Capito, McKinley Push to Expand Educational Opportunities for Visual and Hearing-Impaired Students

Press Release

Date: March 17, 2021
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Education

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today joined a bipartisan group of her Senate and House colleagues, including U.S. Rep. David McKinley (WV-01), in reintroducing legislation that would strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure visual and hearing-impaired students receive the best education possible.

The Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act would improve services and educational opportunities for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind. It would also enhance reporting and evaluation measures for special education in each state, increase training for teachers and other special education professionals, and reaffirm the Department of Education's mission and responsibility to ensure an accessible and quality education for all students.

"Every child deserves access to a quality education, and students who are deaf or blind are no different," Senator Capito said. "This legislation would bring much-needed improvements to ensure students who are visually or hearing impaired have access to the specialized educational resources necessary for learning and progress. I'm proud to work with Senator Markey in delivering personalized care to help thousands of students succeed."

"No student should feel academically sidelined due to a visual or hearing impairment. As someone who is hearing impaired, I understand how crucial it is to recognize and acknowledge the needs of the people with disabilities," Representative McKinley said. "This bipartisan legislation prioritizes supportive services to students who need them, ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn, grow, and reach their full potential."

The bill is named after Alice Cogswell, the first deaf student that was formally educated in the United States, and Anne Sullivan Macy, Helen Keller's famous teacher.

Specifically, the Cogswell-Macy Act would:

Require states to identify and evaluate children who are visually and hearing impaired so that appropriate services can be delivered to each student, and report instances when they fall short.

Help parents and educators stay informed and up-to-date through written policy guidance released regularly from the Department of Education.

Encourage states to plan for and commit to specialized instruction for all deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind students, provided by trained personnel.

Establish the Anne Sullivan Macy Center of Vision Loss and Educational Excellence within the Department of Education to function as a national resource to better support students with visual disabilities.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.