Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Educational Opportunities for Children with Communications Disabilities

by B. E. Lewis, RDPFS Intern:

Legislation framed to strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act, has been reintroduced in Congress. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), along with Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and John Rutherford (R-FL-05), announced the reintroduction of the bill. The Cogswell-Macy Act would ensure that blind, deaf, deafdisabled, hard of hearing, and deafblind children receive the specialized, professional educational services and support they need to learn and flourish. Named for Alice Cogswell, the first deaf student to be educated formally in the U.S., and Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller’s renowned teacher, the legislation would enhance “services and educational opportunities,” requiring specialized instruction and personnel to meet students’ individual needs. The bill also calls for improving accountability for services provided. Among its provisions, states must identify and evaluate children who have hearing or vision loss so that they receive the appropriate resources. In addition, written policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Education should be distributed regularly to help parents and educators stay informed and up to date. The Act also calls for the establishment of a national organization to disseminate research-based practices supporting continued professional education of teachers of students with visual impairments and related services personnel. In addition to support from members of Congress, the legislation is championed by more than 100 organizations and schools. For more details, read the news releases from Senator Markey entitled “Markey, Capito Announce Bipartisan Bicameral Legislation Calling for Expanding Educadtional Opportunities for Children with Communications Disabilities” and from Senator Capito: “Capito Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Help Children with Hearing and Vision Disabilities.”  Additional information can be found also on the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act website. Read the full text of the Act here for the Senate Bill S. 2945 and here for the House Bill HR 5748.