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Exploring options, exploring galaxies

My husband reads science and is a self-proclaimed geek.  I am not.  I am more of a "tourist" in the world of science and technology, coming and going randomly.  It is as a tourist that I sometimes pick up his books and magazines and read them. I recently read the following paragraph in a book about math and how it affects our world: “A way to wonder One method we can all use to pour forth one creative idea after another is to begin with our everyday world, imagine some subtle property slightly altered, and then explore this altered state. Which features remain the same? Which features are different?  Exploration of a hypothetical world generates whole galaxies of new ideas. And we'll discover a synergistic interplay in which those new ideas will lead us back to new insights into our familiar, everyday world" [Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making...
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Guitar Braille Music Blog

In case you student(s) wants to learn how to play guitar, there is a blog called "Guitar Music in Braille."  Tina Davidson, a certified Braille Music Transcriber, a rare bird by the way, has done a wonderful job digging up and creating information related to Guitar braille music.  Take a gander if interested.  The web address is:  http://www.guitarbraille.blogspot.com
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Learning To Listen Listening To Learn

One of our initiatives this year in the outreach department is to explore listening as a focus topic. Those of us in the VI field understand the importance of listening for individuals who are visual impairment, yet it is a topic about which very little has been written. As part of this initiative, we are forming a study group to read and discuss a new book Learning to Listen Listening to Learn edited by Lizabeth Barclay from AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) Press. We also plan on participating in the Learning to Listen Listening to Learn webinar series through AFB (American Foundation for the Blind). If you would like to join in these webinars, here is a link to the information.  AFB webinars So, stay tuned and we will periodically post comments and suggestions as we delve into this resource and topic. Eva Lavigne Outreach Transition Specialist
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New Copyright Rules and Revised Braille System

New Precedent-Setting Copyright Rules Promote Access! and Revised Braille System Adopted in US! Copyright The Librarian of Congress recently announced a decision of significant import for the future of information access rights. Endorsing a favorable recommendation by the Registrar of Copyrights concerning a petition filed jointly by the American Foundation for the Blind and the American Council of the Blind, the Librarian of Congress has determined that copyright protection measures built into ebooks and other electronic materials will no longer pose needless barriers to the materials' use by people who are blind or who otherwise have print disabilities. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it is unlawful to circumvent digital rights management or related technological protections built into a work, such as an ebook, unless the Librarian of Congress has established an exemption allowing circumvention in certain contexts. The exemption that the Librarian of Congress has established now allows individuals with...
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Opportunity to Raise Guide Dogs

We now have the opportunity to raise Guide Dog puppies in Austin!  The Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers are co-lead by Charlotte Simpson and Kelli Wiethorn.  We are working with Guide Dogs for the Blind, and have a lot of support through the San Rafael group and a group in Dallas/ Ft. Worth.  We hope to provide community education on blindness, and what better way to open a dialogue than puppies!! Our next monthly meeting is Monday, November 12th 7p.m.-8:30p.m.  The guest speaker will be Charlotte's student, Dallas Wiens (the first man in the USA to receive a face transplant).  Please join us in the Criss Cole auditorium (4800 N. Lamar, Austin, TX  78756) if you are interested! Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lone-Star-Guide-Dog-Raisers-Austin/284603148295660 Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers Meetup Group: puppy.meetup.com/271/ Dallas Wiens story: http://www.dallaswiens.com/ Charlotte Simpson O&M Specialist- Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center Work Direct Line: (512) 377-0416  
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Need ACVREP Credits?

Need ACVREP continuing education credits?  Check out Perkins E-learning website. Perkins E-learning Website Kate Hurst, Statewide Staff Development Coordinator Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired Outreach Programs
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Guest — Perkins eLearning
Perkins eLearning has a new address! Please visit http://www.perkinselearning.com/ for the full program. Earn ACVREP credits thr... Read More
Thursday, 01 November 2012 13:59
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Testing for the pH Factor in Liquids using the LabQuest (1st Version)

This is a short four-part video demonstrating how students in a science lab at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired use the LabQuest equipment from Vernier Science .  They are finding the pH factor of four liquids: distilled water, tap water, milk and vinegar. The data collection device used in the experiment is the stand-alone LabQuest-Version 1.   LabQuest 1 is the only Vernier device that “accepts” the Sci-Voice scripting software.  With Sci-Voice installed, the LabQuest 1 device is able to voice the data.  This enables the student with a visual impairment to hear the incremental changes relative to time of any experiment that is recorded by a sensor probe used in conjunction with the LabQuest device.  Discerning the change in incremental findings of substances as they occur in real time is essential to laboratory experiments and data collection.   A pH sensor is plugged into one of the...
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Braille Writer App for Mac OS

If you have one of the super-duper Macs (geek talk for MacBook Pro or Air with 10.7-Lion or greater and 64 bit processor), there are a couple of apps in the Mac store that are braille writing applications.  Both applications are for those trying to learn braille by using six-key entry on a qwerty keyboard. The fancier one is Braille Writer Pro ($29.99). It can handle both contracted and uncontracted braille.  It can translate braille into English. Braille Writer Pro can also read and write files using the .dxb  (Duxbury) file format. You can email and/or print files either with or without translation.  There is also a dictionary that allows you to look up braille letters, numbers, symbols and contractions by using English or braille. The student version, Braille Writer Student (10.99), does not include the translation feature but does include the dictionary.  This one is good for students learning contractions...
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Presidential Proclamation -- Blind Americans Equality Day, 2012

By joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964 (Public Law 88-628, as amended), the Congress designated October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day" to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have low vision. Today, let us recommit to strengthening our Union and ensuring we remain a Nation where all our people, including those living with disabilities, have every opportunity to achieve their dreams. Read the full text of the presidential proclamation for all of the details. Cyral Miller
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Webinar on How to Provide Described and Captioned Video

A second forward-looking webinar will be presented on October 24, 2012 for teachers, administrators, and parents. In collaboration with the DCMP (Described and Captioned Media Program), the Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC) continues to provide a solid foundation for anyone interested in providing better access to video (including web-based) for students who are blind and visually impaired. This webinar is entitled "Do It Yourself" Educational Description: Guidelines and Tools. Topics will include: An update of the activities of the VDRDC The "Dos and Don'ts" of description Live demonstrations of two FREE software programs which can be used to add description to media  An overview of resources for obtaining described materials for use in the classroom Mary Ann Siller, M.Ed. National Consultant in Blindness and Low Vision Dallas, Texas
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Do you have the time?

Each year when a new school year begins, time becomes a topic in every conversation. You might hear the following phrases from teachers, administrators, students and parents: time management, not enough time in the day, time to get up, time to go to bed and from VI teachers, so many students, so little time.  We all have our favorite technology solutions to save us time, emails, voice mails, smart phones, notebooks, e-readers etc. Our students are taught technology to access information quickly,  increase their time management and productivity.  But what about our students who need more processing time? How do we slow down to allow them the time they need? How do we stay quiet and wait for them to learn?  Lilli Nielsen, Barbara Miles and Jan Van Dijk’s teaching strategies suggest they we take the time to become better observers of our students with unique processing and idiosyncratic communication patterns....
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iOS 6 Maps for Travel

Now that you've upgraded to iOS 6 on your device, what do you do for transit directions? With all the nice things that came along with the recent update to Apple's iOS, there was one change that may affect the way Orientation and Mobility Specialists share information with students/clients, and for travelers in general who use public transportation.  The built in Maps application that was previously a Google Maps iteration has now switched to an Apple creation.  One feature notably absent is the ability to select pedestrian or public transportation options for directions when creating a route.  This was a nice feature for planning travel and changing plans while on the go in previous versions of iOS.  So what is there to do now? One solution is to go to the built in browser, Safari, and navigate to maps.google.com.  This will bring up a mobile version of Google Maps and will likely...
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Bring Your Boss to Work Week: November 5 - 9

One of the most common refrains among VI professionals is “I wish my supervisor knew what I was doing.”  In fact, in a recent survey on issues related to performance evaluations, the most common comment was “Ride with me, see what I do.” Again this year, TSBVI and TAER will partner to sponsor the Second Annual Bring Your Boss to Work Week, November 5-9. By encouraging your supervisor to spend a half-day with you will be able to increase his/her understanding of the scope of students and the range of their challenges and what it is like to be an itinerant VI professional. This experience can also provide you with a chance for informal and child-specific conversations about being an itinerant VI professional; about the importance of expanded core curriculum programming, professional development and a chance to demonstrate how VI-specific resources benefit students with visual impairments. In addition to the advantages...
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APH News

Your monthly link to the latest information on the products, services, and training opportunities from the American Printing House for the Blind. **Please visit our October issue, now posted on our website: http://www.aph.org/advisory/2012adv10.html **This Month’s Headlines: The Extra Mile is Getting Closer! Enter the APH Facebook "Like Us" Contest! Win a $250 APH Gift Certificate! North Carolina - Home of our Newest Unforgettable APH Video Stars We Need Your Assistance! Treasures from the APH Libraries ·         Oldies but Goodies: The "Established" APH Product Series ·         APH Travel Calendar ·         New Products from APH ·         The Braille Book Corner and much, much more…
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Accessible Books for Texas

Most of you already know about this, but if you don't here a link to a website that explains the partnership between the State of Texas and Bookshare. http://www.accessiblebooks4tx.org.  The original focus of the the project is to educate educators on digital talking books, who qualifies for services, and how to obtain these books.   There are three outreach coordinators hired by Benetech (parent company of Bookshare) assigned to serve various ESC regions.  If need help with Bookshare issues this might be a good place to start finding answers to questions you might have.  Hope you find it useful. Patrick Van Geem, TVI Assistive Technology Consultant
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Sowell Center Lecture

The Texas Tech University Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities invites you to its 14th annual lecture series on Saturday, November 17, 2012 from 9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. in Lubbock. The theme of the lecture is  Travel with Students with Visual Impairments in a Complex, Built Environment by Lucas Franck and Janet, M. Barlow. ACVREP credit is available for Orientation and Mobility Specialists. The lecture is intended to help participants gain useful information on: Effective strategies that persons with visual impairments can use to travel safely in their environments. Knowledge and teaching strategies that orientation and mobility specialists can use to assist travelers and students who have visual impairments. Ways to engage in effective consultative collaboration with traffic personnel, city planners and other professionals to advocate for changes in the infrastructure so as to ensure safety during travel for persons with visual impairments. Research-based evidence and practical experiences on techniques that can provide...
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Interaction and Bonding

Interaction that naturally occurs between infants and their parents may not occur with the same frequency when a child is born with multiple disabilities because of factors such as prolonged hospital stays, medical needs, and the strain of adjusting to having a child with multiple disabilities.  These interactions are integral to emotional and cognitive development, and may need to be provided by instructional staff during the child's educational career. In searching for more information on this topic, I came across "Parent–Infant Synchrony:Biological Foundations and Developmental Outcomes" by Ruth Feldman. This article provides a summary of research that supports strategies for teachers to use to address the needs of children with severe to profound impairments. Further training on these strategies can be found in the Interaction and Bonding section of "Communication for Children with Deafblindness, or Visual and Multiple Impairments.
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Lesson Plan Template for the Expanded Core Curriculum and National Agenda

This came across a TVI listserv in West Virginia; posted by Trina Britcher. It’s definitely worth sharing. I wanted to share with you a link to a lesson plan template for the Expanded Core Curriculum and National Agenda that is on the Harrison County Schools website. This is much more relevant to our profession than templates based on the Common Core. You are free to access and use it if you would like. http://wvschools.com/harrisoncounty/lpt/visiontemplate.xls The nine areas of the expanded core are in capital letters. If you click in the white space below the broad area, a drop down menu will show which lists a variety of goals. These were taken from the Iowa document and used in West Virginia with the permission of Karen Blankenship. The remaining four blanks can be personalized to meet the teacher's needs. Simple and easy. Just what I like:) Our computer guru, Janet Benicosa, was...
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Federal Quota Program Survey

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education seeks input from vision professionals on the effectiveness of products and services provided through the Federal Quota Program, which is administered by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). We gather this feedback through a brief on-line survey available on the APH website. This survey includes one open-ended question designed to provide input for our staff in their product development planning. The 2012 survey is now available on the APH website, and you are encouraged to respond based on your experience with APH products provided through Federals Quota funds.  The brief, 11-question survey is available at http://www.aph.org/products/gpra.html through Thursday, September 21, 2012. Your honest input does make a difference. We DO listen! Feel free to contact me at  if you have questions or require assistance.
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Artificial Intelligent (AI) Braille Tutor

The researchers at Quantum Simulations have recently been working on the development of an Artificial Intelligent (AI) Braille Tutor, and we are in the process of obtaining additional funding from the Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES).  As part of this proposal we are seeking  a VI supervisors of public schools to agree to help us recruit TVIs and their students to work with us in the field testing portion of the project.  Quantum has successfully developed AI Tutors in the areas of chemistry, developmental math and accounting, and we have begun applying this technology to an AI Braille Tutor.  The field testing is vital to enable us to get feedback from expert braille teachers and their students, so we can report back to the Department of Education as to the value of using this technology in the process of teaching braille. We would appreciate your help with recruiting TVIs for the field testing. ...
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