A Concurrent Resolution requesting the State Board of Education to conduct a state-
wide study of blind pupils to assess the literacy skills and reading speed levels of such
pupils and to implement a plan to remedy any deficits or declinations therein.

      WHEREAS,  Literacy skills continue to increase in importance and
relevance to employment security and to self sufficiency of Kansas citizens
and are particularly important in insuring that the coming generations of
Kansans who are blind or legally blind will be able to maintain employ-
ment and self-sufficiency; and

      WHEREAS,  Over the past decade, increased emphasis on main-
streaming and total inclusion has changed the manner and settings in
which many legally and totally blind Kansas students are educated; the
recently adopted reauthorization of the federal Individuals with Disabil-
ities Education Act (IDEA) places an expanded emphasis on the impor-
tance of Braille and literacy training for persons who are blind; and

      WHEREAS,  Data available in Kansas tracking the literacy levels of
blind students suggest that such literacy levels may be declining, but the
data have not to date been collected across sufficient samples of students
or through use of statistically valid procedures; advances in assistive tech-
nology allowing computer text to be easily, promptly, and efficiently trans-
lated into Braille, or into paperless Braille displayed on a tactile computer
display, makes Braille a more practical form of literacy for persons who
are blind than ever before; and

      WHEREAS,  It is essential for Kansas educators to be aware of any
deficits or declining trends in literacy or Braille literacy of blind Kansas
students in order that appropriate corrective actions can be planned and
taken, but no systematic enforcement of the Kansas Braille Law has been
implemented by the State Board of Education: Now, therefore,

      Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas,
the Senate concurring therein: That the Legislature, in recognition of
the facts contained in the preamble of this resolution, hereby requests
the State Board of Education to conduct, or cause to be conducted, a
state-wide study to assess the literacy and reading speed of blind pupils
and legally blind pupils on a grade level basis; such study should include
an assessment for each pupil as to whether the most effective and appro-
priate communications media, such as Braille or large print, are being
used; while any emotional, learning, mental, or physical disabilities ex-
perienced by blind or legally blind students should be noted, it is the
intent of this resolution that such multiply disabled blind students be
included in the study herein requested; and

      Be it further resolved: That by no later than January 31, 2000, the
State Board of Education, having evaluated data from the study requested
in the foregoing resolving clause, is urged to issue a plan with specific
dated milestones for purposes of correcting any deficits or declinations
in literacy or reading speed levels identified among blind Kansas students
as compared with their grade level sighted peers; and

      Be it further resolved: That the Secretary of State is hereby directed
to transmit enrolled copies of this resolution to the State Board of Edu-
cation and to the Commissioner of Education, 120 S.E. 10th Avenue,
Topeka, Kansas 66612-1182.

 Adopted by the House February 26, 1999.
Adopted by the Senate
March 30, 1999.