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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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“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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Color Vision Deficiency

image of all bout color blindness bookRecently there was a post on the AERNet mailing list asking for advice on a referral made for VI instructional services for a student whose only concern was “color blindness” (more accurately called a color vision deficiency, or CVD.  Whereas some vision-related etiologies may have an associated CVD, most individuals with a color vision deficiency do not have additional (uncorrectable) problems with their vision.  In Texas, a student who only presents with CVD would not qualify for the services of a TVI, because Texas’ commissioner’s rules state:             …..a student with a visual impairment is one who:            (i)  has been determined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist                  (ii) to have no vision or to have a serious visual loss after correction; or                 (iii)  to have a progressive medical condition that will result...
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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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“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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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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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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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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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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Hand-Under-Hand Videos

If you are trying to explain hand-under-hand to teacher or families, try showing these video examples from Washington Sensory Disabilities Services (WSDS) . There are a variety of examples and one of them is probably similar to a student you work with.  They can be found on the video section of their website. Ann Rash VI Educational Consultant Outreach Program
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Roundtable on Social Skills Issues at TAER 2012

In a session on Social Skills at TAER 2012, the participants were asked to brainstorm activity and lesson ideas to help incorporate social skills lessons into their instruction.  In 10 minutes, they came up with  a whole exciting range of proposals.  Maybe these ideas will help spur your creative thinking! Miscellaneous: Table etiquette, social obligations, hosts Make tactile placemat with spoon, knife and fork placement. Have students set table. Go to restaurant (or set up in your classroom). Practice etiquette at the table (e.g. table setting, ordering, manners, tip, pouring, passing food around). Plan a game night. Make phone calls. Invitations. Shopping. Passing food – Utensil placement. Family style serving. Practice polite conversation, contacting a friend. Practice appropriate manners (e.g. utensil use/accessibility, closed mouth while chewing, not everything is finger food, napkin in lap, perhaps pulling out chair for friend) Payment arrangements Phone etiquette Role play in cafeteria Dating: Expresses interest...
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Optimizing Vision

The student with low vision who is functioning in a general education classroom setting may be experiencing a multitude of visual challenges unique to the environments in which (s)he works.  As a TVI, I need to have a construct in my head in order to quickly organize my observations of each environment, so that I can make adjustments and/or recommendations for accommodations. For starters, I must consider the lights or brightness in the room.  There are certain eye conditions that make lighting either detrimental (ocular albinism) or vital (optic nerve hypoplasia).  Questions I might ask myself are:  What is the lighting source?  Is the student getting so close that her head obscures the light?  Would a task light help?  Where should the light be directed?  If an outlet is nearby, the APH lamp is wonderful.  Another option is a battery powered OTT® light that can be moved from room to room.  When positioning...
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Parent Training "Pay it Forward"

Are you a seasoned parent that has been in the trenches for a few years? If so, you are probably frustrated with at least one of the systems that provide services for your child and family. These services are based on policies developed by politicians and administrators that have little if any experience raising a child with a disability. You may want to challenge some policies and procedures and advocate for changes that would benefit your child as well as others with disabilities but don’t know where to start.   Participants in the Texas Advanced Leadership and Advocacy Conference (TALAC) learn where to start, how to advocate successfully and have the chance to practice these skills with policymakers. You will become confident and competent in your ability to make a difference in your community and statewide. If you are regularly giving support and information to others new to disability, then I encourage you...
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Neuroscience and Writing

While preparing a workshop on writing by students with visual impairments, I found a general education web site about writing.  This was the National Writing Project at www.nwp.org One of the articles at this web site was about how writing can impact the brain.  That article is “Writing and the Brain: Neuroscience Shows the Pathways to Learning” at http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3555 As I read the article, I thought about the need for students with visual impairments to write more and to write as part of a collaborative effort.  Logistics may make that harder for students who use Braille but I think it behooves us as teachers of students with visual impairments to think of ways to make that happen. Jim Durkel APH Materials Coordinator
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