Right to free and appropriate education

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) is the federal law that guarantees blind and visually impaired students the right to a free and appropriate public education.  The law specifies that each student must have an individualized education plan (IEP) and outlines the parents’ rights to be involved in the development of the IEP.

 

To learn more about IEP's, please check out the  video entitled No Limits: Literacy, Information Access, and Mobility, Keys to the Future for Blind Students at the following link:

https://youtu.be/HSf9RpjcpMM

For additional information on IDEA, visit the new IDEA web site and the Wrights Law web site. For additional information on how IDEA is being implemented in the State of Maryland, visit the Maryland State Department of Education web site. For additional resources visit the Maryland Disability Law Center web site.

Maryland Laws of Specific Interest to Blind and Visually Impaired Students

Maryland Literacy Rights and Education Act

The Maryland Literacy Rights and Education Act, enacted in 1992, guarantees the right to instruction in Braille reading and writing for blind and visually impaired students.  Students must have the opportunity to learn Braille even if they have partial vision.  It will be appropriate for some visually impaired students to learn to read both Braille and print. When determining if a student should learn Braille the IEP team must consider the students future literacy needs and whether the student has a medically indicated expectation of visual deterioration. Read the Maryland Literacy Rights and Education Act in MS Word format. For further reading on the Braille literacy issue, see the NFB's article "Braille, Print, or Both?".

Maryland's Standards for Instruction in Braille Reading, Writing, and Math

 

 

n h2010, HB 413 and SB 230 were enacted into law. This legislation instructs the Maryland State Department of Education to create standards in Braille reading, writing, and mathematics for students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. These standards must be created by September 1, 2012. Read HB 413 (section G) in MS Word Format or Read HB 413 (section G) in PDF Format

To see the actual standards:

Braille Standards

 

Maryland's Non-Visual Access to Instructional Technologies and Online Learning Laws

The State of Maryland has enacted several laws that provide non-visual access to instructional technology. In 2002, SB 226 was enacted into law. This legislation insures equivalent access for students with disabilities to the Technology for Education Program. This program is for students in elementary and secondary schools. Read SB 226 in MS Word format or PDF format.

SB 360 was enacted into law in 2005. This law requires all public institutions of higher education in Maryland to adopt non-visual access standards to online learning and the procurement of information technology by January 2007. Read SB 360 in MS Word format or PDF format.

In 2012, SB 674, concerning instructional technologies, was enacted into law. This legislation enhances the accessibility requirement that was established under the 2002 law by mandating the use of the same standards that measure accessibility under subsection (A)(2) of Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Read SB 674 in Word Format or PDF format.

In 2013, nonvisual access to instructional technologies and online learning for blind students in grades K-12 was also strengthened by the enactment of SB 461. This legislation established a mechanism to pay for the review of accessibility of courses before approval by the Maryland State Department of Education. Read SB 461 in MS Word format or PDF format.

Maryland's Non-Visual Access to Textbooks

HB 710 was enacted into law in 2006. This law contains provisions for the on-time delivery of accessible textbooks for blind and visually impaired students in elementary and secondary education. "Beginning on July 1, 2007, the Instructional Resources Center shall make reasonable efforts to provide the instructional materials in specialized formats to students who are blind or visually impaired for use on the first day of classes each year."  This law implements the accessible textbook provisions of the 2004 IDEA.

If you have questions about obtaining specific textbooks, send an email to MIRC@mdschblind.org.

 

Read HB 710 in MS Word format. or Read HB 710 in PDF format.

To read more about the implementation of this law go to COMAR (Code of Maryland Regulations) and read section .01 Textbooks and section .04 State Administration.

In 2007, SB268/HB1056 was enacted into law.  This law extends provisions for the on-time delivery of accessible textbooks to blind and visually impaired students in post-secondary education.  Beginning with the term in September 2008, the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will receive electronic files from publishers and coordinate their delivery to students. Read SB 268 / HB 1056 Word format or in PDF format.

Maryland Parental Rights in the IEP Process

 

Parents have the right to review assessments, reports and other educational documents five business days before an IEP is convened. Parents also have the right to receive a copy of the completed IEP five business days after the meeting. All documents must be provided in an accessible format. These rights are outlined in HB 269 and SB 540, which were enacted into law in 2010.  Read HB 269 in Word format. Read HB 269 in PDF format.

 

Parents have the right to request a copy of their child’s completed IEP or completed IFSP in their native language. The school district must provide the parent with the translated document within 30 days of the request. The school system is compelled to provide the translated documents to the parents as long as their native language is spoken by more than 1 percent of the student population in the school system. These rights are outlined in HB 86 which was enacted into law in 2016. Read HB 86 in Word format. Read HB 86 in PDF format.

 

Parents have the right to request an independent evaluation at public expense. The law stipulates the timeline and steps that the local school system must take when the parent makes such a request. This provision was enacted into law in 2018.  Read HB611 in PDF format.  Read HB611 in Word format.

 

Orientation and Mobility

In 2015, HB535 was enacted into law. This legislation instructs local school systems to regularly notify parents of blind and visually impaired students with written and oral notice of the availability of these services. The law also creates an assumption that all blind and visually impaired students should receive these services unless the IEP team determines that they are inappropriate for the child. Students cannot be denied orientation and mobility services just because they have some vision. The law also describes the type of input and information that should be included in an orientation and mobility assessment. Read HB535 in MS Word Format or HB535 in PDF format.

 

To read the assessment guidelines that implement this law, go to http://marylandpublicschools.org/programs/Documents/Special-Ed/TAB/18-03-OrientationMobility.pdf.       

 

 

On May 12, Governor Hogan signed HB535 Orientation and Mobility Instruction for Blind Children into law as Federationists looked on.

 

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