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Fall 2009 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Irasema Ramirez, Member of TAPVI, Laredo, TX

Abstract: A mother describes her experience attending an international family conference for families of children with visual impairments, including those with deafblindness and additional disabilities.

Keywords: visual impairment, deafblind, TAPVI, NAPVI

Editor’s Note: Five Texas families were able to attend the International Families Connecting Families Conference organized by the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI). The major sponsors were the American Foundation for the Blind and the Junior Blind. A TAPVI member wrote the article below. Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments is an affiliate of NAPVI. More information can be found at and 1-800-562-6265.

I think it was a wonderful experience for hamas, told us the way they help VI stumy daughter and me to attend the NAPVI dents with their educational program. They TAPVI International have support for students like TSBVI. From Family Con-the Philippines Association of Parents of

ference in Costa Mesa California, this summer. We had the opportunity to meet with parents of children with visual impairments and hear from different sources of support for our kids.

My daughter Irasema is 18-years-old with Retinitis of Prematurity (ROP). She was a very premature baby of 24 weeks. She lost her right eye

Children with Visual Impairments (PAPVI) we met Belinda Polintan and her son. They were very happy to get together with families in the United States. We shared information about the support we have in the US. Sitara and Madhu Rangnathan, from India, now living in San Francisco, California, told us that they are working as a team with their school. Aracely Rivera, from Downey, CA, asked me about the programs in Texas because they are planning to move to our state. I introduced Aracely to the people from Texas and gave her some informa

and has very poor vision on her left eye. She graduated from high school in Laredo, Texas and plans to attend community college.

This was truly an international conference as we met many families from other countries. Desmond Brown and Barsha Smith, from the Ba-tion and resources that I use to help my daughter. They are from Mexico City, but now they are living in the US.

Another important thing that we learned is that Mr. Barry Stickings and his son, Toby, from the United Kingdom (UK) are members of an organization called MACS (Micro and Anophthahlmic Children’s Society) . This group helps students in their country with technology, financial aid, and most important, emotional support in order to be successful at school. They also have an annual conference and they told us to e-mail them if we are interested in attending.

Dr. Bill Takeshita, Director of Optometric Services at the Center for the Partially Sighted, was the keynote speaker and shared with us very important things. Dr. Takeshita lost his vision when he was 6 years old, and since that age he has worked hard to be successful in his life. Now he is an admirable model for our kids, because he is a doctor and a professor. He suggested that if your child has vision problems, you must encourage them to learn Braille. In my experience if a child can see a little then, the school does not want to teach them Braille. It is very important, like Dr. Takeshita said, “GAMBÁTE.” In his language that word means, “Try your best”. You can get more information on the center at: . You can also learn more about the Dr. Bill Foundation and listen to him by going to: .

There were a lot of sessions and we attended as many as we could. It is very important that you participate in these conferences to learn more about helping your kids.

Sunday afternoon, Farhana Khawar and her daughter from Austin, TX, my daughter Irasema, and I went to Disneyland. We enjoyed a wonderful evening with our daughters in the park. She shared her rental car and I shared our tickets to the park. They are a nice family.

Irasema and I were very lucky to attend this conference and we hope we can participate in the next one. My husband, Miguel, my daughter “Irita” and myself are here to help anyone that has a visually impaired or blind child. We will share our experiences and all we have learned during these 18 years. We are a team at NAPVI and TAPVI and are here to support each other.

Thank you to TSBVI Outreach for supporting us with the expenses to travel to California and the opportunity to share our experiences with all TAPVI members.