I rarely get political on public forums. And we can debate at another time about whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but let’s just say it’s my thing right now. But, today, I’m getting a little bit political.
Today, Senators Markey (D-MA) and Capito (R-WV) introduced a bill to ensure that students who are deafblind are provided the fundamental supports they need in order to receive an appropriate education. My oldest son, by definition, is deafblind. This piece of legislation is extremely important to my family.
The Cogswell-Macy Act, named after Alice Cogswell, the first deaf student to be formally educated in the United States, and Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller’s famous teacher, was introduced earlier this year in the House of Represenatatives by Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) and Congressman David McKinley (WV-1). If signed into law, this legislation will ensure that students who are deafblind, blind, visually impaired, or deaf or hard of hearing receive the expert instruction and services they need to succeed in school and beyond.
This Act would ensure that all students who are blind or visually impaired receive the state-of-the-art services and skills, provided by trained teachers. Likewise, it would ensure that students who are deafblind or deaf or hard of hearing are served by qualified personnel who can meet their distinct learning needs.
In addition, this legislation requires states to identify, locate, and evaluate children who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, or deafblind, regardless of whether they have additional disabilities. Children with sensory disabilities are not always identified properly, especially if they have additional disabilities. This means that these students may not have their learning needs fully evaluated, which impacts the resources that are allocated to addressing their needs. The Cogswell-Macy Act would require states to provide meaningful data about students who are deafblind, blind, visually impaired, or deaf or hard of hearing, regardless of whether they may have additional disabilities. This will expand knowledge about the quality of special education and related services they receive. Having such data will also allow for ongoing improvement of programs for students with sensory disabilities.
For my son, THIS IS HUGE!!!
We are fortunate that we live in a wealthy school district, and my son receives many of the services that this bill will require. Was it easy to get these services? Absolutely not. I did a lot of research, attended trainings, communicated with experts in the field of deafblindness, and advocated LIKE A MOTHER to get them for him. I don’t take for granted that my son has the services he has because I have a background in research, a personality for negotiation, and the time and resources to do the work required right now to get these services. Even with my knowledge and effort, these services are not guaranteed. I know of equally educated and dedicated parents in other school districts in other states who are still being denied the appropriate resources for their children. Why? Because it’s technically not the law.
But it will be… if the Senate passes this bill, the law will change.
You can help! Please contact your Senators (you can look up their contact information here) and ask them to support The Cogswell-Macy Act. My friends have even helped write a handy script for you to use when you make the call or send the email:
My name is [name] and I’m a resident of [city, state]. I’m calling to ask Senator [name] to support the Cogswell-Macy Act. I support this bill because it will improve access to important and necessary education and services for children who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, or deafblind. I am hoping I can count on Senator [name]’s support. Please let me know [his or her] position on this bill.
Today, and always, I’m inspired by the words of Helen Keler, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Please join together with me and ask your Senator to support The Cogswell-Macy Act.