Special-Education Column

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Translating textbooks into braille for visually impaired students can be costly and time consuming. In Kentucky, the state department of education has been able to overcome both of those obstacles thanks to two groups of volunteers trained in the use of braille-writing machines.

The two groups--the Lexington Braille Guild and the Lexington Educational Aids Workshop, prepare braille materials for visually impaired students in public and private schools upon request, according to Julia French of the education department.

Ms. French said the only expense incurred by the schools is the cost of the special paper required in the preparation of translated materials that include science and mathematics textbooks, special diagrams, and charts. "We wouldn't know where to begin to look" for the service the two groups provide, she said.

According to Ms. French, the Lexington Braille Guild also accepts requests from schools and individuals outside the state.

The National Association of Blind Teachers says that although as many as 2,000 visually impaired teachers work in the nation's postsecondary, secondary, and elementary institutions, locating those teachers has been a slow and painstaking process.

After two years of work coordinating just such a project, Carlton Eldridge of the nabt, an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind, found only about 230 visually impaired teachers through a survey.

Of the 230, according to Mr. Eldridge, about 75 percent are employed as teachers in elementary and secondary schools and special schools for handicapped students. About 25 percent teach at colleges and universities.

The results of the survey will be published shortly in a directory that will be made available to universities and local school systems that either train or employ visually impaired teachers. According to Mr. Eldridge, the directory will provide a reference of experience, expertise, and methods used by the teachers.

The placement of students with learning disabilities in regular classrooms remains highly controversial, despite the mandates of P.L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and the absence of studies supporting the educational value of placements in special schools.

In fact, the preponderance of evidence points to the academic, emotional, and social benefits of educating learning-disabled students in regular classrooms, according to two researchers at the Center for Social Organization of Schools. The researchers' findings and recommendations, which are based on a review of existing studies, are included in a report entitled, "Count Me In: Academic and Social Outcomes of Mainstreaming Students with Mild Academic Handicaps."

Copies of the report are available for $3 by writing to the Center for the Organization of Schools, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., 21218.--sf

Vol. 02, Issue 21

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