Thank you to everyone involved with #GivingTuesday ! It's
the perfect motivator for me to write a fundraising appeal too. I am writing on
behalf of Digital Promise, a nonprofit in WA state. http://www.digital-promise.host56.com/
Lots of things are in transition at Digital Promise. That is
why this appeal is on my personal blog. Plus a nonprofit about to have
RantWoman as President needs help by definition! The donations link http://www.digital-promise.host56.com/DONATE.htmgoes straight to our Digital Promise
treasurer, a much better professional bookkeeper than RantWoman. Presenting a
more polished face to the world, including tidier-looking links is only one goal
as our board looks forward, but first some acknowledgments.
For close to two decades Digital Promise has been involved
in creating partnerships between building managers, community technology
resources, and residents of low income communities. At present Digital
Promise's most consistent activity has been in support of public computer labs
at two Seattle Housing Authority communities the STAR of Seattle and the Westwood
Heights Technology Center; this year we were also pleased to connect residents
of Pike Market housing communities with computer help provided by volunteers
from Microsoft through the Day of Caring. More about these community technology
centers in a moment.
First, we need to thank longtime Digital Promise board
President Joe Diehl. Joe's list of connections among people involved with
affordable housing is so long I hardly know where to begin. I have no idea how
he finds time to do all he has been doing. Even he realizes he cannot keep up with
everything and is more than ready to step down as President. I am writing in
transition, with deep gratitude for all I have learned and for many connections.
So give generously with heartfelt thanks to Joe and all the other Board
Next there is the story of people involved with the STAR
Center http://www.starofseattle.org/Pages/default.aspx,the community where I first met Joe and Digital Promise. The STAR Center
originally arose as a partnership between Seattle Housing Authority and
residents with a number of disabilities. These founders worked to create a
computer lab equipped with a number of different assistive technologies, both
to meet the accommodations needs of staff and to provide a place where people
might explore what technology and teamwork can enable them to do.
It's the technology that plays the video or reads the audio
book; sometimes it's the teamwork that helps someone with mobility difficulties
insert the CD or find broadcasts streamed in languages other than English. It’s
the high-contrast video that helps one customer who is also deaf with social
networking or all of the services one increasingly can only access online; it’s
the teamwork that provides staff able to direct this customer to the most
direct route to meet key needs. It’s the technology that helps blind people
read on the computer; it’s the teamwork that helps people who have lived their
whole life with challenges and people adjusting after life-changing medical events
learn from each other, about ordinary things like running and organization, and
about new horizons like online music or accessibility every time we try a new
The STAR Center has
provided a wide variety of classes for adults and has also run projects
partnering with Seattle Public schools to help youth with disabilities explore
the horizons of adulthood. That is one project I personally really hope to
continue! So give generously to help open doors for youth, to help people
adjusting after life-changing medical events, and for all the other people who
use our resources too.
Finally give generously so that we can explore new ways to
grow our efforts. We do not know quite what form this will take but the need is
clear: 30% of people in low-income housing also have disabilities. Digital Promise
hopes to continue to help create partnerships, whether through visits from Day
of Caring volunteers or new horizons of online learning, or helping communities
like Pike Market create places in their community where people can come together
and connect both in person and online.
Right now Digital Promise needs to work at some basic: some
financial reserves so that we can pay our staff on a reasonable schedule, some
services we might need on more precise timelines than our dedicated volunteers
can achieve, appropriate compensation for people who train and direct our many
volunteers, ways to refine our planning and budgeting based on experiences with
past projects, ways to share our unique experience with residents and other
kinds of housing communities.
$5000-$10,000 would be an excellent reserve and allow us to
cover some expense board members are now just personally absorbing.
$15,000-$25,000 would allow us to immediately resume our
program with Seattle Public Schools.
I would be humbled to meet these targets; if this appeal
generats more money than that figuring out what to do with the money would be
more of a good problem to have than I expect, but I love surprises!
With warmest wishes and grateful hope as Digital Promise
evolves in our rapidly changing technology environment.
PS There is another Digital Promise. We like them and this
is our fundraising appeal. In fact as I contemplate the future of this digital
Promise, we may have to think about ways to reduce confusion. But here again is
the donation link for the Digital Promise I am writing about.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
U.S. Department of Education seal.June 19, 2013
For decades, Braille has been a key tool for literacy for many blind and visually impaired ndividuals. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA or Act),
1 in section 614(d)(3)(B)(iii), specifically addresses a public agency’s responsibility to make provisions for Braille instruction in educating blind and visually impaired
students. This requirement states that, "in the case of a child who is blind or visually
impaired, [the individualized Education Program (IEP) Team must] 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."
In the 1997 reauthorization of the IDEA, Congress added this requirement to ensure that blind and visually impaired students are provided the Braille instruction that is necessary for them to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). It was retained without change when the IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.2 This requirement applies equally to children who need Braille instruction when they enroll in kindergarten, as well as to children who will benefit from Braille instruction because they face the prospect of future vision loss later on in their educational careers.
1 Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C.
§§1401, 1411-1419 (2004).
2 The IDEA Part B regulation in 34 CFR §300.324(a)(2)(iii) incorporates this
statutory requirement verbatim.
3 Blind and visually impaired students are also protected by two other Federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), which prohibits disability discrimination by entities, such as public schools, that receive Federal financial assistance (29 U.S.C. § 794, 34 CFR part 104); and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), which prohibits disability discrimination by public entities, including public schools, regardless of whether they receive Federal financial assistance (42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, 28 CFR part 35). The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education enforces Section 504 in public schools and, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, enforces Title II in public schools. Information about OCR enforcement is available on OCR’s website at www.ed.gov/ocr. Despite this requirement, one of the most serious concerns voiced by parents and advocates of blind and visually impaired children is that the number of students receiving instruction in Braille has decreased significantly over the past several decades.
As a result, these individuals believe that Braille instruction is not being provided to some students for whom it may be appropriate. The purpose of this letter is to provide guidance to States and public agencies to reaffirm the importance of Braille instruction as a literacy tool for blind and visually impaired students, to clarify the circumstances in which Braille instruction should be provided, and to reiterate the scope of an evaluation required to guide decisions of IEP Teams in this area.3 This letter also identifies resources that are designed to help strengthen the capacity of State and local personnel to meet the needs of students who are blind or visually impaired.
In the fall of 2010, nearly 30,000 of the students served under Part B of the IDEA were reported as having “visual impairment including blindness” as their primary disability, (approximately 0.07% of the total school population4). The population of children who receive services under Part B of the IDEA due to blindness or visual impairment is extremely diverse. These children display a wide range of vision difficulties and varying adaptations to vision loss. With regard to the degree of vision loss, the student population includes persons who are totally blind and persons with minimal light perception, as well as persons with varying degrees of low vision. With regard to adaptations to vision loss, persons with similar degrees of vision loss may function very differently. A significant visual deficit that could pose formidable obstacles for some children may pose far less formidable obstacles for others. This is because adaptations to vision loss are shaped by individual factors, such as availability and type of family support and the level of the child’s intellectual, emotional, physical, and motor functioning.
4 Source: www.ideadata.org; see also 34 CFR §300.8(c)(13). 5 Bell, E. C. &
Mino, N. “Blind and Visually Impaired Adult Rehabilitation and Employment
Survey: Final Results.” Journal of Blindness, Innovation & Research, Vol.1, No.1 (2013):
Accessed April 8, 2013.
See www.pdrib.com/pages/researchreports.php. The challenge for educators of
blind and visually impaired children is how to teach skills that sighted children typically acquire through vision. Blind and visually impairedstudents use a variety of methods to learn to read, write, and acquire other skills. For reading purposes, some students use Braille exclusively; others use large
print or regular print with or without low vision aids. Still others use a combination of methods, including Braille, large print, low vision aids, and devices with computer generated speech, while others have sufficient functional vision to use regular print.
Despite the wide range of vision difficulties and varying adaptations to vision loss in the population of blind and visually impaired students, Braille has been a very effective reading and writing medium for many of them. Research has shown that knowledge of Braille provides numerous tangible and intangible benefits, including increased likelihood of obtaining productive employment and heightened self-esteem.5
Given these benefits, it is important that States and their public agencies ensure the appropriate implementation of the IDEA requirement regarding Braille instruction.
Other IDEA Requirements
In implementing the IDEA requirement regarding Braille instruction, the following additional IDEA requirements are applicable. Under IDEA, each State and its public agencies must make FAPE available to children with specified disabilities residing in the State in mandatory age ranges through a properly developed IEP. Each child’s IEP must include the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services that are necessary to ensure each child’s meaningful involvement and progress in thegeneral education curriculum offered to nondisabled students. 34 CFR §§300.101, 300.201, and 300.320-300.324.
Under 34 CFR §300.304(c)(4) and (6), an evaluation must assess the child in all areas related to the suspected disability and must be sufficiently comprehensive to identify all of the child’s special education and related services needs. Also, under 34 CFR §300.304(c)(1)(iv), any assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child must be conducted by trained and knowledgeable personnel.
Instruction in Braille and the Use of Braille
IEP Teams must ensure that children who are blind or who are visually impaired are provided with the Braille instruction they need in order to receive FAPE and to ensure their meaningful access to the general education curriculum offered to nondisabled students. To this end, IEP Teams for blind and visually impaired students should consider each child’s need for appropriate Braille instruction on an individual, case-by-case basis, and without undue delay. Systematic and regular instruction from knowledgeable and appropriately trained personnel is essential for a child to become proficient in Braille. IEP Teams must ensure that the instructional time allotted for Braille instruction is sufficient to provide the level of instruction determined appropriate for the child. For example, if a particular student has little or no skill in Braille reading and writing, the IEP Team may conclude that frequent and intensive instruction in Braille likely would be necessary to enable the student to have meaningful access to the general curriculum.
Scope of Evaluation Related to Braille Instruction
The IDEA requires that Braille instruction must be provided to a child who is blind or visually impaired, unless the IEP Team determines, based on an evaluation of the child's current and future reading and writing needs, that Braille instruction is not appropriate for a particular child. Generally, determinations regarding the components of evaluations for particular children are matters within the purview of State and local officials. The evaluation of vision status and the need (or future need) for Braille instruction should be thorough and rigorous, include a data-based media assessment, be based on a range of learning modalities, including auditory, tactile, and visual, and include a functional visual assessment. An assessment of a child’s vision status generally would include the nature and extent of the child’s visual impairment, and its effect, for example, on the child’s ability to learn to read, write, do mathematical calculations, and use computers and other assistive technology, as well as the child’s ability to be involved in and make progress in the general curriculum offered to nondisabled students. Such an evaluation generally would be closely linked to the assessment of the child’s present and future reading and writing objectives, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media. The information obtained through the evaluation generally should be used by the IEP Team in
determining whether it would be appropriate to provide a blind or visually impaired child with instruction in Braille or the use of Braille as required by the IDEA.
Factors, such as shortages of trained personnel to provide Braille instruction; the availability of alternative reading media (including large print materials, recorded materials, or computers with speech output); or the amount of time needed to provide a child with sufficient and regular instruction to attain proficiency in Braille, may not be used to deny Braille instruction to a child. Rather, it would be appropriate to deny Braille instruction to a child only when the child’s IEP Team, based on the results of a thorough and rigorous evaluation, determines that instruction in Braille would be inappropriate for that child. In addition, because the evaluation also must assess a child’s future needs, a child’s current vision status should not necessarily determine whether it would be inappropriate for that child to receive Braille instruction while in school. This is particularly
true for a child with a degenerative vision condition who may have a high degree of functional vision when the evaluation is conducted. The evaluation of such a child would need to assess whether, despite the child’s current vision status, the child still could benefit from Braille instruction while in school to increase the likelihood that the child will obtain productive employment and be able to participate more fully in family and community life.
Office of Special Education Programs’ Investments and Supports
A. Personnel Preparation
To help ensure that children with blindness and visual impairments receive
appropriate services, evidence-based interventions, and appropriate materials and media,
including Braille and Braille instruction, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office
of Special Education Programs (OSEP) awards competitive grants to support university
programs that prepare teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired. During
Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, OSEP invested approximately $18.6 million of discretionary grant
funds specifically to improve services and results for children who are blind or
visually impaired. These funds supported a variety of personnel preparation and
technology projects to increase the numbers of certified and licensed professionals
with the unique and specialized skills necessary to support the education of students with
blindness and visual impairments. OSEP funds personnel preparation programs for teachers
of blind or visually impaired students, Braille teachers, and orientation and mobility
OSEP requires these personnel development programs to include curricula and coursework in Braille and Braille instruction.
B. Accessible Instructional Materials
OSEP also funds technology investments that promote the development, demonstration, and use of technologies that provide students with print disabilities equal access to the general education curriculum through collaboration with various industry, educational, and consumer collaborators. These funding opportunities are designed to help strengthen State and local capacity to meet the educational needs of children who are likely to experience vision loss later in childhood or early adolescence.
Additionally, OSEP supports several initiatives to promote timely access to accessible instructional materials for blind and visually impaired students. The National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) is a national repository that makes National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)6 files available for the production of print instructional materials in specialized formats. The NIMAC receives files in NIMAS format from textbook publishers, State educational agencies (SEAs) and local educational agencies (LEAs), and makes these files available for download in a variety of specialized formats, such as Braille, audio, or digital text, on behalf of elementary or secondary school students who are blind, are visually impaired, or have other print disabilities. Consistent with the IDEA requirements for SEAs and LEAs to make accessible instructional materials available to persons who are blind, are visually impaired, or have other print disabilities, all States must adopt NIMAS; however, SEAs and LEAs may choose, but are not required to, coordinate with the NIMAC in carrying out this responsibility.7
6 NIMAS describes the minimum standard that SEAs and LEAs must meet in order
to comply with their responsibility under the IDEA to provide instructional materials to blind persons or other persons with print disabilities. See sections 612(a)(23)(A), 613(a)(6), and 674(e)(4) of IDEA.
8 For further information about Bookshare, go to www.Bookshare.org. 9 See 20 U.S.C. §§101-106a (2009); See also www.aph.org for further information. SEAs and LEAs are encouraged to access Bookshare, an online, accessible, digital library that allows students to access a large and diverse collection of titles for school or pleasure reading including textbooks, literature, leisure reading, reference materials, newspapers, and magazines. Students can read multimodally (e.g., see and hear words as they are being read and highlighted) and download reading materials to be used with other technologies such as personal computers and cell phone devices.8 In 2007, Bookshare received a $32 million five-year grant from OSEP to provide free access for students with a qualified print disability.
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) provides a direct appropriation to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to produce and distribute books and other educational materials for students who are blind.
9 SEA representatives may order Braille textbooks from APH at no cost. In 2012, APH offered 955 unique products designed to assist with the education of students who are blind or visually impaired.
Braille is a very effective reading and writing medium for many blind and visually impaired persons, and research has shown that knowledge of Braille provides numerous tangible and intangiblebenefits.
10 Therefore, it is imperative that IEP Teams for blind and visually impaired students provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille for those students, unless, based on a thorough and rigorous evaluation, the IEP Team determines that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not
appropriate for a particular student. 10 Bell & Mino, op.cit.
We hope this information is helpful in clarifying the application of the IDEA requirements regarding Braille instruction for children who are blind or visually impaired. Thank you for your continued interest in improving results for children with disabilities.
Melody Musgrove Signature
Melody Musgrove, Ed. D.
Director, Office of Special Education Programs
Michael K. Yudin
Delegated the Authority to perform the functions and the duties of Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Obligatory RantWoman tirade and ramble:
RantWoman WISHES she had gotten to learn Braille in her youth. For one thing, why should anyone be the only kid in the room with a skill? For another, um, there's the matter of family medical history....
In any case, this is the text as of today; double check before relying on it.
The Queen of Spades takes grievous exception to RantWoman interrupting her service as warm cat furniture to propagate what is basically, in the end, an ad for a product the Queen of Spades has her humans trained to substitute with another brand. The only reason RantWoman has been permitted to post this is that RantWoman did NOT run off to Black Friday sales and did not even hold full available Dial-a-Tirade about several matters on her mind.
Good Human. Stay Calm Human. Heading into Cyber Monday. Good thing the human is broke AND the human's domaninant gizmo is BUSTED.
RantWoman may or may not follow this story enough to know how the lawsuit comes out and may or may not get around to articulating what all comes to mind about the incident. Basically, RantWoman thinks the teachers are right: the student will almost certainly face a lifetime of difficulty. HOWEVER, the student also deserves to have people in her court and teachers or counselors SHOULD definitely be in that category.
Rantwoman, WELL-stuffed after a huge repast, is celebrating the historic convergence of Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah by:
--emitting into the interwebs a hand-drawn traced hands turkey / menorah mashup?
--adding bunuelos to the Thanksgiving menu?
--turning a search engine loose to find 8 days of kosher and perhaps even fried turkey leftovers?
--meditating on the divergent tracks of several friends:
--One college housemate RantWoman would never have predicted converted to Orthodox judaism and posts holiday observation pictures all over social media.
--Another housemate who was raised Jewish at some point visted the South and fellin love with Biscuits and Gravy. RantWoman is not particularly a biscuits and gravy expert, but the thought of a kosher version seems almost impossible.
--A third former housemate writes of moments from her Jewish childhood and of now living in the Bible Belt
--a grad school colleague whose Hebrew was only a little better than RantWoman's who always graciously received whichever Hallmark holiday item in Hebrew RantWoman came up with
How about penning a short thank you to Adam Sandler. RantWoman never really thought about what Hanukkah means in either spiritual / historical or practical terms until Adam Sandler wrote a song about Hanukkah and socks.
RantWoman could almost swear she has heard a version of The hanukkah Song with some reference to socks, but not this rendition:
RantWoman can easily relate to feeling weird because of being different. For better or worse, over the years the Rant Family has also given each other a lot of socks for Christmas. In other words,we're practically related or something.
And still,RantWoman has NO intention of running out to shop either for anyone's holiday or for the imperatives of retail bottom line just now.
RantWoman is playing this wonderful Irish Gaelic version of "The Cups Song / You're gonna miss me when I'm Gone" in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination? The kennedys are Irish after all and keeping Irish Gaelic alive is awesome no matter who does it.
Um, no. It's nice the Cups Song showed up in RantWoman's media stream on the fiftieth anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination. But RantWoman is not really playing the Cups Song for the Kennedy Assassination.
RantWoman was two, probably still in diapers and learning to wear glasses when Kennedy was assassinated. RantWoman is doing the historical walkback along with everyone else. RantWoman is grateful the radio walkback included meetings with A Phillip Randolph and Cong. John Lewis, a speech before a Mexican American group in Dallas, and an excursion to visit Lee Harvey Oswald's days as a misfit in Minsk before he joined the ranks of the maladjusted with guns, an interview with the police officer handcuffed to Oswald when Oswald was shot.
A friend old enough to remember and to remember even her very Republican family being transfixed went with RantWoman on a telephone tour of the sights and smells of other searing circumstances: fierce hurricanes, the city of NY after 9/11, all the tear gas dumped in downtown Seattle during WTO. So RantWoman is not really thinking of the Kennedy Assassination. For both local public and personal reasons, RantWoman is thinking ahead a few days to the anniversary of two awful bus events years and awhole continent apart.
The first, as far as RantWoman knows in words, never mind RantWoman feeling a punch in the gut from hundreds of miles away, was all unfavorable physics and lousy visibility and Blind Roommate, 5 feet tall, crossing the street in front of a bus at dusk. Apparently, according to Blind Roommate's parents, unfavorable physics and perhaps engineering issues had occurred before in the same location, but there was no single malevolent actor attached to the tragedy. So now we just play the Cups Song, though if it were in Turkish, that might better fit Blind Roommate and her family.
The other bus episode on RantWoman's mind is the year a gunman fatally shot a bus driver on Seattle's Aurora Bridge and then shot himself. The bus plunged off the bridge and fatally injured another passenger.
Readers who need the full trauma spelled out are invited to use their own search engines, but here are some sample links:
Maybe it's not fair to rate bus drivers getting shot at by passengers right up there in memorial importance with the assassination of a President, but there are more bus drivers to shoot at than Presidents and it's still WAY too easy for misfits and the mentally ill to buy guns. So for today, play the Cups Song again for everyone who needs to be remembered, remember, and try to think about ways to keep mentally ill people from getting guns.
Interests: Digital Inclusion, Languages and language access, walkability, accessibility, disaster preparedness.
When in doubt, laugh about something!
PLEASE NOTE: I use both screen reading and screen enlargement. I would love to say Blogger is screen-reader friendly, but I am in no position to comment!