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Summary: Under current law, visual impairment is a part of the special education program; however, Orientation and Mobility (O&M) are not required to be included in the assessment of visual impairment. According to the Bill Analysis, "Orientation and Mobility instruction (O&M) is a special education service designed to teach children with visual impairments to attain orientation and safe movement within their home, school, and community." Current law does not require an O&M assessment that will determine if a student needs O&M services. HB 590 changes the law to include O&M in the initial visual impairment evaluation to determine if a student needs assistance in learning how to function in school, the community, and at home.
Analysis: HB 590 seeks to provide a service that evaluates whether a student with visual impairment needs further assistance at school, at home, or in the community. However, the bill requires that the assessment be made by a "certified orientation and mobility specialist" which is a highly specialized profession. Most school districts are unlikely to have such a specialist on staff, and because the field is so specialized there may not be enough specialists to meet the demand this bill would create. This constitutes another unfunded mandate on school districts already operating on tight budgets. This unfunded mandate is not consistent with limited government, therefore we oppose HB 590.