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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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iOS apps Developed Specifically for People who are Blind or Low Vision

I'm sure many people know, but in case you don't there are iOS apps developed specifically for people who are blind or low vision. And if you are unfamiliar with the AppleVis website it is an excellent resource for iOS apps and podcasts. http://www.applevis.com/apps/ios-apps-for-blind-and-vision-impaired
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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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Guest — Kate Putt
Thanks for sharing this website. Glad to hear that your after school program for blind and visually impaired students is successf... Read More
Friday, 07 March 2014 15:02
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Literacy in the Digital Age

Here is an interesting quote on a listserv Education and Technology that is full of fascinating information (http://www.educatorstechnology.com/) and it is a different twist on literacy:  "Lanham noted in "American Scientific", that "word literacy", meaning the ability to read and write, has gradually extended its grasp in the digital age until it has come to mean the ability to understand information, however presented " ( 1995, p. 198)."
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NATIONAL INTERVENER CREDENTIAL

Picture of Ruthanne “Mimi” Cisneros Garcia[caption id="attachment_126" align="alignleft" width="150"] Ruthanne “Mimi” Cisneros Garcia In October 2012 Ruthanne “Mimi” Cisneros Garcia became the first in Texas to be awarded a national Intervener credential.  Mimi completed her coursework through Utah State University. She did her practicum with a deafblind student at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  Jenny Lace, Education Specialist with the Texas Deafblind Outreach Project, was Mimi’s coach during her practicum at TSBVI.   Mimi applied for a national Intervener credential to:    The National Resource Center for Paraeducators and Related Service Providers (www.nrcpara.org). The National Intervener Credentialing Program, administered by NRCP, establishes common standards, competencies, and practices in a way that is both rigorous and affordable. The requirements include:  A minimum of 10 hours of credited coursework from an Institution of Higher Education (university or college). This coursework must include a supervised practicum experience.  A Practicum experience (minimum of 2 credit hours) under...
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Michigan Severity Scales

The Michigan Severity Scales have recently been updated to include the ability to edit the file on an iPad or computer rather than having to print the PDF or annotate it with another program.  The Adobe Reader program shows the field areas to be filled in and the document/program will then automatically add the values entered for the total score.  You can save the edited version with a specific student's information and make updates to the file at a later time if needed. The updated files for Orientation and Mobility Scales can be found at: OMSRS Information and Guidelines [PDF] OMSRS+ Information and Guidelines [PDF]
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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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Accessible, Affordable Educational Technology… One person’s reflection on a new initiative

I recently read the “Impatient Optimists” blog posting on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation site entitled: Introducing inBloom: Accessible, Affordable Education Technology  First I have to say that I am not “a techie”.  In fact, I may be the only person that not only doesn’t have a smart phone, but doesn’t have any sort of a data plan on the cell phone that I do own… and sometimes use.  However, I am married to a techie and while the knowledge doesn’t rub off, the attitude does.  As a result, my beliefs in this topic can be summarized as follows: The goal of education is to increase independence and the ability to make choices in one’s life.  This applies to all children, regardless of their age or abilities. Technology is an important tool not only for education, but life outside of school, and eventually, of work. Accessible technology is not optional...
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BrailleTouch App for iPhone

The BrailleTouch app is now available in the US iTunes Store; free for the basic and then a purchase price to add in additional features such as text, E-mail, etc. It might be fun for students to try, especially the free version. It is awkward feeling at first but you get used to it as all fingers represent the same dots as they would on the Perkins Brailler. It helps to have a case on your iphone while learning to use the app so you have a surface to grip which prevents your phone from slipping out of your hand while learning to use the braille keyboard.
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Assistive Technology Needs for a Student with a Visual Impairment

Just in case you are having trouble figuring out what technology is out there for a student with a visual impairment, here is a resource that could help you out while making your supervisor (or the one who has the money) nervous. It was compiled by the good folks at the California School for the Blind:  Jerry Kuns, James Carreon and Adrian Amandi.  It is quite an extensive list. The file is a downloadable Word document and is listed as one of the links labeled "What's Available in Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairment-March 2011".   It has been updated to include iOS and Mac accessibility.  Of course, your student(s) may not need "everything" but this is a good reference for what type of technology is available.  Besides this resource document, included on the web page are various assistive technology topics.  It is quite a wealth of information. http://www.csb-cde.ca.gov/technology.htm Happy reading. Patrick Van Geem, TVI Assistive...
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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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2013 Texas Symposium on Deafblindness: Hands Matter!

2013 Texas Symposium on Deafblindness:  Hands Matter! Omni Austin Hotel in South Park  February 21st - 23rd, 2013 This year our theme is "Hands Matter" and many of our sessions will focus on the importance of developing the tactile sense and hand-use in students with deafblindness.  Of course, there are many other topics in the breakout sessions including student and family issues, professional development, orientation and mobility, communication, transition, self-determination, behavioral challenges and mental health concerns, the impact of pain on functioning and orientation and mobility.  TSBVI Outreach Programs is pleased to announce that Barbara Miles and Paul Hart will be the keynote presenters at the 2013 Texas Deafblind Symposium.  Many of you already know Barbara Miles and her valuable contributions to the field of deafblindness.  Paul Hart may be new to many of you because he is from Scotland!  Paul has collaborated with Barbara, and others, as a part of...
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The Under 18 mph Crowd Is About to Make Some Noise!

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has moved forward with its efforts to meet the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 and has released a proposal which now has a 60 day comment period before it proceeds. “Our proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. Hybrid and electric vehicles, including motorcycles and heavy duty vehicles, traveling under 18 miles per hour would need to emit a sound to make the vehicle distinguishable from surrounding environmental noise. Read the press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation The proposal detail in PDF format can be downloaded from this link: http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/rulemaking/pdf/Quiet_Vehicles_NPRM.pdf
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Cane Donations Needed for Haiti

I'm on my way to Haiti to work in the St. Vincent's School for Handicapped Children. They have 350 students, 90 of whom are blind. I am hoping to develop a solid O&M program while I am there...nothing is in place at the moment. The school is under the auspices of the Episcopalian Church and is still trying to rebuild and regroup from that horrible earthquake two years ago. They lost buildings, students, and some teachers to that disaster. If you can help, with funds to purchase new canes, or have old canes hanging around that you are not using, could you direct them to me: Susan Culp, CTVI in New Mexico, and soon-to-be licensed COMS I am leaving from my sister's house in New Jersey on January 10th: Address for greatly appreciated donations: Susan Culp c/o Pattie Lyons, COMS 55 Rivers Edge Drive Little Silver, New Jersey 07739 Thanks in advance.
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Guest — Amy Marino, CTVI & COMS
Are you still needing canes? Can I send them to the address in New Jersey still?
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:25
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Google Maps for iOS

It's Back, and It's Better: Google Maps has returned as a standalone app to the iOS.  The app now longer needs to be saved as a Web page icon to the device's home screen and can be downloaded directly from the Apple iOS App Store.  The new app from Google does not include route options for bicycles, but in addition to the default vehicle list mode for directions, it also includes public transportation and pedestrian mode.  The displayed route for the starting and ending points you enter will display results that are accessible via VoiceOver and for public transportation can even include the number and location of bus stops along the provided route so travelers will know what stops to be aware of as they near their destination if they choose to exit early, etc. So if you were previously utilizing this app when it was "built in" to the previous...
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Deaf-Blind Perspectives Newsletter

The National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness puts out a newsletter called Deaf-Blind Perspectives twice a year with fabulous information.  This is a great way to hear about what is going on across the nation - and often enough describes Texas initiatives, too!  In this issue is a tribute to our own, much missed Jim Durkel.   The current issue of Deaf-Blind Perspectives is available online http://www.nationaldb.org/dbp/current.htm In This Issue  Moving Forward Together D. Jay Gense One Dad’s Nuts and Bolts of Advocacy on the State Level Jamey McVicker Improving Connections among Professionals in Deaf-Blind Education Jon Harding NCDB Plans for A New Nationaldb.org Website Gail Leslie Early Identification and Referral: Partnerships in Action Heather Herbster Reflections from the Field Kathee Scoggin Moving Forward with Intervener Services Recommendations Peggy Malloy “I Can Connect!” Betsy McGinnity Remembering Colleagues Who Passed Away in 2011–2012
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Change Reaction Mac OS X Game for the Blind

ChangeReaction, Draconis Entertainment's classic audio  puzzle game for the blind and visually impaired comes to  OS X with new audio, three entirely different modes of  game play, a host of new features, and a cheaper price  tag! Primarily intended for blind and visually impaired gamers,  ChangeReaction is played via the keyboard and your  ears. Navigate the game board with the arrow keys,  dropping coins on the stacks to create chains of  explosions and rack up higher and higher scores! Match  three coins of the same denomination vertically or  horizontally to trigger a chain reaction that blows up all  adjacent coins of the same value! This game has no visual  element. Use your fingers, ears, and wits to rack up the  highest scores possible! Find the game on the Mac App Store. 
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Spellgate Accessible iOS game

Three University of North Carolina computer science students created a beginning spelling game app that is totally accessible! Spellgate, a free app, is now in the app store. Zoom and VoiceOver work well with the game. They also added an option in settings so that when you use the Refresh-able Braille Device (RBD), you can turn off the picture labeling if desired so that the RBD does not spell out the picture label. (Spelling out the picture label provides the answer!) You can also mute VO and the student will have to rely on reading the RBD letters. The students will continue to work on the game next semester, so please provide your input! They plan to do some fine tuning and hope to add letter recognition (matching letters) and a way for teachers to add their own words. Click on the link for more information: http://www.ifreeware.net/download-spellgate.html In the app store, you can...
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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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There's never been a better time to get Tactile!

We found this wonderful gem written by Jim Durkel before his death. APH has a wonderful new tool for orientation and mobility called Tactile Town.  Here  is the description taken from the APH Web site: "This kit assists in the development of cognitive mapping skills by helping students who are visually impaired and blind perceive and organize their physical environment specific to concepts such as street layouts, intersections, route patterns, city block arrangements, etc. It encourages active participation and interaction with displayed map layouts so that concepts and skills, not conveniently accessed through real-life exploration, can be learned and practiced." I have to admit I have a personal bias toward using Tactile Town as I was able to use it during the field testing phase.  The number of uses was huge at that time and it continues to grow.  I use the set with students of all ability levels, from those...
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Guest — Leslie Bailiff
I love this product also!!! Could we convince APH to write a blog about teaching while using this product for teachers? I have pho... Read More
Thursday, 14 February 2013 01:46
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