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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

By: Adam Graves, Education Consultant, Deafblind Outreach Program, TSBVI

Abstract: This article provides information on the development and implementation of an evaluation tool for conducting informal functional hearing evaluations for students with deafblindness and/or multiple disabilities.

Keywords: deafblindness, deafblind, deaf, hard of hearing, evaluation, functional hearing

 

Over the course of the past year, the Texas Deafblind Project of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) has been developing a tool to help teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing (TDHH) describe how students who have difficulty responding to formal diagnostic hearing tests, such as those with deafblindness and/or multiple disabilities, use their hearing in a functional way. The assessment (which has been titled the Informal Functional Hearing Evaluation or IFHE) is designed to help record information about the behavioral responses of students with deafblindness to a variety of sounds in multiple settings. The information obtained from the IFHE can guide the development of accommodations and instructional strategies for the IEP team, as well as provide valuable information for educational audiologists as they perform subsequent diagnostic testing.

Origins

In the fall of 2014, Chris Montgomery, Adam Graves and Kate Hurst from the Deafblind Outreach Program at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired began a five-part webinar series describing and explaining hearing issues for students with deafblindness. During the course of theses webinars, the team conducted interviews with educational audiologist Lisa Sutherland and with Susie Tiggs, the educational lead for the Texas network for low-functioning deaf students. Much of the conversation with these hearing specialists centered on the fact that most audiologists and teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing (TDHH) do not have experience in working with students who are deafblind. As a result, many hearing professionals typically require additional information about how to identify the ways in which a child with a combined vision and hearing loss is using their hearing. In addition, the need for students who are deafblind to be able to hear, identify and listen for environmental sounds for the purposes of orientation was also discussed.

The team realized that the need for assistive listening devices to help provide access to environmental sounds makes a comprehensive functional hearing assessment especially important for a child who is deafblind and lacks formal language. This is because sighted children with a hearing loss are often provided with assistive listening devices that are programmed to block out environmental sounds in order to help eliminate auditory distractions and allow the child to focus on speech. As the team began to explore the differences between the hearing needs of sighted children and those with a visual impairment, they discovered the difficulties that arise when conducting standard audiometric testing for students with deafblindness and multiple disabilities. The importance of a comprehensive informal hearing evaluation that would be applicable for students with vision loss became very apparent. 

Susie Tiggs provided the team with a number of resources and evaluation tools that provided functional hearing information for deaf or hard of hearing students who had typical vision but were unable to use formal language to answer questions or offer descriptions of what they were able to hear. The evaluations that the team encountered when researching evaluation tools that are currently available relied heavily on observing changes in the student’s eye gaze and visual attention as indicators of the child’s responses to specific sounds. Despite the emphasis on visual response in these assessments, Chris and Adam worked with a team from TSBVI to try to adapt the most comprehensive of the evaluations to collect hearing information on a student who seemed to be using his hearing in a manner that did not appear to be consistent with some of his audiological information.

After talking about the adaptation of this existing evaluation tool with the TSBVI team, it became apparent that the evaluation they were attempting to use did not adequately describe how the student was using his hearing in a functional way. More importantly, the evaluation did not provide any guidance on how to create a list of recommendations that could be included in the student’s communication report or list of accommodations. The team then reached out to the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) and the Perkins School for the Blind to discover if those institutions were currently using or were aware of a functional evaluation that was specifically designed to provide information and recommendations on hearing needs of this low incidence population. When both TSD and Perkins indicated that they were interested in using a functional hearing evaluation specifically designed for these students, the team set about to develop just such a tool.

The Deafblind Difference

The most significant difference between the IFHE and similar functional hearing inventories is that unlike other functional hearing tools, the IFHE is specifically designed to account for the difficulties that students with deafblindness and multiple disabilities have in localizing and identifying sound sources due to their loss of vision. More emphasis is placed on encouraging the teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing to observe and document the child’s specific bodily behavioral responses to sounds. The IFHE places an increased emphasis on observing behaviors other than visual attention to help confirm that a student has heard, recognized, or understood a specific sound, even for students with some vision. 

One example of the way in which the IFHE attempts to address hearing issues that are unique to deafblindness can be found in its description of some of the difficulties that a student with a hearing and visual loss may have in localizing sound sources. It includes an explanation of some of the subtle ways that a child might indicate that he has heard a sound when he cannot orient toward it, such as small arm or leg movements, changes in vocalizations, or changes in head position.

The IFHE also contains an extensive interview section so that parents and caregivers can help provide an inventory of non-visual responsive behaviors that the TDHH should be aware of when completing the evaluation. In addition, there is a section for Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to include recommendations based on the observations recorded in the assessment tool. Recommendations that are made in the IFHE can then be incorporated into the student’s communication report and Learning Media Assessment. By including a section for recommendations on instructional delivery, based on the student’s deafblindness and other impairments, the IFHE should help teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing and teachers of students with visual impairment collaborate to create a more detailed description of the child’s multisensory needs. Improved collaboration can then inform the team on how to best address the child’s sensory needs through a variety of instructional strategies across multiple settings and environments.

The IFHE is currently undergoing a review process during which a select group of experts in the field of deafblindness will provide comments, corrections, and suggestions to prepare for the distribution of the evaluation. At the conclusion of the review, the IFHE will undergo a period of field-testing with the collaboration of the National Center on Deafblindness (NCDB) before it is made available to the public. During the field testing process, teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing will be asked to conduct an Informal Functional Hearing Evaluation on a deafblind student for whom they are currently providing services. Teachers will then be asked to complete a survey to measure the effectiveness of the IFHE as an evaluation tool and to provide feedback on how this evaluation may be implemented or improved.

The TSBVI team hopes to have a version of the IFHE available for field-testing beginning in January 2016. If you or one of your team members is interested in participating in the IFHE field test, please email Adam Graves at to obtain a copy of the evaluation and discuss the field-testing protocol. 

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

By: Charlotte Cushman, Manager of Paths to Literacy

Abstract: Suggestions for introducing literacy awareness and love of stories to children with visual impairment or deafblindness who are not yet able to read

Keywords: early literacy, reading aloud, story boxes

 

One of the first and most important things to remember when introducing books and literacy experiences to a young child with a visual impairment is that the child is a child first. While there are certain tips and techniques that will make reading more meaningful and pleasurable for children who are blind or visually impaired, many of the same principles apply to ALL children. Sharing quiet time together with a family member, teacher or other special person enjoying stories that are funny or interesting is something that all of us love, regardless of our age or the amount of vision we have.

1. Share your love of reading by reading aloud with your child every day.

It is important to set aside time each day to read with your child. This does not mean that you have to read a book from cover to cover or make the child listen to each and every page. This means that you show your child that books are something special to be enjoyed and that they can make life more interesting and fun.

2. Choose times and places that are quiet, comfortable and free from distractions.

Life is often busy and can be chaotic, especially when juggling schedules and other children. Turn off your cell phone and the TV, sit close to the child, and really focus on exploring books and literacy materials together. Be sure that the child is comfortable, with proper positioning, so that she can focus on you and the story rather than on trying to sit up. This simple act of sharing focused time together will help to create a routine that is special and enjoyable for both you and the child.

3. Choose books that relate to the child’s own experience.

Many young children who are blind or visually impaired have limited experience with the world, and if they have additional disabilities or are deafblind this is even more true. Books about rocket ships or monsters will have limited meaning to children who don't know these concepts, and it is best to begin with simple books that relate directly to a child's own experience. One favorite that many children enjoy from a young age is Little Rabbit's Bedtime. It includes familiar routines, such as taking a bath and brushing teeth, and real objects can be shown to the child while reading the book (i.e. a real toothbrush and washcloth).

For older children or children with multiple disabilities Lunch Crunch offers a simple story line where you can use real carrots, crackers, etc. to accompany the story.

4. Use objects to support the story, in place of illustrations.

As with the examples above, real objects can be used to illustrate and expand the story. These can help children to identify objects mentioned in the story (e.g. a pair of shoes) or to encourage them to act something out (e.g. brushing hair). Story boxes are collections of items from a given book that are stored together with the book in a convenient way. There are many examples of story boxes on Paths to Literacy.

5. Add textures or bright colors to call attention to important parts of the page.

The type of adaptation used will depend on the individual child, including the amount of vision they have and the specific vision condition. CVI or Cortical Visual Impairment, for example, often calls for different types of adaptations. In general textures or bright colors can be used to call the child's attention to a certain part of the page or to make the meaning clearer.

6. Use interactive language to make the story more engaging and meaningful.

Stories can be a wonderful way to help children to draw the connection to their own experience. For example, "José went to the grocery store in this book. Do you remember when we went to the grocery store yesterday?"

7. Provide books in braille and/or large print.

Braillable labels or sheets can be created as overlays that can be added to individual pages. There are also many sources of braille books, some of which are free. Work with your child's teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) to identify sources of books or to find help creating braille books. One parent had the idea of hosting a book making party!

8. Encourage the child to be actively engaged in the handling of the book.

Invite the child to:

  • Find the cover
  • Open the book
  • Turn the page
  • Find the "top of the page"

9. Create tactile books with the child, based on their experiences.

Experience books are created by collecting real objects associated with a given experience and making them into a book. When possible, include the child in collecting and saving the materials and helping to make them into a book. For example, when going out to eat, get an extra straw and bring it home to glue onto a page in a book telling about the experience.

10. Store the books and other literacy materials in an accessible place that the child can find.

Designate a shelf or cabinet that the child can locate and reach. Label it with braille or a tactile symbol or picture to indicate that this is where books are kept. Encourage the child to find the shelf and choose a book to look at. Invite her to return the books to the shelf after reading time, so that she will learn about where things are stored and can thereby take a more active role in selecting books and making literacy an active choice in her life.                                                                                                   

Most important of all -- Enjoy!

Resources

To read more about literacy for young children who are blind or visually impaired, please see: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/10-tips-introduce-reading-young-child-who-blind-or-visually-impaired

We invite you to register for Paths to Literacy, which is a collaboration between Perkins School for the Blind and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. To register for this free site, visit http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/user/register. You will receive weekly email notification of new blog posts on various topics related to literacy and children with visual impairment.       

Paths to Literacy is also present in many social media platforms. See the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/ptliteracy

https://twitter.com/PathstoLiteracy

https://www.pinterest.com/pathstoliteracy

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

By: Petra Hubbard

Abstract: The author discusses teaching daily living skills, responsibility and self determination to children with visual impairment at a variety of ages as their skills develop

Keywords: daily living skills, responsibility, independence, chores

 

Ensuring that each child with a visual impairment has age-appropriate daily living skills and is responsible for chores has benefits, both for the present and the future of the child. Parents often do not make their child with a visual impairment responsible for chores for a variety of reasons, but parents are not doing themselves or their children any favors by not allowing them to be equal contributors to their families. Not having chores will put the child at a disadvantage compared with his or her siblings who may feel the division of labor is unfair. More importantly, the message that the child with a visual impairment receives is that they are less capable, and not an equal contributor to the family. This will impact their feelings of self-confidence, self-reliance, and self-worth.  Having regular chores builds a child’s sense of self-esteem and will encourage a good work ethic and a can-do attitude as they become accustomed to completing a job under the supervision of their first “bosses,” their parents. Regular chores give the child consistent practice with many skills so that these skills become second nature. The individual with a visual impairment will become accustomed to what it takes to run a household so when the day comes to live independently, they will have the experience and confidence to be successful. Having a visual impairment does not mean never having to do dishes! 

So, what are the various types of daily living skills? The areas include eating skills, personal hygiene and grooming, clothing management, food preparation, household duties and maintenance, communication, organization, personal record-keeping, and financial concerns.

Assigning chores should start before kindergarten, such as putting toys and clothes away, helping to set the table, clearing and wiping the table, helping with simple food preparation, making their bed, and putting trash in a waste basket. As the child grows, the complexity of the chores can increase, but remember that they will have to be taught. People with visual impairments do not have the same opportunity for learning through casual observation the way people with full sight can, so they must be directly taught how to perform skills safely and effectively. Parents may need to learn some of the special techniques that can be helpful because essential skills can be practiced and refined in the natural context of home. Also, the child's teacher of students with visual impairment (TVI) can facilitate informal assessment of the student’s current skills and may teach daily living skills. There are several instructional arrangement options: pull-out of class for instructional time, consult with the classroom teacher about modifications they can naturally incorporate into their regular programming (especially in the upper grades where Home Economics classes might be chosen), provide direct instruction before or after school, or have a special summer IEP. Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Service/Division for Blind Services (DARS/DBS) has Rehabilitation Teachers who can provide instruction in the home, and in some areas, DBS offers special programs and events that incorporate daily living skills. The DBS Transition program will help families learn about options for continuing to build and practice skills after the child becomes an adult. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) in Austin offers short term and summer programs that teach daily living skills. Region 10 ESC offers technical assistance to teachers of students with visual impairment within the region on how to address activities of daily living, and the Region 10 ESC Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) Planning Committee offers events every year, some of which address daily living skills.

The ultimate goal for anyone is a happy, productive life including full independence and employment, full involvement in the community, and a wide network of friends and loved ones. Acquiring the skills to pursue these dreams has to start early. It will take a village to get there.

Resources

There are many additional resources for learning about special techniques, equipment, and environmental modifications for daily living. 

TSBVI has an extensive website, www.tsbvi.edu and a search for "daily living skills" will yield many links to websites, curriculum, and free articles. 

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) at www.afb.org also has many resources. In addition to what is available on their website, AFB has a branch office in Dallas with a model apartment which demonstrates many useful pieces of equipment for daily living skills.

American Printing House for the Blind at www.aph.org has many articles and information.

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services/Division of Blind Services (DARS/DBS) at www.dars.state.tx.us/dbs/resources offers articles and links to more resources.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) at www.nfb.org has articles and additional resources. 

The Hadley School for the Blind at www.hadley-school.com has free correspondence courses available to visually impaired persons, and some, including the course on Independent Living Skills is also available to the parents and teachers of students with visual impairment.

A search for "daily living skills for the blind" on www.youtube.com will yield many instructional videos.

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

By: Wearable Technology: A Motivator for Fitness?

Abstract: In this article Superintendent Daugherty shares information about the agreement between TSBVI and the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) to implement a National Fitness Challenge on the TSBVI campus.

Keywords: TSBVI, Blind, Visually Impaired, United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), Fitbit

 

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired recently signed an agreement with the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) to implement a National Fitness Challenge program at TSBVI. With funding from USABA and the Anthem Foundation, approximately 25 students will be wearing Fitbit devices on their wrists to monitor physical activity for the next 9 months.  One of the strategies being used by USABA to promote fitness is to connect these Fitbit users with other participants locally and around the country in order to develop a social network of people striving to reach fitness goals.  Along with some sports tournaments such as goalball and a  Paralymic/Olympic Day, TSBVI and USABA aim to use the wearable technology and social networking so popular among young people to influence students towards an interest in life-long fitness.

USABA is housed at the Olympic training facilities in Colorado Springs.  It is an organization for serious athletes who want to compete at the highest level in paralympic sports. It is a testament to their commitment to fitness for all that they have reached out to 9 organizations such as TSBVI without any requirements on the athleticism of the participants. It is my assumption that USABA realizes that increased fitness among all students will lead to a larger pool of developing athletes who might one day decide that they want to be involved at a higher level.

TSBVI offers many opportunities for students to participate in physical fitness and sports activities during the day, in the evenings, and on weekend competitions with other schools. Students coming to TSBVI often say that the opportunity to be on a sports team is something they highly value. Still, there are many students at the school who are way less active than is desired by those of us who worry about the long term impact of a sedentary lifestyle. Perhaps this snazzy looking, wearable technology found in the Fitbit will be a motivator that gets traction and kid-to-kid buzz about fitness.

Students with more significant disabilities can be at even higher risk for insufficient physical activity as part of their daily routine.  Some may not personally connect with sports or the pursuit of fitness goals in the same way promoted by USABA, but everyone is going to have a higher quality of life if fitness is part of their routine. It’s encouraging to read that walking 30 minutes a day at a comfortably brisk pace delivers about 90% of the benefit of more strenuous exercise. If walking is not an option, then a stationary or tandem bike might be a good fit.

One of the better resources on fitness for students with visual impairments of all ability levels is Dr. Lauren Lieberman, the founder of Camp Abilities (www.campabilities.org). USABA can be reached at www.usaba.org . At TSBVI, Kristine Seljenes  is at for information about the school’s Fitbit program. In Texas, the regional Education Service Centers are generally aware of sports and fitness activities available within their regions. The Sports Extravaganza held annually in the DFW area draws a big turnout and is a great place to introduce a young person to fitness and the fun of competition. 

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

By: Scott Bowman, Interim Assistant Commissioner, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services – Division for Blind Services

Abstract: : Mr. Bowman reviews the legislative changes for the programs in the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and discusses plans underway to make a successful transition.

Keywords: Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services (DARS), Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), Transition Services, Blind Children’s Program

 

As the 84th Legislative session adjourned on June 1 “Sine Die”, otherwise known as the last day of session, a new course was set for the programs administered by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).  On September 1, 2016:

  • The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will operate all of the Vocational Rehabilitation programs (including General, Blind, transition services, and the Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center), the Business Enterprises of Texas program, and the Independent Living services (IL) for Older Individuals who are Blind.
  • The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will operate the Blind Children’s Program (BCP), Blindness, Education, Screening and Treatment (BEST), IL- Part B, Autism, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services and Disability Determination Services.

As a part of transition, the affected agencies are required to submit a plan to the Health and Human Services Legislative Oversight Committee, which will review the plan and hold public meetings.  All of the members of the Oversight Committee have been named and will be co-chaired by Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Four Price.  A list of all the members can be found at the following link (http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/members/dist12/pr15/p091815b.htm).  The Oversight Committee was created by the Legislature to allow for a more public and thoughtful vetting of the transition process. 

There is much to do in order to make this transition a success and to ensure that quality services are continued throughout this process.  To this end, DARS, HHSC and TWC have begun working diligently to map the processes that must occur.  DARS and TWC have held seven public meetings across the state to allow the public to address the transition of programs to TWC.  These were important meetings and we appreciate everyone who took time to attend.  Your participation makes these meetings worthwhile. 

TWC and DARS have recently completed a draft of their transition plan. This has been presented to the TWC Commissioners and will be sent to the Oversight Committee in the near future.  HHSC’s version of this plan will be submitted to the Oversight Committee in March.

DARS, HHSC and TWC are committed to making this transition a success; however, we cannot do this without your support. Your thoughts about these programs are important to ensure we continue to serve consumers in the manner best for each consumer.

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

By: Excerpts for the Braille Challenge Web site

Abstract: The Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to encourage students who are blind to emphasize their study of braille. This article provides information on the Braille Challenge and highlights Texas winners for the 2015 competition.

Keywords: Braille Challenge, braille

 

Congratulations to Harley Fetterman and Summer Johnson from Austin, Texas for being among the 15 students from across the nation that won honors at the 2015 Braille Challenge Finals!

Harley Fetterman, (Varsity) From Austin, TX. This entrepreneurial 11th grader hopes to one day develop a 2 ½ dimensional, refreshable, tactile screen that he can distribute through a company that he owns and manages himself! He is a board member of the Texas Association of Blind Students, is part of his school’s “All A” Honor Roll and was named “Camper of the Year” while attending Camp Discovery. He plays several musical instruments including the French horn, guitar, ukulele, mandolin and the saw. He and his family have traveled to all 50 states and together they choose to look at every situation in the most positive light and with humor. This is Harley’s 8th year attending The Braille Challenge and he has been reading braille for 11 years.  We invite you to read an article written by Harley’s mom, Beth Freeborn, from the Fall 2012 Texas SenseAbilities newsletter highlighting his experience when he competed in the 2012 Braille Challenge. http://www.tsbvi.edu/attachments/newsletter/fall12.pdf

Summer Johnson, (Apprentice) From Austin, TX. Summer was a 1st place winner in the regional Braille Challenge in 2015. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up, so that she can teach people different things such as science, math, and Braille. Summer has participated in The Braille Challenge for 2 years.

Get Ready for the 2016 Braille Challenge!

The Braille Challenge is an academic competition unlike any other. This two-stage contest is designed to motivate blind students to emphasize their study of braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, but challenging, local and national events. Any visually impaired student who reads braille is eligible to participate in the preliminary Challenge contest events, which are held from January through the end of March throughout the U.S. and Canada. Contests are proctored by volunteer teachers for students visual impairment and scored locally according to our national guidelines by volunteer transcribers. Each contestant receives a braille certificate of appreciation and general feedback on their performance, which will be sent to families and educators in May.

This year The Braille Challenge will be held at 46 different sites and will be proctored by up to 80 individual teachers of visually impaired students from throughout the United States and Canada. The preliminary round is open to students of all skills levels, but the top-scoring 60 contestants nationally will be invited to Los Angeles in June for a Final Round—two days of competition, camaraderie and fun! Braille Challenge contest categories include reading comprehension, braille speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs.

The Braille Institute Is gearing up for another exciting season of The Braille Challenge! Here’s where you’ll find all the latest news for teachers, finalists, parents, and Regional Coordinators. They also invite you to visit their Facebook page to get updates, engage with other contestants and their families, and share your #BrailleChallenge experience!

For 2016 contracted apprentice contests will be in Unified English Braille (UEB), freshman contests will be UEB Optional. As of January 2016, UEB will be the official braille code for the United States. Based on a review of state implementation plans and feedback from our Regional Coordinators, teachers and National Advisory Committee, most younger students will be transitioning to UEB in September 2015, but the transition from EBAE to UEB is less defined and not as consistent for older students. The goal of The Braille Challenge is to support the timely transition to UEB.

To learn more about The Braille Challenge, please visit The Braille Institute website. 
http://www.brailleinstitute.org/braille-challenge-homepage.html 

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

Northeast Texas Low Vision Conference: Filling in the Gaps 

January 22, 2016

Location: Region 8 Education Service Center, Pittsburg, TX

This one-day event is co-sponsored by TSBVI Outreach Programs and Region 8 Education Service Center with support from Region 8 ESC, Region 10 ESC, East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, Stephen F. Austin State University and DARS-Division of Blind Services.

What’s my next lesson with my student with low vision? What is my role and how can I support the needs of academic students with low vision?

Join us at this event to learn more about issues and answers for this unique group of students with visual impairments.

Highlights include:

•           interactive learning stations with ideas for instruction in the Expanded Core Curriculum

•           tips for access to the general curriculum

•           effective models for itinerant service and collaboration

Presenters: Our presenters include Dr. Cindy Bachofer, Chrissy Cowan, Dr. Kitra Gray, and Dawn Adams among others.

Audience: The conference is geared for professionals. Parents, administrators, and others are always welcome and are encouraged to attend and share in the learning.

http://www.tsbvi.edu/filling-in-the-gaps

Active Learning Conference

February 26-27, 2016

Location:  James C. Durkel Conference Center at Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Presenter:  Patty Obrzut, Director, Penrickton Center for the Blind, Michigan

This conference will provide strategies and resources for teachers and paraprofessionals who serve students with low incidence disabilities (i.e. severely cognitively disabled, medically fragile, and/or deafblind). Motivating and inspiring an individual with special needs to engage in their environment can be challenging.  Delve deeper into Active Learning theory and ways to implement this approach. Content will include the following topics:

General overview of Active Learning and the dynamic learning circle:

  • Understanding and implementing
  • The Five Phases of Educational Treatment
  • The Functional Scheme
  • Assessing the Developmental Level of special needs students
  • Identifying the developmental progression that occurs when using Active Learning equipment
  • The FIELA curriculum and meeting the needs of the special needs student
  • Adapting the daily curriculum to reflect Active Learning Techniques
  • Daily living skills and Active Learning
  • Training vs. Learning; Planning for the future – identifying the needs of your program and creating inspiration for change.

Registration Fee

$100 for Professionals and Family Members thru January 15th; $125 after that date.

$75 for Paraprofessionals and University Students thru January 15th; $100 after that date.

Assistance is available for Texas family members of students with visual impairments or deafblindness on a limited basis. 

Low Vision Conference: Building on Low Vision for Students at the Practical Academic Level 

May 20, 2016

Location: James C. Durkel Conference Center, Austin, TX

How can your programming enhance the quality of life for students with low vision who are academically 2-3 grades below grade level yet can learn many practical skills? These students may have mild-moderate cognitive impairments, may be in academic classes with modifications, and can actively participate in non-academic situations. They can be expected to achieve vocational independence in adulthood with ongoing support. This interactive day will highlight potential goals and lesson plan ideas, add resources to your toolbox and inspire success!

Audience: The conference is geared for professionals. Parents, administrators, and others are always welcome and are encouraged to attend and share in the learning.

Registration fee: $35 until May 1st; $45 beginning May 1st.

CEUs: ACVREP and SBEC continuing education units for 5.25 hours 

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

Keywords: active learning, interaction, resources

 

Photo of an Active Learning position board.
Photo of an active learning position board.

www.activelearningspace.org is the web address for the new, dynamic website on Active Learning.  This highly informative tool is being developed through a collaboration with Penrickton Center for the Blind in Taylor, Michigan; Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Outreach Programs in Austin, Texas. January 2016 will be the debut of this critical resource for practitioners and parents of children and adults with multiple special needs.

Information will include the principles of Active Learning such as:

  • How to encourage independent exploration by a child or adult with multiple special needs
  • Developing adult-child interactions
  • The proper use of Active Learning equipment and perceptualizing aids
  • Appropriate selection of materials to use with Active Learning techniques
  • Podcasts and videos
  • Training opportunities available on Active Learning
  • Interactive features to allow visitors to ask questions and receive answers from experts in the use of Active Learning and for sharing ideas about Active Learning

You will find accurate and useful information of the benefits and practice of Active Learning as developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen.

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A Publication about Visual Impairments and Deafblindness for Families and Professionals
Fall / Winter 2015

 

Abstract: The National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) is offering scholarships to selected degree programs for doctoral degrees leading to leadership positions in sensory disabilities. Application dealine is March 1, 2016.

Keywords: doctoral degree, scholarship

 

The National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) is a Collaborative Agreement funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and awarded to Salus University. NLCSD’s primary purpose is to increase the number of highly skilled doctoral scholars who will become leaders in administration, higher education, policy and education in order to significantly improve the interventions, services, and outcomes for children with sensory disabilities (deafness/hard of hearing, deafblindness, blindness/visual impairment), ages birth to 21. Applications for the second of two cohorts of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities (NLCSD) are due by March 1, 2016 for scholars to begin their studies in Fall, 2016. (For attendance at Texas Tech University (TTU), applicants must also apply and be accepted into TTU prior to March 1.) The consortium consists of multiple universities with doctoral programs that have an emphasis in one or more sensory impairment areas: blind/visually impaired, deaf/hard of hearing, and deafblindness.

Benefits of being an NLCSD Scholar:

  • Full support (tuition and fees) at a Consortium university, for up to 4 years
  • Annual stipend award $24,000 while matriculated
  • Participation in an Enrichment Program that includes a course that runs through the academic year and is delivered via distance technology and face-to-face meetings
  • Mentorship by Consortium faculty from universities across the country and across disability areas
  • Travel to and attendance at 1 – 2 required NLCSD meetings per year
  • Up to $1,000 materials stipend.

NLCSD Scholars will be required to:

  • Be admitted to a Consortium university as well as NLCSD
  • Be first time doctoral students
  • Be enrolled as a full time student at their Consortium (home) university
  • Maintain an on-campus presence
  • Work no more than 20 hours/week in a position that is directly related to individual programs of study
  • Upon program completion, fulfill the service obligation requirement as outlined by OSEP.

More information can be found at www.nlcsdproject.org 

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