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Recognizing VI Professionals in their Role as Recruiters

Texas Fellow

Carol Rimka
Tressie Schindler
Sara Baker
Theresa Taylor
Kathy Krenek
Karla Cantu
Tashia Garcia
Lani Simonton
Emma Lee Wilson
Mary Kainer
Cecilia Cox Hayes
Myleah Rhynes
Pat Harper
Barbara Kline
Carol Dancy
Bonnie Rudel
Brian Jones


Elizabeth Meek
Charlotte McKinney
Stacy Vance
Tammy Averitt
Julie Stanfield
Guadalupe Garza-Brown
Karen Baker
Cathryn King
Trish Duke
Harriet Page
Kathleen McGann
Gayla Brown
Beth Wallace
Shonda Prater
Julia Sohns
David Carabajal
Norma Freimark
For more information about becoming a Texas Fellow or working as a VI professional contact KC Dignan at <>.

Press Release from Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS)

Abstract: This article describes a new on-line resource that provides information about local providers of Medicaid Waiver services.

Key Words: blind, visually impaired, deafness, Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), DADS Quality Reporting System (QRS), Medicaid waiver programs, compliance

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) has unveiled a new on-line resource that provides information to families that are seeking to find qualified local providers of Medicaid Waiver services including HCS, CLASS and Texas Home Living services. The information can be found at the following web address: <>. To find the Medicaid waiver information, click on the very last link, Home and Community-Based Programs (Waivers).

This site offers families a way to compare providers on the basis of data compiled in the DADS Quality Reporting System (QRS). All providers that DADS contracts with may be identified by county or zip code. The following is provided for each waiver provider:

  • The provider’s administrative address and phone number.
  • A listing of waiver services offered by the provider.
  • Total number of individuals served by the provider in the provider’s contract area. Note: Many DADS contracts cover a multicounty area. Zero denotes that the provider has received a contract to provide waiver services but currently serves no individuals
  • Violations of the waiver certification standards noted in the most recent local inspection
  • 36 month history of past regulatory compliance noting specific compliance deficiencies and steps taken to resolve the deficiencies

This QRS information can help families as they seek to evaluate providers offering waiver services in their communities.

Abstract: this article describes a free sign language instruction program available on the internet

Keywords: blind, visually impaired, deaf, deafblind, Family Signs Program, sign language, Educational Resource Center on Deafness, ERCOD, Texas School for the Deaf, TSD

Family Signs is a free sign language instruction program powered by Skype and ooVoo that provides one-on-one classes using computers with a high-speed Internet connection or videophones when available. This program is intended for parents of deaf or hard of hearing children who want to improve their sign language skills but do not have easy access to traditional sign language classes. Family Signs is coordinated by the Educational Resource Center on Deafness (ERCOD) at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD).

If you are a parent or guardian of a deaf or hard of hearing child and you reside in Texas you are eligible for this program. We encourage you to visit the Program Overview and Student Information pages for more information about the program.

Instructors are advanced sign language students of college/university Deaf Education Programs, advanced sign language students of college/university Interpreter Training Programs, sign language interpreters, and volunteers with advanced sign language skills

Excerpt from The Vision Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Abstract: this article describes a survey to collect information about children who have been diagnosed with optic nerve Hypoplasia/septo-optic dysplasia.

Key Words: blind, visual impairment, Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, Septo-Optic Dysplasia, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, survey, Mark Borchert, M.D., The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

At Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), a national survey is being performed to examine the distribution of optic nerve hypoplasia/septo-optic dysplasia (ONH/SOD) cases across the United States. Mark Borchert, M.D., is conducting this research with Pamela Garcia-Filion, MPH, who is a Ph.D. student in Epidemiology at the University of Southern California.

The researchers are asking for your assistance in providing this survey to families that have a child with ONH/SOD. The survey takes less than 15 minutes to complete and participation is voluntary. The Institutional Review Board at CHLA has approved the researchers to collect information from the parents about the:

  1. season and year their child with ONH was born,
  2. census tract for where the mother lived 3 months before conception,
  3. census tract for where the mother lived during the 1st trimester, and
  4. census tract for where the mother lived during the 2nd trimester of the pregnancy.

The survey can be submitted to us by mail or it can be completed over the Internet at any one of the following websites:

If you do not want to complete the survey over the Internet, then you can complete a paper version of the survey provided and return it to us by mail. Our address is:

Attn: Pamela Garcia-Filion, MPH
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
4650 Sunset Blvd., MS #88
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Information collected from parents is protected under a Certificate of Confidentiality issued by the National Institute for Health and the data will be entered into a confidential database at CHLA. If you have any questions about this survey, please contact the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles at (323) 361-4510.

Enabling Devices Presents New Catalog Section for Visually Impaired

Press Release from Enabling Devices

Abstract: this is a press release from Enabling Devices announcing a new catalog section for the visually impaired.

Key Words: News & Views, assistive technology, access, accommodations

Enabling Devices announced that its 2010 catalog and website will feature a new section devoted entirely to products for the Visually Impaired.

According to Steven Kanor, Ph.D., President of Enabling Devices: “With advancements in assistive technology for people with visual impairments and blindness, we have seen an exponential growth in interest in our products for this population. As such, we have decided to dedicate an entire section of our 2010 catalog and our web-site to highlight communicators, switches, and adapted toys specifically designed for the visually impaired.”

Gail Cocciardi, Director of Product Development, says: “Our development team at Enabling Devices has been working to produce additional innovative products for the visually impaired. In 2009 we introduced the Portable Communicator for the Visually Impaired which uses the latest LED technology. Several new exciting and innovative products are under development for 2010.”

Enabling Devices is a company dedicated to de-veloping affordable learning and assistive tech-nology devices to help people of all ages with disabling conditions. The company specializes in creating custom devices for individuals with se-vere disabilities. Founded by Steven E. Kanor, Ph.D. and originally known as Toys for Special Children, the company has been creating innovative communicators, toys, switches, and sensory devices for the physically challenged for more than 35 years. For Information: or Contact: Elizabeth Bell, Director of Marketing, Phone: 800-832-8697 x36

Excerpt from

Abstract: this article describes a new website from National Federation of the Blind that describes personal accounts of the various types of employment where individuals who are blind are currently working.

Key Words: blind, visually impaired, National Federation of the Blind, NFB, employment

What kind of work are blind people doing? How do they do it? Why should employers hire a blind person? What careers are YOU interested in pursuing?

Blind people are working in a wide variety of jobs doing work that people mistakenly believe require sight. Blind students are often “tracked” into certain fields, whether they are interested in them or not. Within these pages, you will find written personal accounts of the various types of employment that the blind are engaged in, how they do it, how does a person enter the field, and what positive influences helped the person to achieve their goal.

In these pages, Where the Blind Work, you can learn more about blind people who are working in the fields of administrative and office, business/ entrepreneurial, computer, customer service, education, financial, government, human services, law enforcement, legal, media/marketing/public relations, medical and other vocational careers.

If you are blind, you can share your experience with others by filling out the Where the Blind Work Questionnaire. In these pages, NFB wants to collect as many employment descriptions as possible--a wide range of jobs and multiple examples of each. Thus, you may fill out a form for any or all the jobs you have ever worked.

By Christy Householter, Consultant, Region 10 Educational Service Center

Abstract: this article describes the USA Women’s National Goalball team’s come-from-behind victory in the Onnela Goalball Tournament in Onnela, Finland

Key Words: blind, visually impairment, goalball, Women’s National Goalball Team, Ken Armbruster, Onnella Goalball Tournament

The following is an excerpt from a recent goalball tournament in Finland, submitted by USA Women’s National Goalball Team Coach, Ken Armbruster. Armbruster is a seasoned goalball veteran, recently leading his team to a Gold medal in the Beijing, China 2008 Paralympics, and then clinching “Paralympic 2008 Coach of the Year”. Dallas, Texas goalball coach and aspiring national assistant coach, Christy Householter, had the chance to learn first-hand the thrill of victory as she accompanied the team on her first international trip.

Coming from behind in a stunning gold-medal match that was decided by a shootout, the USA Women’s National Goalball team emerged as champions of the 2010 Onnela Goalball Tournament held 23-24 January in Onnela, Finland.

Team USA opened their tournament play against the host Finnish team. USA built an early 5-2 lead behind two goals apiece from Asya Miller (Birmingham, AL) and Lisa Czechowski (Tucson, AZ). Although Finland challenged USA center Nicki Buck (Kalamazoo, MI) and produced a pair of comeback goals, Team USA held on for a 5-4 victory. USA’s next pool match was against the current European Champion, Great Britain. Both teams scored a goal early and remained in a 1-1 deadlock for most of the first half. With four seconds left in the half, Great Britain’s Emily Luke powered in one of her tournament leading scores resulting in a 2-1 Great Britain lead at the halftime buzzer. Midway in the second half, USA’s Robin Theryoung (Colorado Springs, CO) converted a penalty shot tying the score and Czechowski hit the game winner with 57 seconds left in the game: final score, team USA 3-2 over Great Britain. In a 4-2 loss to Sweden, Miller scored on the first throw of the game only to be countered by Sweden’s Malia Gustovasen’s first throw. Sweden went ahead midway through the half and Miller tied it at 2-2 shortly before halftime. USA couldn’t penetrate the rock-solid Sweden defense in the second half, while Sweden converted a penalty shot and Gustovasen added to the scoring tally, resulting leading to a 4-2 Sweden victory. The last pool game was against Greece. Jordan Walters (Boulder, CO) gave a strong defensive effort contributing to a 2-0 USA victory. Jackie Barnes (Wadsorth, IL) scored at the six minute mark of the first half and Theryoung added a second half goal.

The ladies avenged their only pool play loss to a strong Swedish team with a thrilling shootout victory. Trailing the Swedes midway through the second half of the game Miller scored her third goal of the game, tying the score at 3-3, and keeping Team USA’s chance alive for a gold medal in overtime play. As the game progressed to a shootout, Miller and teammates Czechowski and Theryoung (Colorado Springs, CO) scored goals while Walters made a key defensive stop against the number one Swedish scorer Malia Gustovasen, sealing the victory and the gold medal.

After two upcoming training camps, the next competition will be the Lady Malmo Cup (Malmo, Sweden) where USA are the defending champions.

Excerpt from

Abstract: this article provides information about a new web site developed to assist special needs populations become prepared for emergency situations.

Key Words: blind, visually impaired, deaf, emergency preparedness, special needs populations, Northeast Texas Public Health District

The Northeast Texas Public Health District has compiled 18 emergency preparedness topics and formatted the information to be accessible to deaf, blind, and limited sight populations.

The information is in video and downloadable document format for public use. Simply click on the preferred link to access information as an ASL Translated video file, Braille formatted documents, large print documents, or regular print English documents. The ASL Translated video files also have an audible voice over and text appearing alongside the interpreter. All of the information is free for public use; any organization may link to the website and use the information to inform the public.

The developers encourage you to post comments on the discussion page. There are also two surveys for those viewing the information to assess preparedness levels before and after viewing the material.

By Beth Dennis, Blind Children’s Consultant, Division for Blind Services

Abstract: this article reviews a blog written by Gayle Yarnell, Director of Adaptive Technology, a Division for Perkins Products.

Key Words: blind, visually impaired, disability, Perkins Products, adaptive technology

Meet Gayle Yarnell, Director of Adaptive Technology, a Division for Perkins Products: <>. She introduces herself with, “Welcome to the lighter side of Adaptive Technology, A Division of Perkins Products. This part of our website is also known as ‘hints for real life’. We will cover real life and how blind people cope with the situations that occur about fifty times a day.”

In her blog entries, she discusses her experiences in the world—going to movies, to the theatre, being a grandmother, talking to a soldier in Afghanistan—from the unique perspective of a woman who happens to be blind. And what you find out when reading the blogs is that she’s writing from the unique perspective of a human being writing about the stuff of life. Check it out: <>.

And while you’re at it, check out Perkins Scout, listed under the Resources link. Perkins Scout is a searchable database of carefully evaluated online resources related to blindness and visual impairment and organized for your convenience:  <>. There are 21 different topics, such as Assistive Technology, Cooking and Kitchen Safety, Education, Etiquette, O&M, Physical Education and Sports, Recreation, Transition, and 13 other topics.

By Charles Young, President, The Hadley School for the Blind

Abstract: this article describes distance education courses available through the partnership between DARS and the Hadley School for the Blind.

Key Words: blind, visually impaired, deafblind, DARS, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services, Hadley School for the Blind, distance education

Thanks to a new partnership, The Hadley School for the Blind and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services are pleased to offer distance education courses at no cost to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, their families and Texas service providers.

Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, The Hadley School for the Blind provides more than 100 courses in accessible formats including braille, large print and audio. Many of the courses are also available online. Hadley’s curriculum is focused in four program areas: Adult Continuing Education, Family Education, High School and Professional Studies. Courses range from independent living skills to finding employment to academics and recreational activities.

Hadley provides award-winning braille instruction too, including 10 braille reading and writing courses for visually impaired students and three braille courses for parents and sighted professionals. In addition, Hadley offers a high school diploma program to qualified students and can help high school students transfer credits to their local school district for graduation. Hadley also offers free webinars called Seminars@Hadley. These popular online discussions provide “just in time” training and cover the most current topics such as GPS travel, self-employment, new technology and more.

Billy Brookshire, a longtime trainer for DARS, is the Hadley representative in Texas. He will be managing this exciting new initiative to benefit Texans concerned with visual impairment and blindness. For more information about The Hadley School for the Blind, visit <>, call 800-323-4238, or send a question by email to: < >.