Senate Bill No. 409
(Senators Hunter, Helmick and Ross, original sponsors)
[Passed March 13, 1998; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT 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
requiring that the individualized education program of each
blind or visually impaired child include provisions for
instruction in braille and the use of braille appropriate to
the child's current and future literacy needs; 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".
The following words used in this article shall be construed
(a) "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
(b) "Braille" means the system of reading and writing
through touch commonly known as standard English braille.
(c) "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)).
(d) "Textbooks and other instructional materials" means any literary or nonliterary works obtained for use in a course of
§18-10J-3. Individualized education program.
In developing the individualized education program for a
child who is blind or visually impaired, the individualized
education program team shall provide for the child to receive
instruction in braille and the use of braille unless the
individualized education program team determines, after an
evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills, needs, and
appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of
the child's future needs for instruction in braille or the use of
braille), that the instruction or use is not appropriate for the
child. Nothing in this section requires the exclusive use of
braille if other special education services are appropriate to
the child's educational needs. The provision of other
appropriate services shall not preclude braille use or
§18-10J-4. Standards of competency and instruction.
Instruction in braille reading and writing shall be provided
with the goal of enabling each blind or visually impaired child
to communicate effectively and efficiently with the same level of
proficiency expected of the child's peers of comparable ability
and grade level. The child's individualized education program
(a) The results obtained from the evaluations required under
section three of this article;
(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 achieved 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 of this
article, that braille instruction or use is not required for the
(1) Documentation 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 braille
instruction is not impaired.
§18-10J-5. Instructional materials.
All publishers of textbooks or other instructional materials
sold to the state or any local education agency (including post- secondary institutions) shall furnish computer diskettes for
literary subjects in the American standard code for information interchange from which braille versions can be produced.
Further, the publishers shall furnish computer diskettes in
American standard code for information interchange for
nonliterary subjects, including natural sciences, computer
science, mathematics and music, when braille specialty code
translation software is available.
§18-10J-6. Teacher certification and training.
As part of the professional certification process, teachers
seeking to become certified in the education of blind and
visually impaired children shall demonstrate competence in
reading and writing braille. Before issuing a professional
certificate to teach the blind and visually impaired, the West
Virginia department of education shall require that the applicant
demonstrate, based upon standards adopted by the national library
service for the blind and physically handicapped, library of
congress, Washington, D.C., that he or she is proficient in
reading and writing braille. This requirement becomes effective
the first day of July, two thousand. Teachers already certified
in the education of blind and visually impaired children are not
required to demonstrate that proficiency in order to retain their
certification. Further, the West Virginia department of
education shall, on a schedule of at least once every three
years, make available to all teachers of blind and visually
impaired children a continuing education class in reading or writing braille or a college credit course in reading and writing
braille, or both. In order to achieve successful completion of
a course, a teacher shall demonstrate proficiency in reading and
writing braille at a level commensurate with the standards
adopted by the national library service for the blind and
physically handicapped, library of congress.