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PRESS RELEASE

January 26, 2005

Jacob DiPietre
(850) 488-5394

MacKay Jimeson
(850) 245-0413

Lt. Governor Jennings Celebrates Braille Literacy Month
Lt. Governor highlights Braille literacy as key to success and part of Florida's reading focus

DAYTONA BEACH — Lt. Governor Toni Jennings today celebrated Braille Literacy Month with a visit to the Braille and Talking Book Library, the largest library of its kind in the United States. With a collection of more than 2.1 million items on audiocassette and in Braille and annual loans exceeding 1.3 million items, the library serves more than 41,000 Floridians. January is National Braille Literacy Month, honoring the birth of Louis Braille, who invented a system making it possible for the visually impaired to independently read and write.

"Reading is the key to success — in the classroom and in the workplace, and those with disabilities are not an exception," Lt. Governor Jennings said. "Under Governor Jeb Bush's Just Read, Florida! initiative, reading has become a priority around the state. We must also make Braille literacy a priority to ensure all students have skills to achieve success."

Last week, the Governor announced his Fiscal Year 2005-06 budget recommendations to the Legislature and included a $126,100 increase for the Braille and Talking Book Library and a $400,000 increase for the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind. The largest school of its kind in the United States, the Florida School for the Deaf & Blind serves nearly 900 hearing-impaired and visually-impaired students, with three-fourths of the graduating class continuing their education at colleges, universities, and technical training centers.

Education Commissioner John Winn added, "As part of Braille Literacy Month, I look forward to visiting the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind later this week and congratulating the dedicated faculty, staff and volunteers for their undying commitment to providing a quality education to sensory impaired students for the past 120 years."

During her visit to the Braille and Talking Book Library, Lt. Governor Jennings delivered a proclamation from Governor Bush celebrating Braille Literacy Month and was joined by Paul Edwards, President, Florida Council of the Blind, and Dan Hicks, President, National Federation of the Blind of Florida.

For more information please visit the Florida Department of Education website at www.myflorida.com.