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Florida's Response to the National Agenda

Floridas Response to the National Agenda (Cover Letter) for the Education of Floridas Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities

This 2005 Florida Agenda has been developed by a statewide workgroup whose mission is to create a shared vision, an agenda, and an ongoing plan of action for Florida that closely aligns with the National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, including those with Multiple Disabilities. The workgroup consists of representatives from Florida Department of Education (FDOE), Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS), Florida State University Program for Visual Disabilities (FSU), Florida Families of Children with Visual Impairments (FFCVI), Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually Impaired (FIMC-VI), Florida Department of Health (DOH), Local Education Agencies (LEAs), Florida Outreach Project for Children and Young Adults who are Deaf-Blind (FOP), Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) and private sector service providers such as Lighthouse Central Florida, a community rehabilitation program.

The national project, which started in 1993, was developed through efforts of parents, professionals and persons with visual impairments. In 1994, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) adopted the National Agenda as a major project and formed committees to develop goal statements. A booklet was published describing the original eight goals and operational framework. In the foreword of the 1995 booklet Judith E. Heumann, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services noted that,

The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youth with Visual Impairments sets forth in clear and concise terms a vision and plan of action for the future of education of children who are blind or visually impaired, as well as those who have additional disabilities. In these tumultuous times, in which opinions abound concerning the best ways of implementing reform throughout all levels of our educational system, a document such as this shines forth like a beacon, establishing clear-cut, timely, and attainable goals toward which we all should strive.

The National Agenda encourages each state to organize itself into committees to carry out the goals within their state. In response to that charge, in 1997 Carol Allman of the FDOE developed the original Florida Action Plan which was closely aligned with the 1995 National Agenda. The Florida workgroup recently drafted a plan for addressing the revised 2004 National Agenda. This proposed plan will evolve and adapt as needed to address advancements and innovations in the field of visual impairments. The goal is to create a seamless collaboration of all Florida parents and professionals involved with the education of children with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities. The 2005 Florida Agenda has been designed with measurable outcomes that align with the K-20 (Kindergarten through Graduate School) FDOE Strategic Imperatives.

For more information on the National Agenda please go to the American Foundation for the Blind website at: http://www.afb.org/info/national-agenda-for-education/2.