by Paul Olson, NDVS/SB Superintendent
Those of us who have the pleasure of working in a field that is so important and impactful are blessed. We get to observe people of all ages overcome challenges and take on life in amazing ways. Sometimes, however, we are frustrated and disappointed by roadblocks and attitudes that continue to get in the way of success for students with visual impairment in school. Our North Dakota schools generally do a good job in supporting our students, but there are always situations where the appropriate resources, effort, and positive attitude are lacking. A couple of years ago I wrote the Bill of Rights for All Children and Their Families with Emily Coleman, the Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind.
It is so important that families and teams understand what it takes to ensure a free and appropriate public education. More importantly, it is essential that we all know what is truly needed to build success in school and life. Below is a shortened version of the Bill of Rights that we hope really speaks to parents. This version has less jargon. The original has many references on how important the Expanded Core Curriculum is for success. This short version is more about supporting parents as strong advocates with a positive attitude. Parents are the most influential and important members of a student’s team.
Bill of Rights for All Children and Their Families
1. My child deserves easy access to the right professionals expecting his success.
2. My child deserves an education based on his specific needs.
3. I deserve accurate information to make the best choices for my son, and access to professionals and organizations that can help.
4. My child with visual impairment deserves braille instruction.
5. I deserve to know about the unique skills needed for my son who is blind.
6. My child deserves additional blindness-specific instruction outside of standard coursework.
7. My child deserves all the same information as his peers, in whatever way he needs it.
8. I deserve to know about all school settings to have a voice in the placement decision.
9. My child deserves educators that will prepare him for the future.
10. My son deserves to be a kid first, and, like all kids, adds value to our lives and the lives of others.
For the full version of the Bill of Rights for ALL Children with Visual Impairment and Their Families. Visit www.aerbvi.org and look under resources or www.cosbvi.org and look under the tab titled News.
All of us at NDVS/SB wish you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. It will be a good year!