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Update on the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act
NFADB is supporting the passage of the Alice Cogswell & Anne Sullivan Macy Act.
The process started with HR4040 in the 2014 Congress. The bill, introduced in Congress February 2014, was meant to reform education for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and for children who are blind or visually impaired. The educational needs of children with deaf-blindness were not specifically mentioned. Since then, the leadership of the National Coalition on Deaf-Blindness developed Title III to the Cogswell Macy Act. Title III includes:
• wording which designates intervener services in the “related services” listing
• wording which reflects the need for the recognition of and training for teachers of the deaf-blind
• wording which adapts the federal definition of deaf-blindness
• wording requiring each state to specifically address deaf-blind issues in the development of its state plan
Since HR 4040 never "went to committee" in 2014, the process had to be restarted all over again for the 2015 Congress. It was during this interim that the National Coalition added "Title III”, which focuses on deaf-blindness. The National Coalition is partnering with the American Foundation of the Blind, the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf and others to support the needs of all students with deafness, blindness and deaf-blindness. The hope is that this bill will become an amendment to the re-authorization of IDEA.
Thanks to the sponsorship of Republican, Congressman David McKinley (WV) and Democrat, Congressman Mark Cartwright (PA), the “Alice Cogswell-Anne Sullivan Macy Bill” will be introduced September 17th to the 2015 House of Representatives where it will receive a new bill number. The bill number will allow families to identify the bill by number when they begin to advocate. It will be important for families to advocate by educating members of the House and Senate about deaf-blindness and the significance of this legislation.
NFADB has a strong commitment to provide parents with the necessary information and tools needed to effectively advocate for the education of their children who are deaf-blind.
Our combined efforts will be compensated in the future when everyone, parents, professionals and Congressional representatives, are familiar with the needs of children who are Deaf-Blind.
For more details about the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, please see next page.
For more information on how a Bill turns into a Law, you can watch this fun and informative video:
Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act (DRAFT BILL)
Named for the first deaf student to be formally educated in the U.S. and for Helen Keller’s beloved teacher, respectively, the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act will strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to improve results for deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind children, including those with additional disabilities. Among other things, this Act will:
• Require states to identify, locate, and evaluate children who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind regardless of formal disability category or classification so that all of these students, including those with additional disabilities, are counted and properly served.
• Expand knowledge about the scope and quality of special education and related services provided to students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind through refined data collection that tracks these students, regardless of formal disability category or classification.
• Expect states to conduct strategic planning, and commit such planning to writing, to guarantee that all deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind students within each state receive all specialized instruction and services needed, provided by properly trained personnel.
• Enhance existing “special factors” provisions to ensure that they provide for: deaf and hard of hearing children’s language and communication needs and other unique learning needs; blind and visually impaired children’s needs related to the Expanded Core Curriculum, the body of services which teachers of students with visual impairments and related professions are expertly trained to provide; deaf-blind students’ need for language, communication, Expanded Core Curriculum, and other needs.
• Ramp up U.S. Department of Education responsibilities to monitor and report on states’ compliance with their obligations with respect to instruction and services specifically provided to students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind.
• Assist parents and educators of students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind through regular and up-to-date written policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
• Establish a national collaborative organizational resource, the Anne Sullivan Macy Center on Vision Loss and Educational Excellence, to proliferate evidence-based practices in the education of students with vision loss, to keep special educators current with the latest instructional methods, and to supplement state and local educational agency provision of the instruction and services of the Expanded Core Curriculum.