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Senate Bill 346, authored by State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development today.

SB 346 would require the Indiana Department of Education (DOE) to provide accommodations to students with certain disabilities, to the extent allowed under federal law, on every section of statewide testing assessments – as part of the student’s individualized education program (IEP). This includes text-to-speech (TTS), screen reader, or human reader accommodations.

“Once a child with a learning or developmental disability begins school, federal law requires schools to provide them with a free and appropriate public education,” said Houchin. “This includes a comprehensive evaluation to determine the nature and extent of the services the child will need as well as a personalized, written document in the form of an IEP. Last year, Hoosier students took the ILEARN test for the first time, and only 10.7% of special-education students passed both math and English sections. This alarming statistic is partially due to the fact that all students with IEPs were denied access to text-to-speech technology for the reading comprehension section of the test.”

According to recent data, 6.7 million public-school children receive special education services, and up to 17% of children have dyslexia.

“For children with dyslexia, universally denying TTS only highlights their disability, rather than allowing them to show their true ability,” added Houchin. “A student might excel at reading comprehension, but without TTS, their inability to decode letters and words impedes their ability to comprehend. For blind children who cannot read Braille, TTS is the only way they can access the reading comprehension portion of the test. If a child’s IEP allows them to use certain accommodations in the classroom, those same accommodations should also be permitted during standardized tests. I am proud to see this legislation moving through the process, and I will continue advocating for students with disabilities.”

SB 346 will now head to the full Senate for consideration.