The Anne Sullivan Macy Act: An Even Better IDEA

Named for Helen Keller's beloved teacher, the Anne Sullivan Macy Act would strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and improve results for the more than 100,000 children and youth with vision loss, including those who also have additional disabilities. Key provisions of the legislation include:

  • Ensure that every student with vision loss is properly identified regardless of formal disability category or classification so that all students with vision loss, including those with additional disabilities, are counted and properly served.
  • Expand knowledge about the scope and quality of special education and related services provided to students with vision loss through refined data collection that tracks all students with vision loss, regardless of formal disability category or classification.
  • Expect states to conduct strategic planning, and commit such planning to writing, to guarantee that all students with vision loss within each state receive all specialized instruction and services needed by students with vision loss provided by properly trained personnel.
  • Clarify that proper evaluation of students with vision loss includes evaluation for students' needs for instruction in communication and productivity (including braille instruction, and assistive technology proficiency inclusive of low vision devices where appropriate); self-sufficiency and interaction (including orientation and mobility, self determination, sensory efficiency, socialization, recreation and fitness, and independent living skills); and age appropriate career education. Such instruction and services constitute the Expanded Core Curriculum, the body of services which teachers of students with visual impairments and related professions are expertly trained to provide.
  • Ramp up U.S. Department of Education responsibilities to monitor and report on states' compliance with their obligations with respect to instruction and services specifically provided to students with vision loss.
  • Assist parents and educators of students with vision loss through regular and up-to-date written policy guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Establish a national collaborative organizational resource, the Anne Sullivan Macy Center on Vision Loss and Educational Excellence, to proliferate evidence-based practices in the education of students with vision loss, to keep special educators current with the latest instructional methods, and to supplement state and local educational agency provision of the instruction and services constituting the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Visit www.afb.org/MacyAct for the complete legislative text.

For further information, contact:
Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy
American Foundation for the Blind
(202) 469-6833
MRichert@afb.net