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Schools may use these summer programs to meet a student's ESY needs. The action and time frame necessary are based upon your state's due process requirements. Typically you must notify the school within ten days, in writing, that you disagree with the IEP and want mediation or due process.

If you fail to adhere to the required timelines, you may lose important legal rights. Even if you agree with the IEP, your work is not complete. The IEP is simply a piece or many pieces of paper. Human beings must implement the IEP. Throughout the year, keep up with how the IEP is working. Is the IEP being implemented properly and consistently? If not, where are the problems? Document these issues and keep in close communication with your child's case manager and service providers.

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Often problems can be solved quickly and amicably through simple communication. Is there anything still missing from the IEP? Sometimes key school personnel move away, and the new staff members may have difficulty implementing the IEP. At other times the child may have medical issues that change his or her needs. Sometimes the child may progress more quickly than anyone imagined. In these cases that fabulous IEP needs to be rewritten so that it can meet the new needs of the child. After the IEP meeting, you may feel as though you have run multiple marathons. In reality, you have only begun the race.

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Despite her deep grounding in Federation philosophy and her extensive experience advocating for blind children, she has found IEP meetings to be a challenge when her own children are involved. In this article she tells her story. Mark had very poor experiences with the education system while he was growing up, so he has a passion for creating more opportunities for today's blind children. I have been blind all my life. I have advocated at many IEP meetings specifically for blind children in Maryland. Mark and I are blessed to have three children.

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Austin, our eldest, is sighted. Oriana and Elizabeth are both blind. Your school must just see the two of you coming and give you everything you want for your girls! Mark and I have learned a lot from our participation in the IEP process for our girls. We certainly do not have all of the answers as to what our daughters need, and we have learned, through one shocking experience, that a team absolutely will not give us what we want simply because of who we are.

Here are two stories about our IEP journey and some of the lessons we have learned. Our Journey with Oriana Mark and I decided that Oriana would not receive any early intervention services. We thought she could learn all she needed to know at home and in day care. After all, we are both blind people, and we were Oriana's first teachers. Our daughter was going to learn alternative techniques no matter what! This approach worked all right until it was time for Oriana to enter school. Mark and I decided that it made sense for her to begin as a pre-K student. We wanted her to learn Braille, and we thought it would be best for her to start formal Braille instruction at the age of four.

So I began making phone calls to figure out how to begin the IEP process. Eventually we got the proper assessments for Oriana, but the process was complicated.

One lesson learned: Infants and Toddlers would, if nothing else, provide a smoother transition to school. Also, we realized, having some more people to give us honest feedback and helpful suggestions regarding things we could do to help Elizabeth our younger daughter learn wouldn't be a bad thing. If some crazy recommendations were made along the way, we could ignore them, and possibly we could educate someone regarding our point of view.

So, while we were getting Oriana the assessments she needed to begin her first IEP, we also contacted Maryland Infants and Toddlers to get Elizabeth signed up for early intervention services. Once we received Oriana's assessment results, Mark and I sat down at the table for her first meeting. At this meeting we were presented with draft IEP goals.

A few things stuck out for us, such as Oriana only being expected to recognize 80 percent of the alphabet, but the other goals looked all right. I thought the goals seemed to be worded in a reasonable way. We were very glad that we did!


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The teacher who reviewed Oriana's IEP pointed out that some of the goals were actually objectives. She helped us craft much more sensible goals and objectives, and she gave us valuable guidance regarding the amount of direct service hours we should request. Finally, she was able to give us many suggestions about how Oriana, as a dual media learner, should balance her day between Braille and print.

Lessons Learned. First, fancy wording does not equal a good IEP goal.

Second, although Mark and I knew what we wanted for Oriana, we needed education in order to have our desires and Oriana's needs laid out properly in an IEP. Third, we, like so many parents, were able to get help from someone connected with the National Federation of the Blind.

Mark and I realized that, although we were familiar with helping others through the IEP process, things were somewhat different here because Oriana was our daughter. The situation was much more personal. Also, since I am totally blind, I learned Braille only. Mark did not learn Braille until he was in college.

Having a child learning both print and Braille was new to both of us. We needed to do our homework in order to figure out how best to help Oriana master both of these tools. Our Journey with Elizabeth Since Elizabeth is our second blind child, you would think things would be easier when it came to her entrance into school.


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After all, we had been through it once before. Unfortunately, we soon learned another important IEP lesson: expect the unexpected! In the spring of , Mark had recently been elected president of the National Federation of the Blind. Largely because of his new demands at work, we made the decision to move out of the house we had lived in for almost eleven years and into a house within walking distance of NFB headquarters.

We were only moving across town and not across the country, but our belongings still had to be packed; things needed to be thrown away, sold, or otherwise gotten rid of; countless small details had to be taken care of; and we needed to get our old house cleaned up and ready for renters. Meanwhile, Austin and Oriana still had to go to school, meals needed to be cooked, and laundry needed to be done.

In other words, it was a stressful time for all of us. In the midst of this madness, three days before the movers were scheduled to come, an evaluation meeting was scheduled for Elizabeth, who was about to turn three. The meeting was being held to go over the results of various assessments and decide whether she would stay in the Maryland Infants and Toddlers Program or receive services at a school under an IEP.

There was a half day preschool program at the Maryland School for the Blind, where Elizabeth could receive services, including Braille, and begin her formal school journey. Yes, another lesson learned: Looking back, it would have made sense for Oriana to begin formal Braille reading practice a year earlier as well! I viewed this meeting merely as a formality. In fact, I told Mark I felt very comfortable attending by myself, since the meeting would only formalize everything we had already put in motion. Off I went to the meeting, confident in its outcome, and slightly annoyed that it had to be scheduled at this extremely busy time in our lives.