National Coalition on Deafblindness Works on a Bill Designed to Better Support Individuals who are Deaf-Blind

The Executive Committee of the National Coalition on Deafblindness has been working to include language related to the education of children and youth with deaf-blindness in federal legislation, H.R.4040, Alice Cogswell and Anne Macy Sullivan Act (named for the first deaf student to be formally educated in the U. S. and the beloved teacher of Helen Keller).

This bill, introduced in Congress last February, was meant to reform education for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and for children who are blind or visually impaired.  The educational needs of children with deaf-blindness were not specifically mentioned.   

During the past few months, the coalition has been working with H.R. 4040 leaders Mark Richart and Barbara Raimondo to include language related to deaf-blindness.  The Coalition has recently submitted that language to them as Title III of the Act.  They will review and edit this section and submit it to their congressional sponsors and cosponsors for approval to be added to the original text of H.R. 4040.  In addition to addressing the educational needs of children with deafdblindness, Title III includes:

  • wording which designates intervener services in the “related services” listing
  • wording which reflects the need for the recognition of and training for teachers of the deaf-blind
  • wording which adapts the federal definition of deaf-blindness
  • wording requiring each state to specifically address deaf-blind issues in the development of its state plan                                       

This legislation, with the deaf-blind language added, will be reintroduced to Congress in early 2015.  You can read more here about H.R.4040 – Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act.  Once the text of Title III has been reviewed and edited, information will be shared about those updates and how you can support the bill.