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Special Education Listserv

Subject: Guidance from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services on Braille Instruction

Source: Dr. Stephen Barr, Assistant Commissioner

Intended Audience: Special Education Directors, Special Education Instructors, Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Date: June 25, 2013

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services with the U. S. Department of Education have issued guidance reminding school districts of the importance of Braille instruction.  The guidance letter clarifies existing law and notes that 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.  IEP teams must ensure that the instructional time allotted for Braille instruction must be sufficient to provide the level of instruction appropriate for the child.  Consideration must be given to both current and future need for Braille instruction.  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, especially if they have a degenerative vision condition.  Districts are reminded that the evaluation of vision status and the need for Braille instruction should be thorough and vigorous and include certain components. Factors such as the shortage of trained personnel, the availability of alternative reading media, and the amount of time needed to provide a child with sufficient and regular instruction may not be used to deny Braille instruction to a child.    

The guidance letter expands upon the above summary and can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/index.html.