SB 0320 Establishes programs to identify and assist the handicapped
LR Number:L1067.07C Fiscal Note:1067-07
Last Action:04/20/99 - HCS Reported Do Pass H Public Health Committee Journal page:H1371
Title:HCS SCS SBs 320 & 445
Effective Date:August 28, 1999
Full Bill Text | All Actions | Available Summaries | Senate Home Page | List of 1999 Senate Bills
Current Bill Summary

HCS/SCS/SBs 320 & 445 - This act establishes programs for blind student literacy, newborn hearing screening and assistive technology loans.

BLIND STUDENT LITERACY - The Division of Special Education in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall establish a program to provide a blindness skills specialist at each regional, professional development center. The act specifies the duties of such specialists. The act creates the Blindness Skills Specialist Fund to be administered by the Division of Special Education. The fund shall be used to make blindness skills specialists available as required by the act.

A Task Force on Blind Student Academic and Vocational Performance shall be appointed by the Commissioner of Education to study and make recommendations and plans to improve instruction in blindness skills and improve blind student literacy.

The Division of Special Education shall conduct an annual study of the educational status of blind children and report the findings to the General Assembly by December 1 of each year.

The Division of Special Education shall develop a system of joint referral with Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. Children identified by a school district or the Division of Special Education as blind or visually-impaired shall be referred, with parental consent, to Rehabilitation Services for the Blind.

Public schools shall preferentially buy educational materials from vendors who make materials available in Braille or electronic format at no greater cost than regular materials.

NEWBORN HEARING SCREENING - This act requires hearing screenings for infants. After January 1, 2002, every infant born in a Missouri ambulatory surgical center or hospital, before being released, must be given a screening for hearing loss. If an infant is born in any other location, a hearing screening shall be given within 3 months of birth. Test results will be reported to parents and the Department of Health.

Anyone providing a hearing screening before January 1, 2002 should also report the results to the Department. This requirement will not apply to persons citing religious reasons. The physician shall provide educational materials to the parents of infants with hearing loss and the Department shall provide equipment and technical support to all facilities implementing this program.

The Department shall monitor and refer infants found to have hearing loss to the contact person with the First Steps Program within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Such information shall be confidential, with exceptions. This act also establishes the "Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory Committee", which shall function for a two year period.

All insurance companies specified in the act shall provide coverage for newborn hearing screening, rescreenings, and audiological assessment and amplification. Coverage shall also be provided for newborns who are eligible for medical assistance or the children's health program.

This portion of the act is substantially similar to HB 401 (1999).

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY - The act removes the sunset clause on the Missouri Assistive Technology Advisory Council. The act authorizes the Advisory Council to establish an Assistive Technology Loan Program for the purchase of assistive technology devices and services. After July 1, 2000, appropriations for the loan program and matching grant moneys received by the state as specified by the federal Assistive Technology Act of 1998 will be regulated and dispersed according to the provisions of this act.

The act authorizes the establishment of the Assistive Technology Loan Revolving Fund which will be administered by the Advisory Council and the State Treasurer. The Advisory Council may approve the receipt of federal, state, public and private moneys or loans to finance the Fund. The moneys and appropriations will be used to maintain the Fund and will not revert to the General Revenue Fund at the end of the biennium.

This portion of the act is similar to HB 1061 (1999).