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Active Learning Space

Please go to Active Learning Space at for more detailed information about Active Learning. This is a new website collaboratively developed and managed by Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Perkins School for the Blind, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

About Active Learning

"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." -Aristotle

"We are not teaching skills; we are activating neurology." - Daniel Kish

Active Learning is an approach developed by Dame Lilli Nielsen to aid visually impaired and deafblind individuals develop tactile skills and build foundational skills in other critical cognitive, physical and emotional development. Based on typical child development, this approach targets individuals of all ages who function under a developmental age of 3 when real learning only takes place by "doing". To learn more about this approach, explore the resources listed on this page.

Dame Lilli NielsenDame Lilli Nielsen (1926-2013)

Dame Lilli Nielsen passed away in June of 2013 only days after the Active Learning Conference in Houston.& We honor her life and work and mourn her passing.

Active Learning Theory was developed by Dame Lilli Nielsen, sibling of and teacher to individuals with visual impairments and deafblindness in Denmark. Her approach has been widely used throughout Texas, the nation and the world to address learning for these children.

In an effort to promote the use of Active Learning theory with students who are visually impaired, visually and multiply impaired or deafblind, Outreach Programs has collected relevant articles and information to share with professionals and family members. What follows is a listing of training events, articles, books, videos, websites, and other materials on this approach.

On this webpage:

Articles and Fact Sheets




Videos & Webinars


Other Materials

Articles and Fact Sheets

An Introduction to Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning- This article discusses some of the basic strategies of Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning Theory.

Active Learning and the Exploration of Real Objects- This article describes some of the techniques of Dr. Lilli Nielsen's Active Learning Theory.

Incorporating Active Learning Theory into Activity Routines- This article focuses on Phase IV and V of Lilli Nielsen's five educational phases of educational treatment outlined in her book, Are You Blind?, and how the Active Learning principles can be incorporated into activity routines.

Five Phases of Educational Treatment Used in Active Learning- This article focuses on five phases of educational approaches that teachers are to use in working with children if they are using an Active Learning theory approach. It summarizes the information first published as part of Dr. Nielsen's book, Are You Blind?

How to Make a Texture Board to Scratch, Grab, Hold & Release (downloadable doc)

Job One for Educators: Becoming a Good Playmate- If children learn through play, then we must become better playmates in order to facilitate better learning for the child.

Resonance Board and Little Room Design Information

Tactual Skills for Students with Visual Impairments (downloadable doc)

Taking a Look at the FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments by Dr. Lilli Nielsen- This article is based on a book by Dr. Lilli Nielsen titled The FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments and lists the developmental behaviors in three-month increments as described in this book.

Touch: A Critical Sense for Individuals with Visual Impairments (downloadable doc)

What My Daughter Taught Me About Active Learning or Whose Goal Is It?- A parent shares her journey in encouraging her daughter's learning through play—on her own terms at home and at school.


Dr. Neilsen's books are published in the United States and sold through LilliWorks. These books include:

  • The FIELA Curriculum: 730 activities
  • Functional Scheme:Functional Skills Assessment
  • Early Learning Step by Step
  • Spatial Relations In Congenitally Blind Infants
  • Educational Approaches
  • Are You Blind?
  • Space and Self
  • The Comprehending Hand

One of her colleagues, Dr. van der Poel, has published a book of interest to those seeking information on Active Learning.

  • Visual Impairment - Understanding the Needs of Young Children


Active Learning Forms used by staff at TSBVI Outreach Programs

Active Learning Planning Sheet is a form created to capture information about the child's preferences and responses for use in planning Active Learning instructional activities.

Attractive Objects includes a list of objects that might be used in Active Learning activities and environments suggested in Lilli's book Space and Self.


Handouts and Notes

Handout for Active Learning for Students with Visual and Multiple Impairments Conference in 2013

Active Learning Study Group Webinars 2013-14

September 2013 - Handout

October 2013 - Handout

November 2013 - Handout

January 2014 - Handout

Feb 2014 - Handout

April 2014 - Handout

Active Learning Study Group 2014-15

September 2014 - Handout

October 2014 - Handout

November 2014 - Handout

December 2014 - Handout

January 2015 - Handout

March 2015 - Handout

April 2015 - Handout



Narbethong State Special School

Penrickton Center for Blind Children

The ABCs of Child Development: Developmental Milestones for Your Child's First Five Years

Site of Senses Project

Check out this blog from a parent using Active Learning!- Thanks for sharing this, Cindy Peters!

Videos & Webinars

Webinars and TETN Broadcasts on TSBVI's On the Go Learning

Videos & Webinars

Perceptualizing Aids: How, Why and When

Instructional Strategies for VI Students Under the Developmental Age of 3 - TETN 20440- Archived broadcast from 2013 on the TSBVI Distance Learning site.

Sophie's Resonance Board- YouTube video of a toddler in an Active Learning environment

Washington State Services for Children with Deaf-Blindness videos on Active Learning and Hand Under Hand

Zoe in the Little Room on YouTube

Other Materials

Active Learning Equipment

Braille Literacy: Back to the Basics- An article on teaching tactile skills from Paths to Literacy website.

56 Tactile Math Ideas: Ideas and Suggestions for Development of Early Maths Skills - Math activities that include an Active Learning Approach on the Paths to Literacy website.

Pre-Braille - From Paths to Literacy information about important concepts, motor skills, auditory skills and tactile skills needed for developing literacy skills in children with visual impairments. All of these skills can be worked on through Active Learning approaches.

Downloadable catalog from LilliWorks with information on purchasing all of the Active Learning equipment.

Lily Voekel Foundation makes Resonance Boards for families who need one in their home and are unable to get it through typical channels. Learn more about this resource.

updated April 2017

Download this directory in Word or PDF versions.

Education Service Centers (ESC)

Texas Educational Service Center Map

Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Region 4 Region 5 Region 6 Region 7 Region 8 Region 9 Region 10 Region 11 Region 12 Region 13 Region 14 Region 15 Region 16 Region 17 Region 18 Region 19 Region 20

Region 1 Education Service Center

1900 West Schunior
Edinburg, Texas 78539
PHONE: (956) 984-6165
FAX: (956) 984-7632

  • TWINKLE MORGAN, VI Consultant and Deafblind Specialist: (956) 984-6165
  • CHARLOTTE SMITH, COMS:  (956) 984-2106
  • NORA GARZA, COMS:  (956) 984-6181
  • IDA DE LA GARZA, COMS:  (956) 795-0000 id
  • MARTHA BUSTOS GUZMAN, TVI:  (956) 984-6213

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Region 2 Education Service Center

209 North Water Street
Corpus Christi, Texas 78401
PHONE: (361) 561-8525
FAX: (361) 561-8535

  • MARICELA GARZA, VI Specialist:  (361) 561-8539
  • MARK THOMPSON, COMS:  (361) 561-8486
  • JANAY MULLAN, COMS:  (361) 561-8509

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Region 3 Education Service Center

1905 Leary Lane
Victoria, Texas 77901
PHONE: (361) 573-0731
FAX: (361) 576-4804


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Region 4 Education Service Center

7145 West Tidwell
Houston, Texas 77092
PHONE: (713) 744-6368
FAX: (713) 744-6811

  • SHERYL SOKOLOSKI, Education Specialist VI  (713) 744-6315
  • KELLEY WATT, Education Specialist DB (713) 744-6363 

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Region 5 Education Service Center

350 Pine Street, Suite 500
Edison Plaza
Beaumont, Texas 77701
PHONE: (409) 951-1700
FAX: (409) 951-1801

  • PEGGY ARABIE, Program Coordinator/VI Consultant:  (409) 951-1746  
  • DION POTTER, COMS:  (409) 951-1747 

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Region 6 Education Service Center

3332 Montgomery Road
Huntsville, Texas 77340
PHONE: (936) 435-8400
FAX: (936) 435-8469

  • GWYNNE A. REEVES, VI Specialist: (936) 435-8254
  • RACHEL FOY, Low Incidence Specialist (936)435-8353

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Region 7 Education Service Center

1909 N Longview
Kilgore, Texas 75662
PHONE: (903) 988-6700
FAX: (903) 988-6877

  • CHERYL SCHULIK, VI Specialist: (903) 988-6700

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Region 8 Education Service Center

P.O. Box 1894
Mount Pleasant, Texas 75455
Physical Address:
4845 US Hwy 271 N.
Pittsburg, Texas 75686
PHONE: (903) 572-8551
FAX: (866) 929-4405

  • DAWN ADAMS, VI/DB/DHH Specialist:  (903) 575-2766  

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Region 9 Education Service Center

301 Loop 11
Wichita Falls, Texas 76306
PHONE: (940) 322-6928
FAX: (940) 767-3836

  • TRICIA LEE MARSH, VI/DB Specialist

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Region 10 Education Service Center

400 East Spring Valley Road
Richardson, TX 75083
PHONE: (972) 348-1700
FAX: (972) 348-1569

  • DEATTIA MACDONALD, Team Leader, TVI: (972) 348-1590
  • BELINDA RUDINGER, Team Leader, ST/TVI: (972) 348-1606
  • DONNA CLEMENS, DB/TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • HILLARY KEYS, DB/TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • SCOTT TURNER, Lead COMS: (972) 348-1568
  • HEATHER BALLARD, TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • SCARLETT BAYARD, TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • KARA CHUMBLEY, TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • TRICIA DRACHENBERG, COMS: (972) 348-1568
  • AMANDA VOSS, TVI/COMS: (972) 348-1568
  • CATIE KING, TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • VONECIA HINES, COMS: (972) 348-1568
  • PETRA HUBBARD, TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • KERRI MENSIK, COMS: (972) 348-1568
  • SHELBY WALKER, TVI: (972) 348-1568
  • CATHERINE WELCH, TVI: (972) 348-1568

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Region 11 Education Service Center

3001 North Freeway
Fort Worth, Texas 76106
PHONE: (817) 740-3600
FAX: (817) 740-7647

  • STEPHANIE WALKER, State Leadership Services for The Blind and Visually Impaired: (817) 740-7594


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Region 12 Education Service Center

2101 W. Loop 340
P. O. Box 23409
Waco, Texas 76702-3409
PHONE: (254) 297-1145
FAX: (254) 666-0823

  • MICHELE CRAIG, VI Specialist:  (254) 297-1145 

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Region 13 Education Service Center

5701 Springdale
Austin, Texas 78723
PHONE: (512) 919-5313
FAX: (512) 919-5215

  • DEBRA LEFF, VI Consultant, Project Coordinator/VI/DB Specialist:  (512) 919-5354 
  • BEVERLY JACKSON, COMS:  (512) 919-5331

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Region 14 Education Service Center

1850 State Highway 351
Abilene, Texas 79601
PHONE: (325) 675-8632
FAX: (325) 675-8659

  • BRENDA LEE, VI/DB Specialist:  (325) 675-8632  
  • DENISE BROWN, COMS: (325) 675-8671

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Region 15 Education Service Center

612 South Irene Street
P.O. Box 5199
San Angelo, Texas 76902
PHONE: (325) 658-6571
FAX: (325) 658-6571

  • PAM YARBROUGH, VI/DB Specialist:  (325) 481-4056 
  • VANCE LANKFORD, COMS: (325) 481-4049

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Region 16 Education Service Center

5800 Bell Street
Amarillo, Texas 79109
PHONE: (806) 677-5192
FAX: (806) 677-5205

  • WINSTON SMITH, COMS:  (806) 677-5197 
  • CARLA PARKER, VI Specialist:  (806) 677-5192 

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Region 17 Education Service Center

1111 W. Loop 289
Lubbock, Texas 79416
PHONE: (806) 792-4000
FAX: (806) 792-4545

  • DEANNE GOEN, VI Specialist (806) 281-5712

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Region 18 Education Service Center

2811 LaForce Boulevard
P.O. Box 60580
Midland, Texas 79711
PHONE: (432) 563-2380
FAX: (432) 567-3290

  • FRED MARTINEZ, VI Specialist:  (432) 567-3254

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Region 19 Education Service Center

6611 Boeing Drive
El Paso, Texas 79925
PHONE: (915) 780-1919
FAX: 915-780-5058

  • OLIVIA CHAVEZ, Project Manager, DB Specialist: (915) 780-5344
  • CYNTHIA R. WARNICK, COMS: (915) 780-5343

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Region 20 Education Service Center

1314 Hines Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 78208
PHONE: (210) 370-5433
FAX: (210) 370-5754

  • DEBORAH THOMPSON, DB/VI Specialist, COMS:  (210) 370-5433 

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Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

1100 West 45th Street
Austin, Texas 78756
PHONE: 512-454-8631
FAX: 512-206-9320

  • BILL DAUGHERTY, Superintendent  (512) 206-9133 d
  • CYRAL MILLER, Director of Outreach Programs  (512) 206-9242 m
  • MILES FAIN, Principal of Comprehensive Programs  (512) 206-9251 f
  • SARA MERRITT, Principal of Short Term Programs  (512) 206-9176
  • ANN ADKINS, VI Outreach Consultant  (512) 206-9301 a
  • JIM ALLAN, Statewide Accessibility Specialist  (512) 206-9315 s
  • CINDY BACHOFER, Low Vision Specialist 
  • SCOTT BALTISBERGER, VI Outreach Teacher Trainer (512) 206-9140
  • EDGENIE BELLAH, Deafblind Parent Support (512) 206-9423 b
  • HOLLY COOPER, Infant/Early Childhood Deafblind Specialist  (512) 206-9217 c
  • CHRISSY COWAN, Mentor Coordinator (512) 206-9367
  • ADAM GRAVES, Deafblind Outreach Consultant (512) 206-9389 g
  • KATE HURST, Statewide Staff Development Coordinator  (512) 206-9224 h
  • SARA KITCHEN, VI Outreach Teacher Trainer  (512) 206-9353 k
  • EVA LAVIGNE, VI Outreach Transition Consultant  (512) 206-9271 l
  • CHRIS MONTGOMERY, Deafblind Outreach Consultant  (512) 206-9359 m
  • SHARON NICHOLS, VI Outreach Teacher Trainer  (512) 206-9388 n
  • SUSAN OSTERHAUS, VI Math Specialist Outreach Consultant (512) 206-9305 
  • LYNNE MCALISTER, Early Childhood VI Outreach (512) 206-9269r
  • JEAN ROBINSON, VI Parent Support  (512) 206-9418 r
  • MARY SHORE, Personnel Prep Coordinator (512) 206-9156
  • MATT SCHULTZ, Deafblind Outreach Consultant (512) 206-9348
  • CHRIS TABB, VI COMS Outreach Consultant  (512) 206-9226 t
  • NANCY TOELLE, QPVI Coordinator  (512) 494-8658 n
  • PATRICK VAN GEEM, Outreach Consultant (512) 206-9464  
  • DAVID WILEY, Deafblind Outreach Transition Specialist (512) 206-9219 w 
  • ROBBIE BLAHA, Deafblind Outreach Consultant (512) 206-9232

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Texas Instructional Material Center for the Visually Impaired

1100 West 45th Street
Austin, Texas 78756

  • Sue Enoch, Coordinator, APH Materials/VI Registration/DB Child Count  (512) 206-9270

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Health and Human Services Commission - Blind Children’s Vocational Discovery and Development Program

Children between the ages of birth and 22 years who live in Texas and have vision impairment may be eligible for services. 

BCVDDP offers a wide range of services that are tailored to each child and family's needs and circumstances. We can:

  • Assist your child in developing the confidence and competence needed to be an active part of their community.
  • Provide support and training to you in understanding your rights and responsibilities throughout the educational process.
  • Assist you and your child in the vocational discovery and development process.
  • Provide training to increase your child’s independence and ability to participate in vocational related activities.
  • Supply information to families about additional resources.

By working directly with your entire family, this program can help your child develop the concepts and skills needed to realize their full potential.


Office Locations

4601 South First, Suite M
Abilene, TX 79605-1463
P.O. Box 521
Abilene, TX 79604-0521 MC: 6846

28 Western Plaza Drive
Amarillo, TX 79109 MC: 6878

7701 Metropolis Dr, Blg 12, Ste 100
Austin TX 78744 MC: 0172

3105 Executive Blvd
Beaumont, TX 77708 MC: 0291

Bryan College Station
3000 East Villa Maria Rd
Bryan, TX 77803 MC: 7331

Corpus Christi
4410 Dillon Lane
Corpus Christi, TX 78415 MC: 0734

1545 Mockingbird Lane
Dallas, TX 75235 MC: 0889

440 S Nursery Rd
Irving, TX 75060 MC: 1469

El Paso
401 E. Franklin #240
El Paso, TX 79901 MC: 6900

Fort Worth
4733 E. Lancaster Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76103 MC: 1469

3525 W. Business 83
Harlingen, TX 78552 MC: 1606

1459 E 45th Street
Houston, TX 77022 MC: 1737

1500 N. Arkansas
Laredo, TX 78043 MC: 2031

6302 Iola Street
Lubbock, TX 79424 MC:

1210 S. Chestnut St.
Lufkin, TX 75901 MC: 2201

4501 West Business 83
McAllen, TX 78501 MC: 2222

3016 Kermit Highway, Suite A
Odessa, TX 79764-7307 MC: 6934

San Angelo
622 South Oakes, Suite D
San Angelo, TX 76903-7013 MC: 6979

San Antonio
11307 Roszell
San Antonio, TX 78217 MC: 9057

Southeast Houston
10060 Fuqua
Houston, TX 77089-1337 MC: 6925

3316 S. Lake Drive
Texarkana, TX 75501 MC: 3111

3303 Mineola Highway
Tyler, TX 75702

2306 Leary Lane
Victoria, TX 77901 MC: 3192

801 Austin Avenue #710
Waco, TX 76701-1937 MC: 6820

Wichita Falls
1328 Oakhurst Drive
Wichita Falls, TX 76302 MC:3323


Al’an Kesler (325)829-7257
Western Area Manager
Fax (325) 795-5523

Gay Speake (512)917-1526
Southern Area Manager

Lauren Cox (214)378-2622
Eastern Area Manager


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Department of School Services
Box 13019 SFA Station
Nacogdoches, Texas 75962
PHONE: (936) 468-2906
FAX: (936)468-1342

  • MICHAEL MUNRO, VI Program Director  (936) 468-1036
  • DJ DEAN, VI/Orientation & Mobility (936) 468-1142
  • DEBBIE CADY, VI/Orientation & Mobility (936) 468-2034
  • TRACY HALLAK, VI/Orientation & Mobility (936) 468-1173
  • HEATHER MUNRO, VI/Orientation & Mobility (936) 468-5348
  • PHOEBE OKUNGU, VI (936) 468-5511
  • DONNA WOOD, Administrative Assistant  (936) 468-1145

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Virginia Murray Sowell Center
P. O. Box 41071
Lubbock, Texas 79409
PHONE: (806) 834-2320
FAX: (806) 742-2326

  • NORA GRIFFIN-SHIRLEY (O&M, Professor) (806) 834-0225
  • RONA POGRUND (TVI/Interim DB, Professor) Austin (512) 206-9213
  • ROBIN REKIETA, Administrative Business Assistant  (806) 834-1322
  • ANITA PAGE, Research Associate (806) 834-1515

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Texas Education Agency

1701 North Congress
Austin, Texas 78701
PHONE: (512) 463-9414
FAX: (512) 463-9560

  • BRENT PITT, Division Of IDEA Coordination  

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Texas Workforce Commission - Blind Vocational Rehabilitation Services


Youth & Student Services

Get help preparing for post-secondary education and employment opportunities through the following individualized services.  Services are based on eligibility and your individual need, and are provided in collaboration with the family, high school, community college, or Educational Service Center. 

Pre-Employment Transition Services

Receive core services, as needed, to help prepare for post-secondary education and employment opportunities:

  • Vocational counseling, including counseling in job exploration and post-secondary training opportunities
  • Counseling on opportunities for post-secondary education such as college, vocational schools, etc.
  • Work-based learning experiences, including internships and on-the-job training
  • Training in workplace and employer expectations
  • Training in self-advocacy and social skills

Other Services

Services may be provided to help you achieve your education, training or employment goals, including (as needed):

  • Referrals for hearing, visual and other examinations
  • Assistance with medical appointments and treatment
  • Rehabilitation devices, including hearing aids, wheelchairs, artificial limbs and braces
  • Therapy to address a disability, including occupational or speech therapy and applied behavioral analysis
  • Physical restoration
  • Medical, psychological and vocational assessments
  • Assistive technologies, including screen reader software, computer equipment and other items
  • Job matching and placement services
  • Transportation assistance to and from your job, college or certification program, Referral to other state, federal and community agencies and organizations
  • Rehabilitation Teachers Services to help you learn Braille, orientation & mobility, and home and health management skills if you have a vision-related disability
  • Vocational adjustment training
  • Supported employment services

Kevin Markel (817) 759-3514
Transition Program Field Specialist
(Fax) 817-759-3532

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Banner Photo O&M Page

This page is a place to find resources and information related to Orientation and Mobility. The information and resources found here are intended for the whole Team: professionals, families, and students. This page is intended to provide access to a wide variety of information and resources related to students with visual impairments and deafblindness. Please send ideas for additional resources or features you would like included to Outreach Statewide Orientation and Mobility Consultant, Chris Tabb at .

Quick links for sections on this page:


Blogs, Listservs, and LiveBinders

Education Codes And Legal References

IDEA, Related Services (Sec. 300.34)

Texas Education Code (Specific to Children with Visual Impairments, Sec. 30.002)

Q&A: Expanded Core Curriculum Instruction and Orientation and Mobility Evaluations (Word Format)

Region 18 Legal Framework - summarizes federal and state law by topic

TEA Special Education Rules and Regulations - a resource for federal and state laws, rules, and regulations that covern the delivery of special education servcies in public schools. (As of April 4, 2014 has not been updated to reflect changes related to HB 590 or SB 39.)

Pedestrian Laws in Texas (Sec. 552.010 specific to Blind Pedestrians)Sec. 552.010 specific to Blind Pedestrians)

White Cane Definition and Service Animals in Texas (Sec. 121.002, Sec. 121.005, and Sec. 121.006)121.002, Sec. 121.005, and Sec. 121.006)


Teaching Age-Appropriate Purposeful Skills (TAPS) Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) resource that is an Orientation and Mobility Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments and includes activities and suggestions instruction, assessment, writing evaluations, street crossing details, working with students with ambulatory devices, the list goes on, and on, and on.

Orientation and Mobility Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas (O&M-VISSIT) The O&M VISSIT: Orientation & Mobility Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas is designed to guide orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists in determining the type and amount of itinerant O&M services to recommend for students on their caseload.

New Mexico School for the Blind Orientation and Mobilty Inventory Another option for ongoing evaluation of students' present levels of performance and a terrific tool for planning appropriate goals and objectives.

Guidelines and Standards for Educating Students with Visual Impairments - a "go-to" document for everything about serving students with visual impairments.

Benefits of O&M

General Orientation and Mobility Recommendations for Functional Programs

Michigan O&M Severity Rating Scale 2013 - two downloadable intensity of service scales from the Michigan Department of Education. One for students with visual impairments (OMSRS) and one for students with visual impairments and additional disabilities (OMSRS+).

T-TESS Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System for COMS as a PDF document

Introduction to T-TESS for COMS document for COMS and Administrators PDF

Professional Development Assessment System (PDAS) Companion for VI Professionals: Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS©)

VI and O&M Preparation in Texas

What Should I Charge for Contractual Services? (Word or PDF)

What is the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC)?

Training Events

Southwest Orientation and Mobility Association (SWOMA) is a Southwest regional conference. SWOMA typically occurs annually in or near the beginning of November. Visit the SWOMA Conference Page for additional information.

For other training opportunities around the state and nation, please see the Statewide Calendar of Training Events.


TSBVI's On-the-Go Learning, Orientation and Mobility

Washington State School for the Blind, "Video Clips on Blindness Tips"

Guide Technique from Project IDEAL

How a Blind Person Uses a Cane from BreakingBlind

How To Offer Help To A Blind Person

O & M Video for Parents from Arkansas School for the Blind

Wheelchair Orientation and Mobility from Perkins

Lighthouse O&M Folding Cane Construction from East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in Tyler

Lighthouse O&M Escalator Training from East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind in Tyler


Perkins E-Learning Webinars

Paths To Literacy (Collaborative between Perkins and TSBVI)

Paths to Technology

An Introduction to Orientation and Mobility Skills- Vision Aware

Perkins Scout Orientation and Mobility- Perkins School

Joseph's Coat: People Teaming in Transdisciplinary Ways

Originally published in Spring 1998 SEE/HEAR newsletter, from TSBVI Outreach Programs
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

by Millie Smith, Educational Specialist, TSBVI VI Outreach

In the last five years I have been working with staff and families to support their efforts to team more effectively using the transdisciplinary model. I have not seen or created any perfect transdisciplinary teams during that time. I have seen staff and parents use bits and pieces of the model very effectively to improve programs for students. I am more convinced than ever that transdisciplinary teaming is the best of the service delivery models available to us at the present time. I am equally convinced that the best chance we have of increasing its use is to assure staff and parents that partial implementation is not only realistic, but probably as effective as a more idealistic whole cloth application. The product may be a patchwork conglomeration of pieces supplied by different people at different times, but a coat nevertheless.

The most powerful aspect of the transdisciplinary model, in my opinion, is its emphasis on plugging the expertise of specialists into the day-to-day instruction of students with severe multiple impairments. In this model specialists work in classrooms. They may provide direct instruction or therapy to the student during a regular activity or they may model, coach, and monitor interventions implemented by others. Often they do a combination of both.

Another powerful aspect of the model is that, whenever possible, specialists, instructors, and family members collaborate by meeting together to design instructional activities. More often, they collaborate by leaving each other notes, sharing video tapes, and calling each other on the phone. By collaborating, an effort is made to provide as much consistency in programming as possible across settings and people.

The best approach for implementing transdisciplinary teaming strategies may be to treat the total model like a menu of options. Teams can choose to concentrate their efforts on assessment, IEP development, or instruction. They can do some transdisciplinary work in each category without doing everything that category offers. In order to make informed decisions about where to concentrate efforts, a global understanding of the model is helpful.

Why is transdisciplinary teaming important?

Students with severe impairments receive instruction and services from a variety of different people. Instructors include teachers, teaching assistants, and family members. Special services may include speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision, hearing, and others. Teaming allows specialists, teachers, and families to work together to teach skills in natural contexts where there is more opportunity for frequent practice.

Many specialists have changed the way they serve students with severe impairments in the last ten years. The professional organizations to which most specialists belong have endorsed a service delivery model that emphasizes integration of special services. Integration of special services benefits students with severe impairments in two ways: skills are worked on in natural contexts so that students don't have to try to generalize skills learned in a special setting, and skills are worked on every time the opportunity occurs, whether the specialist is present or not, so that practice is frequent.

In an integrated service delivery model, specialists assess needs, do diagnostic teaching to try out techniques and strategies, model techniques and strategies for other staff and family members, and monitor effectiveness and progress. When the integrated model is transdisciplinary, information is shared among specialists, instructors, and family members. This type of service is intense and dynamic, and highly effective.

How can specialists provide natural contexts and frequent practice?

The traditional service delivery choice for specialists has been direct or consult. For students with severe impairments a wider range of choices is necessary.

Direct Pull-out Always one-to-one. Special equipment. Infrequent practice. Context not natural.
Integrated Direct One-to-one or small group. Natural context. Infrequent practice.
Traditional Consult General information shared. Contact very limited
Collaborative Consult Specific information shared with team. Accountability  tied to progress in instructional activities. Requires more time.

Each of these models has a place in transdisciplinary teaming. For instance, direct pull-out may be appropriate for post trauma students or for a student learning a new communication device. Usually, this service is provided for as short a time as possible and a very structured transition period follows pull-out in order to transfer skills to natural contexts. That transition period might be integrated direct service. Integrated direct service is often used by speech/language pathologists teaching communication skills in natural contexts and by OT's and PT's teaching motor skills in natural contexts. Consult is usually provided in conjunction with direct service. Sometimes consult is the only service provided.

What type of consultation tends to be most effective?

Most consultation is general. Specialists write recommendations in their assessment reports. When specialists consult with teachers, they talk to them about their recommendations. Information is shared at a general level. For example: "This student has CVI. Most CVI students like the color red. If you want the student to look at something, try using red. Moving the object slightly in the peripheral field might also help."

Many teachers will remember the student might like red and they will probably make an attempt to select red materials when they can. When the VI teacher checks back with the teacher after this kind of consult, she may hear something like, "Well, I don't notice that red really makes that much difference."

Specific consultation tends to be more effective. In this type of consultation the specialist assesses, recommends, demonstrates in a natural context, and evaluates results. For example: "This student has CVI. CVI students tend to like red. Let's use a red scoop dish at mealtime instead of the cream colored cafeteria tray. If he can see the bowl, it may be easier to get him to scoop. We may need to position the bowl slightly to the left and move it a little at first. When he looks at the bowl, we'll give him a touch prompt to move his hand to the bowl. I'd like to come in at lunch time and try this a few times. Let's keep data on this for two weeks and see if there are more independent attempts to scoop. We may need to do something with the spoon as well."

Traditional consult by itself puts a very heavy burden on classroom teachers and family members to come up with activities and specific modifications for students with extremely intense needs. Transdisciplinary teams use a more dynamic kind of consultation. When consultation is specific and collaborative, it is a highly effective type of service. It also requires more time than traditional consultation. Students with severe multiple impairments tend to be chronically underserved. The average amount of service in Texas for traditional consult appears to me to be about thirty minutes a month. In many places it is less. A more reasonable average for collaborative consultation would be between two and four hours a month. Time demands are more intense when a team is starting a new program. Once the program is established, less time is needed for monitoring and maintenance.

What are the components of transdisciplinary teaming?

Collaborative Assessment

Collaborative assessment occurs when team members identify strengths and needs through shared observations and discussion. One type of collaborative assessment is an arena assessment. Team members meet together to observe a child as one team member (frequently the parent) interacts with the child. Collaborative assessment can also occur during team meetings designed to share and interpret information gathered by individual team members in one-on-one assessments with the child.

Integrated IEP

A team IEP is a document containing goals and objectives developed collaboratively by all team members. Based on family priorities, the group establishes an integrated set of goals (four to six) and two to three objectives per goal (eight to twelve objectives total for the IEP). If an objective relates to a particular related service, that related service provider is identified as responsible for insuring that instruction addressing the objective is implemented and that documentation is collected.

Natural and Frequent Instruction

IEP goals and objectives are taught in activities which occur naturally and frequently at home, in school, and in the community. A team member, usually a classroom teacher, parent, or teaching assistant, is identified as the direct implementor of instruction for a specified activity which may have several IEP objectives imbedded in it. The related service team member responsible for developing a given IEP objective either integrates direct service or consults with the direct implementor of instruction.

Role Release

Team members share knowledge and skills in their particular areas of expertise by role releasing. This is a systematic process whereby one team member trains another to use specific procedures and techniques. The team member who has received this training may then implement a procedure or technique in a given activity when the trainer is not present. The person with specific knowledge is responsible for ensuring that these procedures and techniques are used effectively and appropriately with a given child.  


Information is gathered for the purpose of evaluating and refining instruction, reporting student progress on objectives, and sharing information with families and team members.

What assessments are important and how does the team use them?

Students with severe impairments are sensory-motor learners. Assessments of sensory and motor skills are extremely important. Cognition and communication are also important areas. Information about skills in each of these areas may be obtained by specialists in their individual assessments done as part of the Comprehensive Individualized Assessment. Assessment of biobehavioral states of arousal may be very helpful for students with the most profound impairments.

In transdisciplinary teams, specialists collaborate to plan their assessments, to carry out their assessments, and to interpret their assessments. Sometimes arena assessments are done. In this type assessment, one person interacts with the student while other team members observe and ask questions guided by the use of protocols specific to their disciplines. The advantage to this assessment approach is that the student interacts with the persons most familiar with him or her. Performance is likely to be more typical under these conditions. The disadvantage to this approach is that, although total assessment time tends to be less overall, assembling all team members in the same place at the same time can be difficult.

After teams assess, they must share information and come up with program priorities. Instruction is sometimes ineffective for students with severe impairments because too many needs are addressed. Instruction is much more effective if instruction is very focused on four or five priorities. These priorities become goals. Specific needs in each goal area are then identified. These become objectives.

What should a good transdisciplinary IEP contain?


The team uses assessments to select four to six priorities for the school year. Each of these becomes an annual goal. Some teams write very broad goals; some write more specific goals. Each annual goal should be a statement of what the team believes the child can accomplish within a school year. A broad goal would be: "Student will improve his expressive and receptive communication skills." A more specific annual goal would be: "Student will use ten expressive signs in appropriate contexts." Specific goals work best for students with severe impairments.


Objectives are the steps between the child's current level of performance and the annual goal. They state one specific task the child will do, at what level, by when, and what criteria will be used to measure progress. For a broad goal, the team might write: "Student will use five expressive signs during meal time and snacks, independently, eighty percent of the time, measured by teacher observation." For a more specific goal, the team might write: "Student will use name sign to greet nurse when he gets meds, independently, eighty percent of the time, measured by teacher observation." Specific objectives work best for students with severe impairments.


A skill is the behavior to be learned. The phrase following the word "will" in the objective is usually the skill. In a transdisciplinary IEP, specific discipline skills are imbedded in objectives. An objective might be that a student will assist during meals by opening his mouth for bites. The VI teacher might add that the student will open his mouth for bites when a brightly colored spoon is moved slightly in the right peripheral field of the right eye from a distance of six inches.


An activity is the context in which the skill will be used. The phrase following the word "during" in the objective is usually an activity. Teams include information about context in objectives to make measurement more meaningful.


These are the techniques, technology, and strategies which are necessary to ensure the highest level of participation for the student in the activities of his school day. Federal law requires that these be specified in the IEP. Most school districts include a generic modification page in the ARD papers. Some of these may be useful, but teams have to come up with more specific modifications in order for progress on objectives to occur. A general modification for a special education student might be "shorten assignments." A specific modification for a student with severe impairments might be "use adapted spoon."

Some teams continue to write traditional IEP's in which each team member comes up with his or her own set of goals and objectives. Students with severe impairments can't usually learn as many things as team members can come up with to try to teach them. Also, when team members are trying to teach too many things, they tend to scatter their energy and not teach any one thing very intensely. Teams tend to be more accountable when they focus their attention by writing one collaborative IEP. In this approach special skills are integrated into short-term objectives.

Student: Catherine 
Date Accepted by ARD Committee: 5/1/95 
Annual Goal: Will improve functional use of objects*

Short-Term ObjectivesEval. Method
Observation Formal testing
(Accuracy Level)
TargetedPresent  CompetenciesMet  Y/N
1. Will visually locate a desired object in an adapted environment during rec/leisure time. 
Direct Implementor(s): Classroom Teacher/TA 
Support Staff Responsible: VI Teacher 
Begin Date: 8/95 End Date: 5/96
Observation Independent Frequent physicalmanipulation  
2. Will look at an object presented by a caregiver to request continuation of an activity during grooming activities. 
Direct Implementor(s): Teaching Asst./Mother 
Support Staff Responsible: VI Teacher 
Begin Date: 8/95 End Date: 5/96
Observation 90% 20%  

* Sensory skills are integrated in short-term objects.

Sometimes a column for modifications is added. The example given in objective number one might include: Modifications: Den/Little Room

How is instruction provided in natural contexts by the whole team?

routine is a teaching strategy that focuses the team's efforts on specific activities that occur with high frequency in the student's schedule. Routines are designed to teach specific special skills to students who require consistency and repetition in order to learn. As skills are learned, the student's level of participation in activities increases. Any activity can be developed into a routine when team members plan what they will teach and adapt for a given student. An activity is not a routine unless it meets the following criteria:

  • There is a clear signal to the student that the activity is starting.
  • The steps of the activity occur in the same sequence every time.
  • Each step is done in the same way each time (same materials, same person, same place).
  • Modifications and techniques provided by specialists are implemented exactly as directed.
  • The minimum amount of assistance is provided in order to allow students to do as much as they possibly can.
  • The pacing of instruction is precisely maintained until the activity is finished (no side conversations, going off to get something you forgot, or adding new or different steps that won't happen the next time the activity is done).
  • There is a clear signal to the student that the activity is finished.

Why are routines worth the trouble?

The power of a routine is the precise planning of what the student will do and how he will do it on each step of the routine. Many students are able to learn new skills and participate at higher levels when this strategy is used because they need the following things that routines provide:

  • Predictability: "I know what is going to happen from start to finish."
  • Consistency: "I know what I am supposed to do."
  • Anticipation: "When you do that, I know what to get ready for."
  • Practice: "I remember what I did last time and I can try to do more this time."

Students with severe impairments rarely do every step of a routine independently, but they are afforded the dignity of doing everything that they are cognitively and physically capable of doing.

What do routines look like?

Mealtime is a good activity to develop into a routine because it usually happens three times a day. Practice opportunities are frequent. The team's plan might look something like this:

  1. Get spoon from calendar box to begin activity. 
    Target skill: Tactual exploration of objects in calendar to recognize spoon. 
    Person responsible: VI teacher. 
    Strategy: VI teacher demonstrates shadowing technique to TA to decrease student's aversion to hand over hand manipulation.
  2. Take spoon to eating area. 
    Target skill: Maintain grasp, intentional release. 
    Person responsible: OT 
    Strategy: OT demonstrates use of "buncher" for grasp and pressure point technique for release to T.A. who will implement instruction.
  3. Give spoon to adult to request meal. 
    Target skill: Use object to request. 
    Person responsible: Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) 
    Strategy: SLP demonstrates touch cueing technique to TA who will implement instruction.
  4. Eat. 
    Target skill: Manipulate spoon for scooping. 
    Person responsible: OT 
    Strategy: OT provides adaptive equipment and demonstrates technique to TA who will implement instruction.
  5. Put spoon in washtub at dish window to end activity. 
    Target skill: Maintain grasp, intentional placement. 
    Person responsible: OT and VI teacher. 
    Strategy: OT demonstrates arm support technique to TA who will implement instruction. VI teacher provides visual enhancement of target.

How do specialists help other team members address needs in their areas?

Transdisciplinary teams use a procedure called role release. Any team member having special skills may train any other team member needing those skills. The need for a team member to have certain skills is usually dictated by scheduling. Specialists cannot always be present when a skill needs to be taught in a natural context. Specialists have certain responsibilities. They cannot release their role to another until that person demonstrates that she can perform without prompts. The specialist must then monitor the activity to ensure that the released procedure is performed as taught.

The role release process usually consists of the following steps:

  • The specialist and other team members share information related to the need.
  • The specialist teaches the designated person(s) a specific procedure to address the need.
  • The specialist supervises the implementation of the procedure and makes adjustments as needed.

Communication among team members is essential in the role release process. Members must be able to ask questions, seek help, and respond quickly. Here are some tips for increasing and maintaining contact:

  • Schedule time to observe activities.
  • Review videotapes of activities between observations.
  • Attend team meetings.
  • Post notes to team members on a special bulletin board.
  • Keep documentation in an area where all team members can access it.
  • Keep a school/home notebook.

How do teams document student progress?

There are two things to remember about documentation:

  • It is important because team members have to know what's working and what isn't working
    Students with severe impairments don't fail to make progress, but teams may fail to provide the necessary level of support in order for progress to occur.
  • It must be easy to gather so that it does not take time away from teaching and attention away from the student.

Different kinds of documentation are appropriate in different situations. Here are some common types:

  • Frequency Tally Method: A mark is entered each time the designated behavior occurs. The event may be a student behavior (signed "more") or the event may be a teacher behavior (touch prompt given).
  • Annotation: The teacher may write a comment describing the student's performance on a given trial.
  • Plus/Minus: The target skill occurred or did not occur.
  • Level of Prompt: A letter is entered to indicate the highest level of prompting given during the trial (hand-over-hand, touch prompt, verbal prompt, independent).

Be consistent. Decide which method fits best for a given situation and stick with that method. The whole team must use the same methods in the same situations.

Routine and data sheet sample.

An example of a routine with annotative documentation is included on page thirteen (Routine and Data Sheet). Notice that documentation is kept only if the step is one in which an IEP objective is addressed. If there is no number in the IEP column, no documentation is kept.

How do specialists document service time?

Parents typically do not demonstrate a high degree of confidence in consultative services. Some demand direct service because they fear that their children's needs will not be addressed adequately in a consultative model. This can be counterproductive for students with severe impairments who need frequent intervention in natural contexts. One way to assure parents and other team members that real help is being provided is to share documentation.

Most specialists are used to keeping records of some sort for their supervisors. These may consist of student contact logs or observation summary forms. An example of a contact sheet which emphasizes the team approach is shown on page fourteen (Sample of a Collaborative Service Delivery Contact Sheet).

Routine and Data Sheet 
Routine: Hair Care Time 
Implementor: Classroom Teacher, TA 
Time: 9:00 a.m. 
Location: Classroom

Routine StepsAdaptation/ModificationIEPComments/Data
1. Travel to hair drying area. Chair pushed to hair drying area. Looks at caregiver to signal readiness.    
2. Visually locate hair dryer. Caregiver wears dark-colored smock against which bright yellow hair dryer is held. Use object lighting, if necessary. #1 Looked at hair dryer on third  of three presentations after light enhancement provided.
3. Turn desired part of head/ face to airflow as caregiver holds dryer.      
4. Visually locate hair dryer each time care-giver turns it off to request continuation of activity. See #2 #1 Looked at hair dryer on second and fourth - presentations no light.
5. Visually locate hair-brush held by teacher. Caregiver holds bright red  hairbrush against smock. Use object lighting, if necessary. #1 Did not respond, four presenta tions with light (contrast may not be adequate, try different  colored brush.)
6. Cooperate while hair is brushed by caregiver.      
7. Travel to area of next activity. Looks at caregiver to signal  readiness for lift. Chair is pushed to next area.    

Documentation Date: 10/7/95 Documentor's Signature: (VI Teacher)

Sample of a Collaborative Service Delivery Contact Sheet

Student: Catherine 
Service Provider: M. Smith, VI Teacher

DateTime InTime OutStaff PresentService Delivered
2/7 9:30  10:00 T. Johnson, Linda Evaluated visual responses (JVE)
2/11 2:00 2:30 Linda Evaluated visual responses (JVE)
2/18 3:00 3:30 T. Johnson, Linda & Parent Wrote activity routine
2/22 9:30 10:00 Linda Role release hair dryer procedure
3/12 9:30 10:00 Linda Observed & modified hair routine

Administrator's Signature: _______________________


Remember Joseph's coat. It was made a piece at a time. It might be a good idea to remember that Joseph probably wore some other garments as well. If your team ends up with a vest or a really good pair of socks, success is just as sweet. Good luck!

What a Concept!

(First Published in Spring 2000 SEE/HERE Newsletter)

Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Jim Durkel, CCC-SPL/A and Statewide Staff Development Coordinator (with help from Kate Moss (Hurst), Stacy Shafer and Debra Sewell) Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Outreach

Communication has three parts. The most noticeable part is the "form." Form is how the communication happens. It is the behavior used to communicate. Speech is one communication form. Sign language is another. Crying, using objects, using pictures, even falling asleep - all of these are behaviors we do, forms we use, to communicate.

"Use" is another part of communication. What is the purpose? Is it to share information, direct attention, request something, ask or answer a question? All of these are reasons why we communicate.

The third part of communication is called "content." Content is the part of communication that deals with meaning. It is noon. I am hungry. I walk up to you, look at you and say, "Lunch?" My voice rises at the end of the word, and I raise my eyebrows when I say it. Those are the ways I communicate, my forms (we usually use several at once). I am using these forms to ask you if you want to have lunch with me. That is why I say that word to you in that way. It is the reason I am doing this. But what does "lunch" mean? What is the content? Am I asking if you want to go eat and drink somewhere for 2 hours, or am I asking you if you want to go to McDonald's and be finished in 30 minutes? Am I asking you to cook this noon meal for me as you have for the last 20 years, or am I offering to cook it for you? You and I probably have a shared idea of what "lunch" in this context means. We understand that other people may or may not use it as we do. The shared idea is the "content" part of communication.

This content develops as a result of several things. First, you and I have decided what the word means to each of us. This was not taught to us. We "figured out" the meaning. We heard it used at the same time everyday. We did something the same way as we heard it (or very shortly after we heard it). More than likely, there were actions, smells, tastes, sights, sounds, objects and maybe other people involved in what we did when we heard the word.

We developed our own meaning or concept for "lunch" based on our personal experiences. Even if we did not hear the word "lunch" used, we still developed an understanding of what happens at a noon meal. We discovered how it was the same as other meals (we sat at a table, we ate food) and how it was different. (We did not eat cereal like at the morning meal, and we usually did not eat as much as at the evening meal.) We developed a concept of lunch.

Once we had the concept, we paid attention to the form ("lunch"). We heard the word "lunch" every time we had our noon meal. Next, we figured out if that form referred to the same concept for all people. Some folks eat "dinner" at noon! Last, we figured out how to use that form in certain ways to get people to fix us lunch or eat lunch with us.

Children with visual impairments, including deafblindness and children with multiple impairments, have difficulty developing concepts. They have difficulty understanding how the world works, how parts of the world relate to other parts, how these parts are the same and how they are different. What makes the communication of children with a loss of vision really different from the communication of other children, is that many of these children often use communication forms without having the content or meaning or concept firmly in mind. Often, children with a vision loss are good at hearing, remembering, and using words without having a real "gut" sense of what they are saying. I do the same thing whenever I try to talk about football. I know the talk, but I can't walk the walk. I know labels ("tight end," "Hail Mary Pass"), but I did not have the experience of playing football. I do not really have concepts for these words.

Many people think of concepts as things like "right," "left," "top," and "bottom." These are a particular type of concept having to do with positions in space. But "tree" is a concept, as is "dog," "house," "push," and "work." There is the concept of "book" and of "reading." Concepts can also be about events, such as "going shopping" or "visiting Grandma." The story of "Snow White" is a concept. And so on. All the words we know, all the language we speak and read, have underlying concepts. Some concepts are expressed in one word, like "lunch." Other concepts are expressed only by using several words in a specific way, "After I run some errands, I will eat lunch."

Impaired concept development will impact learning later in life. For example, most teaching after second grade is not "hands on." Students are expected to read about and/or listen to the teacher talk about something. For students who have good experience-based concepts, this kind of learning is OK. So what if you have never been in an igloo. You understand houses, and you understand how various kinds of houses are different and how they are the same. You understand that not everyone lives in Central Texas, where ice outside is a rare thing. You understand ice and how it can look like a brick. You can read about an igloo and relate what you read to what you know. If those basic concepts are shaky, your understanding of what you read will be shaky too. Even if you can say all the words, read all the print, or read all the Braille.

When I say concepts, many people think, "label." They think we should always be talking to children with visual impairments. They think the underlying problem is that children "just need the words." But this is not really true. Concept development is delayed because vision is what drives the typically developing infant to move and interact with objects. When vision is impaired, often this drive is also impaired. Babies with visual impairments do not handle objects in the same way that babies with no vision loss do. They do not explore the environment the same way. They also do not see the actions of others well or at all. They cannot rely on vision to give them information to the same extent that babies with no visual impairment can. Vision also allows one to see how one piece of the world relates to several other pieces of the world. Children with visual impairments have to view their world piece by piece; then put it all together into the big picture. Children with no visual impairment can see the big picture first; then look at the pieces; then go back to the big picture. For example, a child with no vision loss will see that I am holding a rattle. She will look at the rattle and at me, and she gets the picture that the rattle is "attached" to me. A child with a visual impairment will hear the rattle, maybe see it, but may not understand that the rattle is "attached" to me. For that child, objects appear to float in space, unless we help her get the big picture. All of these things happen during an early time of learning called the sensorimotor period.

The sensorimotor period was named by Jean Piaget, a French psychologist. He studied how children developed concepts and made sense out of the world. He believed that children "constructed" these concepts through active exploration and interaction with the environment. Most of this exploration and interaction took place during play. Piaget said that the sensorimotor period in most children lasted from birth to the age of 2 years. During this time, children learn about their bodies, their own actions and the actions of others. Children also learn about the properties of objects and how objects are used. Children begin this learning by accident, then through their own deliberate movement, then by watching others. This is a time of developing concepts about how the world works through the use of sensory and motor (sensorimotor) skills.

Jan van Dijk, a Dutch psychologist who works with children with deafblindness, says that all we know can be traced back to our actions. He gives the example of asking us to define a castle. We say, "It is where the queen lives." He responds, "Yes, tell me more." We say, "It has towers and big gates." If he keeps asking questions, eventually we say it is where people eat and sleep and play. And, that eating, sleeping, and playing means using certain objects in certain ways. We have used these objects and performed these actions. These are concepts that we usually develop during the sensorimotor period.

Our experiences can give us concepts that are very unique to us. You probably heard the story of the woman who called her mother to ask about how to make a roast. Mother told her to get the roast, cut off the end, rub it with oil and pepper, put it in a pan, and bake it in the oven for a period of time. The roast was great, and later Daughter asked Mother why she had to cut off the end of the roast. Mother said she did not know but that was how her mother did it. When they asked Grandmother why they had to cut off the end of the roast, Grandmother said she did that because otherwise a roast would not fit into her pan.

We all have our unique ideas about the world around us. If you use chairs as something to hold on to and push around the room to help you walk, your concept of "chairness" may be different than mine (I think they are to put my legs on when I sit on the table). Children with visual impairments are not incapable of learning the concept of "tree." But their concept may be very different than mine because we rely upon different senses and have different experiences of "treeness." A 2-year-old with a visual impairment may know all about rustling leaves, a piece of treeness I did not learn until much later in life!

Kurt Fisher, an American psychologist, says that we put together basic concepts into bigger and bigger "chunks." For example, we learn about how one object can be stood up on top of one another. Another time, we learn that if we push a ball, it will roll. Another time, we learn that a rolling ball can knock over things. We put all these things together when we set bowling pins upright on the floor and aim a bowling ball at them in order to knock them down. Sensorimotor concepts that we can use as adults!

Some people call these bigger chunks of basic concepts, "scripts." A script usually involves a series of actions. We have a script for going to the grocery store. We get our cart, walk up and down the aisles, put food in the cart, and then pay for that food. Some of us may have parts in our scripts where we eat the free samples, some of us don't! We learn how a script for buying food at a Walmart superstore is different from buying food at a convenience store.

We also develop more abstract and more complex concepts, as we grow older. We learn about the physical world in science classes. We start by dividing the world into things that move and eat and things that don't. We don't stop categorizing until well after we are discussing bacteria and plankton and chemical compounds. We learn about our own bodies and our lives; then learn about our friends' lives; and then we are discussing Arab-Jewish relations in Israel. We learn about in and out and on and off; and then we are booting up computers, putting in our floppies and typing away. But all these concepts start with what we learn in the sensorimotor period. They start with our own experiences, not what we have been told about another person's experiences.

How do we help a child with visual impairments develop a solid base of concept development? The key is not to so much tell the child about the world around them, as it is to provide the child with experiences that allow them create these concepts for themselves. For example, telling a child who has no vision about you washing dishes is not as good as having the child right there with you. She needs to learn about dish washing as she feels the suds, experiences the dirty dish going into the water, notices the difference between the wash water and the rinse water, and touches the dishes in the dish rack. You can use words to describe what the child is experiencing, but don't use words without the experience.

Another way to help the child develop these concepts is to give them opportunities for exploration and play. The OT, PT, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, and Teacher for Students with Visual Impairments all need to work with families to help children develop motor skills they can use to explore the world. Sometimes this means that children need "help" to move independently. Sometimes it means that children need toys that sound interesting to encourage exploration or toys that feel interesting, or toys that we know the child can see and will enjoy examining.

A child with visual impairments needs to have routines in order to learn how pieces of the world are connected. We need to provide an environment that is predictable. How is eating different than bathing? Each happens in a predictable place, with distinct objects and actions, and at certain times during the day.

A predictable environment is also one where I can find things easily. During the first part of the sensorimotor period, children without a vision loss "forget" about things they can't see. Gradually the child learns that objects do continue to exist, even when they are out of sight. This is a harder concept for children with visual impairments to learn. Anything these children can't touch or hear is gone. We can help these children learn about the permanence of objects by creating a situation where objects are easy to find and where objects don't get lost quite so easily. We can do this by attaching toys to a frame with string or by putting the baby in a play pen with her toys velcroed to the same place on the floor or to the slats every time. We can make sure a toddler's toys are always in the same place, and that the toddler has lots of landmarks to use to find those toys. We can look for toys that make sounds, so the child can hear them even if he can't see or touch them (We need to remember that reaching to a sound happens later in the infant's life than reaching for an object he can see).

Children need toys that help them make comparisons. If we give a child blocks to play with, we should give her all types of blocks. She needs LEGOs and wooden blocks and big blocks and small blocks; so that she can compare and discover for herself what makes a block a block. Some important comparisons are materials (wooden spoons vs. metal spoons), size (big spoons vs. small spoons), shape (a plain spoon vs. a spoon with Bugs Bunny for the handle), number (one spoon vs. many spoons) or the objects themselves (spoons vs. forks).

Toys and objects should respond to the child's actions. The child needs to have things that she can squeeze, rattle, open, close, stack, turn, pull apart, and put together. The child also needs things that get warm when she holds them, things that move when she pushes, and things that make sounds when she blows through them.

Provide the child with real, every day objects. Pots and pans, cups, plates, forks, blankets, brooms, TV remotes, toilet paper, towels, and sponges.

We need to provide experiences. We need to take the child with us to the store, post office, and dry cleaners. We need to explore parks and malls. We need to have the child with us while we wash dishes, make beds, prepare meals, put gas in the car, shine shoes, fold clothes, and plant flowers.

Hooking new learning on to old concepts is one way to help the child learn more about her world in a meaningful way. It allows the child to try new things and change her ideas about the things she already knows. New things should not be totally new. We need to introduce new things to our children in a way that does not scare them. Some part of the new thing should be familiar to the child. If we are introducing a new object, is there some way the new object is like something the child already enjoys? Is it the same size, the same color, the same shape? Can the child try familiar actions such as banging or opening or rolling on the new object? Does the new object make the same noise a familiar object makes?

Children need lots of time to try something over and over in order to make sense of it. Let your child play. Let your child direct the play. You can join in and play with your child, but do what she is doing before you try to show the child something new. Let the child know that she can have interests of her own, and then that you can show her new ways of doing things.

Concept learning and teaching should be fun for both adult and child. It is exciting to see children discover the world. It is thrilling to see children having new ideas. It is a joy to be part of that discovery and learning.

Woman driving a car using bioptics.

Many individuals with low vision are eligible to become drivers using bioptics, a small telescopic lens mounted on the frame(s) of glasses.  Each state has its own laws governing the use of bioptics when driving and most states have certified driving instructors who can provide driver's education for these individuals.  Considering whether or not to become a driver using a bioptic is a complex decision.

A good place to start considering whether bioptic driving is to practice Passenger-in-Car Skills.  With your parent(s) or other licensed drivers, grab the front passenger seat and go for a drive using your monocular or bioptic.  Practice refines the essential skill of rapidly moving your focus into and out of the bioptic. These activities will focus on the following skills:

  • Distance viewing
  • Bioptic usage
  • Hazard perception

5 Keys to Safe Space Cushion Driving

There are 5 key things to remember that will keep you at a safe distance from hazards while driving.  These are:

  • Aim high in steering
  • Keep your eyes moving
  • Get the big picture
  • Leave yourself an out
  • Use lights, horn and signals properly

(Source: Smith System Driver Improvement Institute, Arlington, TX) 

When we talk of aiming high in steering, it means looking down the road as far as possible when traveling.  It is important to understand that as speed goes up, you must look further ahead to have time to respond to traffic and hazards.  Though you are looking forward using your bioptic as necessary to spot targets when driving, you also have to be scanning so you can get the big picture.  This allows you to use to always have “an out” for yourself while in traffic or when an unsafe condition occurs.  That way you can use your lights, horn, signals, and brakes properly to keep you and others safe when you are behind the wheel.

About the Bioptic Driving Exercises

The Bioptic Driving Exercises 1-3 that accompany this introduction are developed by Chuck Huss, COMS, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist with the West Virginia Bioptic Driving Program and are meant to be activities that prospective bioptic drivers can utilize to improve their use of a bioptic before actually getting behind the wheel.  Done with the support of a parent or other licensed driver they can help the aspiring driver identify skills that they need to work on and provide practice to improve these skills.  They can also help parents understand better what their child is able to see from the front seat of a car before deciding if their child should get behind the wheel.

The exercises that follow were developed by TSBVI Outreach Programs based on materials from Chuck Huss, COMS, Driver Rehabilitation Specialist with the West Virginia Bioptic Driving Program in 2015 for the In the Driver's Seat workshop.

Exercise 1

Exercise 2

Exercise 3



In the Driver's Seat: Low Vision Specialist, Dr. Laura Miller

Description: In the Driver's Seat. A conversation with Low Vision Specialis Dr. Laura S. Miller, O.D. about bioptic designs, and the visual acuity & fields necsssary to pursue a Texas Driver's License.

Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 1

Description: In the Drivers' Seat Interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about pros and cons of hand-held and head-borne telescopes, specialized training for drivers with low vision, and common restrictions for drivers with low vision.

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 1
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 2

Description: In the Drivers' Seat Part two of an interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about pre-requisite skills that any person needs to learn to drive safely; i.e. learning how, where and what to look for when traveling.

In the Driver's Seat: Pre-Driver Readiness Skills - Part 2
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: From the Parent's Perspective

Description: In the Drivers' Seat An interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about how parents can build the prerequisite skills needed to be a safe traveler, and how to help their child explore whether or not bioptic driving is for them.

In the Driver's Seat: From the Parent's Perspective
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

In the Driver's Seat: From the COMS Perspective

Description: In the Drivers' Seat An interview with Rehabilitation Specialist, Chuck Huss, about how Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialists and help in teaching the prerequisite skills needed to become a bioptic driver.

In the Driver's Seat: From the COMS Perspective
Downloads: Transcript (txt) Audio (mp3)

  • National DeafBlind Child Count, NCDB"The term, 'children with deafblindness,' means children and youth having auditory and visual impairments, the combination of which creates such severe communication and other developmental and learning needs that they cannot be appropriately educated without special education and related services, beyond those that would be provided solely for children with hearing impairments, visual impairments, or severe disabilities to address their educational needs due to these concurrent disabilities."  
  • This is the definition and the ways that a student may meet IDEA eligibility as DeafBlind in Texas. Texas Education Agency, TEA, Chapter 89, Subchapter AA:

(2) Deaf-blindness. A student with deaf-blindness is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for deaf-blindness as stated in 34 CFR, §300.7(c)(2). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.7(c)(2), a student with deaf-blindness is one who, based on the evaluations specified in subsections (c)(3) and (c)(12) of this section:

(A) meets the eligibility criteria for auditory impairment specified in subsection (c)(3) of this section and visual impairment specified in subsection (c)(12) of this section;

(B) meets the eligibility criteria for a student with a visual impairment and has a suspected hearing loss that cannot be demonstrated conclusively, but a speech/language therapist, a certified speech and language therapist, or a licensed speech language pathologist indicates there is no speech at an age when speech would normally be expected;

(C) has documented hearing and visual losses that, if considered individually, may not meet the requirements for auditory impairment or visual impairment, but the combination of such losses adversely affects the student's educational performance; or

(D) has a documented medical diagnosis of a progressive medical condition that will result in concomitant hearing and visual losses that, without special education intervention, will adversely affect the student's educational performance.

Meeting eligibility in one of these ways requires both hearing and vision professionals at least attend ARD meetings.

The majority of students reported on the Deafblind Census will fall into one of the 4 categories above.

Examples of (A) could include

  • a child with Usher Syndrome 1, where the hearing loss is well documented and the vision loss has resulted in visual field loss.
  • a child with hearing loss and vision result of prenatal exposure to CMV as the cause of both hearing and vision loss.

An example of (B) could include students with suspected hearing loss and the team needs one year to confirm or deny the presence of the hearing loss. It was not intended that these students maintain this form of eligibility for longer than one year. 

A examples of (C) could include the student with Down Syndrome who has high myopia and a mild fluctuating conductive hearing loss.  Alone, these losses may not impact education.  However, given the presence of Down Syndrome together with these mild losses, the educational impact of the combined losses may be greater than anticipated.  This could be confirmed by a functional vision and functional hearing assessment.

A example of (D) would include students with Usher type 2 where the hearing loss is present from birth but the vision loss is slow to develop.  These students may not show any vision loss until very late in their high school years but there may be value working on a transition plan for them.  There may be value in connecting the to other students and families with Usher type 2.

There may be students who could be placed on the Deafblind Census that an ARD committee has decided do not meet the above criteria.  These could include:

  • A student in general education who does not need special education and yet has a combined hearing and vision loss (including progressive losses).  An example would include a student with Usher type 2 for whom the hearing loss is not creating educational need and the vision loss has not progressed to the point of educational need either.  A student like this may or may not be receiving 504 services.
  • A student who meets eligibility but the ARD committee has decided to not consider one or another of the sensory categories, usually for social/emotional reasons.  An example of this would be the student with Usher type 1 who has grown up profoundly deaf, uses visual communication and is considered too emotionally fragile at this time to receive the additional label of visually impaired.
  • Students suspected of being deafblind but more assessment is needed.  These students can remain on the census for year as assessment data is being collected. Assessment could include functional vision and functional hearing testing in the absence of good eye medical or audiological information.  This might include the student who is so medically fragile that trips outside the home to get this kind of medical information are not easily possible.


 AI Teacher

 VI Teacher

SPED Teacher

 Teacher of DB

Informal assessment and/or formal evaluation

 Contribute to assessment of communication skills and determination of primary mode of communication. Contribute to physical portion (otological and audiological information,) social/emotional, cognition, and achievement as it relates to AI

 Functional Vision Evaluation Learning Media Assessment Eye report VI Registration Consent form DB Census Consent form


 Functional Communication assessment (communication Matrix, ADAMLS, JvD’s Child guided Assess, ISA, SLK)

Contribution at ARD Meetings

 Contribute to AI Supplement (in ARD document), interpretation of otological and audiological reports; PLAAFP of communication skills

 VI Supplement (interpretation  of parts A&B, as they pertain to FVE/LMA); Contribute to PLAAFP on  use of vision; interpretation of eye report, recommendations from FVE/LMA


 DB Supplement (interpretation of AI/VI supplement as it pertains to DB implications)

Ongoing Data Collection

 Participate in ongoing data collection  and progress monitoring

 Participate in ongoing data collection  and progress monitoring

Data collection and progress monitoring

 Data collection and progress monitoring

Contribution at ARD Meetings Annual Goals and Objectives

Update Annual Goals and Obj’s  as they relate to AI (this may include communication, academics, and/or social emotional/behavior)

Annual Goals and Obj’s as they relate to VI

Annual Goals and Obj’s

Annual Goals and Obj’s – As they relate to DB

Contribution at ARD Meetings

Contribute to accommodation page as related to AI

Contribute to accommodation page as related to VI

Contribute to accommodation page

Contribute to accommodation page

Contribution at ARD Meetings

Provide parent information packet annually for A.I. (should include TSD and any other resources)

Parent information packet for VI (Annual ARD) Must include information on TSBVI; include Benefits of Braille if student is functionally blind; Benefits of O&M and any other resources and supportive agencies


Parent information packet for DB (Annual ARD)

By Jim Durkel, CCC SPL/A and Statewide Staff Development Coordinator, TSBVI OutreachWith help from Jenny Lace, Gigi Newton, and Kate Moss, TSBVI Texas Deafblind Outreach

Originally published in the Fall 2003 See/Hear Newsletter

Abstract: This article discusses the importance of including auditory training in curriculum for students who are deafblind. It also offers some suggestions for activities and resources related to providing auditory training.

Key Words: deafblind, auditory training, auditory assessment, hearing aid, cochlear implant

Children who are deafblind need to develop skills in using auditory information. Children who are deafblind need to learn to use whatever residual hearing they may have for a variety of reasons including travel safety, identifying people, literacy, communication, and so forth. They also need to learn how to use adaptive devices and equipment such as cochlear implants, hearing aids, and voice output devices. Auditory skills development, just like visual skills development, requires well-thought-out instruction that is provided regularly and consistently throughout the child's school career. Learning to listen, a skill we all need help with, is a skill that is critical for these children.

Steps in Providing Auditory Training

For children with visual impairment or deafblindness the first step in auditory training is to provide access to as much auditory information as possible. If there is a hearing problem, this starts with the use of hearing aids or a cochlear implant. Key to the use of these devices is good behavioral audiological assessment. This is because the best hearing aid or implant fit can't be obtained without behavioral testing.

Any child who is unable to participate in pure tone conventional screening, may need the educational team to compile information about his functional use of hearing before going to the audiologist. Some of the same activities that teach listening can be used to check hearing. By including listening activities at a level appropriate to the child, the child will learn to respond better in more formal hearing assessment situations. The team that knows exactly what behaviors indicate a child with limited communication skills has heard something can be very helpful to the audiologist who may not know what to look for as a response.

The next step is getting consistent use of the device (implant, hearing aid) if the child needs one. A hearing aid or implant is of no help to the child if the child doesn't wear it regularly.

The third step (if the child has some type of device) is to establish a system of daily checks of the hearing aid or implant to make sure it is working properly. Wearing a broken device is an additional impairment to whatever residual hearing the child might otherwise have available to use.

It is important to understand that, even though a child consistently wears an appropriate device in good working condition, he may still not have the same access to auditory information as another child. Each child will have a unique blend of abilities in the areas of hearing, vision, thinking and communication. Some children can become very sophisticated users of a wide range of auditory information while other children may be able to learn to use some, but not as much, auditory information. However, any child will benefit from learning to use any and all auditory information they can.

After the hearing aid or implant, then what?

Auditory training does not end with putting on a hearing aid or implant. The child needs help to learn how to use the device and the information the device allows him to hear. The goal of auditory training is to help a student discriminate sound (in increasingly fine steps from gross sounds to speech) in order to gain meaning from the sounds he hears.

Goals at the highest level of auditory training focus on helping a child use speech. Using speech well requires a person to make very fine discriminations of pitch, loudness, and timing. When we hear a child give an appropriate verbal response to another person's spoken word or phrase (verbal stimulus), we know that he is making those fine discriminations. For most children the social benefits of responding to others' verbal communication is enough reinforcement that they learn quite naturally to make these discriminations and responses. For example, a baby eagerly says "bye-bye" again and again, just to trigger his grandmother's delight and keep her interacting when she announces it's time to go home.

Remember that auditory training is about helping a child make finer and finer discriminations. A gross discrimination is being able to recognize absolute quiet from a very loud sound. The sound is there or not there. A fine discrimination is the difference between the sound "s" like the first sound in "sun" and "f" like the first sound in "fun." Even people who are hearing have trouble hearing the difference between these sounds (especially over telephones!)

Moving from a gross discrimination like the presence or absence of sound, one step towards a finer discrimination would be to hear the difference between a loud sound and a quiet sound. The next step from there is to hear the difference between a loud sound, a medium sound, and a quiet sound.

Now, it is not just enough to be able to hear these differences. We want our to children to recognize why these differences are important. We want our children to respond in a way that demonstrates that sounds have meaning. For example, a car horn honking is important to pay attention to; it signals danger. A loud knock at the door or the sound of a doorbell lets you know that someone is outside and wants to come in for a visit. The telephone ringing, the sound of the alarm clock ring, and many other sounds have meaning in our world. Think of other situations where the presence or absence of a sound means something; all of these sounds can be used in auditory training and can be tied to real-life, functional activities for the child.

Of course, it is not fair to ask a child to make discriminations or responses that are beyond their ability. It would be like asking someone without eyes to read print (braille might be ok!) or asking a 6-year-old to play basketball like Michael Jordan. That's why it is important to start with gross discriminations, utilizing sounds you know that the child really can hear. You want the child to have success at each step in learning to use his hearing. When listening becomes too difficult or aversive, the child is likely to shut down. Listening should be a rewarding experience for the child.

Fitting Auditory Training Into the Child's Day

It is important to do a quick check of a child's auditory skills every day to make sure his or her hearing aid, cochlear implant, or assistive listening device is working. Doing this type of activity when the student arrives at school can catch problems with technology, but it also serves as a good time to tune the child into listening for voice. A quick way to do this is to use the Ling Six Sound Test. The Six Sound Test is used to determine the student's ability to detect and/or discriminate speech sounds. The six sounds are used because they cover the speech range from low frequency to high frequency. The six sounds are "a" as in "baaaa", "u" as in mooo, `e' as in we, "sh" as in shoe, "s" as in sun, and "m" as in mom. This test is given live every day voiced by the adult with the student's own hearing aids, cochlear implant, and/or assistive listening device.

First, check the student's amplification as you normally would. Then, as the student wears the amplification, say the six sounds either from behind or in front with your mouth hidden from view. Ask the student to respond in some way to the sounds such as clapping, raising his/her hand, jumping up and down, etc. This is done to test for detection. If you ask the student to repeat the sound you can test discrimination. It is important to be consistent. Always say the sounds at the same volume and distance from the student. However, vary the order in which you say the sounds every day.

If, all of a sudden, you notice the child not responding as well as they have been, it may be that the child's amplification is not working or the child's hearing has changed. (As might happen if the child has an ear infection.)

It often works best to have a regularly scheduled time to work on auditory training, especially if you are introducing a new activity. Sometimes this can be scheduled as a small group activity or can be done with an individual child. It is easy to turn listening into a fun experience or a game. A child with very little hearing can sit on the floor near the door and listen for you to knock. He can open the door and pretend to be surprised to see you. She can put the baby doll in a bed "to sleep" and make the baby wake up when the alarm goes off. A group of children can dance to the music and freeze when it stops.

Practice, throughout the day, on listening skills learned in more formal lessons helps the child generalize the skills. For example, the student can listen for the teacher to call his or her name to come line up. For the child with very beginning discrimination skills, the student can listen for a drum sound (off/on environmental sounds). Another child might be asked to listen for his name as you target the skill of off/on awareness of voices. For the child a little farther along, you might ask her to discriminate between names that are very different in length and vowel/consonant structure such as "John" and "Latisha." Another student might be asked to discriminate between a normal voice and a whisper or between two very similar names such as "Bill" and "Will." Letting the child play teacher and have the other children listen can also reinforce their interest in tuning into sounds.

Every lesson in school or every activity at home has potential for working on auditory skills. Have the child listen for a timer to go off to let you know that his oatmeal is ready. Ask the bus driver to honk his horn when he stops out front. Listen for the sound of Dad's truck when he comes home in the evening. (With the help of a cell phone you can even keep the wait short if he gives you a call when he is just down the street.)

Schools have bells and alarms of all kinds; practice listening for the bell to ring before you go to lunch. When the principal makes an announcement over the intercom, encourage the child who hears it first to alert his classmates. As you read "Three Billy Goats Gruff" have one child pretend to be the troll who hides under the bridge and listens for the sound of the goats tramping on the bridge. Have another child listen for the phrase, "Who's that tramping on my bridge?" before responding vocally. Point out sounds as you take a walk and tie them to the objects and events that make that sound such as a loud air conditioner, a noisy cart in the cafeteria, or the sound of a ball bouncing on the floor in the gym.

There is no limit to the number of activities that teach and reinforce listening skills. Every child with a visual impairment, even those without an identified hearing loss, needs to develop good auditory skills. These play a critical role in developing other skills related to literacy, problem solving, following directions, orientation and mobility, and socialization. The auditory channel is a critical sense for learning for a child with deafblindness.

A child may initially only be able to discriminate gross differences between sounds, but with a lot of auditory training he may learn to discriminate very slight sound differences, even with profound hearing losses. Without training, a child with a very mild hearing loss may have difficulty making sense of what he hears.

What Parents Should Discuss With Their Teams About Auditory Training

Both teachers of students with visual impairments and teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing know the importance of listening skills. If your son or daughter is visually impaired or deafblind you should think about how well the child is able to use hearing for learning. Many children should have auditory training goals included in the IEP. As parents, you may need to get some help in determining where to begin with your child.

Ask your team about how your child uses his hearing in the school setting.Observe situations at home or in the community where your child responds well to sounds or seems to have problems and share that information with your team.If he has not had a hearing check recently, you may want to consider having one done as soon as possible.


There are a number of great resources for teaching auditory training, if you and your team are ready to get started. Check with your school's speech therapist or teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing about materials they may have on hand to assess listening skills and ideas for auditory training activities. Here are a few resources that you may want to consider:


ASIPS _ Auditory Skills Instructional Planning SystemForeworksPost Office Box 82289Portland, OR 97282Phone: 503-653-2614

CASLLS - Cottage Acquisition Scales for Listening, Language & SpeechSunshine Cottage103 Tuleta DriveSan Antonio, TX 78212Phone: 210-824-0579 ext. 244 or TTY/ 824-5563

CHATS, the Miami Cochlear Implant, Auditory & Tactile Skills CurriculumIntelligent Hearing Systems7356 S.W. 48th StreetMiami, FL 33155Toll free: 800-447-9783Phone: 305-668-6102

DASL II _ Developmental Approach to Successful Listening IICochlear Corporation400 Inverness Drive South, Suite 400Englewood Colorado 80112Toll free: 800-523-5798Phone: 303-790-9010

SPICE _ Speech Perception Instructional Curriculum and EvaluationCID Publications4560 Clayton AvenueSt. Louis, MO 63110Toll free: 877-444-4574 (ext. 133)

Computer related

Visi-Pitch IIIKay Elemetrics Corp.2 Bridgewater LaneLincoln Park, NJ 07035Phone: 973-628-6200

This device is only good for use with children who have useable vision. This is a device that provides visual feedback to sounds the child produces, but it can aid the child in paying attention to speech sounds.

Earobics Software (Home version and Specialist/Clinician versions)Cognitive Concepts990 Grove StreetEvanston, IL 60201Toll free: 888-328-8199

This device is only good for use with children who have useable vision. This software has games and activities to work on higher level auditory training skills.

Reader RabbitRiverdeep - The Learning Company, Inc.399 Boylston StreetBoston, MA 02116Phone: 617-778-7600

This device is only good for use with children who have useable vision. This software has games and activities to work on higher level auditory training skills.


Last Revision: September 1, 2010

  1. Obtain pre-service coursework in DeafBlindness that is aligned with professional standards.  
  2. Stay current in the field by:
  • Maintaining a sustained focus on state and national efforts in product development, research, political efforts and resources.      
  • Participating in ongoing in-service to increase skills in the area of DeafBlindness.
  • Joining and participating in organizations that focus on DeafBlindness.  
  • Maintaining a resource library on pertinent information on DeafBlindness

3.  Contribute to the field of DeafBlindness by:

  • Participating in the ongoing development of appropriate assessment and instructional methods and materials for children with DeafBlindness
  • Building a body of research that supports appropriate programming for this population.
  • Increasing local capacity by working with administrators and families to identify and access in-service training in this unique area of special education
  • Mentoring new itinerant TDBs through the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Teacher of DeafBlind Mentor Program
  • Participating in local, regional and state comprehensive planning activities system improvement with the Educational Service Center’s DeafBlind Specialist and the Texas DeafBlind Project  

4. In local district, serve as part of the group of qualified professionals in determining if a child meets federal and state eligibility for DeafBlindness.   

5. During the FIE process, assist other professionals with the use of appropriate evaluation tools for students with DeafBlindness. Provide input into the evaluation results as they relate to DeafBlindness and develop appropriate programming recommendations.            

  • Participate in Functional Behavioral Assessments          
  • Provide information regarding the impact of the child’s etiology on learning style and behavior          
  • Evaluate the impact of the child’s vision loss on the acquisition and use of preferred mode of communication

6. Participate in all IEP or IFSP meetings to insure appropriate programming and services specific to DeafBlindness.          

  • Accommodations for state mandated testing          
  • Behavior Intervention Plans          
  • Provide the families with information regarding services for students with DeafBlindness from state agencies  

7. Provide direct, indirect and consult services to the child with DeafBlindness, educational teams and families.   

8. Support the intervener model in the district by:

  • Providing the team and administrators with information about the model
  • Determining the need for an intervener
  • Providing in-class support to the intervener  


9. Assist local district in child-find activities for students with DeafBlindness and in the completion of the annual TEA Deafblind Census.  


From 2012-2013 Texas Deafblind Project TDB Committee

TDB Flowchart download