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The Louisiana House Education Committee approved a bill of rights Wednesday for blind and visually impaired students. It would require public schools to offer special education services – including appropriate screenings, assessments, and learning media – for visually impaired students.
Early intervention programs at schools would have to provide some of the following if the proposal becomes law:
- instruction by teachers qualified to teach blind students and access to braille materials and textbooks and assistive technology.
- teaching visually impaired students about how to live with their disability, including skills relating to orientation and mobility, career education, assistive technology and independent living.
- employing and training qualified resource personnel who are able to communicate effectively and proficiently with each student in his modes of communication.
- placing a student who is blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind in a classroom setting best suited to their individual needs – including social, emotional and cultural – with consideration for the student’s degree and type of vision or hearing loss, academic level, modes of communication and learning style.
- comprehensive academics, opportunities and activities to meet and associate with their peers in the school environment and during school-sponsored activities and events to achieve a well-rounded education.
These rights are already required by federal law, so this bill would just update state law to fall in line with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The Blind and Visually Impaired Student’s Bill of Rights is “built to basically put everything in one location in our state law” relating to visually impaired students’ rights, Leslie Hill, director of government and community affairs at Louisiana Special School District, said to the committee Wednesday.
The bill moves to the House floor for a full vote.
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