CHAPTER 237

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 218

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO BRAILLE LITERACY.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section I. Amend Chapter 2, Title 14, Delaware Code by adding thereto a new section, as follows:

1206 Braille Literacy Rights and Education

(a) 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 each student to achieve satisfactory educational progress. The assessment required for each student shall include a Braille skills inventory, including a statement of strengths and weaknesses. Braille instruction and its use are not mandated 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 exclusive use of Braille if other special education services are appropriate to the student's needs. The provision of other appropriate services shall not preclude Braille use or instruction.

(b) Instruction in Braille reading and writing shall be sufficient to enable each blind student to communicate effectively and efficiently with the same proficiency expected of the student's peers of comparable ability and grade level. The student's individualized educational plan shall specify:

(1) the results obtained from the inventory required in subsection (a) of this section;

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

(3) the date on which Braille instruction will commence;

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

(5) 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

(6) the evidence used to determine that the student's ability to read and write effectively without special education services will not be impaired if a decision has been made under subsection (a) of this section that Braille instruction or use is not required for the student.

(c) Each publisher of textbooks purchased by Delaware School Districts must, in addition to granting copyright permission for transcription into braille, large print or tape for visually impaired students as already established by law, must furnish to the Division for the Visually Impaired, a print copy, and when requested, with computer diskettes in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) from which Braille versions of the texts can be produced. The print copy is also required since the accompanying graphics must be reproduced by hand, and some subject matter, such as mathematics must still be hand transcribed.

(d) As part of the certification process, all newly certified teachers of the visually impaired, after enactment of this Act shall be required to demonstrate competence in reading and writing braille. The Department of Public Instruction which certifies teachers shall require proof of a passing score on the Library of Congress Braille Competency Test (when it is completed and validated), or any comparable, nationally recognized validated test. Until that time, the Department of Public Instruction will continue to certify teachers of the visually impaired through its existing standards. All newly hired teacher aides will be required to achieve certification as braille transcribers through the Library of Congress within 2 years of employment.

(e) In order to meet the instructional needs of blind students, the Division for the Visually Impaired shall hire an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired for every 28 students (or major fraction thereof) who are registered and receiving instruction from the Agency. At least 2 of these teacher units shall be 12-month employees in order to insure competent braille instruction during the summer months."

Approved July 14, 1995