Substitute House Bill No. 5531

Public Act No. 00-127

An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Braille Literacy Task Force.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (a) There is established a Braille Literacy Advisory Council which shall (1) review braille literacy and assess the availability of services for visually impaired children of school age, (2) collect data on the frequency with which an individualized education plan contains a recommendation or determination that a visually impaired child should not be taught braille and the reasons therefor, (3) evaluate the learning media assessments for visually impaired children and the need for a common standard for such assessments which shall be periodically reviewed, (4) develop a plan to attract qualified teachers for visually impaired children, (5) assess methods to improve coordination between the Board of Education and Services for the Blind and local education agencies which employ teachers of visually impaired children relative to braille instruction and the teaching of such children and the expansion of professional development programs for teachers of visually impaired children employed by said board and such agencies, (6) encourage local school districts to require vendors of school textbooks to provide electronic or braille versions of such books in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange format or other text-based computer accessible format in a timely fashion, and (7) review the caseloads and direct service time of teachers of visually impaired children employed by the Board of Education and Services for the Blind and teachers of such children employed by local education agencies, and assess the literacy of such children attending schools with such teachers.

(b) Said advisory council shall consist of the following members: (1) The Commissioner of Education or the commissioner's designee; (2) the executive director of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind or said director's designee; (3) one representative of the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut, appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate; (4) one teacher of visually impaired children employed by the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, appointed by the majority leader of the Senate; (5) one teacher of visually impaired children employed by a local education agency, appointed by the minority leader of the Senate; (6) one public school administrator, appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives; (7) one visually impaired public high school student who reads and writes braille, appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives; (8) one representative of the Connecticut Council of the Blind, appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives; and (9) one parent of a visually impaired child of school age enrolled in a public school, appointed by the Governor.

(c) All appointments to the advisory council shall be made no later than sixty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(d) The advisory council shall elect a chairperson from among its members, except that the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select the chairpersons for the first meeting of the advisory council. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the advisory council, which shall be held no later than ninety days after the effective date of this section.

(e) Any member who fails to attend fifty per cent of all meetings held during any calendar year shall be deemed to have resigned from office. Members of the advisory council shall serve without compensation.

(f) Not later than January 1, 2001, and annually thereafter, the advisory council shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, human services and appropriations and the budgets of state agencies.

Sec. 2. Not later than January 1, 2001, the Braille Literacy Advisory Council established under section 1 of this act shall submit a report to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to human services and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to aging on the necessity of establishing a task force to evaluate the unmet needs of adults who have low vision.

Sec. 3. (a) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind and the Department of Education shall submit a report to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and human services and to the Braille Literacy Advisory Council established under section 1 of this act on their efforts concerning the certification of teachers of the visually impaired.

(b) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Board of Education and Services for the Blind shall submit a report to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and human services and to the Braille Literacy Advisory Council established under section 1 of this act (1) on the amount of reimbursement requested by local education agencies for each pupil entitled to receive special educational instruction in accordance with the provisions of section 10-295 of the general statutes, and (2) concerning access to, and utilization of, uncharged support services, including professional development programs, by local education agencies on a per town basis.

Sec. 4. This act shall take effect from its passage.

Approved May 26, 2000