Main content

Alert message

senseabilities masthead

By: Cyral Miller, Director of Outreach, TSBVI

Abstract: In this article, Ms. Miller shares information about the new and exciting things happening at TSBVI's Outreach.

Key Words: TSBVI, trainings, study groups, SenseAbilities, blind, low vision, CVI, Braille

As educational systems change, so too do the supports local programs need from TSBVI Outreach. We have added a few new types of assistance you can request from TSBVI Outreach Programs. If you don't see what you need below, please give me a call or send an email and I'll see how we can help. You can reach me at 512-206-9242 or .

New strategies:

On the go training - TSBVI is able to share training after the live event, by posting on the website. This greatly increases access to training to a 24/7 option! Starting no later than the beginning of 2015, we will launch a new online registration system that will simplify registration, tracking training and getting credit and certificates. With new staff Andy Weir and Nathan Widener joining Kendra Dorty and Kate Hurst in Outreach, and a new webmaster, Stacey Rayos, taking over the TSBVI website management, our ability to offer web-based options and to make those available quickly in accessible formats will significantly increase. Contact Kate Hurst at if you have questions.

Study groups - It can be hard to incorporate new techniques into your teaching. TSBVI Outreach is facilitating a wide range of study groups this year. These are regularly scheduled, short (typically an hour or 1 1/2 hours) online gatherings to delve into topical areas in bite-sized portions. Participants can share how they have introduced a new active learning strategy, model their CVI assessment and ask for feedback from peers, discuss a portion of the Sensory Learning Kit, or learn a new technique to produce quality braille graphics. You can find a list of study groups and register to attend at

Increasing online presence - You may already be noticing that TSBVI is making major changes to the website. The Outreach pages now focus more on helping you find your way to our services. Most of the informational postings are moving into redesigned resources and on-the-go (formerly distance) learning sections. We will continue our wonderful partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind on the Paths to Literacy website, found at We will be posting more accessible web-based trainings, and increasing our social media presence with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, among others. The blogs for assistive technology and orientation and mobility will continue to be posted - look for them to move to a new location on the new website.

You can still get the TXSenseAbilities newsletter online - sign up at to get notified as each new issue comes out. If you prefer a paper copy, there is a subscription option as well, free for parents of children with visual impairment and/or deafblindness. This year we will go to a twice a year publication schedule.

Topical initiatives:

Low Vision - Students with low vision often appear to need less direct instruction and while getting by academically, may graduate school missing critical skills to access their world. Dr. Cindy Bachofer, certified low vision therapist and TVI, is now working with Outreach Programs to provide a new level of statewide support in the area of low vision. We anticipate a statewide conference in May, bringing Low Vision on the Road to selected regional areas, evidence based strategy recommendations and new resources to increase access for students with low vision. Contact Cindy Bachofer at with your low vision questions.

CVI clinics - TSBVI Outreach is partnering with Diane Sheline to offer up to three clinics for young children with cortical visual impairments at participating regional ESCs. The clinics will be for babies, 0-3 years. CVI Intervention is very successful in this age range and we would like to assist Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments to start interventions as soon as possible. The TVI will come with the parent(s) and child, and develop, with support, a draft CVI assessment report following the Christine Roman template, including a description of the child's CVI characteristics as well as appropriate interventions to try. Contact Sara Kitchen () and/or Ann Rash () with your CVI questions.

Braille Production support - Producing braille in proper formats takes special skill. Transcribers and TVIs and COMS all across the state struggle to match formats to the diverse learning media now being presented to students at earlier ages. With the coming of the new UEB code, there are new formats to master. A study group and trainings focused on these skills are available this year, and new materials to support braille production are under development. Contact Pat van Geem in Outreach () or Sue Mattson in Comprehensive Programs () with your braille production questions.

New people and new positions - There have been some shifts within Outreach and new people coming in to take the place of those who left. The TX Deafblind Project had a lot of changes: Holly Cooper is now providing technical assistance for infants & toddlers with deafblindness, while Matt Schultz and Adam Graves have joined the TX Deafblind Project for school-aged program support. Also, Chris Tabb has moved into the Outreach Programs as our newest statewide O&M consultant, and will be on his own after Ruth Ann Marsh leaves at the end of November. Sharon Nichols has returned to a primary focus on assistive technology and can help you with AT questions and tech loan requests.

Some things don't change. While increasing our online efforts, we know that sometimes, it is the personal interactions that make the most difference. TSBVI Outreach staff is still available to provide one of our highest rated services, on-site school consultation at your local program, as well as trainings on a wide range of topics. To request a visit, to ask for family support, or to request training, please go to

We look forward to working with you this year!