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Originally published in See/Hear Newsletter, Winter 2008
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Courtney Stevens, High School Student with Visual Impairments, Houston, TX

Key words: Family wisdom, blind, self-determination, student led IEP meetings

Abstract: A young lady who is a sophomore in High School shares her experiences in learning to lead her own IEP meeting, and gives other students with visual impairments suggestions on how to be successful with their own.

Leading your own ARDs is not something that will just happen over night for most people. It takes time. You really need to go to your own ARDs and sit in and watch how they work before you can really get an idea on how to lead them.

Leading the ARD is tricky; you never know how the teachers, parents, or really how anyone else will respond to the student taking charge. Sometimes it can be okay with no problems and no one will be upset or feel threatened. I myself have never been in a kind of situation where anyone feels this way. I am a normally very shy person. So for me leading my own ARDs, at first, didnt seem like something I could do.

I started attending my own ARDs young, when I was in 4th grade. At my very first ARD I didnt talk much, just agreed when it was right to do so. As I got older I saw the flaws in this, and had to step up. Once I started in middle school my mother was no longer able to attend my ARDs. The school saw this as an opening and would try to place me into classes that I would not want to be in. So I stepped up and started to fight back against things that didnt seem right for me because honestly in most cases I think the student knows what is best for their own needs. My VI teacher, Ms. Elizabeth Eagan, had a better idea of how to help me along this path than I did. Now I am about to enter my second year of high school and I can lead my ARD from beginning to finish.

When a student decides or shows that they want to start trying to lead their own ARD meetings, I think that some parents and/or teachers see it as the students dont really know whats best for them. Some parents may not want to let go of that control for whatever reasons they may have. Teachers may not see things on the same level as the student and not understand why they are asking for whatever it is they are asking.

Students, here is my advice to you. One, make goals before going into your ARD and have good reasons to back them up. I can not explain to you how important this is! Two, if you want something changed or modified let teachers and/or parents know, because if you keep it to yourself it will never change on its own. Third, if you ask for something to be changed and someone kind of just looks over it without paying attention to what you said bring it up again and explain why you want this and why you think it will help you. If you are still looked over do not be afraid to fight for what you want if you really think it will help you. Just ask the other ARD members why they are looking over what you said or why they do not want to listen to what you suggested. Try to convince them this is a good thing, and if they do not see it your way, talk to othersyour parents, your VI teacher, other teachers, whomever you think could help.

Now parents, if you see that your child is starting to show that they can or would want to lead their own ARDs, do not discourage them! Support them. Help them in any way you can, and if you need help, try talking to you childs VI teacher. They are the VI teacher for a reason. Also if you see that your childs VI teacher is not letting them lead their own ARDs, talk to them about why they are doing that. The same also goes for teachers. If you see your student trying to lead the ARD, do not put them down, but instead try to help them! Students more than likely need all the help they can get in something like an ARD, because they wont really know what is going on or how to say what they want. All I can really say is: students, open up, do not be shysay whats on your mind. Teachers and parents listen to them and help them. If they told you something they want to be done, dont say it for them. Let them bring it up and help them to say it to everyone.

Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Olga Uriegas, VI and O&M Specialist, Region 11 Education Service Center

(Originally published in Fall 1996 SEE/HEAR Newsletter)

Editor's note: Olga's ideas are pretty easy to implement. However, you may want to consult with your child's Orientation & Mobility Specialist about where to begin, given your child's current skills. She/He may also be able to demonstrate the best ways to support the baby's body as you help him/her with specific movements.

Initial orientation and mobility lessons should be with and for the parents of children with visual impairments. Here are some things you can do, Mom and Dad, with your infant or toddler.

  1. Mom and Dad hold baby close to your body, let him/her hear your heart beat, smell your scent, bond with you, etc.
  2. Say the baby's name as you touch him/her.
  3. Mom and Dad, talk to your baby while you actively move the baby's body.
  4. Mom call baby's name while Dad assists baby to turn from back to side.
  5. Rattle toy and assist baby to turn from back to side to touch the noisy toy.
  6. Dad or Mom assist baby to turn from back to left side and back to right side while in the crib, on the bed, or on the floor.
  7. Mom or Dad assist baby to turn from stomach to right side or stomach to left side while in the crib, on the bed, or on the floor.
  8. Mom or Dad assist baby to turn from stomach to back, from back to stomach.
  9. Mom or Dad assist baby to turn from back to front using a blanket.
  10. Say the baby's name as you touch him/her, talk to the baby, tell him/her what you are doing.
  11. Lie the baby on his/her back and gently massage baby lotion on the baby's arms. (Talk to baby and tell him or her "This is your arm.")
  12. Gently bring the baby's hands together and massage baby lotion on those little hands.
  13. Lie baby on his/her back and gently massage baby lotion on his /her legs. (Talk to the baby and say, "This is your right leg.")
  14. Lie baby on his/her back and gently massage baby lotion on the baby's tummy. (Talk to baby and tell him/her "This is your tummy.")
  15. Perform body massage while offering consistent body part labeling, rhythm (sing!) and language.
  16. Lie baby on his/her stomach on top of Dad's stomach, baby should be facing Dad's chest/neck area (Dad, talk to the baby).
  17. Lie the baby on his/her stomach on your knees and rock calmly and slowly while talking or singing a lullaby.
  18. Lie baby on his stomach, in your lap and gently rock him/her while singing, stop rocking when you pause in your singing.
  19. Enjoy your baby!
  20. Carry baby in front baby pack, let body awareness and bonding take place.
  21. Lie baby on his/her stomach on favorite blanket and give the baby a ride across the bed.
  22. Lie baby on his/her stomach on a favorite blanket and give the baby a ride across the carpet or the wooden floor or the grassy backyard.
  23. Mom or Dad help baby to turn in the crib or the bed from stomach to back.
  24. Dad and Mom assist the baby to turn to noisemaking toy that you are holding. Gently guide baby's hand toward the sound of the toy. Assist the baby with grasping a toy. Allow him/her plenty of time to explore the toy. Vary toys, but at first explore one or two toys which the baby prefers.
  25. Gently guide baby's hand toward the crib slats. Then guide the hand to grasp and shake (attach noise makers to the top of the slats).
  26. Assist baby to reach for a noisy mobile suspended from the crib.
  27. Combat crawl (with stomach contact) in the crib, on the carpet, on the linoleum floor. Combat crawl in cross pattern (with stomach contact) on the wooden floor.
  28. Straddle baby and assist him/her to creep across the surface moving arms, then moving arms and legs.
  29. Straddle baby to assist him/her to creep across surface at least 5 feet in a cross pattern.
  30. Assist baby to maintain sitting position for at least one minute.
  31. Have the baby sit with the sofa as a support. Place a small beach ball (with rice inside) in your baby's lap.
  32. Sit baby in the infant seat and explore a favorite toy.
  33. Sit baby in the infant seat placed on the grocery cart, while Mom brings items to touch, smell, and feel before she places them in the cart.
  34. Sit in a warm sandbox with pillow as support.
  35. Sit in warm sudsy water in the bathtub with Mom as support.
  36. Sit the baby in his/her high chair and explore a favorite toy.
  37. Mom or Dad sit behind baby and with your hands move baby's hands to play patty cake.
  38. Place baby on his/her tummy, assist baby to push up on hands.
  39. Roll a beach ball from Mom to baby, from Dad to baby, etc.
  40. Guide baby by the forearm (rather than a hand) to reach noisy toy.
  41. Assist baby to pull self to standing positions using support.
  42. Assist baby to stand and maintain his/her position with support.
  43. Dad, stand baby on your lap, support baby at trunk and waist.
  44. Allow baby to assume standing position without support.
  45. Assist baby in grasping a toy by lightly guiding the arm from the shoulders.
  46. Mom and Dad support baby to make walking movements.
  47. Let the baby walk with the support of the sofa, table or bed.
  48. Walk the baby without support from objects.
  49. Walk without support of objects with his/her arms outstretched with a wide base at the feet.
  50. Walk with weight evenly distributed, toes pointed in the direction he/she is headed.
  51. Walk from Mom to Dad with arms swinging at his/her side.
  52. Mom and Dad give baby the opportunity to walk on even and uneven surfaces . . . sloping hills, driveways, etc.
  53. Ascend steps on all fours by creeping or scooting.
  54. Make stair ascending movements with support from Mom or Dad.
  55. Ascend steps alternating forward foot (one foot per step).
  56. Descend back door steps on buttocks by scooting.
  57. Make stair descending movements with support.
  58. Descend front door steps one at a time ( both feet on each step) then progress to using alternating forward foot (one foot per step).
  59. Locate the top step.
  60. Descend 5 step stairs.
  61. Stop at the front/back door stair landing.
  62. Make running movements, while holding his/her hand.
  63. Run together, hand-in-hand.

English version of this article (Versión Inglesa)

Por Olga Uriegas, VI y Especialista O&M, Centro de Servicios Educativos, Región 11

Este artículo apareció por vez primera en la edición Otoño de 1996 deSEE/HEAR

Nota del editor: Las ideas de Olga son bastante fáciles de implementar. No obstante, podrá consultar con el Especialista O&M de su hijo(a) sobre dónde comenzar a partir de la habilidades de su niño(a). También será capaz de enseñarle las mejores formas de apoyar el cuerpo del bebé con sus movimientos específicos.

Las lecciones iniciales de orientación y movilidad deberán hacerse con y para los padres de los niños con impedimentos visuales. Aquí presentamos algunas cosas que usted puede hacer, mamá y/o papá, con su infante o bebé.

  • Mamá y papá sostienen al bebé cerca de su cuerpo, le permiten oír el latido de su corazón, oler su olor, conocerlos, etc.
  • Diga el nombre del(a) bebé mientas lo(a) toca.
  • Mamá y papá, hablan al bebé mientras mueven activamente su cuerpecito.
  • Mamá dice el nombre del bebé mientras papá le ayuda al bebé a voltearse de estar acostado hacia un lado.
  • Sacuda un juguete y ayude al bebé a voltearse de estar acostado hacia un lado para tocar el juguete sonoro.
  • Papá o mamá ayudan al bebé a voltearse desde atrás al lado izquierdo y de regreso al lado derecho mientras está en la cuna, sobre la cama o en el piso.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al bebé a voltearse de estar boca abajo al lado derecho o al lado izquierdo mientras está en la cuna, sobre la cama o en el piso.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al bebé a voltearse de estar boca abajo hacia el frente o viceversa.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al bebé a levantarse hacia el frente, usando una sábana.
  • Diga el nombre del bebé mientras lo(a) toca, hable al(a) bebé, dígale lo que está haciendo.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su espalda y dele masaje suavemente con loción para bebés en sus brazos. (Hable al bebé y dígale “Éste es tu brazo.”).
  • Junte suavemente las manos del bebé y dele masaje con loción para bebés en sus pequeñas manos.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su espalda y dele masaje con loción para bebés en sus piernas. (Hable al bebé y dígale “Ésta es tu pierna derecha.”).
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su espalda y dele masaje con loción para bebés en su pancita. (Hable al bebé y dígale “Ésta es tu pancita.”).
  • Dele masaje corporal mientras le indica la parte del cuerpo que lo recibe, con ritmo (¡cante!) y lenguaje.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago sobre la panza de Papá; el bebé deberá estar viendo el área del cuello y el pecho del papá (Papá: háblele al bebé).
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago encima de sus rodillas y mézalo tranquila y lentamente mientras le habla o le canta una canción de cuna.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago, encima de sus piernas y mézalo mientras canta; deje de mecerlo cuando haga una pausa en su canto.
  • ¡Disfrute a su bebé!
  • Cargue al(a) bebé en un mochila frontal para bebés; deje que se percate de su cuerpo y que se familiarice con usted.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago encima de su sábana favorita y dele al bebé un paseo sobre la cama.
  • Acueste al(a) bebé sobre su estómago encima de su sábana favorita y dele al bebé un paseo a lo largo de la alfombra, del piso de madera o del pasto del jardín.
  • Mamá o papá ayudan al(a) bebé a voltearse en la cuna o en la cama de boca abajo a boca arriba.
  • Papá y mamá ayudan al(a) bebé a voltearse hacia el juguete sonoro que usted sostiene. Guíe suavemente la mano del bebé hacia el sonido del juguete. Ayude al bebé con un juguete para apretar. Dele tiempo suficiente para explorarlo. Cambie de juguetes, pero primero indague uno o dos de los juguetes preferidos del bebé.
  • Guíe gentilmente la mano del(a) bebé hacia los tablillas de la cuna. Después dirija su manita a objetos que pueda apretar y sacudir (coloque objetos sonoros en la parte superior de los tablillas).
  • Ayude al bebé a alcanzar un móvil sonoro suspendido por encima de la cuna.
  • Permita que se arrastre (haciendo contacto con el estómago) en la cuna, sobre la alfombra o el piso de linóleo. Arrástrelo(a) en un patrón cruzado (haciendo contacto con el estómago) sobre el piso de madera.
  • Siente al(a) bebé a horcajadas y ayúdelo(a) a deslizarse alrededor de la superficie moviendo los brazos y después los brazos y las piernas.
  • Siente al(a) bebé a horcajadas y ayúdelo(a) a deslizarse alrededor de la superficie por lo menos 5 pies en un patrón cruzado.
  • Ayude al(a) bebé a mantenerse sentado(a) por lo menos durante un minuto.
  • Siente al(a) bebé con el sofá como apoyo. Coloque una pequeña bola de playa (con arroz adentro) sobre las piernas de su bebé.
  • Coloque al(a) bebé en el asiento para infantes y déjelo explorar su juguete favorito.
  • Coloque al(a) bebé en el asiento para infantes del carrito del supermercado, mientras mamá le ofrece artículos para tocar, oler y sentir antes de que los introduzca al interior del mismo.
  • Siéntelo(a) en una caja de arena caliente con almohadas como soporte.
  • Siéntelo(a) en agua con burbujas en la tina con mamá como soporte.
  • Siente al(a) bebé en su silla y déjelo explorar su juguete favorito.
  • Mamá o papá se sientan detrás del(a) bebé y con sus manos mueven las del(a) bebé para jugar con un pastelillo.
  • Coloque al(a) bebé sobre su pancita y ayúdelo(a) a levantarse empujando con sus manitas.
  • Haga rodar una bola de mamá al(a) bebé, de papá al(a) bebé, etc.
  • Lleve al bebé del antebrazo (en lugar de la mano) a alcanzar un juguete sonoro.
  • Ayude al bebé a levantarse a sí mismo utilizando apoyo.
  • Ayude al bebé a levantarse y mantenerse erguido utilizando apoyo.
  • Papá: coloque al bebé sobre su regazo; sostenga al(a) bebé por el tronco y cintura.
  • Permita al(a) bebé asumir la posición erguida sin apoyo.
  • Ayude al(a) bebé a apretar un juguete guiando su brazo ligeramente desde los hombros.
  • Mamá y papá sostienen al(a) bebé para hacer movimientos de caminata.
  • Permita al bebé caminar sin el apoyo del sofá, de la mesa o de la cama.
  • Camine al(a) bebé sin el apoyo de objetos.
  • Que camine sin el apoyo de objetos con sus brazos extendidos con una base amplia a sus pies.
  • Que camine con el peso distribuido de manera uniforme, con los dedos del pie apuntando a la dirección hacia la que se dirige.
  • Que camine de mamá a papá con sus brazos meneándose a su lado.
  • Mamá y papá le dan al(a) bebé la oportunidad de caminar en superficies lisas o desiguales... colinas, banquetas, etc.
  • Que ascienda escalones sobre sus cuatro extremidades deslizándose o corriendo precipitadamente.
  • Que haga movimientos para ascender escaleras con el apoyo de mamá o papá.
  • Que ascienda escaleras alternando el pie adelantado (un pie por escalón).
  • Que descienda los escalones de la puerta posterior sobre su trasero, precipitadamente.
  • Que haga movimientos para descender con apoyo.
  • Que descienda los escalones de la puerta principal uno por uno (ambos pies en cada escalón); después que progrese alternando el pie adelantado (un pie por escalón).
  • Que localice el escalón superior.
  • Que descienda 5 escalones de escalera.
  • Que se detenga en la base de las escaleras de la puerta principal o de la trasera.
  • Que haga movimientos de carrera, mientras usted sostiene su mano.
  • Corran juntos, la manita dentro de la suya.

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

By Jamie Pope, Executive Director of AADB and Randy Pope, Private Consultant on Support Service Providers, Silver Springs, MD

Abstract: A couple shared their story at the 2009 Texas Symposium on Deafblindness, showing how people who are deafblind can lead lives of purpose, satisfaction, and joy.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, deafblind, American Association of the Deaf-Blind, AADB, adult life, marriage, Texas Symposium on Deafblindness

image008 Hello! We recently did two presentations on Living the Good Life and A Glimpse into Our Lives as a Deaf-Blind Married Couple at the Texas Symposium, Satisfaction, Joy, and Purpose in the Lives of Students who are Deafblind and the People Who Care, hosted by the Texas Deafblind Project, this past February. We were asked to write this article to share excerpts from our presentations with families who have a family member who is deaf-blind.

Deaf-blind People Can Live Good Lives

To introduce ourselves, we are both deaf-blind. Jamie: I became deaf-blind at age 2½, which was caused by serious illness with high fever. The fever damaged my optic and auditory nerves, which resulted in my low vision and hard of hearing. The fever also caused my balance difficulties. Randy: I have Ushers Syndrome, Type II. Although, I was born hard of hearing, I did not find out I had Ushers until age 35 when I experienced significant vision loss. To this day, I only have central vision, very little peripheral vision, and am hard of hearing.

Living the Good Life Starts with Family-No Surprise!

We have four things in common with our families: love, can-do attitude, involvement, and humor. Our parents love for us came through many times even though communication was not perfect. They have can-do attitudes, believing in us and that we can accomplish many things. They made sure we were involved in family activities, did chores the same as other family members, and have some experience with developmental and age-appropriate tasks and milestones the same as other kids our age. We learned from our families early on that having a good sense of humor is an important social skill, as it makes people happy and contributes to living a good life.

Education is a Stepping Stone to a Good Life.

Jamie: My parents strongly believed that getting a good education was my key to a successful future as a deaf-blind person. During mainstreamed elementary school years, I was very fortunate to have a caring itinerant teacher who went beyond reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic to teach me about feelings, relationships, friendships, and shortcuts to doing things like counting money faster. This extra help early on was a boost for me in later years.

Randy: My parents are also strong believers in getting a good education for me. In my elementary and junior high school years, I was taught lipreading and speech. Later in high school, I used total communication, which is signing and using speech at the same time. My education evolved around preparing myself for college.

Transition to the Good Life.

Jamie: I had three pivotal experiences during high school that helped me successfully transition to college and beyond. I was an American Red Cross volunteer, and devoted many hours to help students at Michigan School for the Blind with recreation activities. My first job was in my family's farm market where my dad taught me to not to be too shy to address customers and say, hello, how are you, and how may I help you? Also, I learned how to navigate the public transportation system in my hometown at the same time my peers were learning how to drive. Learning the bus system helped to meet my needs for independence at that time and now.

Randy: For my first job, I worked in a pet store taking care of animals, including a monkey. My next job was at McDonald's restaurant as a bun boy. My responsibility was to ensure the buns were toasted and prepared for the meat to be placed on them. I also served as a cook, often cooking 96 meats at one time. These two jobs during my transition period were great learning experiences.

Let the Good Life Begin!

Jamie: My parents encouraged me to go to Gallaudet University even though I got acceptance letters from other universities in Michigan. They believed Gallaudet would provide me with a well-rounded education beyond academics, e.g., fine tune my social skills, and broaden my world. They were right! I graduated with B.A. in Social Work and went on to get a M.S.W. from Catholic University of America.

I had various jobs during college and after graduation. The two most memorable jobs I had were to work as a maid at Yellowstone National Park one summer, and as a tutor of Algebra I to college prep students. I've been a counselor/social worker and technical assistance specialist. Now I am Executive Director of the American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB).

Randy: My time in college only lasted one semester; however, I was able to enter into the Tool and Die maker trade, which only employed the highest technical people in this field. This kind of job depends heavily on good vision; I was forced to leave when my vision deteriorated twenty years later. Now I'm working as a volunteer web administrator and public relations specialist for AADB.

The Joy of Family

Randy: I have 7 sons from a previous marriage. Yep, 7 boys! Oh joy! They are now all grown (ages 20 - 34) and doing well. All except two have engineering degrees, or currently are majoring in engineering in college. The other two are working as a computer network administrator and welder. When my vision deteriorated and my ex-wife left the family, I quit work to take care of my boys full-time. There have been difficult times, of course; but my devotion to my sons has paid off, and they are all doing quite well in their own lives right now.

Jamie: Like many little girls, I dreamed of getting married, but interestingly, I never dreamed of becoming a Pope! Randy and I will celebrate our 5th anniversary in May. Randy and I are a team in our marriage. We help each other with mobility, reading, and communication needs. For example, when we enter a self-serve restaurant where the only menu is posted up high, I am not able to see what they have due to my low vision. Randy, on the other hand, can see pretty well straight ahead at a distance, so he reads me the menu. However, he sometimes has difficulty seeing chairs, tables, and people around him; but since I don't have tunnel vision and I can see things close up, I can see enough to guide him to the empty table to sit down and eat. We take the famous quote, opposites attract to a new level in our marriage!

The Good Life Continues

image010Social contact with other deaf-blind friends is important to us. AADB is one place to find deaf-blind friends from all over. AADB is famous for national conferences where hundreds of deaf-blind people come together for networking, support and training with the help of support service providers (SSPs). Check out AADB's website for more info on what we do .

Local and state deaf-blind organizations or groups are also places to socialize with deaf-blind friends. In Texas, there is the Texas Association of the Deaf-Blind. (Contact Kim Powers-Smith at <>)

Helen Keller once said, Life is a daring adventure or nothing. That quote fits our life to a T and we're deaf-blind too! Jamie: I had many adventures, but two stand out: 1) went white water rafting on a wild river; and 2) participated in a Discovery program that had various challenging activities including climbing alone over and through a jumble of wires suspended high up between trees. Randy: Likewise, too many adventures to name here, but my most memorable adventure was when I went body surfing on the Pacific Ocean.

We hope we clearly demonstrated that people who are deaf-blind can lead lives of satisfaction, joy, and purpose!

Staffing Pattern For Itinerant Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments

(Adapted from the Iowa Rules for Special Education)

When caseload sizes for itinerant teachers of students with visual impairments are not specified, it is recommended that the maximum caseload be established at 10 full-time equivalents (FTEs) with appropriate adjustments made through application of the formula specified for the following three factors:

  1. the number of students receiving direct services
  2. the number of students receiving consultation services
  3. average daily amount of time spent traveling.

While professional services and traveling time are qualitatively equivalent, both factors must be considered in applying the formula below.

Use the following formula to calculate caseload size for itinerant teachers:

It is [the State of Iowa's] recommendation that the maximum caseload for itinerant teachers of students with visual impairments be established at 10 full-time equivalents (FTEs) with appropriate adjustments made through the following formula.


  1. Count each student receiving direct services as 1 FTE regardless of the amount of contact time.
  2. Count 5 students receiving consultative service as 1 FTE, using a fraction if necessary.
  3. Calculate the total number of hours spent traveling in performance of job duties during a typical week and divide by 5 to get the average daily amount of time.
  4. Count 1 hour of average daily traveling time as 1 FTE using a fraction if necessary.
  5. Add the numbers from (1),(2), and (4), above for the total FTEs.

The total FTEs should not exceed 10 for one full-time itinerant teacher of students with visual impairments.

Other factors influencing caseload size which are built into the formula include activities such as parent conferences, pupil staffings, consultation, assessment, evaluation, observation, records, and correspondence. Also included are the frequency and duration of contacts with students receiving direct services, time for professional development, and materials preparation.-