RE: Proposed Regulations to Implement IDEA
WHEREAS, provisions for access to instructional materials were included in recently enacted legislation to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which was signed by President Bush on December 3, 2004, but as often occurs, ambiguity exists in the meaning of these provisions; and
WHEREAS, the Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services within the U.S. Department of Education conducted public meetings to gage the concerns of special education stakeholders regarding regulations for the newly enacted provisions of IDEA, in which the National Federation of the Blind, teachers of blind students, publishers, and other interested groups all articulated a consistent message about the nature of proposed regulations, the importance of defining “timely manner,” and the critical need for well-articulated requirements for the states that choose to opt out of coordination with the National Instructional Materials Access Center; and
WHEREAS, to ensure timely access to instructional materials for blind students, states that wish to opt out should be required to demonstrate their ability to provide materials to blind students in a timely manner without assistance from the center; and
WHEREAS, the notice of a proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on June 21, 2005, with a deadline for comments of September 6, and regulations proposed to give effect to the instructional materials access provisions are simply a restatement of the statutory language with all of its ambiguities left unresolved; and
WHEREAS, this gives the appearance if not the reality that blind children are being punished for the advocacy of blind adults who are striving to defend and maintain a critical rehabilitation system that has provided many of us the skills, confidence, and services we need to succeed: NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Arizona in Convention assembled this eleventh day of September, 2005, in the City of Phoenix, Arizona, that this organization condemn and deplore this attempt by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services within the Department of Education to establish watered-down regulations for access to instructional materials; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization take all possible action to achieve a final regulation on instructional materials access developed actually to provide blind students in elementary and secondary schools the timely access to instructional materials to which they are rightfully entitled.