A Model Braille Bill

Copyright © 1995
National Federation of the Blind

          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.

Model Braille Bill

          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--

  1. a statement that the decision was reached after a review of pertinent literature describing the educational benefits of Braille instruction and use; and

  2. a specification of the evidence used to determine that the student's ability to read and write effectively without special education services is not impaired.


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.

  1. On the effective date of this Act, the state board of education shall appoint a commission to expedite the implementation of this section. The commission shall be composed of no more than 12 individuals nominated by the Commissioner of Education from within or outside of the state, including, but not limited to:

  2. The Commissioner shall appoint a chairman from among the commission members.

  3. Public members of the commission shall serve at their own expense and are not entitled to reimbursement by the state for their participation in the commission's activities. Representatives of a state agency shall be reimbursed from the funds of that agency.

  4. The commission shall:

  5. The commissioner and the state board of education shall report the commission's findings and a summary of their activities to the legislature.


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--

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