Future Reflections Winter/Spring 1997, Vol. 16 No. 1


Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Braille Literacy Provisions Now Part Of Federal Law

On June 4, 1997, President Clinton signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments of 1997 into law as public law 105-17. This law contains a provision specific to Braille instruction for blind and visually impaired children. This provision marks a major victory in the battle for Braille literacy.

As a result of the law, every blind and visually impaired child's IEP should begin with Braille included. The decision to be made by the team is on "ruling out" rather than "ruling in" Braille. It is significant that the law uses the word "provide," rather than "consider the need," for Braille.

Here is the pertinent section from the IDEA Amendments of 1997. Portions of other items in the same section with the Braille provision are also printed so you can compare the language. Also printed is the section which, also for the first time in federal law, refers to orientation and mobility services:

Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975 Section 614 (d)(3)(B)(iii)
(B) Consideration of Special Factors.--The IEP Team shall--
(i) in the case of a child whose behavior impedes his or her learning or that of others, consider,...
(ii) in the case of a child with limited English proficiency, consider,...
(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; [emphasis added]
(iv) consider the communication needs ...
(v) consider whether the child requires assistive technology devices and services.

Section 602 Definitions (22) Related Services.--The term 'related services' means transportation, and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services (including speech-language pathology and audiology services, psychological services, physical and occupational therapy, recreation, including therapeutic recreation, social work services, counseling services, including rehabilitation counseling, orientation and mobility services, and medical services shall be for diagnostic and evaluation purposes only) as may be required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education, and includes the early identification and assessment of disabling conditions in children. [emphasis added]