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Spring 2004 Table of Contents
Versión Español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

By Kate Moss, Texas Deafblind Project

Abstract: Students with Usher Syndrome from around the state gathered for a three day special program at TSBVI, during which they learned a lot and had plenty of fun.

Key Words: family, deafblind, Usher Syndrome, students, TSBVI

Every two years, Texas Deafblind Outreach offers a special training event for students with Usher Syndrome and their families. This year for the first time, the event was developed in collaboration with Special Programs here at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Students came to TSBVI on Thursday evening January 22nd and stayed on campus through Sunday January 25th to participate in a variety of activities and training sessions. The students' families joined them on Saturday evening and everyone participated in a social sponsored by the Usher Syndrome Support Group of Texas and Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly known as Texas Commision for the Blind) . On Sunday their parents participated in a workshop session on genetics, presented by Robbie Blaha from Texas Deafblind Outreach.

The Usher workshop events are always very special for everyone involved, but this year seemed to be the best one yet. Because they stayed longer, the students were able to really take on some new challenges while they were exposed to new information about Usher Syndrome and deafblindness.

climbing-wall Students conquer the climbing wall.

The students learned about technology, self-advocacy, college and technical training opportunities, and had an introduction to Orientation and Mobility basics. But their favorite activity was going to a rock climbing gym. Everyone took a turn climbing and belaying. A person who belays helps manage the climbing ropes and provides a counter weight so the climber won't fall if he or she slips. In addition to this breathtaking outing, the students had fun exploring the University of Texas campus, bowling and getting pizza.

On Sunday morning the students helped create and present a Power Point presentation for their families that contained photos of all their experiences throughout the weekend. Rosie Yanez, one of the mentor leaders, signed the song during the presentation, while the families and all the other participants reveled in the pleasures of seeing the students having so much fun and learning new things.

Coming to terms with a vision loss when you are already deaf or hard of hearing and very reliant on visual communication is a very difficult thing for the students and their families. Having the opportunity to be with other young

adults and older adults with Usher Syndrome while you learn about strategies for continuing to be a full participant in life is an extremely beneficial experience. These students who participated in this weekend demonstrated that they have what it takes to overcome the challenges living with Usher Syndrome can bring.