Section 233.0561, Florida Statutes 2001
233.0561 Literacy; blind persons.--
(1) SHORT TITLE.--This act may be cited as the "Blind Persons' Literacy and Education Act."
(2) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.--The Legislature recognizes that literacy is the foundation upon which students become employable, productive, and responsible citizens. The Legislature further recognizes that literacy is important for all students, regardless of their visual abilities. It is the intent of the Legislature that the provisions of this section be broadly construed to apply to elementary and secondary students, as well as adult basic, adult secondary, and vocational education students.
(3) DEFINITIONS.--As used in this act, the term:
(a) "Blind student" means an individual who is eligible for special education services and who:
1. Has a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses or has a limited field of vision such that the widest diameter subtends an angular distance of no greater than 20 degrees; or
2. Has a medically indicated expectation of visual deterioration.
(b) "Braille" means the system of reading and writing through touch commonly known as standard English braille.
(c) "Individualized education program" means a written statement developed for a student eligible for special education services pursuant to s. 602(a)(20), Part A of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. s. 1401(a).
(4) INDIVIDUALIZED PLANNING AND ASSESSMENT.--In developing an individualized written education program for each blind student, the presumption shall be that blind students can communicate effectively and efficiently with the same level of proficiency expected of the students' peers of comparable ability and grade level. Accordingly, proficiency in reading and writing braille shall be considered during the individualized planning and assessment processes in this context.
(5) INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS.--After July 1, 1994, any publisher of a textbook adopted pursuant to the state instructional materials adoption process shall furnish the Department of Education with a computer file in an electronic format specified by the department at least 2 years in advance that is readily translatable to braille and can be used for large print or speech access. Any textbook reproduced pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall be purchased at a price equal to the price paid for the textbook as adopted. The Department of Education shall not reproduce textbooks obtained pursuant to this subsection in any manner that would generate revenues for the department from the use of such computer files or that would preclude the rightful payment of fees to the publisher for use of all or some portion of the textbook.
(6) TEACHER CERTIFICATION.--Effective July 1, 1994, as a part of the certification process, teachers certified in the education of blind and visually impaired students shall be required to demonstrate competence in reading, writing, and teaching braille pursuant to standards adopted by the Department of Education, comparable to the braille reading and writing standards adopted by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The department shall ensure that teachers of students with visual impairments have access to inservice instruction for the purpose of updating their braille skill competence.
History.--s. 1, ch. 93-173; s. 12, ch. 97-307.