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Spring 1999 Volume 4, No. 2

Kate's Corner

You can not separate the needs of the child from the needs of the family, and this is especially important to remember when that child is visually impaired or deaf-blind. I was reminded of this truth while attending the "Making a Difference" conference in El Paso this past weekend. Jean Robinson and I were privileged to be a part of this wonderful learning experience for families and their children with visual impairment and additional disabilities, or deaf-blindness, that was cosponsored by Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) - El Paso and the Children's Disabilities Information Coalition. The weekend began for the TCB families at a barbecue, with entertainment provided by a high school dance troupe from Ysleta. On Saturday they joined the CDIC 10th Annual Disabilities Symposium at Del Valle High School. There were many wonderful speakers offering individual short sessions for the parents, as well as a key note address from Derrick Dufresne. A variety of fun activities for the kids included such things as face painting, arts and crafts, and bingo. That evening the parents of children with visual impairments had a dinner, while they were serenaded by a group of singers who were visually impaired. On Sunday the parents heard inspirational presentations from Steve Booth and Derrick Dufresne, while the kids participated in a karate exhibition. The final event of the workshop found parents sharing what the workshop had meant to them and their child.

I was truly touched by what the parents shared and how much they needed (and had found) hope to dream about their child's and their family's future. Now I know that part of finding that hope had to do with the excellent information presented by the speakers and the networking they did with the professionals in attendance. However, what really gave them the most hope was connecting with other families just like theirs. The support and encouragement they found from being with each other and meeting each other's kids was incredibly powerful. Those that conduct research on what families need most would not be one bit surprised by this piece of information.

We all need connections with people who share our interests and concerns. As you read this edition of SEE/HEAR, I hope that you (family members, professionals, and community members) find some connection with others in our state who are concerned about children with visual impairments and deaf-blindness. 

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Last Revision: July 22, 2004