Lowry signs Braille bill to help blind and low-vision students

OLYMPIA -- With unanimous legislative support, Gov. Mike Lowry today signed a bill to emphasize Braille reading and writing instruction in public schools for blind and low-vision students.

"I am delighted that this bill will help blind and low-vision students learn Braille in our school system," the governor said. "This instruction will increase literacy and the potential for blind students to pursue advanced education and employment opportunities."

Lowry promoted the legislation as part of his 1996 executive request package.

During the past 30 years, special education for blind and visually impaired students has shifted from teaching Braille to using other technologies, such as magnification equipment, audio-taped materials and computer equipment. But state analysts said blind and low-vision students using these methods were not developing critical skills in reading and writing.

House Bill 1078 requires that competent Braille instruction be emphasized as the primary learning media for blind and low-vision students, unless the nature of the student's disability or the parent or guardian prohibits it.

Lowry said the State Board of Education already has begun to establish teacher competency requirements for instructors of blind students, and plans to have the process completed by the time the new law takes effect in June.


For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790. This press release is available in Braille and large print formats.