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Texas Yoga (follow up from Marty Klein after presenting at SWOMA)

Texas Yoga By Marty Klein Last week I was a keynote speaker at a conference in Austin, Texas, where I got to talk about the benefits of yoga and movement to a wonderful group of orientation and mobility instructors from all over the state of Texas. The experience was fun and enriching, and hopefully they all learned a few things from me and my presentation. The participants were warm and friendly, as was the staff from the Texas School for the Blind and visually Impaired. My challenge was not just to show them how yoga has helped me reclaim and sustain a healthy body over the years, but to impress upon them how important it would be for their visually impaired students to embrace yoga. “It all takes place, right there, on the yoga mat,” I enthusiastically told them. “This little two foot by six foot piece of rubber has made...
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Technology in Orientation and Mobility

2015-05-08 Technology in Orientation and Mobility A question came in about how technology is used during Orientation and Mobility lessons and I had so much fun typing the E-mail response I thought I share it as a blog post. There are so very many options today in terms of technology, but the basics of life shared in the terrific book Finding Wheels are still as relevant today as ever. The foundation of travel and getting where you want to go is enhanced by technologies but one still needs that special gray matter between the ears, a white cane or guide dog if non-visual or partial visual travel skills are needed, and a healthy serving of common sense. That being said, on with the toys : ) The Trekker Breeze is quite familiar to most folks as an accessible GPS solution that is on the verge of getting much, much better. HumanWare...
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Geocaching and Letterboxing for Orientation and Mobility Lessons

Geocaching and Letterboxing for Orientation and Mobility Lessons For those wanting to add some creative adventures to their Orientation and Mobility lessons, you can introduce the concept of Geocaching and Letterboxing. Here are some suggestions for activities: Have prepared locations for "letterboxing" with described directions, using cardinal directions from a known landmark and use the compass (braille, talking, or app from smart phone) as an orientation tool. Have students enter the location of a cache with latitude and longitude coordinates into BlindSquare (iOS) or APH Nearby Explorer (Android) to get some prompting by tracking the coordinates as a landmark. For a team activity, braille the clues and hints so that students can use their compensatory skills to read to the group. To develop concepts for Orientation and Mobility, be sure to use words that emphasize the concept in the directions, such as parallel and perpendicular, traffic side of sidewalk, cardinal directions,...
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Apps for Independence in the Community and Orientation and Mobility

Apps for Independence in the Community and Orientation and Mobility I have a penchant for buying apps to check which work best for various activities. Here are a few favorites that are either specifically designed for blind or visually impaired users, or are apps that work well with VoiceOver. Many are multiplatform and available on iOS via the Apple Store, Android via Google Play, and Windows Phone via Windows Phone Store. GPS Apps: Apple Maps and Siri (built in iOS app, free) Apple Maps is built into iOS devices and can provide spoken location information and pedestrian directions, but it needs to tie into other apps to provide routing directions that involve public transportation Google Maps with Google Now and Talkback (free) Can provide location and directions with spoken information [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-maps/id585027354?mt=8] [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.maps&hl=en] BlindSquare Terrific GPS app that is tailored to travlers who are blind and visually impaired. It integrates with other...
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Mixing O&M, Technology, and the Expanded Core Curriculum

Mixing O&M, Technology, and the Expanded Core Curriculum Here are some suggestions for using apps for each area of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) as part of orientation and mobility lessons, and also a brief description of an option for a GPS app, BlindSquare. So, without further ado, here goes... Compensatory Skills: Braille Touch is an app that allows six finger entry of text into the iPhone and can be used for route directions, grocery lists, phone numbers, etc. Compensatory Skills are clearly represented in this activity, and rather than the Orientation and Mobility Specialist “Teaching Braille”, they merely encouraging the generalization of the student’s already developed braille skills for use in the community, without having to bring a Perkins Brailler to the grocery store. Recreation and Leisure: Geocaching is a fun activity that can be made accessible with GPS apps, such as BlindSquare. This is a great example of a mainstream...
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New TEA Approved Courses

New innovative courses submitted by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired's Curriculum Department, Braille Reading and Writing, Orientation and Mobility for Students with Visual Impairments I, II, III, and IV, and General Employability Skills have been approved for use as innovative courses beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. We appreciate the hard work that you and your staff contributed toward the creation of these courses. The course Braille Reading and Writing will remain in effect until the English language arts and reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are revised.  The course Orientation and Mobility for Students with Visual Impairments I, II, III, and IV will remain in effect until the physical education Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills are revised.  The course General Employability Skills will remain in effect through the 2015-2016 School year. Please note that the approved courses may serve as state graduation elective credit only and are not approved to substitute for...
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New Ambutech Canes

AmbuTech has introduced a new line of canes that have colored grips, tips, and other patterns. To quote from the AmbuTech web site, "...a fresh cane design available in four bright color schemes. You are unique. Your clothes, your hair and your accessories all reflect who you are, and soon your cane can too. We’ve given our canes a new cheerful modern look and made the grips available in four vibrant colors." Canes can now be ordered with either blue, pink, green, or orange color schemes. Here is a link to a web page additional details/pictures: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=799199576770749&id=109521635738550 Hopefully this will give students a way to express their individuality and personal style and still retain the legal and identification benefits of a white cane that adds a bit of "cool" factor. ***** Chris Tabb Outreach COMS
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Using YouTube to Inspire Your Kid to LOVE the Long White Cane

As a mom, I am often blown away and overwhelmed by the realization that I play such a big role as my sons develop their own beliefs and attitudes as they become men.  Thankfully, it is a daily, moment by moment decision that takes a very, very long time to happen.  And thankfully, we also have the ability to stop from time to time and consider taking a different approach.  Maybe even a different philosophy.  As one of the family support gals with the TSBVI Outreach team, I get to call it my job doing what I love – supporting families and watching them lead us into some pretty awesome systems improvement.   I also spend some time away from TSBVI doing something else I’m pretty passionate about – teaching Orientation & Mobility (O&M) to adults.   There is something pretty cool about witnessing people become confident travelers, especially when you get to...
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