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The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
NIH Neurological Institute
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Phone: (800) 352-9424
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333
Telephone: (800) 311-3435
Bacterial meningitis information: <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/ dbmd/diseaseinfo/meningococcal_g.htm
Viral meningitis information: <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/ revb/enterovirus/viral_meningitis.htm> TCB and Other State Agencies Await 2004-2005 Budget
By Terry Murphy, Executive Director,
Texas Commission for the Blind
The 78th Texas Legislature is underway. Predictions of a tight budget and potential cutbacks are now hard facts, and the Texas Commission for the Blind and other state agencies are busy providing information to the state’s decision-makers about our budget requests. The Commission’s legislative appropriations request for the 2004-2005 biennium reflects the agency’s dual responsibility of putting together a budget that recognizes the state’s limited financial resources yet honestly speaks to the cost and benefits of the vital services we provide. We asked for a technical change in TCB’s method of finance to ensure that Texas receives and maintains its full share of federal dollars allotted to the Vocational Rehabilitation Program; a conservative increase in general revenue for the Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program; and a small but essential increase in the number of authorized employees for the Children’s and Independent Living Programs.
We’ve been busy explaining to legislators that the state’s program for children with visual disabilities is still a critically needed resource. No other program in Texas works with children who are blind and their families like we do on a one-to-one basis to help parents understand blindness and explore how it relates to their child’s individual capabilities now and in the future. The number of children with severe visual impairments is expected to increase through the next budget cycle, and based on population data and the Texas Education Agency Registration Report for students receiving special education services because of a visual impairment, more than 650 additional children could benefit from comprehensive vocational discovery and development services this coming year.
It will be difficult for the agency to serve more children without the four additional blind children’s specialists we’ve included in the budget. At this point, it appears that adding more personnel to state government for increased services is not a legislative priority, but we are hopeful that the benefits of being able to serve more children who are blind will become clear to legislators as we move forward in the session.
At the time the last See/Hear newsletter was written, we had not yet completed the 2002 fiscal year. The Commission once again achieved all its major goals. We provided transition services to 1,167 blind students out of our vocational rehabilitation budget, and provided habilitation services to 7,294 children with state funds during the year. Our Vocational Rehabilitation Program served 9,985 individuals, and we provided independent living services to 4,523 individuals, most of whom were senior citizens. In round numbers, we were directly involved with approximately 23,000 Texans last year in various ways as they moved, with our assistance, toward more fulfilling and independent lives. This number doesn’t include the more than 17,000 people who received screening services and 211 people who received treatment services for potentially blinding eye conditions with funds allocated to the agency for its Blindness Education, Screening, and Treatment Program from donations to the Texas Department of Transportation during drivers license renewals.
Although these statistics are a regular and necessary part of our reporting responsibilities every year, the actual results of our services are far more exciting and meaningful to talk about
than numbers. I’m still smiling about some of the comments made during a recent “graduation” ceremony at Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center. One young woman thanked the staff for their constant encouragement at a time when she lacked confidence in herself that she could read braille. Another thanked the staff for the adaptive office skills she had learned, which had already landed her a new job. These and thousands of others just like them are the real stories behind our budget request.
It will be a while before we know what resources we will have for the next two years to provide services. I can promise you right now, however, that we’ll spend wisely every penny we do receive in our mission to work in partnership with blind and visually impaired Texans to reach their goals.
The National Agenda
(Continued from Fall, 2002 SEE/HEAR)
Introduction by Phil Hatlen, Superintendent,
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
One of the wonderful blessings of my chosen career has been the opportunity to work as a partner with parents of blind or visually impaired children. When I first began as a teacher, it took me several years and some difficult experiences before I came to realize that, without parents as partners, my efforts with their children were not very effective. But when I came to realize that no one knows children better than their parents, that their experiences and knowledge bring an invaluable component to the process of children’s learning and growing—only then was I able to embrace the concept of partnerships with parents.
The National Agenda (NA) originated with the concept that parents and professionals must work together to improve educational opportunities for blind or visually impaired students. And thus did Donna Stryker (a very wise and gifted parent) and I become co-chairs of the National Agenda.
As the NA gained momentum, as its impact began to be felt throughout the country, as Donna and I found ourselves working closely together on many occasions, my commitment to the partnership of professionals and parents was significantly strengthened. Together, Donna and I accomplished much more than we might have been able to do individually. I found myself learning something new from her on every occasion we were together, and Donna’s passion for the role of parents in education was (and is) a powerful thing to behold.
Please read on as Donna Stryker describes her role and commitment to the National Agenda.
The National Agenda – A Parent’s Perspective
By Donna Stryker, Parent, Las Cruces, NM
For the past 8 years or so since Phil Hatlen asked me to co-chair the National Agenda I have had the opportunity to watch miracles happen.
Miracles are not always fishes and loaves, or the parting of a large body of water. Miracles occur when everyday folks work on great plans and bring them to a reality.
The miracles I have seen as a parent are a set of goals that a group of dedicated people actually agreed upon that would affect forever the way a child who is visually impaired or blind, including those with multiple impairments, would be able to learn.
The miracle of a number of states across this county that embraced the notion that students with visual impairments learn differently and need “equal yet different” services in order to learn to the best of their ability.
The miracle of parents and professionals operating as true partners within the National Agenda to such a degree that many of the existing projects within AFB (American Foundation for the Blind), AER (Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind & Visually Impaired), APH (American Printing House for the Blind) are as a result of the belief that the National Agenda is the change agent in educating children with visual impairments. Goals that address training teachers of the visually impaired, ensuring the right of full participation and partnership of parents, early referral, on-going professional development, full array of placement options, access to materials (The Instructional Materials Accessibility Act is a direct result of the National Agenda), expanded core curricula, etc., are all miracles in progress as the impact of the National Agenda results in dramatic changes.
As a parent of a college student, I have seen my son benefit from the “miracle” of the National Agenda. When the National Association of State Directors of Special Education collaborated with parents, professionals, and consumers to produce a set of guidelines for administors who may or may not have had experience with a blind or visually impaired student I had the document I needed to help my local district understand the differences in the way my son learned.
There are many more pages of examples I could share about how the National Agenda is a miracle to me, but suffice it to say that in this time of fear from outside sources, in this time of rethinking of our personal and professional priorities, in this time of getting back to basics within our families, whether that be our sons and daughters or extended families of friends, teachers, professionals that touch our lives daily and the lives of our children…The National Agenda has made a difference, is a miracle of people working together toward a common goal that they believe in their heart of hearts to be of great importance. And is of great importance—just ask a parent who is able to help a teacher understand why a book in their child’s hands at the same time as their sighted peers is important. That is the miracle of the National Agenda.
What’s Looming Ahead? A Legislative Update
By Colleen Horton, Texas Center for Disability Studies
Reprinted with permission from
Texas Parent to Parent Newsletter, Fall, 2002 (Vol. 1, Issue 1).
It’s hard to believe, but in a few short months, Texas legislators will be meeting in Austin to contemplate again the myriad of issues that come before them. Included in that massive bundle will be issues that directly affect the lives of our children with disabilities. Some of the legislation that will be proposed will be good and could help to improve the lives of our children. Other legislation could further reduce a family’s ability to access services. All of the legislation that involves our children requires our attention.
Adequate funding for community services is the critical component in supporting families, yet many legislators do not consider this a priority. This isn’t necessarily due to a lack of concern, but is often due to a lack of awareness. Think of our lives before we had children with disabilities. Funding Medicaid waiver services was not something that kept us awake at night…I would venture to guess that most of us never knew Medicaid waivers existed.
Legislators often don’t know the reality and the urgency of the need to support families caring for children with disabilities. Most have never had any personal experience that would make them aware. It is our responsibility – yours and mine – to invest time and energy to make them understand our strong commitment to care for our children at home and the challenges that commitment often presents. It is our responsibility to talk to them about our lives and the lives of our children. It is up to us to make sure they understand that not supporting children in families only costs the state more when families are forced to institutionalize their children because they can’t get the help they need.
Legislators will make many decisions that will affect the course of the lives of our kids. They have a lot to learn and we are the experts that must teach them. Now is the time to start gearing up to do your part to improve the way our state supports children and families. Here are some things that you can do:
• Connect with other parents in your local community – advocacy work is always easier when not done alone.
• Get connected with disability organizations that can keep you up-to-date on the issues.
• Get some advocacy training for your local network to help alleviate some of the discomfort that often accompanies new adventures.
• Find out who your representative and senator are and contact their staff.
• Make an appointment to visit them and let them know that you will be keeping in touch throughout the legislative session. Remember, they work for you.
When action alerts are sent out requesting that families contact legislators on an issue, the need is very real. Make a commitment that you will respond. Every letter, every phone call, every email, and every fax is counted when legislators make their decisions. If they don’t hear from us, we have no right to complain about their decisions.
Announcing SibKids and SibNet Listservs
The Sibling Support Project of the Arc of the US is pleased to announce SibNet and SibKids. SibNet and SibKids are the Internet’s only listservs for and about brothers and sisters of people with special health, developmental, and emotional needs.
Both SibKids (for younger brothers and sisters) and SibNet (for older siblings) allow brothers and sisters an opportunity to connect with their peers from around the world. Both listservs have members from the US, Canada, Australia,
England, Japan and elsewhere. SibNet (started in 1996) and SibKids (started in 1997) are remarkably warm, thoughtful, and informative communities where young and adult brothers and sisters share information and discuss issues of common interest.
Anyone who has email can subscribe to SibKids and SibNet. For a no-cost subscription and to learn more about SibKids and SibNet, please visit the Sibling Support Project’s Web Page:
|A quarterly newsletter about visual impairments and deafblindness for families and professionals a collaborative effort of the Texas School for the Blind and||LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired|
|Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired||California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired|
|Providing Learning Support for Blind and Visually Impaired Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities||Michigan commission for the blind staff present|
|The Hadley School for the Blind est. 1920||Abbott, J. C., K. W. Stewart, and S. R. Moulton, II. 1997. Aquatic insects of the Big Thicket region of East Texas. Texas Journal of Science 49: 35-50|
|Texas a & m university Central Texas||Texas a&m university – central texas|