In Memory of Dr. Phil Hatlen

Authors: Mary Ann Siller, M.Ed., National Consultant in Blindness and Low Vision Services

Keywords: Phil Hatlen, Expanded Core Curriculum, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Abstract: a brief description of Dr. Hatlen's career and work in the field of education of students with visual impairment.

It is with a heavy heart that we share with you that Dr. Phil Hatlen passed away. We have lost the presence of a talented, generous, loving friend. Yet his legacy will live on!

Phil has been honored many times with prestigious awards for his lifetime of achievement in the field of blindness. As you know, Phil was a consummate leader who authored articles and chapters in books that have enlightened us and brought new advancements in teaching children. He was a teacher of students with visual impairments, a leader of university teacher training programs to teach children who are blind or have low vision, a developer of system change steps to improve the educational system in America for children who are visually impaired, researcher to find new educational approaches, a friend with conviction to his mission in life, and a person who supported families in their quest to dream big.

I personally am reflecting upon the many years spent alongside him with building the Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans (AVIT) and with the creation of the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including those with Multiple Disabilities and the subsequent numerous activities and projects we uplifted from its ten goals.  He is known far and wide for his work with the creation of the National Agenda’s Goal 8 —-the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Here are a few heartfelt quotes from today’s exchange of emails from colleagues ……who admired Phil. “He is my ECC hero.” “Words can’t express my sorrow.” “What a loss to our field, but it’s so much better since he was in it.” “OMG…this is sad news..but what a true leader he was.” “He was dedicated to his work and was generous in sharing his expertise.” “He was a giant in the field of blindness services whom I was proud and privileged to call a friend.”

Phil was honored by being inducted in 2012 to the Hall of Fame — Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field. This Hall of Fame is housed at American Printing House for the Blind (APH). You may read more about Phil’s work and mission in life at

In his own words, this is his message to the field:

“Stand tall, be proud of your profession. Decide what your “bottom line” is, and do not compromise. Commit to your fundamental truths, and live your profession by not compromising. Be gentle, be creative, and respect the dignity of all children. Love life, work hard, live with a passion for everything that you do. Laugh a lot, and help your students to learn to laugh.”

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