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9th Annual Texas Chargers Retreat

Mark your calendars!  The 9th Annual Texas Chargers Retreat is just around the corner, October 31st-November 2nd, 2014.  We will meet once again, at beautiful Camp Allen in Navasota, TX for a weekend of encouragement, inspiration and FUN!  This year is EXTRA special since it falls on Halloween.  Pack your costumes for a trunk or treat held Friday evening.  This retreat is for the whole family and includes activities for all kids.  The keynote speakers are Judi Brookshire and Tina Prochaska.  They have decades of experience working with people who are deaf and specialize in diverse family dynamics.  For more information and to register visit www.texaschargers.org.  Hope to see you there!
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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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Article on CHARGE Syndrome

Here is an article written by a friend of ours. Liz Lewis has a sister who is an adult with Charge Syndrome.  Liz is also an anthropologist who uses her profession to better understand the disability community.  Her latest article,  In the Community but Alone is about her sister's community living arrangement and, more broadly, on the need for more social inclusion and services for adults with disabilities in our communities.  She has given me permission to share so feel free to pass it on if you like.  Also, I encourage you to check out Bloom (a blogspot for parents who have kids with disabilities). 
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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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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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Medicare Waiver Program

Medicaid Waiver Programs are the best long-term help for children and adults with disabilities in Texas!  Call NOW to get on the years-long waiting lists!! Medicaid Waiver Programs – General information Medicaid Waiver Programs have 10+ years waiting lists! Eligibility based on child’s income (not the parents) Purpose: to keep a person with disabilities living in the community instead of a nursing home or institution. Services may include nursing care, attendant care, respite, therapies, adaptive aids, medical equipment, home modifications, service coordination, pre-vocational services, community living supports, supported employment, assistive technology and more. Family MUST keep their contact information current; call waiting list numbers More information: http://www.dads.state.tx.us/news_info/faqs_fact/index.html CLASS (Community Living Assistance Support Services) Serves individuals with physical disabilities and related conditions occurring before the age of 21. Individuals with intellectual disabilities may be eligible but not when the primary diagnosis is ID  (877) 438-5658 for information and to get on the...
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Odin Accessible Telephone

The ODIN VI is a cell phone with buttons that is one hundred percent accessible. It allows someone without sight to enter and access contacts, access a call log, text message, set alarms and more. The phone speaks a number of languages, including English and Spanish. A number of State agencies for the blind, including agencies in Massachusetts, New Mexico, Colorado and Oregon, have started showing the ODIN to clients. The phone is also being sold by Perkins School for the Blind. You can learn more about the phone, and listen to an instructional podcast on the phone, at http://odinmobile.com/phones/odin-vi/. Also, attached is a flyer with information regarding the phone. As mentioned above, residents of Texas who are blind are in a unique position since they can obtain the ODIN VI for free because it has been included in the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program. As of today, Texas is the only...
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BrailleNote Navigation

For Students and Travelers with an Apex BrialleNote there is a new tool for orientation and mobility in the most recent update. The latest software update for the Apex provides an accessible map solution from Sendero Group called KeyMaps. It allows the user to virtually explore areas all over the country and can also be upgraded to a full GPS solution with a bluetooth receiver, etc Here is the post from HumanWare about the KeyMaps software that is included in the KeySoft 9.4.1 update. KeyMaps KeySoft 9.4.1 includes a new application on all Apex units called KeyMaps. In partnership with Sendero Group, KeyMaps brings the first included completely accessible mapping experience for those with visual impairments. Using only your Apex, you can: Download maps of your chosen country, Find a specific address or point of interest, Look up phone numbers and additional information for points of interest, Virtually walk around a...
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Computer Programming Camp for TVIs

For the fourth year now, the Washington State School for the Blind will host a workshop on teaching computer science to students with visual impairments called the "Experience Programming in Quorum Workshop" (aka EPIQ Workshop). The workshop will be held on July 17-23, 2014 As part of the workshop, you will learn programming basics in a Java-based programming language called Quorum. The inventor of the language, Dr. Andy Stefik, will lead the workshop and teach you how to use Quorum to create dynamic websites with your students. The platform, developed by Dr. Stefik, is 100% accessible to all students, including those with visual impairments and blindness. The language is currently being taught at the Alabama School for the Blind, the Washington State School for the Blind, and the Maryland School for the Blind along with many smaller sites around the country to students with visual impairments. The language and the curriculum...
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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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VoiceOver Accessible Apps

A group out of Belgium just sent me a link to a website that contains a list of  1642 apps that are accessible with VoiceOver.  Most of them are in English but beware some are in Dutch, the language of Northern Belgium.  It is a fairly extensive list of apps...enjoy. Website URL:  http://www.appwijzer.be/app/AppWijzer.html
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Useful Websites for Families

Happy New Year, Wonderful Families! As you begin 2014, we thought you might enjoy checking out a couple of websites. Building Confidence and Building a Better IEP, Matrix:  This wonderful e-learning course is available on the California Parent Training Information Center for the San Francisco area.  It is developed with all parents who have kiddos in special education so it keeps the information general.  Don't worry about it coming from another state - there's only one time they use a title that is Californian and the philosophy is spot on for Texas!  Quick literally means quick.  Grab a cup of hot cocoa (or tea) and be ready to spend less than 30 minutes participating in a fun and informative training. Parent Coordination Network: A Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs: this new website that was developed by the Parent Coordination Network, which is a leadership function of the Texas Education Agency.  The...
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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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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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O&M Portal for COMS

TSBVI Outreach has created an O&M Portal for COMS.  This page is simply the start of what we hope will become a great tool for COMS.  We will be adding to and updating regularly with the help of our talented Texas COMS.  Please share this with the COMS in your region and bookmark this page for future use. http://www.tsbvi.edu/outreach/3826 Kate Hurst Statewide Staff Development Coordinator
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iOS App Options for the Community

Many students and consumers have been enjoying the information provided from TapTapSee, an app that allows a user to take a photograph with their phone and receive back a description of what was photographed when they have VoiceOver running on their phone. This might be taking a picture of a can of soup at the grocery store to determine whether it is Tomato or Chicken Noodle, a photo of a shoe to know if it is black or brown, or even a picture of the sky to hear if it is clear blue or cloudy. The challenge for many folks recently is that the company has found they must now switch to a pay-for-use model rather than the previously free access. The new fees are 100 Picture Pack for $7.99 or a Month of Unlimited Pictures for $9.99. The fee for use is set to begin after the user takes 20...
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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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Guest — Cyral
There was recently a session at the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference about this very topic. The consensus of those gathe... Read More
Sunday, 08 December 2013 03:10
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