timely availability of workbooks, supplementary materials, and recreational reading materials.
  3. Appropriate use of optical devices as a viable alternative medium.
  4. Presentation of visual and graphic materials from textbooks to braille readers.
  5. Use of technology to interface with instructional materials.
  6. Development of national, regional, and local material delivery systems.
  7. Access to textbooks on electronic files.

CURRENT STATUS:

Many states have an instructional resource (materials) center that coordinates the materials' production, acquisition, and/or distribution of specialized materials in their individual state. These centers have the responsibility for the delivery of large print, braille, and/or recorded materials and often, the coordination of the state's Federal Quota Allocation Program. In order to accomplish their objective, these centers often utilize volunteers for materials production, materials duplication, machine repair and other general services. The state instructional materials center would be the first point of contact for teachers, parents and/or administrators in need of specialized instructional materials.

The organization of persons who have statewide responsibility for the delivery of large print, braille and/or recorded textbooks to school-age visually impaired students is known as The Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped (AIRC). As an information sharing organization, AIRC can be very helpful to a state trying to start a new statewide resource center or expand existing services.

As with all National Agenda Committees, it is recommended that committees specific to this goal also engage the services of parents, consumers, and professionals and in addition, secure the assistance of the state instructional materials resource center and braille producers (volunteers/commercial). If your state does not have an instructional materials resource center, request participation from the SEA.

  1. Some states are providing most books and materials in a timely manner, in part because they have legislation that requires the cooperation of textbook publishers. In many states, without such legislation, there are serious problems in getting educational materials to the students. This is particularly true in those states that do not have statewide adoption of school textbooks. States that do not have statewide adoption of textbooks may adopt thousands of textbooks each year requiring the transcription of significantly greater numbers of books needing to be produced in alternate media.
  2. The availability and appropriate use of optical devices instead of large print or recorded material remains a national concern. There is some evidence that the need for large print would be reduced substantially if education programs were established that provided appropriate assessment and training in the use of optical devices. Procurement of large print materials is often difficult, and optical devices might substantially increase the availability of instructional materials at the right time for low vision students.
  3. Current technology has significantly reduced the time needed for materials transcribed in literary braille. Standards for braille production exist for literary braille. A major problem is the production of graphic materials into an accessible and understandable format. In some states, producers of instructional materials have explicit instructions to reproduce, in raised line form, all graphics and pictures from the print text, where as others have none. Our profession has not determined when to use, and when not to use, raised line materials.
  4. The development of "Louis", (a database of instructional materials for children who are blind and visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities), and its continual updating, housed at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), has greatly enhanced the ability of educators to access nationwide sources of materials. States that have instructional resource centers have a significant advantage in producing, storing, locating, and retrieving appropriate materials for visually impaired students. The national and interstate networks are working well, but every state does not have an instructional resource center for children who are visually impaired.
  5. Textbook publishers continue to increase their production of basic textbooks on electronic files and increasingly states are adopting books in this format. Many textbooks produced on CD-ROM are often not compatible with the learning medium required by specific students. With predictions that the majority of school textbooks will be provided to students in electronic file format, accessibility of textbooks will continue to be a serious problem for our students.
  6. Some legislation and current agreements that apply to the production of textbooks do not apply to supplementary materials and workbooks. Therefore, these materials are often difficult to obtain even though a state might have laws pertaining to textbooks.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. Survey your SEA/LEAs to ascertain the timely delivery of materials. If children are receiving textbooks, supplementary materials, workbooks, etc. after their sighted classmates, determine why. There is evidence that state legislation may make a difference in this area, and you might want to find out how other states have assured timely delivery of material by passing laws that require students with visual impairments to have instructional materials at the same time as their classmates. Consult your usual and/or nearest providers of braille, large print, or recorded materials and explore ways in which delivery can be expedited.
  2. Determine the classes and the teachers who will have visually impaired students for the coming year. Complete this task by March or April of the year preceding the coming school year. Discuss with classroom teachers the necessity for the student with visual impairments to have learning materials at the same time as sighted classmates. There are teachers who reserve the right to select their books at the beginning of the semester. Many teachers of visually impaired children have discovered that if they emphasize the importance of the child to have the materials in a timely manner, classroom teachers will adjust their schedules. Other roadblocks include state adoption cycle timelines, LEA adoption cycle timelines, individual school adoption cycle timelines, and students' changing schools.
  3. Large print continues to play a major role in our efforts to accommodate instructional materials for low vision children. Some believe that the dependence on large print is, in part, because we have not utilized optical devices to the extent that we should. Optical devices are more versatile than large print books. If children can easily access regular print textbooks by using optical devices, then perhaps in some cases, the use of optical devices is more appropriate than a large print textbook. Ask yourself these questions: Do you have functional and clinical low vision assessment information on your students? Is there an indication that they will benefit from using an optical device? Has an optical device been tried rather than automatically opting for the use of large print books?
  4. Contact SEA/LEA authorities to request training in functional low vision assessments and interventions, and application of optical aids.
  5. Tactile graphics are being increasing used in regular education. Though our capability to produce literary braille has increased dramatically, we now realize that the timely delivery of books is not related solely to literary braille, but to graphics. At the federal and state levels we must explore the role of tactile graphics in the learning of children with blindness or visual impairments. Some professionals and parents have made a distinction between tactile graphics (used in mathematics, science, map reading) and raised line pictures.
  6. If your state is not delivering textbooks in a timely manner to braille reading students, check into the status of the production facility in your state. Maybe your state needs to invest in a high tech production center, or contract with a firm in a neighboring state. It is no longer acceptable that children receive their literary braille instructional materials after their sighted peers.
  7. Establish guidelines for staffing state and regional centers that produce specialized materials.
  8. Assist in the establishment of guidelines that will promote standardization of the production of tactile graphics.
  9. Work with other states to ensure access to all instructional materials by creating uniform access standards for text in braille, large print, recorded, electronic, descriptive video, and on-line formats.
  10. A national repository of electronic files at a single location where we can receive either a file or braille/large print book quickly and efficiently is needed.
  11. There are increasing numbers of books in electronic format. These must be accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities. Urge textbook publishers to involve us at the birth of a book, not after the fact, when the only hope is retrofitting. Do not assume that books on CD-ROM are accessible to students who are blind/visually impaired.
  12. Materials other than basic textbooks must be available in accessible media. Check your state definition of "textbook" in the education code to determine if it defines workbooks and supplementary materials as part of the term textbook. If so, and your state has legislation requiring that textbooks be made available in braille, large print, and recorded form, point out to the appropriate officials that workbooks and supplementary materials are included in their state definition.
  13. If your state does not have a definition of "textbook" in your state education code consider introducing legislation that would require that all workbooks and supplementary materials be included and therefore available in alternative format.
  14. Facilitate needed accommodation that ensures access to assistive technology and classrooms that have students with visual impairments, and work cooperatively with your IRC.

Goal 8

Educational and developmental goals, including instruction, will reflect the assessed needs of each student in all areas of academic and disability-specific core curricula.

MAJOR ISSUES:

Educators define "core curriculum" as the knowledge and skills expected to be learned by students for high school graduation. Generally the core curriculum consists of academic knowledge and skills. The core curriculum may vary from state to state but it serves in each state as the foundation for learning. The term core curriculum for blind and visually impaired students is being used to define the basic educational needs of these students. Areas of study that are common to visually impaired learners and their sighted peers include: English, Language Arts and other languages, Mathematics, Science, Health, Physical Education, Fine Arts, Social Studies, Economics, Business, Vocational Education, and History. Areas of study that students who are blind or visually impaired that are most often required for successful completion of their education and are not common to their peers include: compensatory or functional academic skills (braille); O&M; social, independent living, recreation, and leisure skills; career education; listening and visual efficiency skills; and use of assistive technology (National Agenda and TSBVI's Website).

  1. The core curriculum for learners who are blind and/or visually impaired has not been fully accepted, therefore not implemented, by many teachers.
  2. Children in inclusive and mainstreamed settings do not have time during the school day for instruction in disability specific core curricula.
  3. Parents are not aware of the core curriculum needs of their children.
  4. Teachers and administrators are not aware of the core curriculum needs of children who are blind and/or visually impaired.
  5. Personnel preparation programs do not adequately train teachers in all the core curriculum areas.
  6. Some teachers not only do not have the skills to teach core curriculum subjects, they do not have the time or resources.

CURRENT STATUS:

At this time no single, simple method has been developed that ensures students who are blind/visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities, to have access to both traditional and expanded core curricula. The additional experiences contained in the expanded core curricula are not easy to implement as they require time to teach and professionally prepared teachers and O&M instructors to provide appropriate assessments, to develop relevant education plans, and to provide instruction and evaluation in the unique and specialized curricula.

  1. Lack of knowledge and recognition by teachers and administrators that children who are blind/visually impaired have specialized needs.
  2. There is insufficient time during the school day, week, or years, for students in community regular education programs, to complete the traditional and expanded core curricula.
  3. Most parents are not informed advocates for their children. They have little knowledge about the potential needs and abilities of their children. They are not familiar with the core curriculum and are therefore ill-prepared to be effective advocates.
  4. The concept the core curriculum is new to parents and professionals in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired. Continued dissemination about the core curriculum is needed.
  5. University personnel preparation programs need to review their programs and the competencies required for graduation as they relate to teaching the core curriculum.
  6. Teachers and O&M specialists whose caseloads are too high and/or whose geographic area is too large will seldom have time to be anything more than a consultant. Instruction in the core curriculum requires skill in understanding the impact of visual impairment on learning, and it would be seldom appropriate to expect classroom teachers to take responsibility for the core curriculum.

PLAN OF ACTION:

  1. All parents, teachers of blind/visually impaired children and O&M instructors will know the core curriculum and accept responsibility for its implementation.

    All teachers and parents will receive information about, and instruction in, the core curriculum, through conferences, meetings, workshops, print or electronic media. State AER chapters, together with local, regional and state NAPVI, ACB, NFB, and other organizations, should be approached to endorse the core curriculum and be provided with information about the National Agenda, A Report to the Nation, and the Call to Action so they can be informed and in turn work for it's implementation. SEAs/LEAs will be asked to endorse or adopt the core curriculum. Systematic monitoring of IEPs will ensure the implementation of the core curriculum. Implementation of the core curriculum will result in a demonstrable difference in the independence, socialization, and employment of former students.
  2. Areas of the expanded core curriculum need to become recognized and have the same status of traditional courses in school.

    Subjects in the expanded core curriculum need to be required for students and can be substituted for traditional core courses. Students will be allowed to take fewer semesters of traditional core subjects in order to fit in the expanded core. Subjects, such as "Independent Living Skills" will achieve equal status in importance to, for example, "Social Studies". Instruction in expanded core curriculum areas are required on the student's transcript in order to graduate.
  3. Professionals and informed parents assume responsibility for assisting all parents to become advocates for their children.

    Accept the concept that the prepared and informed parent is the professional's strongest ally in the IEP meeting. Professionals and parents set up a systematic process for providing every parent in the state/region with knowledge about the educational needs and opportunities for their children. Conduct informal information sharing and more formal workshops for parents, professionals, and consumers.
  4. Establish a system for developing knowledge and skills relating to the core curriculum with experienced teachers and administrators. Work to include the core curriculum into your state's Comprehensive Systems for Personnel Development (CSPD). Knowledge areas to be addressed include:
    1. What constitutes the core curriculum;
    2. Skills in teaching areas of the core curriculum;
    3. How to orchestrate instruction in all areas of the teacher's responsibility; and,
    4. How administrators can support teachers in the implementation of the core curriculum.
  5. University programs must include skills in teaching the core curriculum in their personnel preparation programs for teachers of children who are blind/visually impaired.

    University programs will review required competencies by CEC/AER as they relate to the core curriculum. University programs will modify their curriculum as necessary to include the core curriculum. University programs will facilitate opportunities for student teaching, practica, and internship experiences that provide opportunities to teach the core curriculum to students who are blind/visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities.
  6. Provide teachers with the time and resources to teach the core curriculum.

    Some assessment instruments and curriculum materials are available in all areas of the core curriculum. (See reference to Annotated Bibliography of Curriculum Materials, page ) Teachers must have access to these materials through SEAs/LEAs. In addressing the time issue, teachers must first demand a reasonable case load or class size (See Goal 4). Some strategies to consider include: Teachers work a flex day, allowing time to teach core subjects in settings that make the most sense such as the community and home. Slow down students' schedules, allowing them to take two- to- three years longer to graduate. Consider enrollment in a special school for children who are blind/visually impaired for one or two years, to concentrate on subjects in the expanded core curriculum. Extended school year (ESY) or summer programs and other possible short term programs might address some of the need for time to teach the core curriculum.

    To not teach the core curriculum because there is insufficient time is not an option. The expanded core curriculum needs to be accepted as required for graduation for all students who are blind or visually impaired.

CONCLUSION

Join the National Agenda movement. Address the goals that are most critical for the infants, toddlers, children and youths who are blind and visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities in your state.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: We would like to acknowledge the contributions of the National Agenda's Steering Committee and the National Goal Leaders, without their diligence and commitment this Call To Action would not be possible.

Acronyms

ACB--American Council of the Blind

AER--Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

AFB--American Foundation for the Blind

AIRC--Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped

APH -- American Printing House for the Blind

CEC--Council for Exceptional Children

CEC-DVI--Council for Exceptional Children-Division for the Visually Impaired

CSPD--Comprehensive System for Personnel Development

FTE--Full Time Equivalency

IDEA-- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

IEP-- Individualized Education Program

IRC--Instructional Resource Centers

LEA--Local Educational Agency (School District, Cooperative, and County)

NA--National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments Including Those with Multiple Disabilities

NAPVI--National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired

NFB--National Federation of the Blind

NGL--National Goal Leader for National Agenda

NLS-- Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

O&M-- Orientation and Mobility

OSEP--Office of Special Education Programs (U.S. Department of Education)

OSERS-- Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Programs (U.S. Department of Education)

RFB&D-- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic

SEA--State Education Agency (State Education Department)

TSBVI--Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

TVI-- Teacher of the Visually Impaired Resources

American Council for the Blind 1155 15th Street, N.W. Suite 720 Washington, DC 20005 (202) 467-5081 (800) 424-8666 (202) 467-5085 fax Website: http://www.acb.org

American Foundation for the Blind 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300 New York, NY 10001 (212) 502-7600 (800) 232-5463 (212) 502-7777 fax Website: http://www.afb.org

American Printing House for the Blind 1839 Frankfort Avenue Post Office Box 6085 Louisville, KY 40206-0085 (502) 895-2405 (800) 223-1839 (502) 899-2274 fax Website: http://www.aph.org

Council for Exceptional Children 1920 Association Drive Reston, VA 20191-1589 (703) 620-3660 (800) 328-0272 (703) 264-9494 fax Website: http://www.cec.sped.org

Library of Congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped 1291 Taylor Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20542 (202) 707-5100 (800) 424-8567 (202) 707-0712 fax Website: http://www.loc.gov/nls

National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired P.O. Box 317 Watertown, MA 02272-0317 (800) 562-6265 (617) 972-7444 fax National Federation of the Blind 1800 Johnson Street Baltimore, MD 21230 (410) 659-9314 (410) 685-5653 fax Website: http://www.nfb.org

Office of Special Education Programs 330 C Street, S.W., Room 3086 Washington, DC 20202 (202) 205-5507 Website: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSERS/OSEP

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexia 20 Roszel Road Princeton, NJ 08540 (609) 452-0606 (800) 221-4792 (609) 987-8116 fax Website: http://www.rfbd.org

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired 1100 West 45th Street Austin, TX 78756 (512) 454-8631 (512) 206-9242 (512) 454-3395 fax (512) 206-9320 fax Website: http://www.tsbvi.edu

References

Corn, A.L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K.M., Ryan, F., & Siller, M.A. (1995). The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. New York: AFB Press.

Corn, A.L. & Huebner, K.M. (Eds.), (1998). A Report to the Nation: The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. New York: AFB Press.

Hatlen, P. (1996). "The Core Curriculum for Blind and Visually Impaired Students, Including Those with Additional Disabilities".

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Policy Statements: "Policy Guidance on Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students" in A Report to the Nation: The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities. New York: AFB Press, and Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Policy Guidance from OSERS.

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 

With Admiration, Appreciation, and Love

Phil Hatlen

Donna, I have known you since your son, Bruce, was a baby.  You lived in San Jose, and Bruce was on the caseload of the Blind Babies Foundation when I was its Executive Director.  I remember you at that time as being an eager learner, an assertive and effective parent, and one to whom other parents turned for leadership.

Some years later, we discovered one another at different phases in our lives.  You were living in Los Cruces, and Bruce was at the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  I was at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  We met over the National Agenda.  When it was time to bite the bullet and decide whether professionals were really serious about bringing in parents as partners in the National Agenda effort, up stepped Donna Stryker.  It was a natural for you and I to be co-chairs of the National Agenda for almost ten years. 

I treasure those years with you.  First, because you epitomized the parent/professional partnership that has been the foundation of the National Agenda since its inception.  I always thought I understood what a parent partnership meant, then I had this experience with you, and I discovered that I had only a superficial idea of the love and investment that parents of blind and visually impaired children have in their childrens life.  Your commitment to Bruce was complete and your love of Bruce unconditional.  You learned and grew, and became an informed advocate for your son.

Donna, I have never walked in your shoes, but you have the deepest and most sincere appreciation from me that you did it right.

Many times, you and I would go to various groups and states and explain the National Agenda.  Many times, I felt like sitting down and letting you captivate the audience with your stories as a parent and as an inspired advocate.

Your contributions to the beginnings of the National Agenda are beyond description.  If   I could have chosen any parent in the country to get the National Agenda off the ground and running, I could not have picked a better person than you

You have not only taught me much about being a parent of a blind child, you have taught me so much about how to be a good friend.

I love and cherish our relationship.

The purpose of the Forum Proceedings is to highlight information from the Spring 2004 Meeting of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum which was held March 4 in Washington D. C.

The AFB Solutions Forum continues to attract stakeholders concerned about providing the “right book at the right time” to students who are blind or visually impaired and this year’s meeting, which was held just prior to AFB’s Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute, brought together 40 participants for the day.

Highlights of the Forum included review and development of an important guideline document which will help states develop a strategic plan for delivering accessible textbooks; information on national and grassroots legislative efforts; and training to help participants keep the messages from the Solutions Forum alive.

Look for more details about each of these activities in the Forum Proceedings.

– Mary Ann Siller, Director, National Education Program, AFB

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Mark Richert, Executive Director of AER and Facilitator for the Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group led the discussion concerning the progress of instructional materials legislation and its relationship to the pending reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Along with Steve Driesler, Executive Director, School Division of AAP, Richert briefly described how the Senate’s version of IDEA would, if it survives the legislative process, establish not only a single national file format for publisher-provided electronic materials, but also the much-needed national repository of such files. Joy Relton, Government Relations Representative, AFB Government Relations Group, rounded out the overview by offering some observations about amendments likely to be offered when the Senate IDEA bill goes to the floor.

In general, the legislative work group report was structured around frequently asked questions about the IMAA, how it is currently in play in Congress, and how we can ensure its ultimate enactment. Topics included an update about the current status of the IMAA provisions which have been included in the IDEA reauthorization legislative language (H.R. 1350 and S. 1248). Differences with the provisions in H.R. 1350 and S. 1248 were discussed. Two key provisions from the IMAA concerning a mandatory National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) and the creation of a National Repository/National Access Center for publishers’ files are part of the Senate’s bill called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2003 (S. 1248). However, H.R. 1350 (Improving Education Results for Children with Disabilities Act of 2003) only has the NIMAS standard. The presenters stressed the importance of both the standardized file format provision and the repository provision surviving the upcoming process in the House and Senate to reconcile both IDEA bills. Richert urged the AFB Solutions Forum attendees to celebrate the victory, nearly made official, of having the standardized file format language in both bills; this is an accomplishment that demonstrates the hard work of the Solutions Forum and that of our many stakeholder partners. For more information about the suggested steps the AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders must take to reach their Representative and Senators, go to www.afb.org/idea.asp and to the AFB Solutions Forum web page at www.tsbvi.edu.

However, without S.1248 coming to the Senate floor soon for a vote, IDEA will not move forward during this 108th Congress. If it does not move quickly, there will not be time to complete the legislative process to reauthorize IDEA before the elections in November 2004. Therefore, all legislative work would completely start over after January 2005.

The Senate has postponed taking S. 1248 to the floor for a vote numerous times. There has been no solid date given by Senator Majority Leader (Frist, R-TN). After the Senate brings their IDEA bill to the floor for a vote, a conference committee with members from U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce will be convened and the IDEA language will be negotiated. Richert and the legislative team emphasized that we are in a holding pattern, but must be ready to address our points to the conference committee when they are selected.

Skip Stahl, Co-Director of the Universal Learning Center, CAST, reported on the status of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) report. He offered this update: At the direction of the Office of Special Education Programs of the United States Department of Education (DOE) and with the assistance and leadership of the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) at CAST, the forty member National File Format Technical Panel was given a charge in October 2002 by the DOE to present the Secretary of Education with a set of technical specifications to facilitate the efficient delivery of accessible, alternate format versions of print textbooks to PreK–12 students with disabilities, a timeline for implementation of the proposed standards and process for assessing the success. The Technical Panel represented educators, publishers, technology specialists, and advocacy groups. Many of the AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders were selected to be on the panel. The panel unanimously believed that the adoption of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Version 1.0 will significantly enhance the opportunity of students with disabilities to access, participate and progress in the general education curriculum.

The Panel added an important statement that the creation of a National Repository to facilitate the secure and efficient validation and distribution of NIMAS-compliant digital source files was necessary.

The Panel delivered its report in October 2003 to the DOE. Thus far, no acknowledgment of the report has been received by NCAC, even with ongoing communication to OSEP. Recommendations were made by the March 2004 AFB Solutions Forum participants to immediately write a letter to OSEP stating the necessity to have the NIMAS report publicly acknowledged by the DOE. The letter was immediately drafted by committee that day.

Mary Ann Siller gave an update on the successful and ongoing state network activities intended to reinforce the message that we need both the file format standard and the repository. Important phone meetings have been held with team leaders and stakeholders in numerous states to share workable steps they can take to make the objectives embodied in the IMAA the shared goals of advocates and policymakers. Working with team leaders to strengthen efforts in their communities has been the organizing principle. This effort will continue and increase in importance once the conference committee members are chosen. This committee will oversee the IDEA negotiations between the House and Senate. A complete legislative packet emphasizing our message and the tools for delivering it is available by contacting Mary Ann at .

GUIDELINES DOCUMENT DRAFTED: STATEWIDE IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES FOR DELIVERY OF TEXTBOOKS AND INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS TO CHILDREN WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

After the October 2003 meeting of the AFB Solutions Forum, work group leaders used information generated by Forum stakeholders to draft a document as requested by the group. The draft, Statewide Implementation Strategies for Delivery of Textbooks and Instructional Materials to Children with Visual Impairments, was reviewed and work groups considered additional elements needed for a final document. The purpose of the final document will be to provide guidelines for states as they implement instructional materials accessibility principles of the IDEA reauthorization. Elements identified by the work group included Background Information to identify the challenges related to this issue; Framework for Action, to assist the reader in developing an action plan for their particular state; Summary of Guidelines, the specific suggestions for addressing instructional materials accessibility; and References and Resources to direct readers to additional information.

The next step identified for development of the Guidelines Document is to put the elements together and determine if the proposed document is helpful enough, while at the same time offering enough flexibility to be useful to individual states.

Lorri Quigley, Facilitator for Production Work Group, led a discussion of the introduction to the guidelines document which will provide background information to readers new to the issue of accessible textbooks and instructional materials.

Another work group led by Larry Brown, Facilitator of the Training Work Group, focused efforts on identifying suggestions for ways to use the guidelines document in various states.

Jim Allan, Facilitator for Electronic Files and Research and Development, worked with a group to summarize the major points of the guidelines document.

Information developed by all of these work groups will be incorporated into the guidelines document projected to be made available to state textbook administrators, school personnel, state directors of special education, families, teachers, and others involved in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired.

It is expected that the guidelines document will include a consideration checklist or decision tree to assist the user in looking at their individual situation in order to develop strategies that will be most effective for students in their state.

Watch for more news on this guidelines document in the future.

EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATING YOUR MESSAGE: MEDIA TRAINING

A new feature of the AFB Solutions Forum was the opportunity for participants to be involved in media/message training. The purpose of this activity was to provide pointers on how to keep the message of the Solutions Forum viable and how best to communicate to legislators, education personnel not familiar with the issue, and other intended audiences.

Kelly Parisi and Carrie Fernandez from the AFB Communications Division presented the session.

Five major steps to developing effective messages were identified:

  • Set goals
  • Identify target audience
  • Identify a news hook
  • Develop the message
  • Deliver the message

Participants learned about the “message triangle” which suggests that a message should always: 1) identify the problem; 2)note the importance of the problem; and 3) suggest action or resolution targeted to the goals of your message.

Parisi and Fernandez noted the importance of keeping the message short and always staying on the three most important points of the message. They suggested the use of stories as opposed to statistics, as well as reminding participants to avoid jargon that might not be familiar to the audience. According to the presenters, noting shared values — fairness, equality, family, education, opportunity, justice, safety/security — makes the message stronger and relates to a larger number of people.

The media/message training provided an opportunity for participants to practice developing messages related to passing IDEA with language of two key IMAA principles included (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard and an access center for publishers’ files). One result of the practice session was the draft of a letter sent to Dr. Troy R. Justesen, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. Go to the AFB Solutions Forum web page at www.tsbvi.edu to view a copy of this important letter.

AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders can look forward to ongoing opportunities for media/message training as this service continues to be offered.

SPEAKERS AND PANELISTS

  • Mary Ann Siller, Director, National Education Program, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB); Coordinator of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum
  • Marie J. Amerson, Facilitator for the Communications and Collaboration Work Group; representative for Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)
  • Larry Brown, Facilitator for the Training Work Group; Director, Oregon Textbook and Media Center
  • Lorri Quigley, Facilitator for the Production Work Group; Director, Utah Educational Resource Center
  • Jim Allan, Facilitator for the Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group; Texas School for the Blind Web master
  • Mark Richert, Facilitator for the Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group; AER Executive Director
  • Joy Relton, Government Relations Representative, AFB Government Relations Group
  • Steve Driesler Executive Director, School Division, Association of American Publishers
  • Skip Stahl, Co-Director, Universal Learning Center, Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
  • Kelly Parisi, Vice President, Communications Department, AFB
  • Carrie Fernandez, Senior Communications Manager, Communications Department, AFB

The American Foundation for the Blind Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum is a collaborative national effort on behalf of children who are blind or visually impaired. The 44 stakeholders represent textbook publishers; educators; access technology specialists; producers of braille, large print and recorded textbooks; parents of children who are blind or visually impaired; and adults who are blind or visually impaired. They are focused on finding ways to ensure that students have “the right book at the right time.”

For additional information about the AFB Solutions Forum or to volunteer in this effort, contact Mary Ann Siller, Director, AFB National Education Program, 260 Treadway Plaza, Dallas TX 75235, Phone: 214-352-7222 or email at

Hold this date for the next meeting of the AFB Solutions Forum in Louisville, Kentucky October 13, 2004

Sidebar notes:

AFB Solutions Forum Work Groups

  • Legislative and Policy-Making
  • Electronic Files and Research and Development
  • Training
  • Production
  • Communication and Collaboration

For more information or to volunteer for one of the work groups, contact:

AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

The sixth annual meeting of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum opened with a welcome from project coordinator Mary Ann Siller, Director of the National Education Program for AFB and introductions were made of on-site and teleconference participants.

  • The first agenda item, discussion of Instructional Materials Accessibility Policy, was led by Mark Richert, Executive Director of AER and facilitator of the Solution Forum's Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group. Richert noted that the original plan for separate legislation addressing instructional materials accessibility had no chance of passage outside of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and it was important to incorporate major principles of the original bill into IDEA. The House version of IDEA was passed in April 2003. The expectation is that the Senate version would pass the full Senate. At the time of the October meeting, the Senate has not scheduled their bill for a full committee vote. Unfortunately, because of significant differences in the versions of IDEA, it was expected that conference committee members will have a long road ahead to work out differences and create the final IDEA bill.

    Issues related specifically to the key principles from the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA) which must be addressed by the conference committee include the need for a central file repository for electronic files and the standard file format to be used by publishers. While there is no longer a mandate for a "state plan" to address these issues, the Senate bill calls for coordination among entities within the state to facilitate production of accessible materials. It was asked that we continue to communicate our messages to legislators.

    The conference committee will be chosen after the Senate has taken their IDEA bill to full committee for a vote. Once the conference committee people have been chosen, it was requested that all SF participants contact key members of the conference committee and keep in frequent contact with them to remind them of the importance of the provisions which address the key principles for instructional materials accessibility. However, the legislative work group suggested that we should contact Senators right now to thank them for their help in providing for both key principles from the IMAA and preparing them to be champions of our points surrounding access to textbooks and instructional materials when IDEA moves forward in 2004. For updated information about the legislative process and committee members go to www.afb.org/idea.asp

  • The next agenda item provided a review of local efforts within states to develop networks which can address legislative issues at a local level. Several state networks developed letter-writing campaigns; one state network coordinator drafted a list of questions for parents, students, and others to discuss in their contacts with legislators; another sent an initial letter to legislators and followed up with a postcard listing the important bullets about the issue.

  • An update was provided on the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. Skip Stahl with the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) noted that the U.S. Department of Education assigned them the task of identifying the recommendations for a national instructional materials accessibility standard (national file format). At the direction of and in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education, the National Center for Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) that is part of CAST, in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) at the Department of Commerce, assembled a Technical Panel consisting of 40 members representing consumers, technical experts, and feasibility experts (see www.cast.org). The final document will be sent to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) in November 2003. Skip commented that textbook publishers have some issues with the standard but there was an expectation that those could be resolved. Input from the Solutions Forum's Joint Technology Task Force was considered in developing the voluntary standard. The result of the voluntary standard would be that publishers would provide digital files with standard markup which could then be manipulated by vendors such as Instructional Materials Resource Centers, APH or RFB&D to add features needed for production of materials for students who are visually impaired.

    The report also explains that the panel feels that a centralized national repository is essential to ensuring the delivery of consistent, high quality accessible materials to blind, low vision and print-disabled students.

  • Because media stories often get the attention of legislators, AFB's Communications Department, Governmental Relations Group and National Education Program collaborated with a media project. The IDEA Media project puts emphasis on media outreach which can tell the story of the needs of students with visual impairment. AFB staff, Carrie Fernandez and Paul Schroeder, provided the background of the project and asked for more local attention to media stories. They requested the AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders to become involved in getting stories out to the media. The AFB IDEA Media Project is available to provide assistance in coordinating such efforts.
  • Information was provided by work group leaders Marie Amerson (Communication and Collaboration) and Mark Richert (Legislative and Policy-Making) on ideas for the development of model strategies for statewide coordination for delivering accessible textbooks to students who are visually impaired. The information was developed as part of a work group session at a previous Solutions Forum and identified the stakeholders who should be involved as well as some of the components that should be in place.

  • Various updates were also provided to the AFB Solutions Forum

    • Joint Technology Task Force

    • Textbooks and Instructional Materials Tool Kit (2nd Printing - June 2003)

    • Training Seminar for Braille Transcribers and an Upcoming AFB Web-based Seminar

    • Braille Textbook Transcriber Community College Courses

    • National Braille Association Textbook Formatting Course

    • Tactile Graphics Fact Sheet

    • AFB and Verizon National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers, and Technology - Call to Action (www.afb.org/verizon.asp)

  • AFB Solutions Forum on-site participants divided into two work groups to draft model implementation strategies for states with state-adoption policies and those without state adoption of textbooks. The work groups compiled lists of concerns and questions and it was noted that there are similarities with the issues that would be presented to the different adoption model states. The statements will be complied and be presented at the next AFB Solutions Forum meeting on March 4, 2004 meeting in Washington, D.C. The AFB Solutions Forum will work to create a model framework that state leaders can use to develop implementation strategies for providing accessible textbooks to students who are visually impaired. (The issues identified in the review will be condensed and categorized at some point in the near future.)

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

National Agenda Logo

Verano de 2002
AGENDA NACIONAL

MIEMBROS DEL COMITÉ ORIENTADOR

Obtener version RTF (64k)
Obtener version PDF (62k)

Padres:

Donna Stryker & Brunhilde Merk-Adam

Profesionales:

Kathleen M. Huebner & Karen Wolffe

Dr. Anne Corn, Nashville, TN

Dr. Phil Hatlen, Austin, TX

Dr. Kathleen M. Huebner, Elkins Park, PA

Susan LaVenture, Watertown, MA

Donna McNear, Cambridge, MN

Brunhilde Merk-Adam, Southfield, MI

Dick Pomo, Madison, WI

Mary Ann Siller, Dallas, TX

Dr. Susan Spungin, New York, NY

Donna Stryker, Las Cruces, NM

Dr. Karen Wolffe, Austin, TX

Qué es la Agenda Nacional?

La Agenda Nacional para los Niños y Jóvenes con Discapacidad Visual, Incluyendo Aquellos con Múltiples Inhabilidades (Corn, Hatlen, Huebner, Ryan, Siller, 1995) constituye un esfuerzo básico para cambiar la forma como los discapacitados visuales y niños ciegos están siendo educados. Incluso con la implementación de IDEA (Ley sobre Educación en Individuos con Discapacidad  por sus siglas en Inglés) y FAPE (Educación Pública Apropiada por sus siglas en Inglés) permanece el hecho que los niños con discapacidad visual, no siempre aprenden lo suficiente en las escuelas para lograr un trabajo y que puedan vivir independientemente después de su graduación.

La Agenda Nacional es el resultado logrado por los padres, profesores y administradores, que trabajando como socios han hecho posible cambios para los estudiantes con discapacidad visual. Estos socios han enfocado las cosas necesarias más importantes para hacer que la educación sea mejor orientada a los niños ciegos y con discapacidad visual. Se han logrado extraer ocho metas para la Agenda Nacional. Creemos que trabajando en la consecución de estas metas, se puede lograr una gran diferencia en las vidas de los estudiantes con discapacidad visual.

Porque es la Agenda Nacional tan importante para los padres de los estudiantes con discapacidad visual o ceguera?

La Agenda Nacional es importante porque en muchas ocasiones pasan meses y hasta años antes que alguien, usualmente un profesor o un padre, se dé cuenta que el niño no ve bien. Puede pasar aún más tiempo antes que el niño reciba el tipo de servicio que se necesita para un buen aprendizaje. Los niños con ceguera o visualmente discapacitados pueden recibir una educación inferior porque no existen profesores y especialistas suficientes en el logro de éstas necesidades especiales. Frecuentemente, los niños con discapacidad visual son colocados en salones de colegio que no son los más apropiados para ellos, sin consideración sobre que es lo que se necesita para que puedan lograr un mejor aprendizaje.

Como padres, creemos que el uso de la Agenda Nacional puede ayudar a un niño para que aprenda lo que necesita saber para que sea exitoso. Cuando los padres, profesores y administradores de escuelas usen la Agenda Nacional y sus ocho metas, los niños ciegos o con discapacidad visual recibirán entonces la educación apropiada.

Las ocho metas de la Agenda Nacional, seguidas por preguntas que los padres puedan hacerse, siguen en el programa. Aunque algunas respuestas están incluidas, la nuestra no es una lista completa y usted y su familia pueden requerir consultar a un especialista local para obtener información adicional.

Objetivo 1: Los estudiantes y sus familias serán remitidos a un programa de educación apropiado dentro de los 30 días siguientes al diagnostico de una discapacidad visual.

  • Si usted tiene un niño (de 5 años de edad), ha sido usted referido a un programa educacional?
  • Le dieron a usted una lista de alternativas con relación a las opciones de colocación?

Padres Nuevos  Si la respuesta es NO a ambas preguntas, usted querrá contactar al Servicio de Intervención Temprana de Educación Especial del Departamento de Estado (EIS  por sus siglas en Inglés) ... tome nota del número telefónico:

=>________________________________________

Padres con experiencia Usted podrá apoyar a nombre de otros padres y sus hijos en búsqueda de servicios de intervención temprana o simplemente respirar tranquilo porque no necesita preocuparse por éste asunto.

Objetivo 2: Se implementarán políticas y procedimientos para asegurar el derecho de todos los padres a participar totalmente en el proceso de educación.

  • Recibió usted información acerca de la participación de los padres con profesionales que están trabajando con su hijo?
  • Siente usted que está en igualdad de condiciones como socio de su hijo en un proceso de educación formal? Si no, que haría usted para cambiar esto? Que tendrá que ser cambiado en el sistema?
  • Se le proporcionó información acerca de los recursos que existen por fuera del sistema de educación especial, tales como grupos de soporte de padres, organizaciones de soporte de consumidores, etc ? Si no, por favor tome nota de los recursos existentes al final de éste documento.

En un proceso de educación formal (ej, durante reuniones IEP, planificación de transición, etc.) los papeles de igual participación pueden cambiar en la medida que el niño crezca  con padres de niños más jóvenes, los padres se pueden involucrar de manera más directa, con los estudiantes más jóvenes, los estudiantes se convierten en socios o compañeros).

Con el fin de ser un socio en igualdad de condiciones, en un proceso de educación formal, los padres deben involucrarse en la totalidad del proceso educativo desde el momento de la evaluación inicial y su planificación hasta su implementación y posterior evaluación.

Objetivo 3: Universidades, que tengan por lo menos una facultad de tiempo completo en el área de discapacidad visual, prepararán un número suficiente de educadores para estudiantes con discapacidad visual para cumplir con los las necesidades de personal a lo largo del país.

  • Está usted consciente de la escasez crítica de profesores para la orientación sobre discapacidad visual, la orientación de y movilidad de instructores a lo largo del país?
  • Su departamento o provincia tiene un programa a nivel universitario que prepare a profesores en el tratamiento y orientación sobre discapacidad visual?
  • Su colegio de distrito contrata profesores certificados con preparación en orientación de estudiantes con discapacidad visual (TVI  por sus siglas en inglés) y en la orientación y movilidad de especialistas (COMS  por sus siglas en ingles)?

Usted puede ayudar a dirigir esta escasez crítica  por favor contacte a su coordinador de la Agenda Nacional o la organización de padres a nivel regional, enfatizando en las necesidades de los niños con discapacidad visual.

Objetivo 4: Los proveedores de servicios determinarán las cargas de servicio basados en las necesidades de los estudiantes y requerirán del desarrollo profesional en todos los profesores y orientación de instructores.

  • Siente usted que su niño recibe servicios específicos sobre discapacidad de un profesor para estudiantes con discapacidad visual (TVI) y/o orientación certificada de un especialista en movilidad (COMS) con la debida frecuencia?
  • Cuantos estudiantes tiene a su cargo el profesor que atiende a su hijo con discapacidad visual?
  • A cuantos estudiantes tiene que enseñar el instructor O&M de su hijo?
  • Hay un limite sobre cuantos estudiantes tiene que tener a su cargo el profesor de su hijo?

Objetivo 5: Los programas de educación local asegurarán que todos los estudiantes tengan acceso completo a toda una gama de opciones de colocación.

  • Recibió usted información acerca de la escuela actual de su hijo, incluyendo todas las opciones de colocación que estaban disponibles para usted? Conoce usted los pros y los contras de cada una de ellas?
  • Siente usted que su hijo puede disfrutar de las opciones de colocación que usted considera más apropiadas?
  • Siente usted que puede cambiar las opciones de colocación de acuerdo a las necesidades de educación de su hijo a medida que vaya creciendo?

Objetivo 6: La evaluación de los estudiantes será conducida con la colaboración de los padres, con personal que tenga experiencia en la educación de estudiantes con discapacidad visual.

  • Ha evaluado a su hijo personal del distrito escolar? Tenía el equipo de evaluación experiencia con niños como el suyo?
  • Estuvo usted involucrado en el proceso de evaluación?
  • Tiene su Estado o autoridad local los recursos para llevar a cabo la evaluación, o tiene personal experimentado en evaluar estudiantes con discapacidad visual, incluyendo múltiples inhabilidades?

La evaluación incluye: 1) evaluación inicial para determinar la elegibilidad a los servicios de educación especiales, 2) evaluaciones para determinar servicios específicos, 3) evaluaciones de rutina en clase (incluyendo eficiencia en Braille, velocidad de lectura en Braille, uso de ábaco, etc), y 4) pruebas estandarizadas.

Objetivo 7: Acceso a desarrollo de servicios educativos que incluyan el aseguramiento de materiales de instrucción y su disponibilidad para los estudiantes en los medios apropiados, en las mismas condiciones que sus compañeros con buena visión.

  • Recibe su hijo los textos y material de instrucción en el medio apropiado (por ejemplo, en Braille o en caracteres grandes)?
  • Recibe su hijo sus textos y material de instrucción en la misma medida que sus compañeros sin discapacidad visual?
  • Tiene su hijo el equipo de adaptación apropiado (por ejemplo, circuito cerrado de televisión (CCTV), computador con ayuda de dictado o impresión en grandes caracteres, software apropiado, dispositivos de ayuda y medición táctil, equipo para ciencia fácil de manipular, etc.) para que pueda participar activamente en las clases?

Usted podrá solicitar que tanto los textos como el material de instrucción, incluyendo técnicas de asistencia, tales como dispositivos electrónicos de toma de notas o de reconocimiento de voz en internet, estén disponibles para su hijo.

Objetivo 8: Las metas de desarrollo educativo, incluyendo instrucción, reflejarán las necesidades de evaluación de cada estudiante para todas las áreas académicas y planes de estudio específicos para personas con inhabilidades.

  • Siente usted que el programa escolar de su hijo está enfocado a sus necesidades especificas de inhabilidad (por ejemplo, uso de dispositivos para poca visión, Braille, O&M, asistencia técnica, instrucción en lenguaje de signos, terapia ocupacional, terapia física, habilidades sociales, actividades sobre el diario vivir, educación de carrera)?
  • Su distrito, región o Estado ordena que los niños con discapacidad visual reciban instrucción sobre habilidades especificas de discapacidad, lo mismo que contenido académico estándar?
  • Ha oído usted de planes de estudio extendidos para estudiantes con discapacidad visual, y los usa usted en el desarrollo de las metas del Plan Individualizado de Educación (IEP por las siglas en Inglés) de su hijo?

Aunque la Agenda Nacional para Niños y Jóvenes con Discapacidad Visual, incluyendo aquellos con Múltiples inhabilidades, actualmente contiene solo las ocho metas que aquí se revisan, muchos padres y profesionales creen en la inclusión de otra meta relacionada con las necesidades de los Servicios de Transición también debe ser considerada. En algunos Estados, los participantes locales han añadido ésta otra meta en sus agendas Estatales. Ciertamente es una opción para su Estado si usted y otros padres consideran que pueden fortalecer sus esfuerzos y los de los estudiantes con discapacidad visual.

La importancia crítica del plan de estudios extendido para estudiantes con discapacidad visual

El Plan de Estudios Extendido (Hatlen, 1996) constituye el núcleo del conocimiento y las habilidades requeridas por los estudiantes con discapacidad visual, debido a sus necesidades específicas de inhabilidad. Los estudiantes con discapacidad visual necesitan del Plan de Estudios Extendido (ver abajo) además del Plan de Estudios normal de educación general.

Plan de Estudios académico

  • Artes del Idioma Inglés
  • Otros idiomas en la medida que sea posible
  • Matemáticas
  • Salud e higiene
  • Ciencia
  • Educación física
  • Estudios sociales
  • Historia
  • Economía
  • Educación en negocios
  • Artes finas
  • Educación vocacional

Plan de Estudios Extendido

  • Habilidades académicas compensatorias, incluyendo modos de comunicación
  • Orientación y movilidad
  • Habilidades de interacción social
  • Habilidades de vida independiente
  • Habilidades de recreación y diversión
  • Educación de carrera
  • Uso de tecnologías de asistencia
  • Habilidades de eficiencia visual

Las habilidades compensatorias o académicas funcionales, incluyen experiencias de aprendizaje tales como conceptos de desarrollo y conciencia sobre espacios, habilidades de organización, uso de Braille o de dispositivos para baja visión para lectura y escritura, uso de sistemas de comunicación alternativos tales como lenguaje de signos, o el uso de sistemas de calendario con materiales grabados, etc.

El entrenamiento en movilidad y orientación se centra en las alternativas al uso de la visión para desplazamiento y viajes independientes. En ésta área de instrucción, el niño recibe enseñanza en el uso del bastón y técnicas para el uso de la visión remanente que pueda tener, así como el uso de dispositivos ópticos tales como binoculares o telescopios.

Las habilidades de interacción social deben ser enseñadas a los niños con discapacidad visual porque ellos no están en condiciones de observar de manera casual con cuanta gente pueden interactuar y socializar en un momento dado. Al alumno se le debe enseñar cuando y cuanto sonreír, ceñir el rostro, asentir, negarse, etc, así como muchas otras habilidades de comunicación no verbal.

Las habilidades de vida independiente constituyen el núcleo del desarrollo personal, de acuerdo a sus habilidades, lo que les permitirá manejar sus hogares y sus vidas personales. Lo anterior incluye participar, compartir, destrezas para comer y preparar sus comidas, cuidar del hogar, manejo del dinero y de su tiempo, etc.

Las habilidades de recreación pueden incluir aquellas que son tradicionales así como otras que se adaptan a sus actividades de educación física. Sin embargo, al igual que las habilidades de interacción social en los niños con discapacidad visual, necesitan ayuda en la identificación de todo un rango de alternativas disponibles para ellos en ésta área y deben ser ensañados sobre como llevar a cabo sus habilidades de recreación ya que la mayoría de los niños aprenden de la observación.

La educación de carrera para estudiantes con discapacidad visual debe comenzar lo antes posible y debe incluir el aspecto de concientización sobre sí mismo y actividades de exploración de carrera, habilidades para la búsqueda de empleo, información sobre la conservación de empleo y fomentar las oportunidades para ganar experiencia en el trabajo.

En el Plan de Estudios se requiere instrucción en el uso y mantenimiento de tecnologías de asistencia para los estudiantes con discapacidad visual. La tecnología de asistencia habilita a los estudiantes ciegos a tener acceso a la información de bibliotecas de todo el mundo y del internet. Además, los estudiantes con discapacidad visual pueden usar tecnologías de asistencia en la toma de notas, estudios para exámenes, investigación y toda una variedad de otras aplicaciones académicas.

Las habilidades de eficiencia visual son aquellas habilidades que los niños con discapacidad visual, pero que aún tengan alguna visión remanente relativamente buena, usan para sacar el mayor provecho de su visión remanente. La instrucción en ésta área se enfoca en el uso de dispositivos ópticos tales como lupas, lentes de aumento, ayudas bió-opticas, telescopios, circuitos cerrados de televisión, etc.

Como puede la Agenda Nacional impactar su vida, la de su familia y la de su hijo?

El conocimiento es poder. El conocimiento ganado por padres y profesionales alrededor de los Estados Unidos, para el soporte y desarrollo de las ocho metas de la Agenda Nacional, puede ser usado por usted como herramienta de trabajo con su hijo, en su distrito, con los administradores escolares, profesores y personal de soporte para garantizar que el programa educativo de su hijo llene sus necesidades. Las ocho metas de la Agenda Nacional suministran lineamientos para considerar el éxito en el resultados educativos de su hijo.

Puede parecer que algunas de las metas no están relacionadas con su hijo o con su situación. Sin embargo, considere éste ejemplo. Su hijo es ciego y necesita instrucción en Braille; el distrito no puede suministrar un profesor especializado en discapacidad visual, porque aunque se ha publicitado su búsqueda, ha habido dificultad en localizar a alguien capacitado como profesor para discapacitados visuales. El objetivo 3 es la preparación de profesores; lo anterior lo afecta a usted, a su hijo y a su situación porque su hijo no está recibiendo los servicios que necesita. Tal vez, desde una perspectiva más grande, usted pueda afectar el cambio en su hijo presentando este asunto a los representantes de Estado y Senadores, o ante la Junta de Educación Estatal (SBOE).

REFERENCES

Corn, A. L., Hatlen, P., Huebner, K. M., Ryan, F., Siller, M. A. (1995). La Agenda Nacional para la educación de niños y jóvenes con discapacidad visual, incluyendo aquellos con múltiples inhabilidades. NY: American Foundation for the Blind.

Hatlen, P. (1996). El Plan de Estudios para los estudiantes ciegos o con discapacidad visual, incluyendo aquellos con inhabilidades adicionales. RE:view 28, 25-32.

Notas:
Siglas de interés para los padres (Siglas en Inglés)

ACB Consejo Americano de Ciegos

ADA Ley sobre Americanos con inhabilidades

AER Asociación para la Educación & Rehabilitación de Diegos y Discapacitados Visuales

AFB Fundación Americana para los Ciegos

APH Editores Americanos para los Ciegos

AT Tecnologías de Asistencia

CEC Consejo para Niños Excepcionales

COMS Especialistas certificados O&M

DVR División de Rehabilitación Vocacional

ECI Intervención temprana en la niñez

FAPE Libre Apropiación en la Educación Pública

FERPA Ley sobre derechos educativos en la familia & privacidad

IDEA Ley sobre Individuos con inhabilidades

IFSP Plan sobre servicios familiares individualizados

ILS Habilidades para vivir independientemente (AKA ADL & DLS)

ISD Distrito de colegios independientes

ITP Plan de transición individualizado

LEA Agencia de educación local

LRE Ambientes menos restrictivos

NAPVI Asociación nacional para padres de los visualmente discapacitados

NFB Federación nacional de ciegos

NLS Servicio nacional de bibliotecas

NOPBC Organización nacional de padres de niños ciegos

O&M Orientación & movilidad

OSEP Oficina de política de educación especial

OT Terapia ocupacional

P&A Protección y apoyo

Para Para - profesional (asistencia)

PAC Consejo de soporte de padres

PT Terapia física

RFB&D Registro de ciegos & Disléxicos

SEA Agencia Estatal de Educación

S&L Vocabulario & lenguaje

Sección 504

SSA Administración de seguridad social

TCVI Consultoría para profesores de discapacitados visuales (ver TVI)

TVI Profesor de discapacitados visuales (ver TCVI)

VRC Consejero vocacional de rehabilitación

VRT Profesor vocacional de rehabilitación

Lista de recursos

Concejo Americano para Ciegos (ACB)
Concejo de Familias con Problemas Visuales
1515 15th Street N.W. Suite 720
Washington, DC 2005
(800) 424-8666
(202) 467-5081
Fax (202) 467-5085
URL: http://www.acb.org

Fundación Americana de Ciegos (AFB)
11 Penn Plaza
Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
(800) 232-5463
(212) 502-7600
URL: http://www.afb.org

Imprenta Americana para Ciegos (APH)
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
(800) 223-1839
(502) 895-2405
FAX (502) 895-1508
URL: http://www.aph.org

Servicio de Video Descriptivo, WGBH (DVS)
125 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 492-2777 x 3490
URL: http://www.wgbh.org/dvs

Escuela Hadley para Ciegos
700 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
(800) 323-4238
(847) 446-8111
URL: http://www.hadley-school.org

Centro Nacional Helen Keller Para Jóvenes y Adultos Sordos y Ciegos
111 Middle Neck Road
Sands Point, NY 11050
(516) 944-8900
TDD (516) 944-8637
FAX (516) 944-7302
URL: http://www.helenkeller.org

Asociación Nacional de Padres de Personas con Problemas Visuales (NAPVI)
PO Box 317
Watertown, MA 02272-0317
(800) 562-6265
(617) 972-7441
URL://www.napvi.org

Federación Nacional de Ciegos (NFB)
Organización Nacional de Padres de Hijos Ciegos
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
(410) 659-9314
URL: http://www.nfb.org

Servicio de Biblioteca Nacional para los Ciegos y Personas con Problemas Físicos (NLS)
Biblioteca del Congreso
1291 Taylor Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20542
(800) 424-8567
URL: http://lcweb.loc.gov/nls/html

Grabaciones para Ciegos y Disléxicos. (RFB&D)
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
(800) 221-4791
(609) 451-0606
FAX (609) 987-8116
URL: http://www.rfbd.org

En el espacio de abajo, escriba los nombres e información de contacto de individuos en su Departamento que puedan ayudar a implementar la Agenda Nacional.

Impreso con el soporte financiero de la Fundación Americana para Ciegos y la Asociación para Educación y Rehabilitación de las Personas Ciegas y con Problemas Visuales.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Dear AHEAD Member:

The Board of Directors of AHEAD would like to inform you about an exciting new program -the American Foundation for the Blind’s National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers and Technology. This program seeks to increase awareness of issues surrounding textbook accessibility, both in braille and electronic forms.

The campaign supports federal legislation to increase accessibility through the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA). Although the IMAA applies only to the K-12 environment, its passage will have a positive impact on future efforts to solve higher education's accessible text issues, including the adoption of a national electronic textbook format. For further information on the IMAA visit

http:// www.afb.org/

The campaign also advocates for institutions to offer programs in braille Transcription. Until we are able to receive accessible electronic copies of text materials in a timely manner, braille transcription is the only method of representing certain kinds of information to our students with visual impairments. As an example, checkout Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, at

http://www.alamo.edu

http://www.afb.org/education.asp

Northwest Vista College is the first higher education institution to offer a curriculum and series of courses in braille transcription under the AFB campaign.

Please join us in lending your support to this effort.

Sincerely,

David Sweeney, Director of Marketing
Association on Higher Education and Disability

University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125-3393 (v) 617-287-3880 (fax) 617-287-3881 (t) 617-287-3882 e-mail: www.ahead.org



Introduction

Annotated Bibliography of Curricular Materials Related to The Core Curriculum for Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities

Developed for the National Agenda by
Nancy Levack, Curriculum Coordinator
(512) 206-9183
FAX (512) 454-6305
e-mail:

Order from:

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 W. 45th Street
Austin, Texas 78756

100 pp. - Order #59420ABP or textfile - Order #59420ABD - $5.00 (18 oz.)

Information about curricula and resources written within the last 20 years and specifically for this population

This bibliography attempts to give information about the resources that are available when planning the curriculum for children and youth with visual impairments, including those students with multiple disabilities. Determining what to include was not an easy task. I tried to develop some hard and fast criteria, but you will soon find that I sometimes overlooked my own advice. The criteria included:

  • Choose only material that was written specifically for this population.
  • Include only materials that were written within the last 20 years, unless there was nothing written more recently on this topic.
  • Focus on the materials that were pragmatic and usable by instructors and parents for immediate decisions about programming.
  • Try not to leave anything out.

Since I am quite certain that I erred most spectacularly on the last objective, I have included multiple ways of contacting me, if you have suggestions for other materials that need to be added.

This bibliography may be copied and shared as you see fit. It is also available on the TSBVI web page at www.tsbvi.edu. Feel free to download it from there. We have also included directions for adding your suggestions directly to the site. From time to time these suggestions will be included if they reflect the criteria listed above.

The organization reflects the subjects that have been identified in the National Agenda. Programming for students with multiple disabilities has been incorporated within the subject areas. However, materials that relate specifically to preschool students have been collected under the heading Early Childhood with hope that they can be easily found

I particularly want to thank Frances Mary D'Andrea, Karen Wolffe, Jeanne Church, Sharon Kirchner, Debby Oppel Holzapfel, Frank Irzyk, and Mark Steciw who generously contributed suggestions to the list. Brigitte Starkey created the layout and design and Linda Donovan and Diane Nousanen hunted down the books. - From Nancy Levack, former Curriculum Department Head at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Go to top

These notations serve as an indication of the approximate relationship between recordings of distant and near vision and point type sizes. Note A.M.A., Jaeger, and Metric are Near Vision measurements.
Distant Snellen A.M.A. Jaeger Metric % Central Visual
Efficiency for Near
Point
20/20 (ft.) 14/14 (in.) 1 0.37 (M.) 100 3
20/30 14/21 2 0.50 95 5
20/40 14/28 4 0.75 90 6
20/50 14/35 6 0.87 50 8
20/60 14/42 8 1.00 40 9
20/80 14/56 10 1.50 20 12
20/100 14/70 11 1.75 15 14
20/120 14/84 12 2.00 10 18
20/200 14/140 17 3.50 2 24
12.5/200 14/224 19 6.00 1.5  
8/200 14/336 20 8.00 1  
5/200 14/560        
3/200 14/900        

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

This document is part of Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students: Policy Guidance from OSERS (2000)

A. In General

Under Part B, each State and its public agencies must ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is made available to all children with specified disabilities residing in the State in mandatory age ranges, and that the rights and protections of Part B are afforded to those children and their parents. FAPE includes, among other elements, special education and related services that are provided at no cost to parents, under public supervision and direction, that meet State education standards and Part B requirements, that include an appropriate preschool, elementary, or secondary school education in the State involved, and that are provided in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP) that meets Part B requirements. 2

Consistent with this obligation to ensure FAPE, the Part B regulations also provide that the services and placement provided to a child with a disability under Part B must be based on all of the child's identified special education and related services needs, and not on the child's disability. 3 This includes meeting the child's needs that result from identified disabilities other than blindness or visual impairment.

B. Evaluation Requirements

Before the initial provision of special education and related services to a child with a disability under Part B, a full and individual initial evaluation must be conducted in accordance with 34 CFR Secs. 300.532 and 300.533. 4 The IDEA Amendments of 1997 require that a variety of assessment tools and strategies must be used in the evaluation process to gather relevant functional and developmental information about the child. This includes information provided by the parents, to assist in determining (1) whether the child is a child with a disability, and (2) the content of the child's IEP, including the extent to which the child can be involved and progress in the general curriculum, and for a child of preschool age, to participate in appropriate activities. 5 Through the evaluation process, determinations also can be made about the range of accommodations and modifications necessary for a blind or visually impaired child to be involved and progress in the general curriculum, the same curriculum as for nondisabled children.

An evaluation under Part B must assess the child in all areas related to the suspected disability, including, if appropriate, "health, vision, hearing, social and emotional status, general intelligence, academic performance, communicative status, and motor abilities." 6 In addition, the evaluation must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child's special education and related services needs, whether or not commonly linked to the disability category in which the child has been classified. 7 Any standardized tests that are utilized for those assessments must be conducted by trained and knowledgeable personnel. 8

An assessment of a child's vision status generally would include the nature and extent of the child's visual impairment and its effect, for example, on the child's ability to learn to read, write, do mathematical calculations, and use computers and other assistive technology, as well as the child's ability to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum. For children with low vision, this type of assessment also generally should include an evaluation of the child's ability to utilize low vision aids, as well as a learning media assessment and a functional vision assessment. For children who are blind and for children who have low vision, consistent with the new statutory requirement regarding braille instruction, the assessment of vision status generally would be closely linked to the assessment of the child's present and future reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media. This information would be used by the IEP team in determining whether it would be inappropriate to provide a blind or visually impaired child with instruction in braille or the use of braille. 9

As required for children with other disabilities, appropriate assessments of blind and visually impaired children, including those with other disabilities, also must address each child's ability to be involved and progress in the general curriculum, the same curriculum as for nondisabled children. This information could be obtained, for example, from an assessment of academic performance that would focus on the child's ability to learn to read, including reading comprehension, and to learn composition, science and mathematics, and computing.

As part of the evaluation process, it is especially important to address a blind or visually impaired child's ability to be involved and progress in the general curriculum, the same curriculum as for nondisabled children, particularly in situations where the child has other disabilities. This is because of the relationship of the evaluation to the child's IEP, which focuses specifically on participation in the general curriculum offered to nondisabled students, including the need for any supplementary aids and services, other accommodations, modifications, or devices to facilitate the blind or visually impaired child's involvement in the general curriculum. This information is needed regardless of whether a child will be educated in a regular classroom or in a separate classroom or school. 10 The evaluation also should identify any necessary program modifications or supports for school personnel needed for a child or on behalf of a child to ensure that the child's unique needs arising from blindness or visual impairment or other identified disabilities are appropriately addressed in the IEP.

Because of the importance for some blind and visually impaired students of acquiring the skills necessary to access information, additional assessments may be necessary to determine whether a child should receive specific instruction in listening skills. Possible assessments for this purpose could include assessments of hearing, general intelligence, or communicative status. A child's need for orientation and mobility services and the appropriate method or methods for acquiring the requisite skills also should be assessed, and this generally would be accomplished through an assessment of motor abilities, as well as vision and communicative status, which should be conducted as early as possible. This is especially important because parents and organizations representing the interests of blind and visually impaired individuals have reported that, in some instances, these students are not receiving appropriate orientation and mobility services and that appropriate evaluations of their needs for these services are not being conducted. In all instances, the results of all assessments administered to the child, including those administered to determine the child's needs resulting from one or more disabilities other than blindness or visual impairment, must be considered as the child's IEP is developed. 11

C. IEP Development and Content Requirements

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 make a number of significant changes to the Act's IEP requirements, which are applicable to all disabled students, including blind and visually impaired students. 12 Under Part B, an IEP developed in accordance with 34 CFR Secs. 300.341-300.350 is the essence of each child's entitlement to a FAPE. The IDEA Amendments of 1997 clarify that each child's IEP must (1) relate the child's education to the child's involvement and progress in the general curriculum, the same curriculum as for nondisabled children, and (2) address unique needs arising out of the child's disability or disabilities. The IDEA Amendments of 1997 also require that IEPs for disabled children, including blind and visually impaired children, contain a statement of measurable annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives. 13 The annual goals must be related to (1) meeting the child's needs that result from the disability, or disabilities, to enable the child to be involved in and progress in the general curriculum, and (2) meeting each of the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability, or disabilities.

With regard to these criteria for developing annual goals, IEP teams for blind and visually impaired children must ensure that those children can appropriately access the general curriculum offered to nondisabled children, and that unique needs relating to the child's blindness or visual impairment or other identified disabilities are addressed. 14 Therefore, if IEP teams identify educational needs of individual children arising from their blindness or visual impairment or other disability, that the general curriculum does not sufficiently address, those specific needs must be addressed. 15 For example, if a particular student has little or no skill in braille reading and writing, the IEP team may conclude that more frequent and intensive instruction in braille likely would be necessary before the student could be fully involved and make meaningful progress in the general curriculum offered to nondisabled children. In addition, once the child's initial need for braille instruction has been met, the IEP team should periodically make a determination of the child's ability to be involved and progress in the general curriculum, and the extent to which continued intensive braille instruction and other accommodations would be needed.

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 include specific requirements regarding including children with disabilities in general State and district-wide assessment programs, with appropriate accommodations and modifications in administration, if necessary. 16 For example, each child's IEP must include a statement of any individual modifications in the administration of State or district-wide assessments of student achievement that are needed for the child to participate in the assessment. Also, if the IEP team determines that a child will not participate in a particular assessment or part of an assessment, the IEP must include a statement of why that assessment is not appropriate for the child, and how the child will be assessed. 17

Consistent with the emphasis in the IDEA Amendments of 1997 on relating the child's IEP to the child's involvement and progress in the general curriculum, IEP teams must ensure that blind and visually impaired students, including those with other disabilities, receive appropriate instructional accommodations and modifications. Providing appropriate instructional accommodations and modifications will help prepare these students to participate in State or district-wide assessments of student achievement with appropriate accommodations or individual modifications in test administration.

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 also require the development of guidelines for use of alternate assessments, which are used if an IEP team determines that an individual child cannot participate in regular assessments, even with appropriate accommodations or individual modifications in test administration. 18 However, it is expected that if IEP teams properly make individualized determinations about what testing accommodations or individual modifications in test administration are appropriate for a child, it should be necessary to use alternate assessments for a relatively small percentage of children with disabilities. In addition, if the purpose of a test is to measure a student's ability to read, States need to be able to test to determine whether blind or visually impaired students, whose primary reading medium is not standard print, can read, whether by providing them with a braille or large print version of the test, or through some other means, as appropriate.

Each child's IEP must be developed by an IEP team, that is, a group of individuals that includes:

  • The parents of the child;
  • At least one regular education teacher of the child if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment;
  • At least one special education teacher of the child, or, if appropriate, at least one special education provider of the child;
  • A public agency representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction, is knowledgeable about the general curriculum, and about the availability of resources of the public agency;
  • An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results, who may be another member of the IEP team;
  • At the discretion of the parent or the agency, other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child, including related services personnel as appropriate; and
  • If appropriate, the child. 19

Public agencies must ensure that students are invited to attend IEP meetings if the participation of the student would be appropriate.

For IEP meetings involving transition services, there are additional requirements. The Part B regulations provide that the public agency must invite a student with a disability of any age to attend his or her IEP meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of either the student's transition services needs, the statement of needed transition services for the student, or both. In these situations, if the student does not attend the meeting, the public agency must ensure that the student's preferences and interests are considered. If another agency would likely be responsible for providing or paying for needed transition services, the public agency must ensure that a representative of that agency is invited to the meeting. 20 The public agency responsible for the student's education generally must initiate and conduct meetings for the purpose of developing, reviewing, and, if necessary, revising the IEP, or the individualized family service plan (IFSP), of a child with a disability. The public agency must ensure that the child's IEP team (1) reviews the child's IEP periodically, but not less than annually, to determine whether the child's annual goals are being achieved, and (2) revises the IEP as appropriate. 21

An IFSP, the written plan for providing early intervention services under Part C of IDEA to an infant or toddler with disabilities and his or her family, may serve as the IEP for a child with a disability aged 3 through 5 (or at the discretion of the State educational agency, a 2-year-old child with a disability who will turn age 3 during the school year). For this to occur, the IFSP must contain the material described in section 636 of the Act, and must be developed in accordance with Secs. 300.341-300.346 and Secs. 300.349-300.350. In addition, using the IFSP to serve as the IEP must be consistent with State policy and agreed to by the agency and the child's parents. 22 If an IFSP is to be used, the public agency must provide the child's parents a detailed explanation of the differences between an IFSP and an IEP and must obtain written, informed parental consent to use an IFSP. 23

D. Special Factors in IEP Development

In developing IEPs, the IDEA Amendments of 1997 require IEP teams to consider a range of special factors. The following two factors are particularly relevant for blind and visually impaired students.

1. Instruction in Braille and the Use of Braille

One of the most serious concerns voiced by parents of blind or visually impaired children and their advocates, as well as by adults who are blind or visually impaired, is that the number of students receiving instruction in braille has decreased significantly over the past several decades. As a result, these individuals believe that braille instruction is not being provided to some students for whom it may be appropriate. Braille has been a very effective reading and writing medium for many blind and visually impaired persons, and knowledge of braille provides numerous tangible and intangible benefits, including increased likelihood of obtaining productive employment and heightened self-esteem.

The IDEA Amendments of 1997, therefore, include a specific provision with regard to instruction in braille and the use of braille and state:

The IEP team must...(iii) in the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in braille and the use of braille unless the IEP team determines, after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child's future needs for instruction in braille or the use of braille), that instruction in braille or the use of braille is not appropriate for the child; 24

This statutory provision requires IEP teams to make provision for instruction in braille or the use of braille, unless it is determined, after appropriate evaluations of the child's reading and writing needs, that this instruction is not appropriate for a particular child. Decisions about instruction in braille and the use of braille must be made on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the individual needs of a particular child. In developing IEPs for children with low vision, even for those with a high degree of functional vision, IEP teams also must consider evaluations of the child's need for instruction in braille and the use of braille, and must make provision for such instruction unless it is determined, after appropriate evaluation, to be inappropriate for the child. Factors such as shortages of trained personnel to provide braille instruction, the availability of alternative reading media, such as large print, recorded materials, or computers with speech output, or the amount of time needed to provide a child with sufficient and regular instruction to attain proficiency in braille or the use of braille, may not be used to deny Braille instruction to a child for whom that instruction has not been determined individually to be inappropriate. Once the IEP team includes instruction in braille in the IEP, this instruction, as is true for other aspects of the child's IEP, must be implemented as soon as possible following the child's IEP meeting. 25

For a child to become proficient in braille, systematic and regular instruction from knowledgeable and appropriately trained personnel is essential. For blind and visually impaired children, including those with other disabilities, IEP teams must ensure that the instructional time allocated for braille instruction is adequate to provide the level of instruction determined appropriate for the child. IEP teams also must ensure, as discussed more fully below, that appropriate assistive technology is provided to facilitate necessary braille instruction. Likewise, for children with low vision, instruction in the appropriate utilization of functional vision and in the effective use of low vision aids requires regular and intensive intervention from knowledgeable and appropriately trained personnel.

IEP teams also must consider the method or methods for teaching blind and visually impaired children, including those with other disabilities, how to write and compose. Children whose reading medium is braille likely will use Braille for these purposes. For composition, however, in addition to writing braille manually, these children also may benefit from using assistive technology devices, such as a personal computer with speech output or a braille display. IEP teams must make individualized determinations about the needs of blind and visually impaired children, including those with other disabilities, for instruction in writing and composition, and must include effective methods for teaching writing and composition, including the appropriate use of assistive technology, in the IEPs of these students.

In addition to mastering the skills taught to all children, blind and visually impaired children, including those with other disabilities, must receive instruction in the skills that the IEP team determines are necessary for the child to obtain access to information needed to participate in the general curriculum, as a supplement to instruction in the reading method determined appropriate for the child. The skills that could be taught to access information include use of cassette recordings, including recordings that utilize compressed speech, personal computers with speech output or a braille display, and optical scanners with speech output. Use of these devices, methods, and services should be considered on an individual basis to supplement braille instruction for students for whom braille is the primary reading medium, or to supplement print or large print for children using print as their primary reading medium. While instruction in the skills necessary to access information is extremely important, local educational agencies also are required by Part B and Section 504 to provide instructional materials in the format determined appropriate for the child by the IEP team to enable the child to participate in the public agency's program. 26

In addition, for most students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with other disabilities, the development of skills related to future employment, vocational training, or postsecondary education, such as the use of reader services, would be appropriate. For example, reader services have proven to be vital for the workplace success of many adults who are blind or visually impaired. As appropriate, IEP teams should consider making reader services available, as well as providing instruction in the skills necessary to the effective use of those services. In considering whether reader services or other services related to the workplace success of these students would be appropriate, IEP teams should consider whether those services would be necessary to supplement the techniques that the student already may be receiving to access information, or necessary for the student's successful transition from school to post-school activities.

2. Assistive Technology

The IDEA Amendments of 1997 continue to recognize the importance of assistive technology in the education of children with disabilities, and specify assistive technology as one of the special factors that IEP teams must consider in IEP development. 27 Issues related to accessing information frequently arise in the education of blind and visually impaired students, as well as those with other disabilities. Therefore, it is especially important that IEP teams for blind and visually impaired students give appropriate consideration to these students' needs for assistive technology and the full range of assistive technology devices and services that are available for them, and this consideration needs to occur as early as possible. As is true for students with other disabilities, a blind or visually impaired student's ability to become proficient in the use of appropriate assistive technology could have a positive effect on the development of the student's overall self-confidence and self-esteem. Students taught the skills necessary to address their disability-specific needs are more capable of participating meaningfully in the general curriculum offered to nondisabled students.

The Department's regulations also provide that, on a case-by-case basis, consideration of the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings may be required. If the child's IEP team determines that the child needs to have access to a school-purchased device at home or in another setting in order to receive FAPE, a statement to this effect must be included in the child's IEP, the child's IEP must be implemented as written, and the device must be provided at no cost to the parents. 28

In meeting the assistive technology needs of blind and visually impaired students, public agencies may use whatever State, local, Federal, and private sources of support available in the State to finance required services. 29 To obtain information about assistive technology, including information about assistive technology that could be used to assist in the education of blind and visually impaired students, public agencies may wish to consult the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (Tech Act) project that serves their State. 30 In making assistive technology purchases, public agencies also need to ensure that they comply with applicable requirements of Federal law, including Section 504, Title II of the ADA, and the Tech Act. 31

E. Orientation and Mobility Services

For some blind and visually impaired children, the inability to move around independently can be a formidable obstacle to participating in school, family, and community life. In some instances, blind and visually impaired individuals have felt discouraged from seeking employment opportunities because of their inability to get to the job or negotiate the work environment once on the job, or because of their fears that this will be the case. Still in other instances, some blind and visually impaired individuals have been denied access to employment opportunities because of employers' misperceptions that the individual will be unable to get around without sighted assistance. Therefore, acquisition of orientation and mobility skills, like the acquisition of other skills such as academic and social skills, is of great importance to the social and economic independence of blind and visually impaired persons.

Orientation and mobility services are generally recognized as encompassing distinctive strategies particular to the educational needs of blind or visually impaired students. The IDEA Amendments of 1997 amended the list of examples of "related services" contained in the statute to include "orientation and mobility services." 32 The term "orientation and mobility services" is defined in the Part B regulations, at 34 CFR Sec. 300.24(b)(6), as follows:

(i)...services provided to blind or visually impaired students by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community; and
(ii) Includes teaching students the following, as appropriate:
(A) Spatial and environmental concepts and use of information received by the senses (such as sound, temperature, and vibrations) to establish, maintain, or regain orientation and line of travel (e.g., using sound at a traffic light to cross the street);
(B) To use the long cane to supplement visual travel skills or as a tool for safely negotiating the environment for students with no available travel vision;
(C) To understand and use remaining vision and distance low vision aids; and
(D) Other concepts, techniques, and tools.

The responsible public agency must ensure that orientation and mobility services are provided by trained and knowledgeable personnel who meet appropriate State qualification standards. In some instances, these personnel will need to be qualified to work with blind and visually impaired students who, in addition to their blindness or visual impairments, have other physical, sensory, or emotional disabilities. Because the need for safe movement throughout their school, home, and community environments is of critical importance for blind and visually impaired students, and because inadequate skill in this area could have an adverse impact on the ability of some blind and visually impaired persons to obtain appropriate employment, orientation and mobility services should be considered for each blind and visually impaired child. The extent to which orientation and mobility services are necessary for an individual child and, if so, the amount and duration of those services that are necessary for a child to receive FAPE are decisions for the child's IEP team. If a blind or visually impaired child has other disabilities, such as hearing, motor, or emotional disabilities, the child's unique disability-specific needs arising from those other disabilities also must be considered in designing an appropriate program of orientation and mobility services for the child. Orientation and mobility services should be provided as early as possible in a child's education, and updated or supplemented periodically, as needed. For example, while it may not be appropriate to teach a very young child how to cross a busy street, a very young child still could be taught the skills necessary to move around inside a school building. As students mature, it might be appropriate, depending on individual factors, for the student to be taught how to cross a busy street. Therefore, IEP teams need to be aware of individual factors that would affect the nature and extent to which orientation and mobility services may be needed for a particular student.

For some children with disabilities such as children with significant cognitive disabilities, "travel training ...is often an integral part of their special educational program in order for them to receive FAPE and be prepared for post-school activities, including employment and independent living." 33 Providing blind or visually impaired students, particularly those with other disabilities, with travel training also could facilitate their fuller integration into their communities in and outside of school, both during and following their school attendance. Therefore, the definition of "special education" has been amended at 34 CFR Sec. 300.26(a)(2)(ii) to include "travel training," and the pertinent definition reads as follows:

Travel training means providing instruction, as appropriate, to children with significant cognitive disabilities, and any other children with disabilities who require this instruction, to enable them to:

(i) Develop an awareness of the environment in which they live; and
(ii) Learn the skills necessary to move effectively and safely from place to place within that environment (e.g., in school, in the home, at work, and in the community). 34

Since the importance of travel training has been recognized for children with disabilities, such as children with significant cognitive disabilities, IEP teams for blind and visually impaired students, particularly those with significant cognitive disabilities, may need to consider these students' need for travel training, as appropriate. Travel training is often integral to ensuring that some children with disabilities receive FAPE and are prepared for post-school activities such as employment and independent living. Travel training is important to enable these students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environment in school, at home, at work, and in the community. 35

F. Additional Factors in IEP Development

The following needs 36 also may need to be considered and appropriately addressed by the child's IEP team to ensure a child's appropriate access to the general curriculum:

  • Compensatory skills, such as communication and listening modalities;
  • Extended school year services, if determined necessary to provide FAPE to the student; 37
  • Social interaction skills;
  • Recreation and leisure skills;
  • Career education; and
  • For students with low vision, visual efficiency skills.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive. A child's IEP team could determine that it would be appropriate to consider an individual child's need for other skills or services, in addition to those listed above. Therefore, in making decisions about the educational programs for a blind or visually impaired child, as is true for other disabled children, IEP teams must consider the full range of skills and services necessary for the child to receive FAPE, and to be involved and progress in the general curriculum, as appropriate.

Back to Policy Guidance on Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students
Go to II. Least Restrictive Environment and Placement Requirements
Go to III. Procedural Safeguards

Appendix

2 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(1) and 34 CFR 300.121; 20 U.S.C. 1401(8) and 34 CFR 300.13.

3 34 CFR 300.300(a)(3)(i)-(ii).

4 34 CFR 300.531.

5 34 CFR 300.532(b).

6 34 CFR 300.532(g).

7 34 CFR 300.532(h).

8 20 U.S.C. 1414(b)(3)(B)(i) and 34 CFR 300.532(c)(1)(ii).

9 See 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(B)(iii).

10 34 CFR 300.532(b)(1)-(2); see also Appendix A to 34 CFR Part 300, question 2 (Appendix A), 64 FR at 12472 (Mar. 12, 1999).

11 The IEP is a written statement for a child with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised at a meeting in accordance with the requirements of 34 CFR 300.341-300.350. See 34 CFR 300.340(a).

12 For a fuller explanation of IEP and other requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, see Notice of Interpretation, Appendix A to 34 CFR Part 300, published at 64 FR 12406, 12469 (Mar. 12, 1999).

13 34 CFR 300.347(a)(2).

14 See National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Vision Impairments, including Multiple Disabilities, AFB Press (1995).

15 34 CFR 300.347(a)(2); Appendix A, question 2, 64 FR at 12472 (Mar. 12, 1999).

16 34 CFR 300.138(a).

17 34 CFR 300.347(a)(5)(i)-(ii).

18 34 CFR 300.138(b); see also Attachment 1, 64 FR at 12564 (Mar. 12, 1999).

19 34 CFR 300.344(a)(1)-(7).

20 34 CFR 300.344(b).

21 34 CFR 300.343(c).

22 34 CFR 300.343(a) and 300.342(c).

23 34 CFR 300.342(c)(2).

24 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)(B)(iii) and 34 CFR 300.346(a)(2)(iii).

25 34 CFR 300.342(b)(1)(ii).

26 See Analysis of Comments and Changes, published as Attachment 1 to 34 CFR Part 300 (Attachment 1), 64 FR at 12590 (Mar. 12, 1999).

27 34 CFR 300.346(a)(2)(v).

28 34 CFR 300.308(b); Appendix A, question 36, 64 FR at 12479 (Mar. 12, 1999).

29 34 CFR 300.301(a). See also 34 CFR 300.244 regarding a LEA's obligations to use up to 5 percent of the amount the agency receives in any fiscal year in combination with other amounts other than education funds to develop and implement a coordinated services system designed to improve results for children and families; OSEP memorandum 00-7 dated January 13, 2000 to State Directors of Special Education, entitled Enhancing Coordinated Services Systems among LEAs and SEAs.

30 For a complete list, see a project sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a component of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, at www.resna.org/taproject/at/statecontacts.html

31 See the October 9, 1997 "Dear Colleague" letter from the Secretary and the attached technical assistance packet. For guidance on standards that the Department uses for its suppliers, see Requirements for Accessible Software Design, 1997, at http://trace.wisc.edu/docs/ed_dept_software_guidelines/software.htm

32 20 U.S.C. 1401(22).

33 See Attachment 1, 64 FR at 12549 (Mar. 12, 1999).

34 34 CFR 300.26(a)(4).

35 See Attachment 1, 64 FR at 12549 (Mar. 12, 1999).

36 National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youth with Visual Impairments, including Multiple Disabilities, AFB Press, on p. 14 (1995).

37 34 CFR 300.309.

Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

National Agenda Logo

Wisconsin National Agenda

THE WISCONSIN COMMITTEE FOR THE NATIONAL AGENDA PRESENTS:

A 2 or 3 credit graduate class offered through the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. DPI clock hours available. Cost: per credit pay scale UW Whitewater; about $210/cr.; no cost for clock hours except for cost of one book (approximately, $50 00) August 2-5,1999. Those taking the class for two credits will attend class in August, with one possible evening class. In addition to the August dates, those taking the class for three hours will need to return for follow-up classes which include a day of clinical on site assessments in Sept. at WSVH and a day for case study analysis on either November 6th or 20th. Those taking the class for two credits who wish to come to the follow-up classes may do so for clock hours. Instructional site: The Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, 1700 W. State street, Janesville, WI.

Lodging: WI National Agenda funds will be available to provide lodging at a local hotel and the lunch meal will be provided each class day.

Applications by July 23, 1999.
Class size: limited; applicants will be accepted on a first come first serve basis

Prerequisite: Preliminary course work in Structure and Function of the Eye
Instructor: Dr. Susan Hunt, Ed.D., F.A.A.O.

Course Outline

  1. Taking Visual Acuities, Distance and Near
  2. Taking Other Vision Measurements (Contrast, Color, Field)
  3. Making Use of Ophthalmic Information
  4. Finding Magnification Solutions with Telescopes, Hand and Stand Magnification
  5. Finding Solutions in Glare Reduction, Contrast Enhancement or medication
  6. Communicating Findings, Making Recommendations
  7. Training Students to Use Adaptive Lenses and Equipment
  8. Networking with the Ophthalmic Community

Included in the course will be guest speakers; hands-on, practical low vision assessment and applications; case studies and evaluation and summary of the course.

Textbooks and Materials:

The Art and Practice of Low Vision. Freeman & Jose (1991)

Low Vision. A Resource Guide with Adaptation or Students with Visual Impairments. Levack, (1994)

Student evaluation: All students will be evaluated in a variety of ways. These will include but are not limited to: participation in class, knowledge of ophthalmic and low vision terminology, case studies of students, ability to interpret medical/ophthalmic records, and an essay regarding some aspect of low vision care.

Download color version of this document

The Facts

  • Although you may have only a few children with visual impairments in your school district, you are obligated to serve them appropriately under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • IDEA mandates that a continuum of placement options be made available to all students with visual impairments and that districts make students and their families aware of those options.
  • Early intervention can improve the educational outcomes for these children.
  • Visually impaired students need to learn disability-specific skills such as reading and writing with braille or using low vision devices, travel skills, career education, and independent living skillsfrom specially trained and certified Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS).
  • Access to instructional materials in appropriate formats is critical to assuring educational progress.

What Must Be Done?

  • Offer an array of service delivery options for children with visual impairments.
  • Support opportunities for partnerships among parents, the medical community, and school personnel that address early detection and services for children with visual impairments.
  • Ensure that a person with expertise in visual impairments is available to all students including those in early intervention programs.
  • Support the efforts of higher education facilities that train teachers to work in the field of visual impairments and hire their graduates.
  • Ensure that teachers who work with children with visual impairments have reasonable caseloads so that special skills can be taught to support educational programming.
  • Be aware of community resources, including rehabilitation agencies, consumer and parent organizations, as well as businesses, that can supplement your educational offerings.
  • Know the professionals in your area who have expertise in visual impairmentsand use them!
  • Provide in-service training opportunities for staff who may work with visually impaired children.
  • Require efforts to provide timely access to quality materials in braille, large print, and taped formats.
  • Ensure that children with visual impairments receive comprehensive assessments under the guidance of personnel trained in visual impairments.
  • Require the teaching of disability-specific skills to students with visual impairments.

How Can You Get More Information?

Visit National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (includes contact information for your state coordinator and the OSEP Policy Guidance Paper).

Contact your state's special school for the blind or visually impaired. If you are unsure of how to reach a special school, call Dr. Phil Hatlen at 512/206-9133; e-mail: .

This material was prepared by participants in the National Agenda effort, which is endorsed by the American Foundation for the Blind, the Association for Education and Rehabilitation for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the American Printing House for the Blind, the Council of Schools for the Blind as well as numerous other organizations of and for the blind throughout the United States.

The following appears on web pages of the AFB Solutions Forum and is used with permission.

Recognizing that timely provision of textbooks and instructional materials in the appropriate accessible media continues to be a major problem confronting students who are blind or visually impaired in America's classrooms, the American Foundation for the Blind formed the Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum. This collaborative national effort addresses one of the most serious issues affecting the education of students with visual impairments today. The AFB Solutions Forum is represented by agencies and organizations involved in the production and distribution of textbooks and instructional materials and has as its goal the development of a coordinated action plan for ensuring equality of access to instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired.

The AFB Solutions Forum is directly related to Goal #7 of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including those with Multiple Disabilities. The National Agenda identified timely access to textbooks and instructional materials as a critical issue needing direct solutions.

October 14, 1998--Louisville, KY--Initial Meeting of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum Held

Textbook publishers, producers of specialized media, assistive technology specialists, policymakers, educators, representatives from the Instructional Materials Resource Centers, parents, consumers, and others joined with AFB to identify the barriers impacting students who are blind or visually impaired from receiving accessible textbooks and instructional materials at the same time as their sighted peers and to initiate a coordinated plan of action for ensuring equal access to instructional materials for this population. Thirty-five representatives participated in the initial meeting. Five work groups were formed:

  1. Electronic Files and Research and Development
  2. Legislative and Policy-Making
  3. Production
  4. Training and Other Needs
  5. Communication and Collaboration

Each of the five work groups was asked to examine the multifaceted process of producing and delivering educational materials in accessible media and to determine ways to improve the delivery of textbooks and instructional materials in appropriate media.

January 1999--Nationwide--Work Groups Held Teleconferences

Each work group held teleconference meetings to discuss the issue of accessible learning media and ways to address topics particular to their area of concern. Each of the five work groups began outlining a plan of action specific to the issues associated with their areas of concern.

March 6 & 7, 1999--Washington, DC--AFB Solutions Forum Featured at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute's (JLTLI) Education Work Group Session

As the leading policy conference in the field of blindness, the JLTLI provided an opportunity for 125 Education Work Group participants to discuss the issue of accessible textbooks and instructional materials and identify the most significant areas needing solutions within the framework of the AFB Solutions Forum's five work group areas: electronic files and research and development; legislative and policy-making; production; training and other needs; and communication and collaboration. A plan of action for the AFB Solutions Forum was identified with significant input by the Association of American Publishers.

April 22, 1999--Dallas, TX--Administrative Structure is Defined for the AFB Solutions Forum

The administrative structure for the AFB Solutions Forum was defined to include five work group facilitators:

  • Electronic Files--Jim Allan, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Legislative and Policy-Making--Mark Richert, AFB Governmental Relations
  • Production--Phyllis Campana, Braille Authority of North America (BANA)
  • Training and Other Needs--Frances Mary D'Andrea, AFB
  • Communication and Collaboration--Marie Amerson, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER)

July 26, 1999--Nationwide--Solutions Targeted

Beginning in May 1999, eighty-five stakeholders provided input into the wording for the five work groups' statements of purpose. Short and long-term solutions to the most critical issues with time lines for implementation were finalized in July 1999. The statements of purpose include:

Electronic Files --The Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group is primarily concerned with exploring and defining the following critical issues: The creation, production, and distribution of electronic files provided by textbook publishers for the production of textbooks in braille and other special media and identifying new trends, technologies and research that will positively affect production, accessibility, and delivery of textbooks to students with visual impairments.

Legislative and Policy-Making --The Legislative and Policy-Making Work Group is primarily concerned with the analysis and development of public policies impacting the Solutions Forum's goal of ensuring equal access to the printed word, and more specifically, to the full range of educational materials. This work group is the Forum's point of contact for ongoing efforts among representatives of the publishing industry, blindness advocacy organizations and the National Library Service to determine the appropriate electronic file format and markup language to efficiently produce braille, large-print and audio textbooks. Additionally, this work group will serve as a mechanism to package, present and disseminate the Solutions Forum's outcomes for future advocacy efforts.

Production --The focus of the Production Work Group is to identify the processes involved in the production and dissemination of textbooks and instructional materials in specialized media needed by students who are visually impaired. This work group will recommend guidelines and strategies for acceptable quality braille transcriptions; appropriate adaptations of materials for producing textbooks to ensure they are educationally sound for visually impaired students; and eliminating duplication of efforts.

Training and Other Needs --The Training Work Group focuses on the training needs of those who create and use textbooks and instructional materials for students who are blind or visually impaired. The work group will identify the necessary steps required to increase the number of qualified braille transcribers and identify the skill sets needed in training people associated with the creation and use of textbooks and instructional materials for students with visual impairments. The target audiences include among others: braille transcribers, textbook publishers, producers of specialized materials, parents, and educators.

Communication and Collaboration --The Communication and Collaboration Work Group serves as a clearinghouse for sharing information related to the activities of the five Solutions Forum work groups. The primary focus is to inform and educate the field of blindness, publishers, and the general public regarding issues and strategies for ensuring equal access to textbooks and instructional materials in accessible formats.

October 21, 1999--Louisville, KY--AFB Solutions Forum Met and Defined the Essential Questions for Three National Surveys

Work group committees developed questions for three national surveys to reflect the following:

  • Investigation by the Electronic Files and Research and Development Work Group of how students with visual impairments currently access multimedia information and to identify initiatives that will increase students' access to multimedia presentations;
  • National review of issues associated with the production and delivery of textbooks by the Production Work Group in order to focus on improving production and
  • acquisition of specialized textbooks and instructional materials in all 50 states;
  • Identification of up-to-date information regarding the training needs of braille transcribers by the Training and Other Needs Work Group, including data on the number of braille transcribers from each state, the skill sets needed by transcribers, the training currently available to transcribers, the resources for continued training, and suggestions for recruitment and retention of braille transcribers.
  • Various organizations and publications were identified for receiving articles and information about the data from the surveys, as well as other AFB Solutions Forum activities.

November 10, 1999--New York, NY and Austin, TX--AFB Solutions Forum Web Sites Launched

Information about the AFB Solutions Forum appeared on the Internet sites of the American Foundation for the Blind and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired with pages dedicated to the AFB Solutions Forum. Go to www.afb.org/info_documents.asp?CollectionID=8&KitID=124 and www.tsbvi.edu for current information and a summary of AFB Solutions Forum activities.

November 15, 1999--Nationwide--New Facilitators Took Charge

Two of the five work groups welcomed new facilitators. The new facilitators are Alicia McAninch (New Mexico) for Production, and Larry Brown (Oregon) for Training and Other Needs. They both represent the Association of Instructional Resource Centers for the Visually Handicapped (AIRC).

December 1999--New York, NY--National Press Release Announced Alliance with Publishers

A national press release was developed that noted the strategic partners in the AFB Solutions Forum and outlined six major barriers in equal access to textbooks and information. The major barriers identified were:

  • Lack of standardization of electronic file formats provided by textbook publishers;
  • Inaccessibility of multimedia textbooks, especially those delivered via the Internet and CD-ROM;
  • Variation in state textbook regulations regarding accessible instructional materials;
  • High expense of producing specialized materials and the lack of fiscal incentives to develop new technologies; and
  • Shortage of qualified braille transcribers and production resources; and communication and collaboration barriers, including duplication of efforts.

March 2, 2000--Dallas TX--AFB Solutions Forum Meets at Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute (JLTLI)

Prior to the annual JLTLI, 45 people representing textbook publishers, producers of specialized media, educators, parents, assistive technology specialists, and consumers met to discuss outstanding issues and work from the July 1999 work plan of the AFB Solutions Forum. In addition, participants reviewed the three surveys in preparation of the pilot study being conducted in March 2000.

April 10, 2000--Nationwide--AFB Solutions Forum Surveys Distributed

Three national surveys were finalized and distributed. Final reports of the surveys will supply general information to encourage states to create policies and procedures for producing textbooks and other instructional materials in accessible media. The final reports will be ready in October 2000.

Multimedia Survey --The multimedia survey was distributed throughout the United States to 2,500 teachers of students with visual impairments. The purpose of this survey is to provide national data on how multimedia textbooks and presentations are used in educational settings. The survey asks for information on teachers' methods of adapting multimedia information and on the training needed for the use of such presentations in classrooms with students who are visually impaired.

Production Survey --The purpose of the third survey is to assist in long-range planning to improve production and acquisition of textbooks and instructional materials for students who are visually impaired. It was sent to one stakeholder in each state who was asked to coordinate answers with all entities within the state.

Training Survey --This survey was sent to a stakeholder responsible for braille transcription in all 50 states. The stakeholder was asked to coordinate answers throughout the state. The purpose of the survey is to provide a national overview of the numbers of trained braille transcribers, skill sets for the job, recruitment and retention issues for braille transcribers, and the tasks they typically perform.

April 18, 2000--Washington, DC--Federal Legislation Emerges

AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders began defining legislative language with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), among other organizations. The goal was to develop a consensus on federal legislation that would provide students with greater access to textbooks and other instructional materials.

May 5, 2000--Washington, DC--National Legislation Moves Forward

Major steps were taken to develop a consensus among the field of blindness, publisher representatives, and NFB concerning national legislation.

May 10, 2000--Macon, GA, and Dallas, TX--Training Segment Developed for National Project

The AFB Solutions Forum's Communication and Collaboration Work Group developed a training segment on accessible textbooks for a project coordinated by the Council of Schools for the Blind (COSB) and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Inc. (NASDSE). The state training project was developed to provide administrators, parents, and professionals throughout the United States with information about educational guidelines for students who are visually impaired.

May 19, 2000--New York, NY--AFB Solutions Forum Partner, George Kerscher, Selected to Chair Open E-Book Forum

By unanimous vote the prestigious national organization, Open eBook Forum (OeBF), selected George Kerscher, Senior Officer, Accessible Information, Recording For the Blind & Dyslexic ( RFB&D) as chairperson. The OeBF is an association of hardware and software companies, publishers and users of electronic books and related organizations whose goals are to establish common specifications for electronic book systems, applications, and products that will benefit creators of content, makers of reading systems, and consumers. Mr. Kerscher, a long-standing member in the AFB Solutions Forum, will chair the OeBF. The OeBF is helping to catalyze the adoption of electronic books, encourage the broad acceptance of specifications on a worldwide basis, and increase awareness and acceptance of the emerging electronic publishing industry. The OeBF develops the specifications for electronic books.

June 10, 2000--Nationwide--Work Groups Develop Fact Sheets and Position Papers

Members of several AFB Solutions Forum Work Groups developed four fact sheets and/or position papers, including:

  1. Production of Braille Textbooks;
  2. Common Acronyms Used When Speaking About Accessible Textbooks;
  3. What Is ASCII?: An Outdated File Development System, An Outmoded Communications Medium, An Outgoing Accessibility Tool;
  4. Surpassing Gutenberg: A Historic Opportunity in Access to Published Information for Blind Readers.

Text of these papers is available on both AFB Solutions Forum web sites at www.afb.org/education.asp and www.tsbvi.edu and as part of the Accessible Textbooks Tool Kit.

June 15, 2000--Washington, DC--Meeting Held to Build Collaboration Among Publishing Industry and the Field of Blindness

The Joint Technology Task Force, co-hosted by the Association of American Publishers, the American Foundation for the Blind, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc., met to discuss important news in electronic publishing. The 41 participants, two-thirds of whom represented publishers, discussed new technology and capabilities for electronic file conversion that allows greater accessibility to the visually impaired community. Development of a cross-platform standard for electronic files, dual stream publishing (both print and eBook), synchronized audio and text, and how organizations serving people with disabilities can work together with innovative publishers were among the topics discussed.

June 22, 2000--Washington, DC--Consensus on Federal Legislation Moves Forward

Experts in publishing textbooks, state issues, electronic file format, access technology, production of textbooks in specialized formats, and policy-making met to discuss potential language for the "Instructional Materials Act of 2000" with discussion about the best policy solutions to achieve the objectives.

July 5, 2000--Princeton, NJ--Microsoft Announced Support for DAISY Consortium

The Digital Audio-Based Information System Consortium (DAISY Consortium) announced that software giant, Microsoft Corporation, has pledged financial and technical support for the consortium's ongoing work to establish global accessibility standards for the next generation of digital talking book technology. Several AFB Solutions Forum partners (including AFB, American Printing House for the Blind, National Library Service, and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) are members of the DAISY Consortium, a group of nearly 40 nonprofit libraries and organizations worldwide that produce and distribute books, journals and other types of information in accessible formats. Its mission is to identify and create global standards for information technology for people with print disabilities such as blindness.

July 17, 2000--Denver, CO--Presentations Relevant to AFB Solutions Forum Were Presented at International AER Conference

Several presentations were made by AFB Solutions Forum partners at the biennial international conference of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER). A central theme included new technologies being developed that will strengthen accessible textbooks for every child who is blind or visually impaired.

July 19, 2000--Denver, CO--AER Accepted "The Accessible Textbooks and Instructional Materials Resolution"

Membership of AER unanimously accepted "The Accessible Textbooks and Instructional Materials Resolution," a document that expresses the commitment of the members of AER to support cooperative efforts within the field of blindness and visual impairment and within the publishing industry to improve timely provision of braille, large-print and audio textbooks and instructional materials to students who are visually impaired. The resolution notes that literacy is basic to successful education for children, that textbooks and instructional materials provide the foundation for education of all children, and that new technology exists that is designed to hasten the transfer of information into accessible formats. The resolution also concedes that, despite recent technological advances, many students who are visually impaired still do not receive accessible textbooks and learning materials at the same time as their classmates, and this discrepancy needs to be eliminated.

August 25, 2000--Nationwide--Consensus Building Continues Through the AFB Solutions Forum

Continuing the discussions on the development of language for federal legislation, a broad-based review was held with stakeholders in the blindness community representing state issues, electronic file format, braille software developers, access technology, production of textbooks in specialized formats, and policy-making.

September 19, 2000--Washington, DC--Joint Technology Task Force Formed

From the compelling demonstrations at the Emerging Technology meeting held on June 15, 2000, AFB, AAP, and RFB&D formed the Joint Technology Task Force (JTTF). The task force was created so that publishers and stakeholders from the AFB Solutions Forum could discuss the testing and use of emerging technologies and the utilization of those files by the visually impaired community for the production of accessible textbooks. The two main goals of the JTTF are:

  1. To analyze the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Extensible Markup Language (XML) file format to determine its suitability for converting textbook content into braille and other accessible formats.
  2. To promote and demonstrate to accessible book producers and braille transcribers the efficiency and benefits of using publishers' files in NISO XML format.

Stakeholders in this effort have expertise in Extensible Markup Language (XML), which is used for all modern IT systems. The Digital Audio-Based Information System (DAISY) Consortium and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) both use the XML notation. The DAISY/NISO XML 3.0 Document Type Definition (DTD) is used to define markup for textbooks. The structure guidelines of DAISY clarify the usage for braille applications and for Digital Talking Books (DTB). In addition, expertise is from braille software developers; expert users of braille translation software with publishers' electronic files; and publishers of textbooks.

Stakeholders include: American Foundation for the Blind; American Printing House for the Blind; Association of American Publishers (with Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Scholastic); Braille Authority of North America; Duxbury, Inc.; Ed-IT PC; National Braille Association; National Library Service; Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic; Texas Education Agency's producers of alternate formats; and educators of children with visual impairments.

September 21, 2000--Flint, MI--Accessible Technology Demonstrated for President Clinton

AFB President, Carl Augusto, was with President Clinton as AFB's Director of Information Systems and Research and Development, Janina Sajka, demonstrated an innovative electronic book technology. The technology is part of an initiative of Time-Warner Trade Publishing and AFB to release to the general public the first commercial title using the NISO/DAISY publication format. This format will enable readers to see the text of the book displayed on screen or read it in braille, while fully synchronized with the audio of a narrator. President Clinton cited Time-Warner Trade Publishing and AFB for their leadership toward accomplishing a joint partnership to provide equal access to information.

October 11, 2000--Louisville, KY--AFB Solutions Forum Held Third Annual Fall Meeting

The fall meeting of the AFB Solutions Forum was attended by 77 people, including seventeen by phone. The meeting featured the significant findings from the three national surveys conducted during the spring/summer 2000, an update on national legislation concerning the "Equal Access to Instructional Materials Act of 2000" and the goals of the Joint Technology Task Force.

The Production Work Group welcomed a new facilitator, Lorri Quigley, director, Educational Resource Center for the state of Utah.

1999-2000--Ongoing--AFB Solutions Forum Reports Appear in Publications

  • June 1999--AER Report
  • September 1999--JVIB, Vol. 93, Number 9
  • October 1999--JVIB, Vol. 93, Number 10
  • Fall 1999--NAPVI Awareness
  • November 1999--JVIB, Vol. 93, Number 11
  • Spring 2000--NAPVI Awareness
  • April 2000--AER Report
  • June 2000--JVIB, Vol. 94, Number 6
  • August 2000--JVIB, Vol. 94, Number 8
  • September 2000--AAP newsletter
  • March 2001--JVIB, Vol 95, Number 3
  • November 2001--AER Report
  • April 2002--JVIB, Vol 96, Number 4

March 15, 2001--Washington, D.C.--AFB Solutions Forum National Meeting

Eighty-four participants took part in the spring meeting to build work plans for 2002. Twenty-five goals were identified.

May 2001--San Antonio, Texas--Partnership to Develop a New Career

AFB, Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, and the Texas Education Agency began a partnership to develop a new profession/career of a braille textbook transcriber through a curriculum and a series of college courses.

June 27, 2001--Nationwide--Instructional Materials Accessibility Act IMAA

Representatives of the American Council of the Blind, American Foundation for the Blind, American Printing House for the Blind, Association of American Publishers, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, National Federation of the Blind, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Texas Education Agency, and other major stakeholders of the AFB Solutions Forum reached final agreement on both the text of legislation to take to Capitol Hill and to work collaboratively to achieve its enactment. This legislation will dramatically improve access to instructional materials required for classroom use in elementary and secondary schools.

July 2001--Atlanta, GA--Design of the National Training for Braille Transcribers

Twenty-three experts in web-based learning, DAISY/NISO/XML file format, and braille transcription began developing a national training program for braille transcribers to learn how to use electronic files produced by commercial textbook publishers.

August 2001--Texas--Development of Job Skills for the Career of a Braille Textbook Transcriber

Northwest Vista College in San Antonio, Texas, conducted two meetings with eighteen experts with firsthand knowledge of the requirements of a braille textbook transcriber. The goal was to develop an occupational profile of a braille textbook transcriber. The end result was a list of 31 tasks that are critical to the job and the identification of a series of job skills needed to perform the tasks.

October 2001--Louisville, KY--National Meeting

Seventy-five stakeholders met in Louisville to discuss the critical next steps in moving the IMAA forward on Capitol Hill and the upcoming college program of a braille textbook transcriber. Representative from ACB, AAP, AFB, and NFB spoke about the strategies.

January 2002--Nationwide--Development of a National Training Manual on How to Work with Publishers' Files

Expert braille transcribers assisted in developing a training seminar and manual that offers new skills to current braille transcribers. The contents identify key steps in managing publishers' electronic files. The manual and seminar will become a web-based, self-paced program on AFB's web in the spring of 2003.

March 6, 2002--Washington, D.C.--ANSI/NISO Standard for the Digital Talking Book (DTB) was Approved

The DTB is a collection of electronic files arranged to present information in a powerful, flexible reading system. The system easily adapts to different types of documents and different user needs. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) unanimously adopted a DTB standard that allows for files to be arranged presenting information to the target population via alternative media. These media include: human or synthetic speech, refreshable braille, or visual display (i.e. large print).

March 7, 2002--Washington, D.C.--AFB joins the Get Caught Reading Campaign

Two new celebrities joined the Association of American Publishers' long list of people who "get caught reading." Patty Duke and Erik Weihenmayer are part of the public service campaign to show that reading is cool and braille literacy is fundamental.

March 14, 2002--San Diego, CA--National Training for Braille Transcribers

Training was conducted at the California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH) Conference for braille transcribers who were knowledgeable about textbook production, but who were not experienced in working with publishers' files.

April 10, 2002--Alexandria, VA--National Training for Braille Transcribers

Training was conducted at the National Braille Association Conference for braille transcribers who were knowledgeable about textbook production, but who were not experienced in working with publishers' files.

April 24, 2002--Washington, D.C.--Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (IMAA) Press Conference

National legislation that will dramatically improve access to textbooks for students who are blind or who have other print disabilities in elementary and secondary schools was introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. The purpose of this bipartisan legislation is to ensure that instructional materials for blind or other people with print disabilities are received in an accessible medium at the same time as their nondisabled peers. Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Thomas Petri (R-WI) and George Miller (D-CA) are the lead sponsors of this legislation.

June 5, 2002--Dallas, TX--AFB and Verizon National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers and Technology

Verizon Communications announced a three-year partnership with AFB to build a public awareness and advocacy program that will promote the new career (braille textbook transcriber) at the federal and state levels, and raise general awareness of the needs of blind and low-vision schoolchildren for timely access to textbooks and learning materials. Erik Weihenmayer, first blind athlete to summit Mount Everest, has agreed to serve as the national spokesperson and Verizon Literacy Champion.

July 1, 2002--Ogden, UT--Accessible Textbooks Tool Kit is now Available

The Communication and Collaboration Work Group spearheaded the development of a resource kit of information about the AFB Solutions Forum, issues, critical resources, and potential solutions for the right books at the right time. Expert assistance from the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind was given through the graphic design and production of the Accessible Textbooks Tool Kit.

Communication and Collaboration Work Group
Marie Amerson, facilitator; Alicia McAninch; and Mary Ann Siller

For more information, contact the American Foundation for the Blind, Mary Ann Siller, .

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Verizon launched the National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers, and Technology was launched in October 2002 with the help of partners from 44 organizations throughout the United States. The advocacy campaign seeks to raise general awareness of the needs of schoolchildren who are blind or who have low vision to have timely access to textbooks and learning materials, of the extreme shortage of braille transcribers, and of the importance of promoting the new career of braille textbook transcriber at the federal and state levels.

The National Campaign for Literacy, Textbooks, Transcribers, and Technology was developed to alleviate the critical shortage of braille transcribers throughout the United States. In part because of this shortage, schoolchildren who are blind or visually impaired frequently receive their textbooks later than their sighted peers. In response to this crisis, AFB and the 44 organizational partners, have developed a Call to Action packet to support the campaign's advocacy initiative. The materials can be used to engage business leaders, policymakers, school boards, librarians, and the general public in the efforts to ensure the timely delivery of textbooks and instructional materials to schoolchildren who are blind or who have low vision. The packet includes an explanatory cover letter, background materials, sample letters to Congress, an advocacy video, poster, and bookmarks.

The Verizon Literacy Champion and spokesperson for the campaign is Erik Weihenmayer, a world-class athlete who was the first blind man to attain the summit of Mt. Everest and the only blind athlete to conquer the "seven summits", the world’s highest peaks. "Literacy has helped me touch the top of the world," Weihenmayer says. "I want every blind or visually impaired child to have the same opportunity." Hence the campaign's slogan, "Literacy helps you reach the summit of your dreams."

The campaign supports the efforts of the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Forum to raise broad-based awareness of the needs of schoolchildren who are blind or have low vision for access to textbooks and instructional materials. Members of the field are invited to become a part of the team by promoting the new career of braille textbook transcriber and encouraging the U.S. Department of Labor to formally recognize this profession. To receive complimentary copies of the packet, visit the Free Materials section of AFB’s online bookstore at: <www.afb.org/store> or call 800-232-5463. For more information, contact

Mary Ann Siller, director, National Education Program, AFB, 260 Treadway Plaza, Dallas, TX 75236; phone: 214-352-7222, extension 15; e-mail: <>.

American Foundation for the Blind
Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum

Statement of Purpose:

The Communication and Collaboration Work Group serves as a clearinghouse for sharing information related to the activities of the five Solutions Forum Work Groups. The primary focus is to inform and educate the field of blindness and the general public regarding issues and strategies for ensuring equal access to textbooks and instructional materials in accessible formats.

Activity Areas - Completed:

  • Develop, for dissemination as appropriate, a clear statement of the problems relating to production and acquisition of textbooks and instructional materials in specialized media which the Solutions Forum is addressing.
  • Develop, for dissemination as appropriate, a glossary of key terms and websites specifically related to producing educational materials and accessible media.
  • Identify target audiences to which press releases, journal articles, announcements, conference presentations, etc. should be addressed.
  • Establish Solutions Forum column in JVIB.
  • Prepare a "flow chart" type of document depicting the sequential steps and processes involved in the production of regular print textbooks, from a publisher''s frame of reference.

Activity Areas - Ongoing

  • Prepare articles, announcement, alerts, and updates regarding activities of the Solutions Forum for submission to appropriate journals, newsletters, electronic bulletin boards or listserves, etc.
  • Prepare, and update as warranted, a list of contact persons for the publishers of educational textbooks.
  • Reach out to publishers and producers of educational software materials to involve them in the Solutions Forum.

Activity Areas - Projected

  • Distribute AFB Accessible Textbooks Solutions Forum Tool Kit - March 2002
  • Identify additional communication and collaboration activities - ongoing

9-18-14 We're six days away from the Texas Disability Issues Forum! Wednesday Sept. 24, Austin TX

Texas Disability Issues Forum logo

As we prepare for this unprecedented event, here are a few things to remember:

  • Check in opens at 9 am, and the Program starts at 9:30 am sharp. To respect the schedules of candidates in attendance, we will adhere strictly to our agenda. Review the day's Full Agenda. We will be on the second floor, with greeters to help you find your way.
  • Arrive early! Traffic in downtown Austin can be unpredictable, so give yourself plenty of time to get to the Radisson (111 Cesar Chavez at Congress Ave.). The hotel has no vacancies on the 24th, and the parking garage may fill quickly.
  • On site parking will be available in the Radisson garage off of Cesar Chavez. Please note that there will be accessible parking spots in the garage and that it has a clearance of 6'7". Limited street or meter parking will also be available on Brazos St. (east side of the hotel) on a first come first serve basis.
  • Parking is free (for hotel garage ONLY)! When you enter the garage, you will receive a parking stub. Simply drop off your parking stub when you check in at the registration table on the second floor. On your way out, stop by the registration table to pick up a validated stub.
  • Boxed lunches provided! Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options will be available for attendees who indicated a dietary preference. Not sure if you indicated your preference when you registered? Contact Laura Perna at (512) 478-3366 ext. 305. Lunch will be served at 1 pm.
  • Be respectful! You may not agree with everything the candidates say or have said before, but please refrain from shouting and heckling during the Forum. Note that signs will not be permitted inside the Forum. Additionally, in the interest of nonpartisanship, you may not distribute campaign material for any candidate at the Forum.

Want to do more for this historic effort? Here's how!

  • Join the Disability Action Voting Project (DVAP). Currently working on the REV UP campaign, DVAP wants YOU to help increase the political power of Texans with disabilities and our allies. Help establish the disability community as an educated, strong, and mobilized voting constituency!
  • Bring a friend! Whether you're coming to the Forum on your own or with an organization, we challenge you to find one more person to register. Share details about the Forum on Facebook, Twitter, email, or even in person.
  • Encourage all invited candidates to attend! We're continuing to work with the Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton campaigns, but we haven't received their confirmations yet. Help us amplify our voice by sending them a Tweet. Need some help getting started? Use our sample Tweets!

Please note that if you registered guests for the Forum, they will NOT receive this email, but feel free to forward it along.

Questions? View full details on the Forum homepage, or contact us directly. Call Chase Bearden at 512-478-3366 ext. 303

 

9-4-14 Update on the Texas Disabilities Issues Forum 

Announcement provided by K. Semien via email on September 4, 2014

American Council of the Blind of Texas (ACBT) is a Co-Host of the 2014 Texas Disabilities Issues Forum (TDIF).

Preparations are coming along for the first ever Disabilities Issues event of this magnitude. Republican and Democratic Candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General have been invited to participate in the Forum.

It all takes place on Wednesday September 24th from 9:00am-4:00pm at the Radisson Hotel, located at 111 East Cesar Chavez Street in Austin.

We are pleased to announce that Senators Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte have recently confirmed that they will join us for the event! Now that we have secured commitments from the three Democratic candidates, we are ready to ramp up outreach efforts. Full details at bit.ly/TexasDIF

This is a historic event! Yes, historic! Never before has the disability community held a Forum with leading candidates.

And please note that if you're not located in Austin, you can still participate; financial assistance to travel into town is available. Email Chase Bearden  or call 512-478-3366 ext. 303 for details.

Many co-host organizations ask, "What can we do to support the Forum?" If you can come, do so!

Whether you come or not, you can raise your voice--The Disability Vote Does Count!