Information Update Bulletin 01.01

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January 2001

TO:District Administrators, CESA Administrators, CCDEB Administrators, Directors of Special Education and Pupil Services, and Other Interested Parties
FROM:Mike J. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy
SUBJECT:Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students; Policy Guidance

In May 1998 Information Update Bulletin #98.04 was issued, titled "Policy Guidance Regarding the Provision of Appropriate Education Services to children who are Blind or Visually Impaired and the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youth with Visual Impairments, including those with Multiple Disabilities." This bulletin enclosed Memorandum 96-4, issued in November 1995, from the United States Department of Education. On June 8, 2000, the U.S. Department of Education issued an update of this document, as part of the Federal Register/Vol. 65, No. 111, titled Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Students; Policy Guidance in order to reflect the statutory provisions added by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) amendments of 1997. The intent of this bulletin is to alert you to the new policy guidance document and highlight changes.

The policy guidance addresses important areas that were clarified by Congress in its reauthorization of IDEA 1997 regarding public agencies' responsibilities in educating students who are blind and visually impaired. It addresses the requirements regarding instruction in Braille. Also, it adds orientation and mobility as a "related service." Assistive technology also is given a special emphasis.

Acknowledging that the children who receive special education and related services due to blindness or visual impairments are an extremely diverse population, the policy guidance gives background information and examples of the variety of needs of these students.

We urge you to read this document and share it with others who have an interest in the education of children who are blind or visually impaired. You can access this document at the following internet location: http://www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/other/2000-2/060800a.pdf.

For questions about this information, contact Stacy Grandt 608-758-6145.