Development of the National Agenda
Following informal discussions regarding the need for changes in educational services for visually impaired students, a small group of professionals volunteered to initiate the project of creating a National Agenda. From that small beginning, The National Agenda for the Education of Children and Youths with Visual Impairments, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities grew into a collaborative, national effort. The agenda-development steering committee first assembled subcommittees led by representatives from parents' groups, specialized schools for children with visual impairments, private agencies serving visually impaired children and their families, university programs for training teachers of visually impaired students, and state departments of education. The subcommittees developed 19 goal statements, which were then mailed to thousands of teachers of visually impaired students and other related professionals, parents of children with visual impairments, and individuals who are visually impaired. Recipients were asked to duplicate and distribute copies to other interested persons. Each person was asked to rate the likelihood of a goal statement's being achieved by the year 2000 and its impact on the education of children with potential for visual impairments. The agenda-development steering committee used these responses to create the likelihood-impact database. After much discussion, further dissemination, and intense evaluation, the committeecondensed these items into the eight goal statements that comprise the National Agenda.
The next step was to identify strategies and sources of support for achieving the goals. To obtain support, organizations throughout the United States were sent copies of the goal statements. A list of the organizations that have endorsed the National Agenda is printed at the end of this document. To carry out the five-year project of achieving the goals, an Advisory Board was developed and eight (now ten) goals and National Goal Leaders (NGLs) were identified. Each national goal leader is a major organization in the field of visual disability that has committed itself to helping the nation achieve one of the goals or an organized group of individuals working toward common goals that complement the National Agenda. Each year the National Goal Leaders report to the National Agenda state representatives on progress toward reaching their goals. At the 1995 Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute, about 100 educators, parents and others met to recommend strategies by which the National Goal Leaders and the nation's educators and parents could achieve the Agenda's goals.