For decades the National Federation of the Blind has been promoting the use of Braille. This work has taken many forms one of which is getting Braille bills introduced by state law makers so that blind children will have a better chance to become literate. Here is the text of the Model Braille Literacy Bill which has been passed in many states.
To assure that each blind student receives an individualized Braille literacy assessment and appropriate educational services resulting therefrom; to establish standards of proficiency and instruction; to provide materials in a computer-accessible format capable of Braille reproduction; and to require the certification of teachers in accordance with Braille literacy standards.
Section 1. This Act may be cited as the "Blind Persons' Literacy Rights and Education Act."
Section 2. In developing the individualized written education program for each blind student the presumption shall be that proficiency in Braille reading and writing is essential for such student to achieve satisfactory educational progress. The assessment required for each such student shall include a Braille skills inventory, including a statement of strengths/deficits. Braille instruction and use are not required by this section if, in the course of developing the student's individualized education program, all members of the team concur that the student's visual impairment does not affect reading and writing performance commensurate with ability. Nothing in this section requires the exclusive use of Braille if other special education services are appropriate to the student's educational needs. The provision of other appropriate services shall not preclude Braille use or instruction.
Section 3. Instruction in Braille reading and writing shall be sufficient to enable each blind student to communicate effectively and efficiently with the same level of proficiency expected of the student's peers of comparable ability and grade level. The student's individualized education program shall specify--
1a. the results obtained from the inventory required under section 2;
1b. how Braille will be implemented as the primary mode for learning through integration with other classroom activities;
1c. the date on which Braille instruction will commence;
1d. the length of the period of instruction and the frequency and duration of each instructional session;
1e. the level of competency in Braille reading and writing to be achieved by the end of the period and the objective assessment measures to be used; and
1f. if a decision has been made under section 2 that Braille instruction or use is not required for the student--
Section 4. The state education agency shall require a publisher of a textbook adopted by the state Board of Education to furnish the agency with computer diskettes for literary subjects in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) from which Braille versions of the textbook can be produced. The publisher will furnish the agency with computer diskettes in ASCII for non-literary subjects, e.g., natural sciences, computer science, mathematics, and music, when Braille specialty code translation software is available.
la. computer software developers;
lb. producers of Braille textbooks;
lc. specialists in Braille education;
ld. representatives of the state education agency;
le. publishers of elementary and high school textbooks; and
lf. lf. at least one consumer, or an advocate of consumers, of Braille materials.
la. work with textbook publishers on the development of processes for
converting formatted text files to ASCII text files needed for the production
of Braille textbooks with translation software;
lb. survey ongoing efforts in this state and elsewhere to develop computer software needed for automated conversion of publisher text files to the ASCII format and recommend additional software development projects, if needed. If additional development efforts are needed, the commission shall work with publishers and software developers to prioritize typesetting system conversion efforts;
lc. study the feasibility of implementing a process by which textbook publishers can transmit computerized textbook ASCII data files through modem communication directly to the computers of organizations producing Braille textbook masters; and
ld. study any other issues the commission determines are relevant and necessary to the implementation of this subsection.
Section 5. As part of the certification process, teachers certified in the education of blind and visually impaired students shall be required to demonstrate competence in reading and writing Braille. The state agency responsible for certifying such teachers shall adopt procedures to assess such competencies which are consistent with standards adopted by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Section 6. As used in this Act, the term--
la. "Blind student" means an individual who is eligible for
special education services and who:
lb. "Braille" means the system of reading and writing through
touch commonly known as standard English Braille.
lc. "Individualized education program" means a written statement developed for a student eligible for special education services pursuant to Section 602 (~la)(20) of part A of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 ~lU.~lS.~lC. Section 1401(~la).
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