National Federation of the Blind of Florida

 

RESOLUTION 2002-2

 

Concerning Braille Literacy and the FCAT

 

WHEREAS, Braille is the means through which blind persons achieve literacy; and

 

WHEREAS, statistics show that blind persons who are proficient in Braille have a higher employment rate than those who are not; and

 

WHEREAS, in order to achieve literacy, sighted children are introduced to reading and writing print very early in their education; likewise, blind children will become literate only through serious and ongoing instruction in reading and writing Braille; and

 

WHEREAS, the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) is a statewide test, given to public school students, including those who are blind, which measures the knowledge and skills students are expected to acquire between grades K and 12; and

 

WHEREAS, Governor Jeb Bush has appointed a Blue Ribbon Task Force which will make recommendations regarding the expanding of accommodations for handicapped students taking the FCAT, and will present its recommendations to the Florida Board of Education no later than October 1, 2002; and

 

WHEREAS, blind students taking the FCAT already have in place certain accommodations, such as the use of Braille for writing and/or reading the test instead of print, extra time in which to finish the test, and the use of talking calculators where regular calculators are permitted; and

 

WHEREAS, in an article in the April 21, 2002 St. Petersburg Times, written by Associate Editor Martin Dyckman, and entitled “FCAT Should Oblige Disabled”, Braille is referred to as “cumbersome and outmoded in today’s world of talking computers”:  Now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Florida, in convention assembled, this twenty-seventh day of May, 2002, in the city of Boca Raton, Florida, that the NFBF continue to speak out in favor of, and work diligently on behalf of, Braille literacy as a vital tool in the lives of many blind children and adults; and                

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon all those involved with the education of blind children in the state of Florida and the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force to uphold the tenets of the State of Florida Blind Persons Literacy and Education Act of 1993 (Chapter 233.0561 F.S.), and also of the Federal Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA), final regulations, May, 1999, Section 300.346 (a)(2)(iii); and                  

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we further urge the Blue Ribbon Task Force to weigh carefully the difference between fair accommodations and lowered expectations; and

                      

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we call upon this same task force to ensure that, for students who have the ability to read and write Braille, this format, with which they are familiar and comfortable, will continue to be recommended and readily made available for taking of the FCAT; and                   

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to:

 

The Honorable Governor Jeb Bush

 

The Honorable Charlie Crist, Commissioner

Department of Education

 

The Honorable Jim Horn, Secretary

Department of Education

 

Jan Rouse

Chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Task Force

 

Martin Dyckman of the St. Petersburg Times, author of the afore-mentioned article