Report Title:

Visually impaired children; Braille instruction.



Requires the incorporation of braille training into the individual education program of blind or visually impaired students.



H.B. NO.









relating to education.



SECTION 1. The legislature finds that it is crucial to ensure that the individualized education program of each blind or visually impaired child includes provisions for instruction in braille and the use of braille appropriate to the child's current and future literacy needs. Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to:

(1) Establish standards of braille proficiency and instruction;

(2) Require materials to be provided in a computer-accessible format capable of braille reproduction; and

(3) Require the certification and recertification of teachers in accordance with braille literacy standards.

SECTION 2. Chapter 302A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"Part . Braille instruction

302A- Definitions. Whenever used in this part, unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context:

"Blind or visually impaired child" means an individual who is eligible for special education services and who:

(1) Has a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses or has a limited field of vision such that the widest diameter subtends an angular distance of no greater than twenty degrees; or

(2) Has a medically indicated expectation of visual deterioration.

"Braille" means the system of reading and writing through touch commonly known as standard English braille.

"Individualized education program" and "IEP team" have the meanings provided in section 614(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C., section 1414(d).

"Textbooks and other instructional materials" means any literary or nonliterary works obtained for use in a course of study.

302A- Braille intruction required. In developing the individualized education program for a child who is blind or visually impaired, provisions shall be made 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 a determination of an appropriate reading and writing medium for the child, including an evaluation of the child's future needs for instruction in braille or the use of braille, that such instruction or use is not appropriate for the child. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the exclusive use of braille if other special education services are appropriate to the child's education needs. The provision of other appropriate services shall not preclude braille use or instruction. If a decision has been made during evaluations conducted pursuant to this section that braille instruction is not required for the child, the following shall be provided:

(1) A statement that the decision was reached after a review of pertinent literature describing the educational benefits of braille instruction and use; and

(2) A specification of the evidence used to determine that the child's ability to read and write effectively without special education braille instruction is not impaired.

302A- Standards of competency and instruction. Instruction in braille reading and writing shall be sufficient to enable each blind or visually impaired child to communicate effectively and efficiently with the same level of proficiency as is expected of the child's peers of comparable ability and grade level. The child's individualized education program shall include or incorporate the:

(1) Results obtained from evaluations required under this part;

(2) Manner in which braille will be implemented as the primary mode for learning through integration with other classroom activities;

(3) Date on which braille instruction will commence;

(4) Length of the period of instruction and the frequency and duration of each instruction session; and

(5) Level of competency in braille reading and writing to be achieved by the end of the period and the objective assessment measures to be used.

302A- Instructional materials. All publishers of textbooks or other instructional materials sold to the State or any local education agency shall furnish computer diskettes for literary subjects in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) from which braille versions can be produced. Publishers shall also furnish computer diskettes in ASCII for nonliterary subjects including natural sciences, computer science, mathematics, and music when braille specialty code translation software is available.

302A- Certification. As part of the certification and renewal process, teachers certified in the instruction of blind and visually impaired children shall be required to demonstrate competence in reading and writing braille. The state agency responsible for such teachers may not issue or renew a license to teach the visually impaired unless the applicant demonstrates, based on standards adopted by the National Library Service of the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress, that the applicant is proficient in reading and writing braille."

SECTION 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.