What is the UPBC?

The purpose of the organization is to create a climate of opportunity for blind children in home, school and society; to provide information and support to parents of blind children; to facilitate the sharing of experiences and concerns among parents of blind children; to develop and expand resources available to parents and their blind children; to help parents of blind children gain understanding and perspective through partnership and contact with blind adults; and to function as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children in their ongoing efforts to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against the blind and to achieve for the blind security, equality and opportunity.

The membership is open to parents of blind children, educators of blind children and others interested in promoting the purposes of this organization.

We are a division of the National Federation of the Blind which is the largest organization of the blind in the country. Refer to: http://www.nfb.org/

Utah Parents of Blind Children is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are Your Children's Books On Time?

We are approaching an exciting time of the year-- a new school year! Whatever grade your child is entering, whatever transitions they are making--it's vital that we as parents are advocating a and ensuring their needs will be met. You ask, isn't that what an IEP is for? Technically yes. But what about reality? What can you do at the beginning of the year?

The biggest and most recent complaint I have heard from parents is that their child's Braille and/or large print books are not available the first day of class or the same time as their sighted peers. This is of great concern to me on many levels. What message is it sending our kids? Is it limiting a child's ability to learn? Are they lagging behind academically due to this error?

What is the law?
There are protections in the law to prevent this situation. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA 2004), the most recent reauthorization of IDEA, reads:
… To ensure that children with disabilities who need instructional materials in accessible formats are provided those materials in a timely manner, the SEA must ensure that all public agencies take all reasonable steps to provide instructional materials in accessible formats to children with disabilities who need those instructional materials at the same time as other children receive instructional materials.

I urge parents to make a visit to their child's school to see if their books are available. If they are not, we would like to hear about it.

What are other things you can do to advocate?

Review your child's IEP goals. Be knowledgable about the goals, objectives, and service times. This will empower you, so you can feel comfortable talking to their teacher, TVI, O&M instructor, or special education director about how these will be implemented throughout the year. This might include discussing what days and times they will be pulling your child out of the classroom. Is it during Math? Reading? PE? Are they coming the times listed on the IEP? Some IEPS will list clump service time into one total rather than stating how many days of the week. If your child needs daily instruction, be specific.

Make sure your child's TVI is providing progress notes. This will help you know if they are making progress towards their IEP goals.

Talk to your child's teacher if there are any special accomodations (seating, written materials, testing, enlarged or Brailled worksheets, extended time, etc..) You might be surprised how many accomodations get overlooked because of the tremendous load teachers carry.

If you are able, offer to help your child's teacher in any way. This may be making extra large copies, coming in to adapt a Science experiment, educating the class about blindness.