Imagine: you’re in school, trying to keep up with your classmates and learn the year’s lessons, and you don’t have your textbook yet. Weeks go by, then months, then finally–halfway through the school year–your books arrive. Imagine trying to learn how to read, but learning in a vacuum where you don’t have a literate teacher to guide you. These situations occur every day for blind and vision impaired students, where textbooks aren’t available in an accessible format at the beginning of the school year and qualified braille instructors aren’t always available.
In Mississippi, they are currently debating House Bill 960, which essentially guarantees Mississippi children the right to receive their textbooks on time in an accessible format and the right to have a braille-literate teacher help them learn the various braille codes (Contracted braille, Nemeth for mathematics, etc.) You can read the text of the bill and track its status at http://www.mygov365.com/legislation/view/id/4f4362fc49e51ba24a790400/tab/overEview/
Evidently, the Mississippi Senate has been revising the bill to make it less forceful–and thereby, less effective. As TVI Casey Robertson explains,
WE are in great need of support for a crisis in Mississippi. Recently HB960 was introduced to the Education Committee. We as members of Parents of Blind Children sat down with Mississippi Department of Education and Mississippi School for the Blind. We made compromises to include their thoughts and made an agreement on the bill that would go through house and Senate. It (HB960) passed the House Education Committee with the agreed upon changes. It passed Senate Education Committee without the agreed upon changes and weaker language. We need you to email our Representatives and Our Senators in support of HB960. This bill calls for competent braille teachers, text books on time, and aligns MS law with federal law when providing braille to low vision and blind students.
Please help us by listening to the video link below and then email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Help us show Mississippi that 50,000 plus blind people are interested in the education of blind and low vision students. Let them know we will not sit on the outside of the room while they decide the future of our kids.
Teacher of Blind Students M.ED NCLB
The video Robertson refers to in her comments is below:
Please take a few moments to email the Senators and Representatives of the State of Mississippi today to support the right of blind and visually impaired children in their state to receive an EQUAL education to their sighted peers.