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Win A Brand New BraillePen Touch Refreshable Braille Display!

Attention Students! Win A Brand New BraillePen Touch Refreshable Braille Display! Flying Blind, LLC Presents "The BraillePenmanship Giveaway"! Flying Blind, LLC (http://www.flying-blind.com/) and Harpo, the Polish-based manufacturer of the BraillePen and Mountbatten product lines, are offering one lucky student the opportunity to win a brand new BraillePen Touch Refreshable Braille Display valued at $995.00 USD! Here's how it works: Effective immediately we're offering any full-time vision impaired student the opportunity to draft an essay explaining to us how Braille has, is, and will impact their educational experience within the classroom, and within their community. We would also be interested to know how winning a brand new BraillePen Touch Refreshable Braille Display might impact the ways in which they would use Braille over the summer and in the coming school year. Essays should be 200-300 words in length and contain the student's name, the school they are/will be attending, current grade level,...
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Ensuring Accessible Educational Materials

We all know how important it is that our students get their instructional materials in an accessible format and in a timely manner.  It's written into the Federal IDEA law!  I hadn't seen the Dear Colleague Letter and the FAQ document that were issued in the fall by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education.  Check this out, from a recent post by the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials for Learning at : AEM in Elementary and Secondary Schools Accessible Educational Materials and the IEP In order to participate and achieve in the general curriculum, all students need educational materials that they can perceive and interact with. IDEA states that timely access to appropriate and accessible instructional materials is an inherent component of the obligation of public agencies to ensure that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is available for children with disabilities. When AEM is explicitly incorporated into a...
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Active Learning

Thought this was an interesting article.....certainly makes a case for active learning at all levels. http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/08/06/336361277/scientists-say-childs-play-helps-build-a-better-brain
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It Bugs Me Game

bugs me game 1 150x150Created by Chrissy Cowan, TSBVI Outreach, and Cindy Bachofer, TSBVI Short Term Programs The It Bugs Me game is a self-advocacy activity we created for a group of elementary-aged students with low vision participating in a TSBVI Short Term program called Low Vision Tools and Strategies.  The objective of the game is for students to role play verbal responses they could use with people who may sometimes make insensitive remarks about an individual’s vision, appearance of the eyes, or visual adaptations, or in situations where they feel others don’t understand their abilities.  An individual student draws a card with a situation explained and the student reads the card to the group.  Each card begins with the stem, “It bugs me when….”.  (see photos 1 and 2) For example, “It bugs me when I’m reading an overhead menu with my telescope in a restaurant and the person behind me tells me to...
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Scholarships for Space Camp

I am very excited to tell you about this amazing opportunity for students throughout the world.  In cooperation with Space Camp and SCIVIS, the St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind is offering full scholarships and transportation assistance to children of unique cultural diversity to attend SCIVIS 2014. The link below will give you the details of the scholarship program.  http://www.tsbvi.edu/space/lighthouse.htm  Please send this out to all of your listserves and fellow professionals around the world.  SCIVIS 2014, our 25th Anniversary, should prove to be an exciting year!  Dan Oates, Coordinator Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) http://www.tsbvi.edu/space SCIVIS videos are on You Tube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiINS7NS6YE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_AaCnDvHRQ Sharon Nichols
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Scholarships for Space Camp

I am very excited to tell you about this amazing opportunity for students throughout the world.  In cooperation with Space Camp and SCIVIS, the St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind is offering full scholarships and transportation assistance to children of unique cultural diversity to attend SCIVIS 2014. The link below will give you the details of the scholarship program.  http://www.tsbvi.edu/space/lighthouse.htm  Please send this out to all of your listserves and fellow professionals around the world.  SCIVIS 2014, our 25th Anniversary, should prove to be an exciting year!  Dan Oates, Coordinator Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) http://www.tsbvi.edu/space SCIVIS videos are on You Tube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiINS7NS6YE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_AaCnDvHRQ Sharon Nichols
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Scholarships for Space Camp

I am very excited to tell you about this amazing opportunity for students throughout the world.  In cooperation with Space Camp and SCIVIS, the St. Louis Lighthouse for the Blind is offering full scholarships and transportation assistance to children of unique cultural diversity to attend SCIVIS 2014. The link below will give you the details of the scholarship program.  http://www.tsbvi.edu/space/lighthouse.htm  Please send this out to all of your listserves and fellow professionals around the world.  SCIVIS 2014, our 25th Anniversary, should prove to be an exciting year!  Dan Oates, Coordinator Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS) http://www.tsbvi.edu/space SCIVIS videos are on You Tube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiINS7NS6YE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_AaCnDvHRQ Sharon Nichols
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Transition Forum for Unified English Braille (UEB)

As you are probably aware, the COSB Board has appointed me to represent COSB on the Board of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA).  In that capacity, I attended the Transition Forum for Unified English Braille (UEB) in Louisville In October and summarized that meeting in a presentation at the COSB Business meeting the next day.  I will repeat some of that information below for those who couldn't attend the business meeting.  In addition, I just returned from my first BANA Board meeting, also in Louisville, and have more information from that meeting.  I hope that in this message and future ones, I can assist COSB’s schools and programs in preparing for the transition to UEB.  With some planning and forethought on our part we can make this a smooth transition for our students and our staff members over the next few years.  The UEB is not so much a new code...
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“What We Call Ourselves”

Hello new teachers, I’m seeing email signatures that are all over the map in regards to your job title, so I thought I would provide some guidance in this regard.  If you are an orientation and mobility specialist who has passed the ACVREP exam, your title is Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, or COMS. If you are teaching students with visual impairments in Texas, the State Board of Educator Certification (SBEC) has us listed in  Texas Administrative Code, Rule 233.8 as “Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments”, or TVI.  Please note the person-first language (“Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments”), rather than the politically incorrect “Teacher of the Visually Impaired”.  Some of you like to put “CTVI”, or Certified Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments. I think some TVIs started doing that when the O&M Specialists started adding “certified” before their title, however, it is not the title SBEC has listed. ...
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Color Vision Deficiency

image of all bout color blindness bookRecently there was a post on the AERNet mailing list asking for advice on a referral made for VI instructional services for a student whose only concern was “color blindness” (more accurately called a color vision deficiency, or CVD.  Whereas some vision-related etiologies may have an associated CVD, most individuals with a color vision deficiency do not have additional (uncorrectable) problems with their vision.  In Texas, a student who only presents with CVD would not qualify for the services of a TVI, because Texas’ commissioner’s rules state:             …..a student with a visual impairment is one who:            (i)  has been determined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist                  (ii) to have no vision or to have a serious visual loss after correction; or                 (iii)  to have a progressive medical condition that will result...
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Brain Research on Language Acquisition

Toddler brain scan gives language insight BBC Health Website From the site: "The brain has a critical window for language development between the ages of two and four, brain scans suggest. Environmental influences have their biggest impact before the age of four, as the brain's wiring develops to process new words, say UK and US scientists. The research in The Journal of Neuroscience suggests disorders causing language delay should be tackled early. It also explains why young children are good at learning two languages." By Helen Briggs BBC News  
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National Preparedness Month 2013

How to prepare if you or someone in your life has access or functional needs  September is National Preparedness Month (NPM). It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for emergencies and disasters. This September, please prepare and plan in the event you must go for three  days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, or local services for several days.  Just follow these four steps:      Be Informed     Make a Plan     Build a Kit     Get Involved  If you or someone close to you has a disability or other access or functional needs, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family. Each person’s needs and abilities are unique, but every individual can take important steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies and put plans in place. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan,...
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Good Sleep Strategies

As families prepare for school to begin, a common step is to help our children get back into a regular sleep routine.  In our home, we've been working on it for about a week.  Na, that's not true.  We postponed getting our 5th grader back into his school schedule because we were caught up in  a last minute family trip and because it took a bit of negotiation on everyone's part to decide on the new bed time.  Going through this annual family ritual reminded me how many of us deal with sleep issues.  It must have been on the minds of the fine folks at Perkins School too, as they have recently posted a new webcast on Good Sleep Strategies.  Carve out some time from your busy school preparation schedule and watch this webcast!  Dr. Veronika Bernstein, Ph.D has some great strategies to share with you!  Here's to a fabulous 2013-2014 school year with...
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VIStars

VIStars is a non-profit organization in Massachusetts that provides after-school programs for students who are blind or visually impaired. Their mission is to create safe, accessible and stimulating environments where students can acquire skills related to their unique visual needs. They promote social interaction with other students with visual impairments while exposing the group to recreation and leisure activities, independent living skills, career education and leadership skills.  Their goal is for the students to transfer the skills they learn at VIStars to their individual school and community experiences.  Check out their website:  http://www.vistars.org   Especially note the video of Precious, a visually impaired young lady, singing “I will Never Ever Live Without My Cane”:  http://www.vistars.org/?p=369
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O&M
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Read Across America Day

This email is forwarded from Natalie Shaheen. Please send all questions to  Friends: I need your help and the awesome part is you probably already have what I’m looking for. For Read Across America Day (march 1 this year) we are trying to make sure Braille is part of the conversation. To ensure we have content to push out, particularly in social media streams, we are asking people to submit pictures of themselves or their children/students reading Braille in cool and diverse locations (on a beach, in the woods, at Disney World, at the Golden Gate Bridge). I’m guessing you all already have these kind of pictures just sitting around. Where was your last vacation? Were you reading Braille? Did someone happen to take a picture of you? The other thing we’re asking for are videos of people reading braille, maybe a Seuss book. That, I realize, you probably don’t have...
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The Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders (GFPD)

Greetings from The Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders (GFPD). The GFPD is a 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity committed to helping children and families faced with a diagnosis of Peroxisomal Biogenesis Disorder- Zellweger Spectrum Disorder (PBD-ZSD)- and assisting family members and professionals through educational programs, research, and support services. PBD-ZSD  is a rare, genetic, metabolic, terminal condition affecting all major systems of the body and includes a wide range of phenotypes that were formerly classified into 3 groups: Zellweger Syndrome, Neonatal Adrenoleukodystrophy, and Infantile Refsum Disease. As the understanding of this spectrum of disorders has grown, there has been a movement away from the original classifications and now a wider acceptance of the terminology Peroxisomal Biogenesis Disorder- Zellweger Spectrum Disorder (PBD-ZSD). Children with PBD-ZSD commonly experience sensorineural hearing loss, vision loss, hypotonia, seizures, developmental delays, liver and kidney issues, problems with bone formation, feeding issues, and adrenal insufficiency.  Children who are at the most severe end of...
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“What she said…” “What he said….” Reflections from the 2nd Annual Bring Your Boss to Work Week

Asking your boss to spend time with you can be a risky task.  It may require you to step out of your comfort zone.  However, those who did it and shared their experiences with us had great things to say about the experience.  Below (and in random order) are some of the comments I received, both from Texans and from VI professionals in other states.  What was the highlight of the experience for you? Getting to show off my student's math success Having an administrator come and having my student anticipate her bus trip independently. I was proud to get to show my director how well a bright student was doing on learning braille and keyboarding.  We had planned on seeing a student with CVI and multiple disabilities too, but she was sick.  My director said we could make another appointment to see her sometime!  The whole experience was very positive.  Thank you...
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Exploring options, exploring galaxies

My husband reads science and is a self-proclaimed geek.  I am not.  I am more of a "tourist" in the world of science and technology, coming and going randomly.  It is as a tourist that I sometimes pick up his books and magazines and read them. I recently read the following paragraph in a book about math and how it affects our world: “A way to wonder One method we can all use to pour forth one creative idea after another is to begin with our everyday world, imagine some subtle property slightly altered, and then explore this altered state. Which features remain the same? Which features are different?  Exploration of a hypothetical world generates whole galaxies of new ideas. And we'll discover a synergistic interplay in which those new ideas will lead us back to new insights into our familiar, everyday world" [Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making...
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Guitar Braille Music Blog

In case you student(s) wants to learn how to play guitar, there is a blog called "Guitar Music in Braille."  Tina Davidson, a certified Braille Music Transcriber, a rare bird by the way, has done a wonderful job digging up and creating information related to Guitar braille music.  Take a gander if interested.  The web address is:  http://www.guitarbraille.blogspot.com
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Learning To Listen Listening To Learn

One of our initiatives this year in the outreach department is to explore listening as a focus topic. Those of us in the VI field understand the importance of listening for individuals who are visual impairment, yet it is a topic about which very little has been written. As part of this initiative, we are forming a study group to read and discuss a new book Learning to Listen Listening to Learn edited by Lizabeth Barclay from AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) Press. We also plan on participating in the Learning to Listen Listening to Learn webinar series through AFB (American Foundation for the Blind). If you would like to join in these webinars, here is a link to the information.  AFB webinars So, stay tuned and we will periodically post comments and suggestions as we delve into this resource and topic. Eva Lavigne Outreach Transition Specialist
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