Senate Bill No. 139
(By Senators Ross, Sharpe, Schoonover, Love and Helmick)
[Introduced January 25, 1996; referred to the Committee
on Education; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article ten-j, relating to
assuring that each blind student receives an individualized
braille literacy assessment and appropriate educational
services resulting therefrom; establishing standards of
proficiency and instruction; providing materials in a
computer-accessible format capable of braille reproduction;
and requiring the certification of teachers in accordance
with braille literacy standards.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter eighteen of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article ten-j, to read
ARTICLE 10J. BLIND PERSONS' LITERACY RIGHTS AND EDUCATION ACT.
§18-10J-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "Blind Persons' Literacy
Rights and Education Act."
§18-10J-2. Individualized planning and assessment.
In developing the individualized written education program
for each blind student, the presumption shall be that proficiency
in Braille reading and writing is essential for such student to
achieve satisfactory educational progress. The assessment
required for each such student shall include a Braille skills
inventory, including a statement of strengths and deficits.
Braille instruction and use are not required by this section if,
in the course of developing the student's individualized
educational program, all members of the team concur that the
student's visual impairment does not affect reading and writing
performance commensurate with ability. Nothing in this section
requires the exclusive use of Braille if other special education
services are appropriate to the student's educational needs. The provision of other appropriate services shall not preclude
braille use or instruction.
§18-10J-3. Standards of competency and instruction.
Instruction in Braille reading and writing shall be
sufficient to enable each blind student to communicate
effectively and efficiently with the same level of proficiency
expected of the student's peers of comparable ability and grade
level. The student's individualized education program shall
The results obtained from the inventory required under
(b)How Braille will be implemented as the primary mode for
learning through integration with other classroom activities;
(c)The date on which Braille instruction will commence;
(d)The length of the period of instruction and the
frequency and duration of each instructional session;
(e)The level of competency in Braille reading and writing
to be achieve by the end of the period and the objective
assessment measures to be used; and
(f)If a decision has been made under section two that
Braille instruction or use is not required for the student:
(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 student's ability to read and write effectively without
special education services is not impaired.
§18-10J-4. Instructional materials.
The state board of education shall require a publisher of a
textbook used in this state to furnish the users with computer
diskettes for literary subjects in the American standard code for
information interchange (ASCII) from which Braille versions of
the textbook can be produced. The publisher will furnish the
users with computer diskettes in ASCII for nonliterary subjects,
e.g., natural sciences, computer science, mathematics and music,
when Braille specialty code translation software is available.
(1)On the effective date of this article, the state board
of education shall appoint a commission to expedite the
implementation of this section. The commission shall be composed
of no more than twelve individuals nominated by the state
superintendent of schools from within or outside of the state,
including, but not limited to:
(A)Computer software developers;
(B)Producers of Braille textbooks;
(C)Specialists in Braille education;
(D)Representatives of the state education agency;
(E)Publishers of elementary and high school textbooks; and
(F)At least one consumer, or an advocate of consumers, of
(2)The superintendent shall appoint a chairman from among
the commission members.
(3)Public members of the commission shall serve at their
own expense and are not entitled to reimbursement by the state
for their participation in the commission's activities.
Representatives of a state agency shall be reimbursed from the
funds of that agency.
(4)The commission shall:
(A)Work with textbook publishers on the development of
processes for converting formatted text files to ASCII text files
needed for the production of Braille textbooks with translation
(B)Survey ongoing efforts in this state and elsewhere to
develop computer software needed for automated conversion of publisher text files to the ASCII format and recommend additional
software development projects, if needed. If additional
development efforts are needed, the commission shall work with
publishers and software developers to prioritize typesetting
system conversion efforts;
(C)Study the feasibility of implementing a process by which
textbook publishers can transmit computerized textbook ASCII data
files through modem communication directly to the computers of
organizations producing Braille textbook masters; and
(D)Study any other issues the commission determines are
relevant and necessary to the implementation of this subsection.
(5)The superintendent and the state board of education
shall report the commission's findings and a summary of their
activities to the Legislature.
§18-10J-5. Teacher certification.
As part of the certification process, teachers certified in
the education of blind and visually impaired student shall be
required to demonstrate competence in reading and writing
Braille. The state agency responsible for certifying such
teachers shall adopt procedures to assess such competencies which
are consistent with standards adopted by the national library service for the blind and physically handicapped, Library of
Congress, Washington, D.C.
As used in this article:
(a)"Blind student" 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 not greater
than twenty degrees; or
(2)Has a medically indicated expectation of visual
(b)"Braille" means the system of reading and writing
through touch commonly known as standard English Braille.
(c)"Individualized education program" means a written
statement developed for a student eligible for special education
services pursuant to section 602(a)(20) of Part A of the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. Section
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to assure that each blind student receives an individualized Braille literacy assessment
and appropriate educational services resulting therefrom; to
establish standards of proficiency and instruction; to provide
materials in a computer-accessible format capable of Braille
reproduction; and to requiring the certification of teachers in
accordance with Braille literacy standards.
Article ten-j, chapter eighteen is new; therefore,
strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.