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Supporting Students with Albinism, Pre-Conference Event

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Personal habits that promote resilient thinking:

  • Journaling
  • Meditation
  • Other activities that broaden sensory experience (e.g. yoga, breathing, audio-visual activities)
  • Expressing gratitude
  • Leisure activities
  • Surrounding yourself with a loving support system
  • Setting goals and following through
  • Practicing assertive communication and problem-solving skills
  • Maintaining a positive view of yourself and your abilities
  • Accepting those things that you cannot change

Other tips and strategies to minimize the impact of a negative experience:

  • Talk to a friend or family member – don’t be afraid to laugh or cry!
  • Choose your battles; know when to educate and when to walk away.
  • Convey confidence with your nonverbal communication.
  • Look out for your personal safety. If you can’t immediately leave a situation, distract yourself by reading a book or turning on your iPod.
  • Be ready with a come-back.
  • Let the bad stuff go. Recognize when you’re ruminating.
  • Be true to yourself.
  • Seek professional help if feelings of anxiety or depression interfere with your life.
  • Find a healthy outlet like playing music, drawing or jogging.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to learn self-defense strategies if it helps you to feel more confident.
  • Find a mentor to whom you can vent.
  • Use negative experiences to inspire acts of compassion and kindness to others. Break the cycle!
  • Don’t lose your cool.

Exercises to Evaluate the ABC’s of a Bad Day

  1. Diary of Significant Events
      1. What Preceded the Event? 
      2. What Happened? 
      3. What Was the Aftermath? 

    Affect (Emotions)BehaviorCognition (Thoughts)
  • Personal Affirmations
    • I’m a good person because:
    • I’m proud of myself because:
    • People like me because:
  • My “Elevator Story” about My Visual Impairment:

  • Come-Back Bank:
    They Say...You Say...

Books on display at the Low Vision Conference: Supporting students with albinism

  • Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes by Emily Urquhart, Harper Ave Publisher 2015
    The author is a journalist, folklore scholar and first-time parent of a child with a disability. Urquhart embarks on a three-year journey across North America and Africa to discover how we explain human differences, not through scientific facts or statistics but through a system of cultural beliefs.

  • Akata Witch by Nneda Okorafor, Viking Press 2011
    The author’s fictional character, 12-year-old Sunny Nwazue, is an American-born child with albinism. Her parents are Nigerian and the story begins with them moving back to Nigeria. She learns that she has undiscovered magical powers and meets similarly gifted friends who work together to catch a serial killer.

  • Living with Albinism by Elaine Landau (First Books series), Collins Publishing 1998
    This chapter book directed to young readers (grades 2-5) gives a description of albinism and covers relevant topics such as health concerns (e.g., sun protection) and responses to commonly asked questions about the inherited condition.

  • But Mommy It’s Not Fair by Sherria Elliott, Elliott Publishing Inc. 2011
    Inspired by the life of her daughter, “Heaven,” this series follows the life of a young girl with albinism who struggles to accept herself and understand why her appearance differs from her friends and family.

  • A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel, Sky Pony Press 2015
    This fictional account of 12-year-old Alice combines humor and a real-world view of growing up with albinism. Alice has made a cross country move with her family and settled in a South Carolina town nicknamed Stinkville. In a lively first person voice, she figures out how to navigate her new community as someone who is legally blind, learns about a writing contest at the public library that helps her get to know the community and make friends along the way.

  • Albino Animals by Marie Racanelli, Powerkids Press 2010
    This short book (24 pp) directed to young readers features engaging photographs and brief explanations of the challenges faced by animals with albinism.

  • Albino Animals by Kelly Milner Halls, Darby Creek Publishing 2004
    This slim book combines vivid photography with facts and stories on a wide range of animals with albinism.

  • Unique by Arlene Gerrity, Post Publication 2013
    This is the story of a robin born with albinism, who matures and succeeds in life by learning to handle, in a positive manner, her “unique” genetic condition. She triumphs by going over, under, around and through physical challenges in her path.

  • Breaking the Boundaries of Impairment: A Life Journey with Low Vision by Bruce Barton, 2017
    The author’s adventuring spirit has led him to such adrenaline pumping experiences as putting radio collars on black bears for science, snorkeling with manta rays and rappelling into caves. His book includes advice and encouragement to others with low vision in succeeding at school, work and the social scene as well as outdoor adventures.

  • The Edge of Normal by Hanah Schank (available for download) 2015
    This essay, filled with both heartbreak and joy, tells one mother’s story of finding her role as a parent of a child with albinism and navigating the spectrum of ability and disability.

  • Twice Exceptional by Hanah Schank (available for download) 2015
    A mother describes her battle with the New York education system to gain appropriate services for her five-year-old daughter who has albinism and is legally blind.

Books published by NOAH ((National Organization of Albinism and Hypopigmentation) from NOAH website

  • Raising a Child with Albinism: A Guide to the Early Years
    This helpful guide for parents presents information from 20 contributors on managing the challenges in the early years. Topics covered include impact on child development, early intervention services and guidance for social concerns.

  • Raising a Child with Albinism: A Guide to the School Years
    This helpful guide for parents explores topics relevant to entering school such as planning for the IEP meeting, participating in PE and navigating the social scene. 




[Item from March 2001 JVIB]

Copyright 2001, American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, March 2001.

Signed report

Susan Osterhaus, Chris Weaver, and Marie Amerson with Mary Ann Siller, project coordinator

Since 1998, the AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum has sought to identify ways to ensure that students with visual impairments receive learning materials in accessible formats at the same time their peers receive the materials in print. Various AFB Solutions Forum stakeholders have been active in projects that help provide accessible textbooks for children with visual impairments and make life easier for their teachers. One important development to achieve this goal is the creation of braille conversion software that is designed to work with files from a print math editing program.

The graphical nature of mathematical and scientific notation, along with special braille codes--such as Nemeth Code, the braille code for mathematics--needed to represent complicated formulas, have presented unique problems in the delivery of accessible textbooks for mathematics and science instruction. Existing software that converts print mathematics into Nemeth Code requires mathematics to be written in a computer language that is unambiguous in its presentation of mathematical structures in order to correctly generate Nemeth Code. However, many computer languages that are used to represent mathematics provide only a recipe to draw the mathematics and do not provide explicit information on mathematical structure, which is vital information for the production of accurate Nemeth Code.

Scientific Notebook (SN) is a print math editing program that scripts mathematics in a clear, unambiguous way that is ideal for transcription into Nemeth Code. SN has a number of automatic formatting controls for text elements, such as headers, displayed equations, and bulleted or numbered lists. Although these features make mathematics look pretty on print paper, the ability to detect and eliminate these additional structures is crucial to getting correctly formatted braille out of a Nemeth Code converter. In addition, SN includes a built-in scientific graphing calculator, which has a view screen that can be enlarged to 400%, used with a computer program that enlarges text, or used independently by a student with low vision to complete homework assignments.

Because adaptations to SN would make it possible for students with visual impairments to have large print and braille access to mathematics, a project to adapt SN with braille conversion (SN/conversion) software was started by volunteer Jack Medd with guidance from an AFB Solutions Forum stakeholder, the Mathematics Accessible to Visually Impaired Students (MAVIS) program at New Mexico State University. Chris Weaver, MAVIS program coordinator, continued the braille conversion software project after Medd's departure. In the earliest stages of the project, Susan Osterhaus, secondary mathematics teacher and teacher of the visually impaired at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and AFB Solutions Forum member, participated in a beta test of the SN/conversion software. Later, the software was tested by other teachers of students with visual impairments and Nemeth Code transcribers. The test used the software to prepare, from one print mathematics document, multiple copies in regular print, large print, and braille. Feedback from the beta test indicated that the SN/conversion software was user friendly and accurate and that it easily and quickly prepared the multiple copies in much less time than traditional methods.

The collaboration between MAVIS and the creators of SN has resulted in a converter that understands the source mathematics and produces excellent Nemeth Code by computer generator standards. Any program is susceptible to bugs, and decisions regarding natural language cannot be made by a computer program. Proofreading the output with a screen reader would help catch most conversion mistakes.

At about the same time Susan Osterhaus began testing the SN/converter, math professor Henry Gray from Metroplex Voice Computing approached her regarding the efficacy of applying the basic product to blind users' needs. Osterhaus and Gray are currently beta testing a speech recognition package for the SN/converter called Math Talk for the Visually Impaired. The combined Math Talk/SN/converter would feature a read-back feature that would allow blind students to independently use many of the SN features, including printing documents converted into large print and braille.

Neal Kuniansky from Duxbury, Inc. is collaborating with MAVIS. The stakeholders of the AFB Solutions Forum are beta testing a DBT WIN 10.3 version, which uses the MAVIS converter and allows a file to be prepared in SN and imports it directly into DBT for a final proofreading before embossing. In addition, Chris Weaver is working on a Nemeth Code back-translator, which will convert Nemeth Code into print and display the converted document in SN.

Weaver and Osterhaus report that the December 2000 issue of the Mathematics Teacher contains a review of SN, which should spread the news about SN to regular math teachers. The AFB Solutions Forum advocates math teachers' use of SN for their math materials, since SN provides teachers with an inexpensive, user-friendly way to furnish all of their students with high-quality, accessible documents.

This project related to SN and collaborative efforts to address accessibility of math materials is one example of the types of solutions endorsed by the AFB Textbooks and Instructional Materials Solutions Forum--various stakeholders coming together to solve problems so that students with visual impairments will have the right learning materials at the right time.

For more information, contact: Susan Osterhaus, secondary mathematics teacher, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired; e-mail: or Chris Weaver, program director, Mathematics Accessible to Visually Impaired Students (MAVIS), New Mexico State University; e-mail: .

Osterhaus, S.A. (2004). Susan’s math technology corner: The versatile Scientific Notebook. Division on Visual Impairments Quarterly, 49(2), 39-43.


In a previous article [Osterhaus, S.A. (2003). Susan's math technology corner: Scientific Notebook + DBT WIN = Nemeth Code. Division on Visual Impairments Quarterly, 48(3), 23-28.], I wrote about using Scientific Notebook with Duxbury's DBT WIN to produce Nemeth Code. Recently I received a request from a woman with limited vision and motor disabilities planning to attend college. She was looking for computer software that would help her brush up on algebra and pre-calculus and that was displayed in large fonts. Furthermore, she wanted other software that would allow her to type her own math assignments in large fonts with ease. Finally, she needed a scientific graphing calculator.

Scientific Notebook (SNB) is a word/math processor, scientific graphing calculator, and mathematics reference library all rolled into one. It allows the user to enter text and mathematics in the same document in a seamless easy fashion without the need to cut and paste. It is also an extremely powerful scientific graphing calculator and will compute, evaluate, or graph just about anything you ask of it and enter the results, again in the same document. You can enlarge the toolbar buttons or use keyboard shortcuts. You can enlarge the screen 400%. If the font isn't large enough and/or the wrong style and color, you can create your personalized article style with a font style, color, and size (up to 72) of your choosing (which will also print in this size), and then further enlarge this style on screen up to 400%. Of course, you could always add the magnification software of your choosing as well. Then, if you go to the Help menu, you will find the Mathematics Reference Library (also Physics and Chemistry just in case you need that too), which will help you brush up on algebra, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, matrix algebra, differential equations, and vector calculus.

 SNB Student $99  SNB Acad. $139


I am always looking for the "best buy" in any math technology, and Scientific Notebook Version 5 (the latest version) easily fits that description with its amazing versatility. You may download a free 30-day copy of Scientific Notebook from the web at The evaluation period begins when you register. MacKichan will send you a serial number at your email address. Be sure to follow their directions for registration, or you will be unable to access all the Scientific Notebook capabilities. If you decide this is the software for you, the cost is $99 for students ($139 for academic/government users and $210 for commercial users). What a deal! A variety of licensing options are available, including discounts for upgrades and quantity purchases.


At first glance, Scientific Notebook looks like any other word processor. The SNB standard toolbar looks quite familiar, with the exception of one button: the Math/Text Toggle.

Standard toolbar

It is this math/text toggle that allows the user to enter text and mathematics in the same document in a seamless easy fashion without the need to cut and paste.

text buttonText is entered at the position of the insertion point when the Toggle Text/Math button on the Standard toolbar shows

math buttonMathematics is entered when the Toggle Text/Math button on the Standard toolbar shows


In addition to the standard toolbar, Scientific Notebook has several other toolbars that allow for easy insertion of the most advanced mathematics symbols and notation. The Math Templates and Math Objects toolbars allow you to enter fractions, radicals, superscripts, subscripts, parentheses, square brackets, summations, integrals, unit names, displays, more operators, more brackets, matrices, functions, binomials, labels, and decorations.


Math Templates toolbar


Math objects toolbar



The compute toolbar allows you to evaluate, evaluate numerically, evaluate exactly, simplify, expand, graph 2D, graph 3D, and define variables and functions.


Compute toolbar


Beginning with SNB Version 4.0, there were several improvements to productivity and compatibility that directly address low vision needs.

Customize the Symbol Cache Toolbar by removing the symbols you don't need and adding any symbols that you do want from the expanded symbol panels. This is quite a time-saver.


Symbol Cache Toolbar



Change the style more easily. Use the greatly expanded Tag Appearance dialog box to change the face, style, size, and color of the font to design the perfect on-screen and print document for your vision needs.

Work faster with enhanced keyboard shortcuts for standard document operations.

Open RTF documents with greater accuracy. The new rtf2latex2e converter converts many more documents than the previous converter. This means scanning certain documents (science and math documents with a considerable amount of text) is now a more time-efficient option.

Scientific Notebook includes two hard copy manuals: Getting Started with Scientific Notebook and Doing Mathematics with Scientific Notebook, in addition to the built-in electronic help files, so that you can get the most out of this powerful computer program. It also includes the free web browser, Scientific Viewer, which allows anyone to read your documents.

Reliability and Flexibility

Version 5 improves SNB and brings additional capabilities to the workplace.

  • Export your documents as RTF files, so that interactions with teachers and colleagues in non-TeX environments are simplified. The resulting RTF file can be viewed in Microsoft Word. If the Microsoft Word installation includes the appropriate Equation Editor, any MathType 3 or MathType 5 mathematical objects in the RTF file can even be edited.
  • Open and read the MathType equations in RTF files when you import the RTF files. The equations are converted to LaTeX.
  • Create more accurate HTML files, making your mathematics available on various platforms over the Internet and in applications that can read HTML files.
  • Export mathematics as MathML.
  • Compute with enhanced MuPAD 2.5 computer algebra engine right in your document (an upgrade from the MuPAD 2.0 kernel in Version 4).
  • Compute with MathType mathematics in RTF files, since the equations are converted to LaTeX.
  • Use an improved Exam Builder, which is fully functional with MuPAD.

Scientific Notebook does have its limitations. It is not geared toward the spatial mathematics found in elementary mathematics. In fact, it does not even have a symbol for the "goes into" division symbol. Nevertheless, you can write arithmetic problems horizontally, and it will compute the answers.


I highly recommend Scientific Notebook as a tool for teachers and students alike, which will make teaching and learning mathematics easier and more exciting. In fact it is one of the most versatile programs in my math technology toolbox. Easily accessible to the low vision reader, it can also be accessible to the highly mathematical and technological-oriented blind reader by using MathTalk/Scientific Notebook (

Susan A. Osterhaus
aTexas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Phone: 512-206-9305