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Volume 12 | Number 1 

Editor’s Note

Welcome to TX SenseAbilities, 2018-2019!

TX SenseAbilities invites you to enjoy the most recent issue of our newsletter about visual impairments and DeafBlindness. We have a new and invigorated staff, a slightly changed format, and a renewed desire to provide readers with informative, inspiring, and challenging articles that support students, family members, and professionals.

Please join us in this goal as TX SenseAbilities welcomes several new staff members: Sara Kitchen and Matt Schultz, Effective Practices Editors, Karissa Sanchez, News and Views Editor, and Steven Landry, Instructional Design and Layout. We are extremely grateful that Rachel Simpson and Melanie Schacht continue as our Family Wisdom Editor and the Assistant to the Editor, respectively. TX SenseAbilities also plans to add some new and recurring columns: in each issue this year, there’ll be an article on Active Learning, an article from Chris Tabb called, “There’s An App for That!”, and beginning with the Spring 2019 issue, a Tech Talk column by Outreach Assistive Technology consultants.

TSBVI Outreach is also experiencing some changes this year. Emily Coleman became the new Director of the Outreach Program in August 2018. While it’s hard to imagine “replacing” Cyral Miller, TSBVI’s first Outreach Director, Superintendent Bill Daugherty describes this exciting change in his News and Views article, “Introducing Emily…” Cyral, who has “retired” after 28 years as our leader, will continue in a part-time position as an Outreach Consultant (when she’s not traveling!). TX SenseAbilities looks forward to continued involvement and support from both Cyral and Emily. Cyral has helped edit this current issue, and Emily has already begun sharing her insight and expertise (see her article in Family Wisdom, “Choosing our Own Adventure”). The TSBVI Outreach Program also welcomes some other new staff members: Deanna Peterson, Early Childhood Consultant for the DeafBlind team, Carrie Farraje, Assistive Technology Consultant, and Toni Ericson, Administrative Assistant for the VI team.

The newsletter staff joins me in thanking you for your support of our publication. We value your feedback, suggestions, and submissions, and as always, your interest in meeting the needs of students with visual impairments. Please contact a Section Editor or new Editor-in-Chief Ann Adkins with your comments, suggestions, and items for publication. We hope you have a great year!


Ann Adkins
Editor-in-Chief, TX SenseAbilities
TSBVI Outreach Program
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Family Wisdom

Choosing Our Own Adventure

Mother and new TSBVI Outreach Director describes her experience of moving to Texas with her family.


Two BFFs for Back-to-School

The authors share information about two tools and related tips you can use to support success in the classroom for your child with albinism.


A Mom on the Road to COMS

A parent describes her life journey, her experience being the mother of a child who is DeafBlind, and her studies in the field of education and orientation and mobility.


Low Vision Conference: Supporting Students with Albinism

The Low Vision Conference: Supporting Students with Albinism took place at the TSBVI Conference Center on Friday, May 4, 2018. This article summarizes highlights of the conference and provides links to resources shared with attendees.  This event is the fourth in a series of conferences focusing on students with low vision. The fifth annual Low Vision Conference: Literacy for Students Who Rely on Print will be held on May 3, 2019 at the James C. Durkel Conference Center on campus at TSBVI in Austin.


Am I a Member of the Sandwich Generation?

The author describes the Sandwich Generation and offers tips for thriving during this time of life.


TSBVI Students Honor Fellow Student

The story of some of the activities taken by TSBVI students to honor the passing of a fellow student. Dorm Manager Tammy Reed helped her students find ways to honor their friend and deal with their grief.


Effective Practices

Kersten’s Story: Relationship-Based Instructional Programming

Matt Schultz explores the journey of one student who, as a result of her instructional team’s use of a relationship-based educational approach, had a life-changing breakthrough. This approach is an example of the work of Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk, a Developmental Psychologist who presented at the December 2017 Studies in DeafBlindness for the Advanced Practitioner. For this year’s Advanced Practitioner Day, TSBVI will host Barbara Miles on December 11, 2018. Please see the News and Views section of this newsletter for more information.


Low Vision on the Road

“Low Vision on the Road” is a program offered through the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and coordinated by Cindy Bachofer. In this article, Dr. Bachofer explains the rationale for the program and its benefits to students. This example illustrates a sample of activities that might be provided during the program.


What’s Happening with Active Learning?

Ongoing efforts by TSBVI, Perkins School for the Blind and the Penrickton Center to connect with other advanced practitioners or trainers in Active Learning have resulted in connecting a group of professionals from around the globe. Texas has also been continuing to support Active Learning with support from online learning, regional education service centers (ESCs), and TSBVI’s Outreach Program. 


There’s An App for That!

Chris Tabb provides an update on recent apps that provide access for users with visual impairment and blindness. 


News and Views

Introducing Emily Coleman, TSBVI’s New Director of Statewide Outreach

TSBVI selected a new Outreach Director, Emily Coleman. You will learn more about Emily, her background, family, and her new role at TSBVI.


“Your Vision, Your Path” Conference: A Learning Opportunity for Children and Their Families

The Blind Children’s Program provides quality services for families and their children and opportunities to network. This article describes a statewide conference they sponsored in Bastrop, TX in August 2018.


Emergency Planning and Preparation for Families of Children with Special Needs

Preparing for an emergency or disaster is important. This article provides specific information for families of children with special needs in order to know how to be ready for emergencies.


TSBVI Outreach Program Honors Texas Fellows: Recognizing VI Professionals in their Role as Recruiters

The Texas Fellows program acknowledges the individual recruiters (Texas Fellow) and welcomes the new VI professional (Candidate) to the field.


Active Learning Space

Information on Active Learning Space, a website with information on Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning approach to education for students who are blind and visually impaired with additional disabilities, including students with DeafBlindness ( This website is also mentioned in “What’s Happening with Active Learning?”, an article in the Effective Practices section of this newsletter. Additional information on Active Learning will be provided in each issue of TX SenseAbilities this year.


Coming Soon: Two New Publications from the TSBVI Curriculum Department


Upcoming Training: Save the Dates!