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The GAP Attorneys Blog

Meeting the needs of people with disabilities, their families, educators & service providers

Posts Tagged ‘visual impairment’

Current vision status does not determine need for Braille instruction

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Dear Colleague Letter, 61 IDELR 172 (OSERS 2013): The federal Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued a guidance letter clarifying that a blind or otherwise visually impaired student should not be denied instruction in Braille absent “a thorough and rigorous evaluation” that determines “that instruction in Braille would be inappropriate for that child.”  The IDEA requires instruction in Braille for blind and visually impaired students, unless the child’s current and future reading and writing needs indicate that such instruction is inappropriate.  Since the child’s future needs must be taken into account, a school district cannot rely exclusively on a child’s current vision status to deny Braille instruction.

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New York’s exclusion of noncustodial parent from definition of “parent” under IDEA does not violate due process or equal protection under Fourteenth Amendment

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Fuentes v. New York City Department of Education, 58 IDELR 212 (E.D.N.Y. 2012):  The plaintiff in this matter (the noncustodial parent of a visually impaired student) had previously brought an action on behalf of his son under the IDEA.  In that action, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately certified the question to New York’s highest court to determine whether the noncustodial father had standing to challenge the FAPE received by his son.  The answer was a matter of New York state law regarding the authority of noncustodial parents to make educational decisions.  The New York Court of Appeals held that “unless the custody order expressly permits joint decision making authority or designates particular authority with respect to the child’s education, a noncustodial parent has no right to ‘control’ such decisions.”  Consequently, the noncustodial father’s FAPE complaint was dismissed for lack of standing.

In the instant action, the noncustodial father filed a complaint in federal court on behalf of himself arguing that New York’s exclusion of a noncustodial parent from the definition of the term “parent” violated his due process and equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Applying a rational basis test, the Court concluded that it is rational to give such decision making power to one parent, especially in circumstances where a child’s parents are divorced and may disagree on such issues.

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Revocation of parental consent for IDEA services prevents student from receiving services under Section 504

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Lamkin v. Lone Jack C-6 School District, 58 IDELR 197 (W.D. Mo. 2012): The Court determined that when the parent of a student with cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, visual impairment, scoliosis, and osteoporosis revoked consent for the provision of services under the IDEA, the parent also in effect revoked consent for services under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  After having disagreed with the IEP team’s decision to place the student at a school for the severely disabled, the parent revoked consent for the provision of IDEA services, but requested accommodations under Section 504.  The school district did not violate Section 504 or the ADA when it rejected this request.

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Federal government enacts law to provide people with disabilities greater access to contemporary communication devices.

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the “Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act.”  The law provides individuals with disabilities greater access to contemporary technology devices, including mobile phones and apparatus equipped for video programming (such as televisions).

Highlights of the bill include requiring mobile phone providers to ensure that any mobile phones equipped with web browsers, text messaging, and e-mail are accessible to individuals with disabilities (and individuals with visual or hearing impairments in particular).  For example, internet-enabled mobile phones must be hearing aid compatible.  Additionally, television manufacturers, as well as television programming services, must ensure that their devices, programs, and services enable individuals with disabilities, but visually impaired individuals in particular, to access on-screen guides and menus, as well as emergency broadcast information.  The law now requires that certain video playback devices include features to allow for real-time audio description of various on-screen features, including program guides, menus, and emergency broadcast information.

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