Main content

Alert message

Fall/Winter 2018

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Training Opportunities Sponsored by TSBVI Outreach:  (

  • December 11, 2018  

“Studies in DeafBlindness for the Advanced Practitioner: with Barbara Miles”

James C. Durkel Conference Center, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Austin, Texas

  • January 8-11, 2019

“January Braille Boot Camp: Braille Document, Tactile Graphic, and Music Production” James C. Durkel Conference Center, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Austin, Texas

  • February 21-23, 2019

“2019 Texas Symposium on DeafBlindness Symposium, Preconference and Conference

Austin Marriott North, 2600 La Frontera Boulevard, Round Rock, Texas

  • May 3, 2018

“Low Vision Conference: Literacy for Students Who Rely on Print”

James C. Durkel Conference Center, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Austin, Texas

  • June 10th-11th 2019

“Active Learning Conference”

Hosted by Region 10 ESC in the Dallas area (details to be announced).

2018-2019 Webinars from TSBVI Outreach
(all webinars are from 3:00-4:00 Central Time):

  • January 10, 2019: Accessible Instructional Materials: What TVIs Need to Know
  • January 29, 2019 and March 26, 2019: Designing Routines
  • February 26, 2019: Art for Students with Multiple Impairments
  • March 7, 2019: Self-Determination: Be the Boss of Your Assistive Technology

TSBVI Outreach Study Groups:

  • Active Learning - January 24, 2019 and April 18, 2019
  • CVI - December 10, 2018, February 11, 2019 and April 15, 20


  • January 31-February 1, 2019

International Online Orientation and Mobility Symposium, a three-day online conference.; contact Kassy Maloney <> for more information


Podcasts from TSBVI Outreach Director Emily Coleman: A Sense of Texas:

Join new TSBVI Outreach Director Emily coleman in a new podcast as she gets... A Sense of Texas. Available in the iTunes Store and on Google Play


See Paths to Literacy for information on how your child can receive a letter from Santa in braille or large print

The deadline for requests is December 15, 2018 for most of the organizations that provide this service. Also see

Text displays "Braille Letters from Santa" over a open bag of toys in a frame made from candy canes.

COMING SOON! Two new publications from the TSBVI Curriculum Department -  watch the TSBVI website for an announcement!

Texas 2 STEPS: Successfully Teaching Early Purposeful Skills

Authors: Jill Brown, Tracy Hallak, Michelle Garrett, Gema Nelson, Debra Sewell, Olga Uriegas, Shay Utley, Stephanie Walker, Marjie Wood, Dawn Adams, Melba Bunch, Steffani Oaks, Susan Phillips, Gwynne Reeves

Texas 2 STEPS is an early intervention orientation and mobility evaluation tool and a curriculum of supporting activities and routines. It is specifically designed to determine and address the orientation and mobility needs for students with visual impairments from birth through five years of age. Both the evaluation and curriculum are also appropriate for students who have additional disabilities and can be implemented in all settings including home, daycare, school and community.

Essential Tools of the Trade: A “How To” Guide for Completing Functional Vision, Learning Media, and ECC Evaluations

Authors: Jeri Cleveland, Eric Grimmett, Laura Lindsey-Ramirez, Jennifer McGrath, Debra Sewell

Essential Tools of the Trade: A “How To” Guide for Completing Functional Vision, Learning Media, and ECC Evaluations is a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to assist Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVIs) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS) in performing legally mandated evaluations for students with visual impairments. This publication will support TVIs and COMS in making informed and deliberate decisions, guiding instruction and identifying strategies for intervention.

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. You are eligible to be a Texas Fellow if you were a significant person in the candidate’s recruitment. Candidates must have started training after May 15, 2018.


Texas Fellow Candidate
Karen Abney-Marsh Shana Dilldine
Evangelina Rodriguez Ruby Diaz
Polly Goodier Alexandra Driver
Marina DeLeon Gabina Salinas
Misty LeFlore Kristy Blackshear
Edgenie Bellah Ruthanne Garcia
Charlene Stevens Teresa Pilgrim
Lu Cleere Jaci McCarty
Lee Hise Sherry Hurley
Jerry Mullins Ana Rodriguez
Pam Yarbrough Jeanette Brewer
Pam Yarbrough Jana Pearl
Pam Yarbrough Angela Robertson

Texas Fellows and Candidates receive the following recognitions:

•  The names of the Texas Fellows and the candidates are published in the Texas SenseAbilities newsletter.

•  Texas Fellows and the candidates receive special acknowledgement at all statewide TSBVI-sponsored activities.


•  One of TSBVI’s most popular publications


•  Registration assistance for an upcoming TSBVI sponsored conference.

For more information about the Texas Fellows Program or working as a VI professional contact:  Mary Shore at ; 512-206-9156.


Two teachers sit at a table and talk to each other and take notes in notebooks.  They are seated in the TSBVI Outreach conference room.

Caption: TVI Gabriella Ortuno-Haywood, on the left, is a mentor to protege Emma Reese, seated on the right.

By Kate Hurst, Online Education Consultant, TSBVI Outreach Program

Abstract: This article provides 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.

Keywords: Active Learning, Active Learning Space, Lilli Nielsen, DeafBlind, DB, Penrickton Center, Perkins School for the Blind, TSBVI, Functional Scheme Assessment, FIELA Curriculum, online learning, Continuing Education Unit, CEU

Active Learning Space is a website devoted to the Active Learning approach developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen of Denmark. This approach can be used with many individuals, but is especially beneficial for learners who are blind and visually impaired or DeafBlind and have additional disabilities. These individuals often experience global delays in physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. Most of these individuals function below 48 months developmentally due to the significant challenges they face in accessing learning because of their disabilities. This approach can be used with individuals of all ages, but is especially beneficial for our youngest learners.

Penrickton Center for Blind Children, Perkins School for the Blind, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired have developed this website in collaboration and with support from the Narbethong State Special School in Queensland, Australia.  

A boy leans over a bench and explores objects on the floor in front of him.
Caption: Young boy exploring objects while prone on a Support Bench

On the website you can:

  • Get information about how to implement the Active Learning Approach;
  • Find tips on how to advocate for this approach with your IEP team;
  • Learn how to select and use various pieces of equipment and materials to create specialized learning environments;
  • Download plans for making many pieces of equipment: and
  • See videos of this approach being used with individuals of various ages.

You can also find resources for making and buying equipment, getting additional training on Active Learning, and folks sharing ideas from the field.Parents and educators all over the world are learning more about Active Learning and creating learning environments for children. Our newest addition to Active Learning Space is a section just for family members.

In addition to the information on the website, we are currently developing a series of seven self-paced online courses related to Active Learning. The first two of these courses are available now and may be taken for credit if you choose:

  1. Active Learning Principles (12 hour course with ACVREP and SBEC credit)
  2. Functional Scheme (6 hour course with ACVREP and SBEC credit)

By mid-January we hope to have 5 additional courses ready and these include:

  1. Program Planning: how to develop the IEP so the Active Learning approach is integrated into instruction.
  2. Implementation: how to utilize the FIELA curriculum and Active Learning approach to teach both standard and expanded core content.
  3. Equipment: how to select, build and use a variety of “perceptualizing aids” or equipment specifically designed for the Active Learning approach.
  4. Materials: how to select appropriate materials based on the individual learner’s preferences and disabilities to enhance learning.
  5. Documenting Progress; how to collect data on Active Learning instruction to document progress related to the learner’s IEP goals.

If an online course is not your thing, you may want to check out the live and archived webinars of the Active Learning Study Group. This year’s webinars are being presented by Patty Obrzut and Jessica McCavit from Penrickton Center for Blind Children and focus on the topics of hand development, oral motor activities, and constructive play. 

The cover of a book titled: " Five Phases of Educational Treatment for students with significant multiple disabilities

Caption: Photo about the Five Phases of Education Treatment found on Pinterest

Maybe Pinterest is your way of gathering information or perhaps an online newsletter. Both of these are available from Active Learning Space. Go to The Active Learning Space homepage to request either of these options.

Prefer live, face-to-face learning?  Consider attending the Active Learning Conference scheduled for June 2019 in the Dallas area. More details and registration information can be found at http://www. as they become available.

We hope that you will explore all of these resources for learning about Active Learning and become a part of this growing community of practice. Get active at the Active Learning Space!

Caption: Logo for the Active Learning Space website. Text displays “Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s techniques that emphasize simple ways to change the environment so that a child becomes an 'active learner.'"

By Cassondra Glausier, DeafBlind Program Specialist, Health and Human Services Commission               

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: emergency preparedness, safety, family, resource, planning, disaster, support system, emergency plan, “go bag”, “shelter in-place box”              

Why should you prepare an emergency plan for your family? Life happens and we get busy. We’ve all probably thought about what to do in an emergency. Most, if not all of us, have good intentions but don’t follow through with them. This article will touch on the highlights of creating a plan, how you need to prepare for an emergency, and what resources are available.

Emergencies are stressful, and what is usually familiar to you can quickly become unfamiliar. Families of children with special needs require additional emergency planning. Ensuring you have a solid game plan is key to keeping you and your family safe.

When we describe an emergency, many things might come to mind. You might think of a natural disaster such as a flood, tornado, extreme heat or hurricane — all things Texas residents have been faced with. For others, an emergency can be someone having a heart attack, injuring themselves, or an intruder entering a home, school or business with intent to harm. These are all examples of emergencies we might encounter.   

Did you know there are two types of situations we need to consider when getting our game plan together? There is an emergency and then there is a disaster. An emergency is when you must get out fast. There’s no time to think about anything but getting out of the situation, such as a fire. A disaster is when you can stay at home unless you’re told to evacuate, for example a flood or hurricane.

There are things we need to include in our planning process in an emergency or disaster. The first thing is to identify your local resources. Stay informed and follow your local emergency management service alerts and other resources such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, local churches and stay connected with your neighbors. Locate your area shelters and know the evacuation routes for your home, school, business and city.  

Second, have an emergency support system in place. Choose at least three people in your local area, and if you have an out-of-state contact, choose at least one. Your support system could be a neighbor, coworker, family member, teacher or friend. Make sure you, your family and your support system have good communication and clearly understand where to meet, who to call and what to do. The people you choose should have a high level of commitment to your family and be involved in every aspect of the planning. Ensure you discuss and practice your emergency plan every three to six months. It’s a good idea to contact your support system members periodically to see if they’re still available to be part of your support system.

When working with your support system to create your emergency plan, make a simple emergency instruction sheet for your home. Include information about exits, fire extinguishers and power shut-offs. Put the emergency sheets where they can be easily seen.  Also complete an emergency information card.

English Version:

Spanish Version:

Keep this card in your child’s backpack, your family’s go bags, your car and other places you might be. Try to keep electronic copies and email it to your support system.

Third, have a “go bag” ready to leave your house immediately. A go bag is a place to secure your important information in one place. Ensure you put the go bag where you spend most of your time, make it easily accessible, create a go bag for each member of your family, personalize it to fit each family member’s needs, and create a care notebook for your child with special needs.

Items to put in the go bag may include:

  • Medications
  • Insurance information
  • ID (if no ID, place a current photo of the family member with name and phone number on the back)
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Banking information
  • Copy of Social Security cards
  • Cell phone charger
  • Reunification location
  • Household pet information
  • Emergency contact information
  • Bottled water
  • An extra change of clothes and shoes
  • Child’s favorite toy(s)
  • Snacks
  • Spare cane, eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries
  • Spare car keys
  • Cash

Be sure to place paper documents in a plastic or waterproof bag. Copies of any banking information, Social Security information, identification cards, etc. could also be given to your trusted support system.

Next, if you have to shelter in place and choose to stay in your home instead of evacuating, you must plan on having enough rations for three days for each family member in your home.

Items to place in your “shelter in-place box” could include:

  • First aid kit
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Medications
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Extra clothes
  • Copy of important documents in a waterproof bag
  • Flashlight
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Work gloves
  • Tools (for example, hammer, screwdriver and small saw)
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Household pet information
  • Emergency contact information

Include a copy of your family’s emergency plan and care notebook in your shelter in-place box, as well as your go bag.

Finally, there are several helpful resources you can use to help you create an emergency plan.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Texas Department of State Health Services Emergency Preparedness

Navigate Life Texas

Emergency preparedness video:

Care notebook:

American Red Cross

The Emergency Email and Wireless Network