This article may be cited as the "Blind Persons" Literacy Rights and Education Act."
The following words used in this article shall be construed as follows:
(a) "Blind or visually impaired child" 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 twenty 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" and "IEP team" have the meanings provided in Section 614(d) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(d)).
(d) "Textbooks and other instructional materials" means any literary or nonliterary works obtained for use in a course of study.
In developing the individualized education program for a child who is blind or visually impaired, the individualized education program team shall provide for the child to receive instruction in braille and the use of braille unless the individualized education program team determines, after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child's future needs for instruction in braille or the use of braille), that the instruction or use is not appropriate for the child. Nothing in this section requires the exclusive use of braille if other special education services are appropriate to the child's educational needs. The provision of other appropriate services shall not preclude braille use or instruction.
Instruction in braille reading and writing shall be provided with the goal of enabling each blind or visually impaired child to communicate effectively and efficiently with the same level of proficiency expected of the child's peers of comparable ability and grade level. The child's individualized education program shall specify:
(a) The results obtained from the evaluations required under section three of this article;
(b) How braille will be implemented as the primary mode for learning through integration with other classroom activities;
(c) The date on which braille instruction will commence;
(d) The length of the period of instruction and the frequency and duration of each instructional session;
(e) The level of competency in braille reading and writing to be achieved by the end of the period and the objective assessment measures to be used; and
(f) If a decision has been made under section two of this article, that braille instruction or use is not required for the child:
(1) Documentation that the decision was reached after a review of pertinent literature describing the educational benefits of braille instruction and use; and
(2) A specification of the evidence used to determine that the child's ability to read and write effectively without braille instruction is not impaired.
All publishers of textbooks or other instructional materials sold to the state or any local education agency (including post-secondary institutions) shall furnish computer diskettes for literary subjects in the American standard code for information interchange from which braille versions can be produced. Further, the publishers shall furnish computer diskettes in American standard code for information interchange for nonliterary subjects, including natural sciences, computer science, mathematics and music, when braille specialty code translation software is available.
As part of the professional certification process, teachers seeking to become certified in the education of blind and visually impaired children shall demonstrate competence in reading and writing braille. Before issuing a professional certificate to teach the blind and visually impaired, the West Virginia Department of Education shall require that the applicant demonstrate, based upon standards adopted by the national library service for the blind and physically handicapped, library of congress, Washington, D.C., that he or she is proficient in reading and writing braille. This requirement becomes effective July 1, 2000. Teachers already certified in the education of blind and visually impaired children are not required to demonstrate that proficiency in order to retain their certification. Further, the West Virginia Department of Education shall, on a schedule of at least once every three years, make available to all teachers of blind and visually impaired children a continuing education class in reading or writing braille or a college credit course in reading and writing braille, or both. In order to achieve successful completion of a course, a teacher shall demonstrate proficiency in reading and writing braille at a level commensurate with the standards adopted by the national library service for the blind and physically handicapped, library of congress.