ED’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move!
Celebrates Access to the Arts and the
25th Anniversary of the ADA.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! Celebrates
Access to the Arts and the 25th Anniversary of the
Americans with Disabilities Act.

Secretary Duncan and friends reading a book titled Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees about Gerald the Giraffe who did not dance like the rest of the animals.

Photo credits: U.S. Dept. of Education

On July 22, 2015 the U.S. Department of Education’s Let’s Read! Let’s Move! series danced into the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), and the 40th anniversary of the Very Special Arts (VSA). Let’s Read! Let’s Move!, a sub initiative of the first Lady’s Let’s Move! program, aims to engage children between the ages of 3-7 in summer learning through reading and physical activity. On this day the theme of the event was “Dance is for Every Body.”

Secretary Duncan and friends posing with a boy in a wheelchair and his assistant dog.

Photo credits: U.S. Dept. of Education

Over 140 children from various organizations, including the Beacon House, Edward C Mazique Parent Child Center, Lollipop Kids Foundation, Friendship Public Charter School, Montgomery County Public Schools, and Kingsbury Day School, filled the Grand Foyer and Opera House steps of the Kennedy Center where they learned that anyone can participate in the arts. This was especially evident through various guests and performers throughout the day.

Two men reading from a book titled Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees about Gerald the Giraffe who did not dance like the rest of the animals.

Photo credits: U.S. Dept. of Education

A trio of ballerinas from the Washington Ballet @THEARC Performance Ensemble gracefully guided Secretary Duncan and his friends into the Grand Foyer. His friends included White House Executive Director of Let’s Move! Deb Eschmeyer, Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, Mario Rossero, Vice President of Education at the Kennedy Center, and Lawrence Carter-Long, a performer in Heidi Latsky’s critically-acclaimed GIMP dance troupe. With the ballerinas holding up large-print pages, they read a book titled Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees about Gerald the Giraffe who did not dance like the rest of the animals. However, he learned to dance to his own beat. Mr. Carter-Long, an internationally-recognized dancer with cerebral palsy, talked about his connection with Gerald in that they “both had wobbly knees.” He then showed off the brace on his leg. When a child asked the readers “How do you find the right music for you?” he answered, “You’ve got to listen to it and feel it inside of you.” In closing the Let’s Read! part of the event, Ms. Eschmeyer asked the children what they did for exercise, which had many shouting activities such as running, football, basketball, soccer, and dance.

Surgeon General, along with the ballerinas and other guests, led the children to the Millennium Stage, where he was joined by a bhangra dance troupe.

Photo credits: U.S. Dept. of Education

Boy joining in a mini bhangra flash mob to Bruno Mars'

Photo credits: U.S. Dept. of Education

Afterwards, the Surgeon General, along with the ballerinas and other guests, led the children to the Millennium Stage, where he was joined by a bhangra dance troupe, Dholi Ram. After teaching them several moves, children of all abilities joined in a mini bhangra flash mob to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”

Continuing the Let’s Move! portion of the event, Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, helped the children “create a ballet” using everyday morning actions such as brushing your teeth, getting out of bed, eating your cereal, etc. Kennedy Center Dance Teaching Artists, Alison Crosby, Fred Beam, and Antoine Hunter, both of whom are deaf and used interpreters to communicate with the children, brought the event full circle by leading the children in a jungle jamboree, where, following the story they heard, they “waltzed like warthogs, rock ‘n rolled like rhinos, tangoed like lions” and most of all, learned to dance to their own beat, just like Gerald.

Actors on a stage

Photo credits: U.S. Dept. of Education


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Connor VanDenBosch is a junior at the University of Michigan. He is serving as an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

OSERS Celebrates ADA

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is excited to announce accomplishments aimed at improving the lives of and expanding opportunities for people with disabilities.

First, just today at the Department’s 25th ADA Celebration, OSERS Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin highlighted a timely new funding announcement:

Accessibility of Computers and Web Sites—Automated Personalization Computing Project (APCP)

Today, OSERS announced a new funding opportunity, the Accessibility of Computers and Web Sites through an Automated Personalization Computing Project (APCP), to create the infrastructure we need to make it easier for any person of any age with any disability to more easily use any web enabled device at school, at home, at work, or in the community. This funding opportunity, totaling up to $20 million over five years, will implement a pilot demonstration of automated personalization for individuals with disabilities who are using information and communication technologies. Individuals with disabilities will be able to access communications and information technology on a secure basis no matter where they are (at school, work, home, or in the community), what kind of computer they work on (e.g., desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, kiosk) or what software platform (e.g., PC, Mac, Android, iOS) they are using, as long as it is an APCP-enabled computer with Web access. OSERS is looking forward to receiving and evaluating applications and making the award by the end of this September, 2015.

Additional OSERS ADA Achievements

Increasing Workforce Services for People with Disabilities

In July 2014, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), which seeks to improve the nation’s workforce development system and strengthens the services provided by the 2,500 American Job Centers to workers, employers and job seekers. WIOA reauthorized the 3.4 billion dollar Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which provides employment supports and training to one million individuals each year seeking high quality employment. WIOA established the Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities. All three agencies responsible for implementing WIOA—the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services—have taken strides to ensure that people with disabilities have improved access to services and employment outcomes.

“Know It 2 Own It”

OSERS has featured a “Know It 2 Own It” Blog every month over the past year leading up to the 25th Anniversary of the ADA the U.S. Department of Education’s main Homeroom Blog. “Know It 2 Own It” is a campaign that featured monthly stories to encourage the general public to learn more about the disability rights movement and history that led to the passage of the ADA.

Awarding Grants to Help Individuals with Disabilities Obtain Employment

In 2014, OSERS’ Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) awarded a five-year, $9 million grant to the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston for a Job-Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center. Also in 2014, OSERS’ Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSEP) and RSA funded a joint Technical Assistance Center, the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT), to improve postsecondary and employment outcomes for all students with disabilities.

Promoting the Readiness of Minors who Receive Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE)

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) administers PROMISE, a $211 million program. PROMISE is an interagency collaboration of the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Labor and the Social Security Administration, is a 5-year grant program under which state agencies have partnered to develop and implement six model demonstration projects that provide coordinated services and supports designed to improve the education and career outcomes of children with disabilities who receive supplemental security income in eleven states.

Ensuring Results-Driven Accountability Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Over the past several years, OSERS has implemented a revised accountability system under the IDEA known as Results-Driven Accountability, which shifts efforts from a primary emphasis on compliance to a framework that focuses on improved results for students with disabilities, including performance on assessments, graduation rates, and early childhood outcomes.

Supporting Accessible Books

OSERS supports Bookshare, the world’s largest collection of accessible titles online. The service is free to students who are blind, visually impaired, or certified as having a print disability. Bookshare has a total of 301,000 education titles with 350,000 students with its services. In addition, the Administration participated in the successful negotiation of the Marrakesh Copyright Treaty to increase access to print materials for the world’s estimated 340 million blind, visually impaired, and other persons with print disabilities. The United States played a leadership role in negotiating this treaty, which should help reduce the global shortage of print materials in accessible formats such as Braille, large print, and accessible digital files, while maintaining the integrity of the international copyright framework.

Bookshare is also working to ensure image that descriptions are also shown in Bookshare titles, increasing their accessibility working through the DIAGRAM Center, a research and development center whose goal is to improve the way image and graphic content for accessible instructional materials (AIM) is produced and accessed so that students with print disabilities are provided equal access to the general education curriculum.

Supporting Inclusive Schoolwide Reform

In 2012, the OSERS awarded a five year $25 million grant to the SWIFT Center to assist states and local school districts successfully implement and sustain inclusive schoolwide reform in kindergarten through grade 8. The SWIFT Center provides intensive technical assistance to improve the practices within schools that lead to success for all students, including those with disabilities and the most intensive support needs.

Correctional Education in Juvenile Justice Facilities

In 2014, OSERS, in partnership with the Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice issued comprehensive guidance supporting the civil rights and educational needs of students with disabilities in juvenile justice facilities.

Guidance on Keeping Students with Disabilities Safe from Bullying

In 2013, OSERS issued guidance regarding the bullying of students with disabilities. The guidance makes clear that the bullying of a student with a disability that results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit constitutes a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA that must be remedied.

Guidance on Braille Instruction

In 2013, OSERS issued guidance affirming the importance of Braille instruction as a literacy tool for blind and visually impaired students, clarifies the circumstances in which Braille instruction should be provided, and reiterates the scope of an evaluation required to guide decision of Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams in this area. Additionally, the guidance identifies resources that are designed to help strengthen the capacity of the state and local personnel to meet the needs of students who are blind or visually impaired.

Effective Communication

A November 12, 2014 joint guidance and accompanying FAQ by OSERS, the Office of Civil Rights, and the U.S. Department of Justice, ensuring educational agencies understand the different requirements under IDEA and the ADA and its Section 504 with respect to children with a hearing, vision, or speech disability. While IDEA requires that schools make available free appropriate public education (FAPE), consisting of special education and related services, Title II has a specific effective communication requirement for individuals with disabilities – requiring schools to ensure that students with disabilities receive communication that is as effective as communication with others through the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services.

Personnel Prep

OSERS Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) currently supports 28 personnel development programs that prepare professionals to provide special instruction for children with visual impairment and blind.

Examples of work topics and products include:

  • working to develop standard measures and competencies for completing braille course work in the Unified English Braille Code (UEB),
  • development of CEC standards for teachers of the visually impaired, and
  • a survey of the university programs on curricula in technology, requirements, measures of competency, and more.

Media & Technology Services

Video-on-Demand Children’s TV Programming Now Accessible for Thousands of Students with Visual or Hearing Disabilities.

The Accessible Television Portal project opens access to free, video-on-demand children’s television programming for thousands of students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing.

Some projects in this area are designed to support the education of children with sensory disabilities by providing support for captioning and video description of educational materials that are appropriate for use in educational environments.

Stepping Up Technology Implementation.

Stepping up projects support efforts to scale up the use of existing, technologies and accompanying instructional strategies in educational environments. An example is: Improving Literacy and Technology Skills Using the Braille Challenge Mobile at the California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), and the Braille Institute of America (BIA). The main goal of the project is to support the development of literacy skills of children who read braille by creating and disseminating a mobile app, the Braille Challenge Mobile App (BCMA), and incorporating evidence-based instructional strategies and supporting the development of reading and writing skills.

Also, please check out the:

Michael Yudin, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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Assistant Secretary Michael K. Yudin leads the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) at the U.S. Department of Education.