Weekly roundup: Irvine student advocates for access to Braille literature, and more

University High School student Henry Hill archives classic literature in Braille to help increase accessibility for other students who are blind. (Courtesy of ABC 7 Los Angeles)
University High School student Henry Hill archives classic literature in Braille to help increase accessibility for other students who are blind. (Courtesy of ABC 7 Los Angeles)

William Shakespeare, John Keats and Emily Dickinson — these are just a few of the authors that University High School student Henry Hill counts as his favorites.

Henry, an Irvine Unified School District junior, has dedicated himself to helping increase accessibility to classic works in Braille so that other students who are blind can have more knowledge available at their fingertips.

During Braille Literacy Month, Henry spoke with a reporter from ABC 7 Los Angeles to share how he’s pushed for publishing companies to make more classic texts available in Braille or as audiobooks for people with blindness.

Due to these efforts, Henry recently received the Elphie Award from the producers of the musical “Wicked” for his commitment to enacting change for good.

The Hill family accepted the award at the Gershwin Theater in New York and experienced the Broadway play with audio descriptions for Henry throughout the performance, along with a backstage tour that allowed him to physically experience the production, according to the Orange County Register.

Currently, Henry is working to compile an archive of literary texts in Braille that others can use as a resource for reading. So far, he has gathered more than 100 novels.

“He is so deserving because he does push barriers, and he does go above and beyond,” said Henry’s mother, Gretchen Hill.

Here are the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • OCDE has unveiled a new name and logo for its Special Schools program. It’s now called “Connections,” reflecting its enduring mission of providing meaningful educational experiences and support to students with the most significant disabilities.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez joins Sylvia and Sandra Mendez alongside leaders of Latino organizations to introduce new bill at the Capitol. (Courtesy of Rep. Jimmy Gomez)
(Courtesy of Rep. Jimmy Gomez)
  • According to new data from the California Department of Education, average pay for teachers in California increased by 7.5 percent from the 2021-22 school year to 2022-23.
  • OCDE, which operates Skyview School, has initiated discussions about a new location to better accommodate 17 of its elementary students with amenities critical for the development of young learners, including a dedicated elementary library and permanent play structures. The proposal was discussed at the Orange County Board of Education meeting on Jan. 19.
  • The Orange County Register reported that former students from the Irvine Unified School District and the Anaheim Union High School District will receive a combined $4.8 million settlement following allegations of abuse committed by a former water polo coach.
  • Gov. Newsom says he will veto any bill with an outright ban on youth tackle football. Proposed legislation aims to prohibit children under 6 from playing the sport starting in 2025.
  • On Monday, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed an interactive concert for families at Santa Ana High School to kick off its weeklong residency in Orange County. The international ensemble will hold its final performances at the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.