IDEA46 | Transcending Barriers, Past and Present

IDEA 46

By Katherine (Katy) Neas, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services


This month marks 46 years since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted. I couldn’t let this anniversary pass without sharing some reflections about the importance of IDEA, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reaffirming the commitment of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to upholding this landmark civil rights law.

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Ella

NOTE: October is Blindness Awareness Month as well as Learning Disabilities / Dyslexia / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Awareness Month.

Ella and Beth Johnson

Ella and Beth Johnson

My name is Ella, and I’m a junior at Irondale High School in Minnesota. This school year, I’m busy studying for advanced placement courses, playing percussion and coordinating audio equipment in my school’s band, and making time to read book recommendations from friends. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in fifth grade, and reading print books has always been challenging for me compared with most of my classmates. However, accessible digital books from Bookshare give me the same opportunities to learn, engage, and show what I know.

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What’s New at the National Instructional Materials Access Center

NOTE: October is Blindness Awareness Month

NIMAC Project Director, Nicole Gaines

NIMAC Project Director, Nicole Gaines

When typical textbooks don’t meet the needs of students with reading disabilities, visual impairments, or physical disabilities, the OSEP-funded National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) helps ensure that these students can obtain the accessible formats they need to engage and contribute alongside their peers.

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Deaf-Blind Projects Support Accessible, Virtual Connections to Transition

NOTE: October is Blindness Awareness Month

Teresa Coonts

Written by: Teresa Coonts, Project Director of Nebraska Deaf-Blind Project with input from Susan Brennan, Iowa Deaf-Blind Project

Deaf-blindness is one of the lowest-incidence of all IDEA disability categories; however, supporting students with deaf-blindness often involves a wide array of team members in many areas of expertise! To help meet the unique needs of these students, OSEP funds 53 State Deaf-Blind Projects, assisting districts, schools, and families in all States and territories as well as the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB). Collaboratively, we work to improve educational results and quality of life for children who are deaf-blind and their families. The Center and projects’ efforts include a national count of children who are deaf-blind as well as development and sharing of resources, strategies, and events.

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IRIS Center Resources Take Educators Back to Basics

IRIS Center Logo - landscape

If 20 years of serving educators has taught us anything, it’s that a return to the fundamentals of sound practice is always a worthwhile pursuit. As schools and teachers enter into a new school year marked by uncertainty and the ever-present possibility of sudden change, this foundational approach feels especially relevant.

In this spirit, the IRIS Center has just posted one new module and completed significant updates to two others that personnel in schools and districts can use for professional development and personalized learning. And, yes, these resources emphasize a back-to-basics method.

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OSEP Releases Fast Facts on the Race and Ethnicity of Children with Disabilities Served under IDEA Part B

Screen cap: OSEP Fast Facts on Race and Ethnicity OSEP Hand in Hand on Race and Ethnicity

By the Office of Special Education Programs

OSEP is excited to release a new OSEP Fast Facts: Race and Ethnicity of Children with Disabilities Served under IDEA Part B and new supplemental tool, Hand In Hand, which explore our IDEA, Section 618 data with the specific lens on race and ethnicity.   

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ED Welcomes Katherine Neas

Katy Neas

OSERS Acting Assistant Secretary Katherine Neas

The U.S. Department of Education welcomes Katherine “Katy” Neas as the new deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).

“The pandemic has been hard on all of us, but children with disabilities and specially those of color experienced great challenges. I am over the moon to be at the Department of Education at this historic time and to be part of the team of individuals who are working to ensure all students succeed in the upcoming school year.”

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Voices From the Field: Interview with Deborah Jackson

Desmond Jackson

Desmond Jackson

Deborah Jackson is the proud mother of Desmond Jackson, a member of the 2021 USA Paralympic Track and Field Team for the 100m event and the long jump. Desmond was born with a congenital birth defect, which resulted in an amputation when he was nine months old. He was the first above-knee amputee to run on a high school track team in the state of North Carolina. Desmond encourages other individuals with physical challenges to “get off the sideline and into the game!”

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Voices from the Field: Interview with Ann Sam

Ann Sam

 

ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?

During my undergraduate work, I completed an internship at the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program. From this experience, I knew I wanted to work with individuals with autism. I began my career as an inclusive preschool and kindergarten public school teacher. As a teacher, I was unaware of many specific interventions or resources used to support the social, language, and behavioral skills of students with autism. Fueled by my desire to support students with autism in classrooms, as well as the teachers serving those students, I began my doctoral program in 2008 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I was fortunate to be funded through an Office of Special Education Program leadership grant: Interdisciplinary Preparation in Teaching, Research, and Service focused on Young Children with Autism and Their Families. When I graduated, I accepted a postdoctoral research position at 3C Institute, a small business that focuses on research and development. After completing my postdoctoral work, I returned to the University of North Carolina as a Research Scientist at Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute. At FPG, my work focuses on supporting the use of evidence-based practices for children with autism using a variety of professional development approaches including coaching and interactive, online modules.

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