Cartwright, Stockman, and Takano Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address the Academic Needs of Students with Vision and Hearing Loss
Washington – This week, U.S. Congressmen Matt Cartwright, Steve Stockman, and Mark Takano introduced the bipartisan Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, named for two pioneers in the education of deaf and blind students. The legislation would improve educational outcomes for students with vision and/or hearing loss.
In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The Cogswell-Macy Act would strengthen existing IDEA provisions. The bill would ensure that students with vision and/or hearing loss are properly identified and served, regardless of whether they are categorized under a different disability; would strengthen existing IDEA requirements that states generate a strategic plan to guarantee that students with vision and/or hearing loss receive specialized instruction from qualified personnel; and would bolster accountability measures to ensure compliance.
“Upwards of 350,000 students are deaf or hard of hearing, and an estimated 100,000 have blindness or vision loss. Yet less than one-third of those students are reported as having those needs under IDEA. That is completely unacceptable,” said Rep. Cartwright. “This legislation would ensure that students with vision or hearing loss receive an equal and appropriate education and have access to vital services. I look forward to working with my colleagues to guarantee that all children can succeed and achieve their potential.”
“One-size-fits-all style education can put a damper on the future of the deaf and hard of hearing students and can all but extinguish any future available to them,” said Rep. Stockman. “This is why I support the Cogswell-Macy Act.”
“This much needed legislation will help hundreds of thousands of students who are currently falling in between the cracks, as the current system that was implemented nearly forty years ago fails to properly identify students who are hearing impaired or suffer from vision loss, especially if they also have another disability,” said Rep. Takano. “The legislation that we are introducing today would ensure that those students would receive the special instruction they need and are entitled to. I hope to see it move promptly through the House and the Senate and land on the President’s desk for his signature.”
The American Foundation for the Blind and Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf have endorsed the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, along with more than 50 other organizations.
"For almost 40 years, our special education law has guaranteed the right of kids who are blind or visually impaired to go to school just like everyone else, but what we haven't done yet is guarantee that the education those kids get once they get in the door meets all of their unique learning needs," said Mark Richert, Esq., Policy Director for the American Foundation for the Blind. "The promise we made decades ago to provide a truly appropriate education for all students with disabilities will only be honored for kids with vision loss once the reforms proposed in the Cogswell-Macy Act become the law of the land."
"The lack of convergence between word and action; research and practice; what truly works and what does not; and perception and reality has long plagued the deaf/hard of hearing child’s prospects for a quality, humane education and whole person development. Although the intent of IDEA is timeless, the low incidence populations of deaf and visually impaired children often have not been understood or well served,” said Ronald J. Stern, Ed.D., President of the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf. “The Cogswell- Macy Act will provide clarity as to how best meet the needs of these children and help them achieve their potential."
Press Release: https://cartwright.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/cartwright-stockman-and-takano-introduce-bipartisan-legislation-to
Discussion Draft 11/01/12 prepared byBarbara RaimondoGovernment Relations LiaisonConference of Educational Administratorsof Schools and Programs for t...