The following testimony was delivered by Angelina to the Maryland House of Delegates hearing on Visual Impairment Screening and Training Bill SB604 on 3/21/17
I am Angelina, I am eleven years old. I go to Elementary School. I have two kittens and two puppies. I like to sing, play piano, act, and dance.
I have a congenital cataract in my right eye that prevents me from seeing completely out of my right eye. I also have ADHD which makes me feel more off track and it makes me make silly mistakes on my work. Another disability of mine is that I have anxiety. All of these disabilities have become problems for me at school.
I see multiple doctors for my disabilities. I have asked for eighteen to twenty point font, to be taken out during testing, the light set above me to· not be shining, and other from supports my doctors. The school has denied that I have enlarged font, and the lighting above me to be off. I use my iPad to enlarge font for some reading assignments because the school has denied my requests for enlarged font multiple times.
Because the school has denied these supports, I have daily headaches, so I have to take time out of my learning time to go down to the nurse and lay down for five to ten minutes with an ice pack on my head·. I have missed class thirty three times to go to the nurse in my fifth grade academic experience.
It would mean a lot if you could help me have a fair academic experience throughout elementary school.
Watch Angelina Testify Here
Testimony of Mom, Sarah at same hearing.
Our daughter Angelina was born with a congenital cataract preventing her from seeing through the center of her right eye and has worked with specialists all of her life. She has difficulty using her eyes together and is diagnosed with a range of visual impairments. Reading causes multiple headaches daily and she has missed class 33 times this academic year. Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) is filing due process legal action against our family to deny assessing our daughter. Please assist us in navigating the continued barriers to our daughter receiving the supports she needs and continues to request.
We are a military family and I am a disabled veteran. We settled in Anne Arundel County in 2013 and our five children attend AACPS. We have multiple children with disabilities that include autism, cerebral palsy, and genetic disorders. Angelina is 11 years old and has been diagnosed with Congenital Cataract, Exophoria, Amblyopia, Anisometropia, Binocular Vision Deficiency, Paresis of Accommodation, Visual Perceptual Deficiency, Visual Motor Deficiency, CNS Irregularities, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder. Angelina’s visual impairments are not currently screened for by the school and the school staff lack training in these disorders.
Over the last several years we have requested that the Elementary School to assess Angelina. In this process we have devoted thousands of dollars to evaluations by specialists, paying for specialists to attend school meetings, and continuing to pay for the vision therapy and assistive technology Angelina needs. Without assessing, in 2015 and 2016 AACPS sent us email and letter correspondence stating that Angelina was not visually impaired. In September 2016 the state department of education determined that the visual impairment eligibility criteria used by AACPS to deny assessing children was in violation of federal law. Although AACPS revised their visual impairment eligibility criteria to comply with federal law in January 2017, they continue to deny Angelina’s requests and the recommendations made by her physicians.
In February 2017 AACPS again denied our request to assess Angelina. We asked AACPS to provide Angelina with independent assessments. AACPS notified us they are initiating legal due process proceedings against our family to deny this request. Please assist us in obtaining the assessments and supports Angelina continues to need and request in school. She deserves the same opportunity to participate and excel in her public education including access to the enlarged font that reduces her visually induced headaches.
Editors note: As a result of the family's advocacy the family and school are working to meet Angelina's needs.