Students who are blind or visually impaired should have the same educational opportunities and programs as their peers without disabilities. Through research, advocacy, and policy initiatives, AFB is working to create a world of no limits for students who are blind or have low vision. We speak up for children who are blind or visually impaired, to make sure every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.

On December 18, EdSurge, an educational technology company that publishes newsletters and operates databases used by venture capitalists, teachers, and school administrators, published a story titled “COVID-19 Is Costing Visually Impaired Students Time That Can’t Be Made Up.”

Lost in last week’s Thanksgiving holiday shuffle were some noteworthy media appearances and mentions of AFB Consulting and AFB Staff experts. To recap:

Boy sits at table next to braille embosser. He is looking through tactile graphs. He wears a mask to avoid spreading viruses.

We know that families of blind and low vision children are still facing major challenges as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many schools to move to online education.

Two fifth-grade students sit at a table with computers exploring the digital Helen Keller Archive. Student in background is viewing monitor; student in foreground is turned around in his chair discussing his findings.

"Education should train the child to use his brains, to make for himself a place in the world and maintain his rights even when it seems that society would shove him into the scrap-heap."
-Helen Keller, "Going Back to School," The Home Magazine, September 1934

Last week, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on returning to K-12 schools safely. Considering that students with disabilities are often left out of the conversation, it was exciting to hear that they were considered in multiple lines of questioning presented by the witnesses and the Senators themselves. From the witnesses, we learned that educators are deeply concerned about the digital divide, the health and safety of students and educators, and delivering high quality academics while making up for lost learning.

As schools around the country navigate how and when students might safely be able to return to school, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Foundation for the Blind encourages legislators, educators, administrators, superintendents, and parents to ask the following questions:

On May 8, 2020, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) joined forces with eight other national organizations to pen a letter to the Chairs and the Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension and the House Committee on Education and Labor. The letter is a request to Congress to continue supporting children who are blind or have low vision by opposing waivers that would affect the services that children receive and by providing additional funding to support students’ access to their education.