Resolution 2009-01 Regarding Braille Literacy

         WHEREAS, literacy, the ability to read and write proficiently, is essential to effective communication, to highly skilled and highly paid employment, and to full participation in the life of ones community; and

WHEREAS, more than 70 percent of blind people nationwide are, but of those blind people who are employed, 85 percent or more use Braille in the workplace, demonstrating a clear relationship between literacy, confidence, and success; and

WHEREAS, in 1992, the Maryland Literacy Rights and Education Act, which requires that instruction in the use of Braille be offered to a child who is blind or vision impaired, became the law in Maryland; and

WHEREAS, although this law has caused more blind students to be introduced to Braille reading and writing, too many blind students do not receive enough instruction to use Braille effectively or efficiently, and thus these students never achieve literacy; and

WHEREAS, to promote accountability in education, Maryland created a state curriculum that consists of content standards to measure student achievement in core subjects, such as English, reading, and mathematics, but no standards in the state curriculum exist to measure student achievements in Braille reading and writing; and

WHEREAS, if reading and writing standards are necessary to promote greater achievement for students whose primary reading and writing medium is print, such standards are equally necessary for students whose primary reading and writing medium is Braille; and

WHEREAS, to meet the requirements of the Maryland Literacy Rights and Education Act, new standards for certification and re-certification of vision teachers were enacted, but these standards have not been updated for approximately fifteen years; and

WHEREAS, the certification and re-certification requirements for vision teachers should be reviewed and revised to take advantage of objective tools such as the National Literary Braille Competency Test, which measures an individual’s skill in Braille reading and writing: Now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Convention assembled this  15th day of November, 2009, in the City of Ocean City, Maryland, that we urge the Maryland General Assembly to amend the Literacy Rights and Education Act to instruct the Maryland State Department of Education to adopt content standards in Braille reading and writing by the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year to afford blind students the same opportunity to achieve literacy as their sighted peers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization urge the State Board of Education and the Professional Standards and Teacher Education Board to revise certification and re-certification requirements for vision teachers to ensure that blind students will be able to meet these Braille standards and attain literacy skills.