(1) The Department of Education may establish a coordinating unit and instructional materials center for visually impaired students and deaf or hard-of-hearing students to provide staff and resources for the coordination, cataloging, standardizing, producing, procuring, storing, and distributing of braille, large print, tangible apparatus, captioned films and video tapes, and other specialized educational materials needed by these students and other exceptional students. The coordinating unit shall have as its major purpose the improvement of instructional programs for visually impaired students and deaf or hard-of-hearing students and may, as a second priority, extend appropriate services to other exceptional students, consistent with provisions and criteria established, to the extent that resources are available.
(2) The unit shall be operated under rules adopted by the State Board of Education.
(3) As used in this section, the term: (a) “Blind student” means a student 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) 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) 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.