Councilmember Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) introduced three bills before the DC Council: one that would establish a Braille education system in DC public and public charter schools, and two others that would strengthen cybersecurity for District Government agencies and small businesses, respectively.
The “Blind Students Literacy and Education Rights Act of 2018” ensures that students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) include provisions for Braille education and consider both current and future literacy. This bill responds to a concern that visually impaired children are pushed to use visual aids and devices that help them read print, but when vision significantly deteriorates or is lost, these individuals are left illiterate and forced to learn Braille as older children or adults, which can be extremely challenging. The legislation establishes a robust Braille education system, including standards for Braille proficiency and instruction, a requirement that materials be capable of meaningful reproduction in Braille, and a requirement that teachers are certified in accordance with Braille literacy standards.
“Our visually impaired and blind students deserve the strongest possible start in life, and this legislation ensures we’re providing them the education they need to live full and rewarding lives,” said Councilmember Todd. “We can and must do better for the District’s 17,000 residents living with a visual impairment, including the over 1,000 under age 17.”
“There is a Braille literacy crisis in America,” said Kim Alfonso, Chief Operating Officer at Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. “90% of America’s blind children are not learning to read and write because they are not being taught Braille or given access to it.”
The “Cyber Civilian Collective Act of 2018” would enhance DC Government cybersecurity by creating a public-private partnership program under which volunteers with cybersecurity expertise can provide services to District government agencies and offices in the event of a cyber-attack. This program is closely modeled after the Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps, a volunteer corps of cybersecurity experts from government, education and private industry that provide technical assistance after a cyber-attack or data breach.
“We live in a digital era where the integrity of our Government’s systems is dependent on strong cybersecurity,” said Councilmember Todd. “From Social Security numbers, to health care records, to driver’s license numbers, our agencies store massive amounts of sensitive data and are prime targets for cyber-attacks. The threat is real – in Fiscal Year 2016, local, state, and Federal government agencies across the nation reported 30,899 information-security incidents. By mobilizing a force of volunteer cyber experts akin to a “volunteer fire department,” we bring to bear the assistance of premier of cyber professionals in the event of an attack on our Government systems.”
Finally, the “Small Business Cybersecurity Tax Credit Act of 2018” establishes a $1,000 tax credit which incentivizes Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs) and Certified Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) to purchase qualified data breach insurance, protecting vulnerable small businesses from devastating cyber-attacks.
“While cyber-attacks on large companies such as Equifax, Yahoo, and Target dominate the news, small businesses account for the majority of data breaches, which are often so disruptive that the businesses are forced to close down,” said Councilmember Todd. “Data breach insurance, while not covered in most standard business insurance policies, is a simple and cost-effective way to mitigate risk. We should make it easier for our small businesses to get the protection they need in a time when the threat of cyber-attacks is only growing.”
Councilmember Todd Introduces Legislation to Provide Braille Education For Visually-Impaired Students and to Enhance Cybersecurity for Government Agencies & Small Businesses