Blind Teachers Teaching Blind Students: Creating Opportunities for the blind

Blind Teachers Teaching Blind Students: Creating Opportunities for the blind

January 1, 2023
Signatures: 268Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by suzonne kakoolaki

Purpose Statement: The purpose of this petition is to promote the
adoption of 2 vital policy changes at the Texas School for the Blind
and Visually Impaired in Austin Texas.
Proposal 1 - TSBVI open the door to student teachers who are blind by
creating a policy that provides preferential co-teaching opportunities
with TVIs. This policy change will give blind college students the
opportunity to gain necessary experience teaching students with
blindness or visual impairment, while providing the necessary Student
Teaching practicum to be eligible to sit for the Texas State Teaching
Certification, thus making them eligible to pursue a TVI
Proposal 2 – Provide preferential hiring status to Texas State
Certified blind teachers who either hold or are committed to enrolling
in the TEA sanctioned TVI program, whether or not they completed their
student teaching practicum at TSBVI.
Once adopted, TSBVI will certainly become a model employer and leader,
demonstrating that with proper tools and access strategies in place,
teachers who are blind will surely have a significant positive impact
on the lives of blind children. The expectation is that if these
policies are adopted, blind teachers will gain experience at TSBVI,
significantly increasing their chances of achieving teaching positions
in school districts across Texas.

Who can make it happen? The Texas School for the Blind and Visually
Impaired Board of Trustees has the authority to adopt the policies
stated in this petition.

Introduction and Description of Issue/Problem: The Mission/Vision of
the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin Texas
is, “All Texas students who are blind, visually impaired or deafblind
will be empowered to lead productive and fulfilling lives. The K-12
Extended Program seeks to serve students ages 5–22 during the school
year while assisting local school districts and families to prepare
for the student’s successful return to the local school or to adult

Now, consider a blind college student who dreams of becoming a teacher
of blind and visually impaired children. She has been blind since
elementary school and has received services from Teachers of the
Visually Impaired (TVIs) in the past. As a result, she has the
experience, understanding, insight and aptitude necessary to teach
blind and VI children.
She begins with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from a major
University in Texas and then enrolls in a Teaching Certification
Program at a State sanctioned Education Preparation Program (EPP) and
earns a Master’s Degree in Education, finishing the program with a 4.0
According to Texas Education Agency standards, in order to be
qualified to sit for her State Teaching Certification, she is required
to student teach for 1 college semester, but the Director of the EPP
indicates that there is no school in the area that will offer a
student teaching opportunity to a blind EPP student. She is directed
to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) with
the belief that TSBVI will be more familiar with blindness and likely
have an opportunity available.
She approaches TSBVI, but is turned down for her student teaching
practicum. TSBVI is the only option for most blind college teaching
students to get the requisite teaching experience of blind children.
In short, in order for a student teacher to enter a TVI program, the
student teacher must first obtain an initial certification. A
certification that cannot be obtained without the student teaching
 As a result of not being provided with a student teaching opportunity
at TSBVI, she is not able to complete her student teaching
requirement, so she is not eligible to sit for her Initial Texas
Teaching Certification, without which, she cannot enroll in the TVI
Endorsement Program.

The inability to complete the student teaching practicum is an issue
facing blind college students in teaching programs who aspire to
utilize their unique experience, understanding and skills to improve
the educational and occupational outcomes of primary and secondary
blind students in Texas.
So why is it important for blind students to be taught by blind
teachers? Data indicates that the academic performance of children
with disabilities improves when they are taught by teachers with
similar characteristics. Two of the most prominent teachers of
children with blindness were blind themselves. Louis Braille taught
children with blindness while developing his tactile reading and
writing code. Ann Sullivan was a legally blind teacher at the Perkins
Institute before being dispatched to the Keller home to teach and
mentor Hellen. As it currently stands, blind teachers are
significantly under-represented at TSBVI. Sadly, students at TSBVI
consistently under perform in all general education content areas
compared to students in other school districts across the State of
Texas. It is our belief that the small number of blind Teachers of the
Visually Impaired at TSBVI contributes to that statistic.

Conclusion: Despite the Americans with Disabilities Act recently
celebrating its 32nd anniversary, currently, approximately 52% of
blind Texans experience unemployment, compared to fewer than 5% of
non-disabled Texans. The unemployment statistics are even higher for
females with disabilities. While many professionals in blind education
and vocational rehabilitation seem to be benefiting from their blind
students, the blind students do not appear to be benefiting from these
professionals. The State of Texas invests tens of thousands of dollars
in public education and college tuition exemptions for blind students
annually, but these otherwise capable Texans continue to face grim
employment outcomes, continuing to receive State Government support
long after graduation, paying nothing into the State coffers.
Providing these otherwise qualified individuals with student practicum
and employment opportunities will reverse that trend and turn state
benefit recipients into tax-paying Texans. The TSBVI Board of Trustees
and Texas State Legislature are sure to see this as an excellent
return on investment.
This policy of preferential hiring should only be revisited and
possibly amended when the unemployment rate of persons who are blind
is closer to the unemployment rate of non-disabled Texans.

Please voice your support for hundreds of current and future blind
children and adults by signing this urgent and vital petition!

Support now
Signatures: 268Next Goal: 500
Support now