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

By Michele Chauvin, President, Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (TAPVI), Sugar Land, Texas

Abstract: Leaders in the field of visual impairment and deafblindness recently participated in specific training about collaborating more effectively.

Keywords: blind, visual impairment, deafblind, parent groups, interest-based problem solving, parent-school collaboration

In May, TSBVI Outreach organized a family leadership workshop in Austin for statewide leaders in the field of visual impairment and deaf-blindness. I

traveled with my husband and daughter to attend the training titled “Communicate Effectively: Using Interests-Based Problem Solving (IBPS)”, led by professional mediators Laura and Robert Otey. Several TAPVI board members and their families attended, as well.

Along with TAPVI members were key leaders from the Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT) and Parents of Blind Children of Texas (POBCT), as well as a DARS/DBS Children’s Specialist and a VI Consultant from a Regional Educational Service Center. Seeing the leaders of the various Texas family groups together at one workshop was priceless. During the workshop, we were encouraged to think through common issues between parents and schools. We identified the differences between positions, underlying interests, and options.

The presenters described various types of conflict and how people react differently to conflict. They focused on using open-ended questions and neutral language to help reduce defensiveness and increase understanding. We practiced a possible real world conflict between schools and families then role-played both positions. This helped us, as parents, gain insight into the issues that the “other side” of the ARD table has to consider when educating our children in public school.

Overall, the training reminded us that families, students, CTVIs, COMS, classroom teachers, special education teachers, related-services professionals, therapists, principals, etc. are all a significant part of the ARD committee or IEP team. The purpose is for us to work together towards a common goal for our children, encouraging them to strive towards greater success and independence in school and in the community.

Thank you TSBVI Outreach for coordinating this interesting and useful workshop. Hopefully, I can remember and use what I learned once school begins this fall and in years to come.

To find out more about TAPVI, go to: .