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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
December 20, 2021

Dear County and District Directors of Special Education, Special Education Local Plan Area Directors, Adult Education School and Regional Occupational School Principals, Charter School Administrators, and Private School Administrators:

Annual Registration of Legally Blind Students for the Federal Quota Program

The Federal Quota Program was initiated in 1879 by the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind. This program is a means whereby a per capita allocation is designated for the purchase of educational materials for each eligible student registered through an established Federal Quota account. These Federal Quota accounts are maintained and administered by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and its Ex Officio Trustees (state agency partners). The Federal Quota Registration is the census that records students who are eligible to receive materials. In order for students to be eligible for the Federal Quota Program, they must

  • meet the definition of blindness (MDB)—a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less (using a Snellen chart or an acuity determined in Snellen equivalents) in the better eye with the best correction or a peripheral field of vision no greater than 20 degrees; or

  • function at the definition of blindness (FDB)—when visual function meets the definition of blindness as determined by an eye care specialist (ophthalmologist or optometrist) or other medical doctor such as a neurologist.

Requirements for eligibility also include the following:

  • The student must be enrolled in a formally organized public or private, nonprofit educational program of less than college level. The educational programs providing services to these students can include public, private, and parochial schools.

  • School-aged students must be enrolled with the registering school or agency on the first Monday in January. Adult students must be registered for at least three months of instruction during the preceding calendar year (an accumulation of 12 weeks).

The California Department of Education will be collecting information to enroll students who qualify for the Federal Quota Program and enrolled in your Local Education Agency (LEA) as of January 3, 2022. Registration will be open from January 3, 2022, to February 14, 2022.

If your LEA registered students last year, you will receive instructions in a separate email on how to update the previously registered students. The registration system is completely online. In previous years, LEAs were required to maintain current eye report and parent permission forms for each student registered. However, eye report requirements have been waived for 2022 due to COVID-19. Parent permission forms remain required. Further information is below:

  • Eye Report: A thorough and confidential eye report prepared by an optometrist or ophthalmologist must confirm that the student’s vision falls within the definition of legal blindness stated above. This report must be current, within the last three years, and must remain with the LEA. In the event that a student is totally blind, the student’s eyes have been enucleated, or the student has proven non-changing eye conditions, only initial documentation is required and may be from a medical doctor.

  • Parent Permission Form: A parent permission form must be signed and dated. The signed form should be kept with the student’s record within the LEA. If the LEA has a copy of a signed and dated parent permission form for the student from a previous APH registration, a new form is not needed. The requirement for positive parental consent before releasing confidential student information is a provision of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 USC Section 1232g; Title 34, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 99) and its counterpart, California Education Code Section 49060. These requirements extend to nonpublic schools operating under contract with a public school.

    For questions regarding this letter, the APH Federal Quota Program, registering students for the first time, or registering new students, please contact James Morrison, Associate Governmental Program Analyst, by phone at 916-323-1329 or by email at or visit the Clearinghouse for Specialized Media and Technology’s website.


Cheryl Cotton, Deputy Superintendent
Instruction, Measurement, and Administration Branch


Last Reviewed: Wednesday, December 22, 2021

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