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Fall/Winter 2019

 TSBVI Outreach Program Honors Texas Fellows

Recognizing VI Professionals in their Role as Recruiters

 

2018–2019

Texas Fellow
Candidate
 Gabriella Ortuno-Haywood  Emma Reese
 Mari Garza  Amy Reyna
 Mari Garza  Dahlia Rivera
 Tracy Fletcher  Brenda Blum 
 Tracy Fletcher Amanda Garcia
 Emily Calvert Candi Stilts
 Tracy Hallak Gina Zavorka
Scarlett Bayard  Debbie Fussell
Cathy Edwards Jo Ellen Fisk Cloyd
Barbie Priest Amanda Campbell
Yevernett Anderson Pamela Jackson Thomas

                                                   

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.  To be eligible for the program during the 2019-2020 school year, candidates must have started their training after May 15, 2019.

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 acknowledgment at all statewide TSBVI-sponsored activities.

AND

  • One of TSBVI’s most popular publications OR
  • 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.

Family Wisdom

Austin All-Stars Albinism Awareness Picnic

This article describes an event hosted by the author to bring those in the albinism community together on behalf of NOAH, the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation.

Discovering How to Connect and Communicate with My Granddaughter

This article discusses connection and communication between a grandparent and her grandchild with CHARGE syndrome. The author discusses the benefit of attending conferences and how implementing the “Triple C Concept” has improved her communication and relationship with her granddaughter.

Connecting with a Community: International CHARGE Syndrome Conference 2019

The author discusses her family’s experience at the International CHARGE Syndrome Conference in Dallas. Callie gives her perspective about resources shared and the wonderful community in which her family was immersed. She also discusses the special memories she was able to create with her family over the weekend.

Summer Send-Off

This article, compiled by a former Summer Programs Coordinator, provides information about Summer Programs 2019 at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Parents and students offer insight into the impact of their experience(s) with Summer Programs.

Usher Syndrome Coalition USH Connections Conference - Perspectives from a First-Time Parent Attendee

The author describes her experience at the 2019 Usher Syndrome Coalition USH Connections Conference held in Philadelphia this past July. This conference provides an opportunity for those impacted by Usher Syndrome to learn about the latest developing treatments from leading USH researchers while connecting with hundreds of impacted individuals, their families, and professionals serving the DeafBlind community. There were over 300 attendees.

Effective Practices

Documenting Progress in Active Learning

Kate Hurst explores the difficulties surrounding documenting progress for students whose educational team members use an Active Learning approach, a technique for teaching students who are learning skills within the range of 0-48 months in child development. She explores what documenting progress means according to IDEA, and offers simple solutions for measuring and reporting progress as exhibited by these students.

Teaching Braille to the Whole Child: Considering the Impact of Social and Emotional Development on the Acquisition of Braille Skills

In this article, Scott Baltisberger offers teachers and parents ideas for alternate routes to take when braille instruction isn’t going well.

Accessing Self-Determination Through a Creative Process

The authors describe a process for creating an informative product which will support students with low vision in advocating for visual needs in the home, school, and community.

What is Specially Designed Instruction for Students with Visual Impairments? Part 2

The Summer 2019 issue of TX SenseAbilities introduced an article on specially designed instruction (SDI) for students with visual impairments. The excerpt below explains the first component of IDEA's mandate, adapting the content, and how it may differ for students with visual impairments. The other two components of SDI, adapting the methodology and the delivery of instruction (IDEA § 300.39 (b)(3).), will be featured in future issues of this newsletter.

News and Views

The Texas Perspective

Superintendent Emily Coleman shares her insights and introduces Kate Borg, newly appointed TSBVI Outreach Director.

Success Stories of the Texas Workforce Commission's Summer Earn and Learn Initiative

The Texas Workforce Commission’s Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) Initiative provides work readiness skills training and work experiences for students who are blind and visually impaired. Employers who participated in SEAL also benefited by becoming aware of how a person with a disability can contribute to the production and goals of their business.

Navigate Life Texas

The Navigate Life Texas website is a valuable resource for parents of children with disabilities.  

Announcing: Tomás and the Case of the Mysterious Missing Dog 

The authors describe a new book and video available as free downloads from the Publications page of the TSBVI website. Created for elementary students, Tomás relates how a young student uses his low vision devices to join friends in the search for his missing dog. Teaching strategies and accessible drawings are also provided.

Texas Fellows Fall 2019

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

Debbie Bridge, Office of Primary and Specialty Health, Health and Human Services Commission

Abstract:  The Navigate Life Texas website is a valuable resource for parents of children with disabilities.  

Keywords:  parent support, Navigate Life Texas, NLT, HHSC, disabilities, DeafBlind, empowerment, resources, special healthcare needs

The Navigate Life Texas (NLT) website www.navigatelifetexas.org, a project supported by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), launched June 2015. It was created to inform and empower parents of children with disabilities or special healthcare needs. Healthcare, education, insurance, medical diagnoses, transition to adulthood, and how to connect with other parents are among the many topics found on NLT. Here, parents share their perspectives on challenges and rewards they have faced, revealing their valuable first-hand experiences.

Navigate Life Texas was developed by parents for parents. Most of the content is written by parents of children and adults with disabilities or special healthcare needs. There are blogs of personal experiences, along with videos of parents and their families. Sign up today to receive Navigate Life Texas newsletter.

Here are some articles and resources on the site with content related to blindness/visual impairment:

A young girl uses a cane and holds her mother’s hand to explore a park with her parents.

Caption: Child using a cane in the park guided by her parents.

Navigate Life.jpg

Scott Baltisberger and Chrissy Cowan, TSBVI Outreach Programs.

Illustration by Scott Baltisberger.

Abstract: The authors describe a new book and video available as free downloads from the Publications page of the TSBVI website. Created for elementary students, Tomas relates how a young student uses his low vision devices to join friends in the search for his missing dog. Teaching strategies and accessible drawings are also provided. 

Keywords: optical device, low vision device, magnifier, monocular, low vision, elementary

A line-drawing of a smiling young man wearing glasses. He is next to his dog.

Caption: Tomás and his dog, Luna.

Inspired by the Monocular Mac booklet created by Dr. Anne Corn in the 1970’s, Tomás and the Case of the Mysterious Missing Dog is an illustrated narrative story intended to inspire students with low vision to explore the many possibilities in which their optical devices and strategies can be helpful, not only in the classroom, but in real-life settings and situations. Intended for elementary readers, the tale relates the adventures of Tomás and his friends as they search for his beloved dog who has escaped the yard.  Tomás is able to fully participate in this adventure with the magnifier and monocular skills he has learned from his TVI and COMS.

Forty-two cleverly detailed ink-pen drawings by Scott Baltisberger are visually accessible to students with low vision and bring the story to life. Teachers can use the booklet as a teaching device, guiding students through the process of using a magnifier to locate some of the picture details mentioned in the story, and expanding on the concept of monocular use in their own community.

The book is available for free download in digital format, with an accompanying dramatic reading production (video) of the complete story. Lowell Bartholomee with TSBVI Outreach produced the video, directing students from TSBVI through an upbeat and lively performance of the story, complete with lots of expression and sound effects.  The book and video can be found on the Publications page of the TSBVI website https://www.tsbvi.edu/publications/6025-tomas. The original webinar presentation from May 2019 with Scott and Chrissy describing the project and the actual video performance can be found at  https://library.tsbvi.edu/Player/18691.

Tammy Winkenwerder, Program Specialist for Transition, Texas Workforce Commission

Abstract: The Texas Workforce Commission’s Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) Initiative provides work readiness skills training and work experiences for students who are blind and visually impaired. Employers who participated in SEAL also benefited by becoming aware of how a person with a disability can contribute to the production and goals of their business.

Keywords: Texas Workforce Commission, TWC, Vocational Rehabilitation, VR, employment, work readiness skills, training, work experience, SEAL program, work experience trainer, job skills trainer, advocacy

In 2017, the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program launched an initiative for students with disabilities called Summer Earn and  Learn (SEAL). SEAL is a partnership between the VR program and the 28 Local  Workforce Development Boards around the state of Texas. During SEAL, students with disabilities learn work readiness skills and obtain work experience through various summer job placements. Here are a couple of examples of students who are blind and/or visually impaired who benefited from their participation in SEAL as well as how SEAL benefited an employer.

Savannah

Savannah attended SEAL in summer 2019. She loved her summer job at True Value in Sinton, TX. She was there for 5 weeks. When she told her mother about her work day, she used the word “we” when talking about selling a lawnmower and weed eater to a customer. She felt like part of a team. Her job duties included sweeping, mopping, cleaning and stocking shelves and helping customers. She learned where products were in the store and was able to direct customers to find the products they needed. She reported that staff treated her well and she was thankful for getting the opportunity to participate in SEAL. She also learned how good it felt to earn a paycheck and she used the money to treat herself to clothes and breakfast!

Maycie

Maycie has participated in SEAL for the past three years. In 2017, she worked as an administrative assistant for United Way. Although she had a difficult first day at work trying to find her way to her work site, everything else went smoothly thanks to the help of a work experience trainer. She learned to advocate for herself, and she changed the staff’s perceptions of people who are blind. In order to show their appreciation of her work, they gave her a surprise going-away party when she left the program that summer. In the summer of 2018, Maycie worked for the food bank in Houston, TX. She greeted everyone at the front door and continued to ask for additional job duties. She also worked in their cafeteria and call center. In 2019, she worked for the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). She greeted customers and cleaned equipment. At each job site where Maycie worked, the staff was amazed by her abilities. She gained various skills in these work experiences which contributed to her setting future goals of attending college and being a Business Enterprises of Texas (BET) manager.

 A young woman in business attire sits at a desk in an office setting.

Caption: Maycie at her desk as Administrative Assistant at United Way during her SEAL placement.

SEAL is not only a benefit to students with disabilities but to employers as well. The Golden Crescent Workforce Board placed three SEAL interns at the United Postal Service (UPS) Store and Rapid Printing in Victoria, TX. The UPS Store and Rapid Printing are two small businesses that share the same owner and are side by side in a location. The students split their time between the UPS store and Rapid Printing. They were also provided job skills trainers through a TWC provider, G.R.A.C.E (Getting students Ready for Advanced and competitive Careers through transition Employment training) Transition Education Services. This was the first time the UPS store and Rapid Printing hosted a work site for SEAL. Pete Munoz, the general manager for both locations, took the interns under his wing and provided mentorship and training to each. In addition to training on the customer-service related duties at the store, the interns received training on how to operate the in-house advertisement design software. The interns used this skill to design flyers, posters, and event tickets for an event called “Small Business Night at the Park.” Pete reported that the interns have been an excellent addition to the store and that, “the Summer Earn and Learn interns are willing to do anything that they can do to help.” SEAL has proven to be a life-changing program for students with disabilities and employers around the state. It has helped students gain skills needed for successful future employment and has helped employers see the benefit of giving people with disabilities a chance to contribute to the job market. If you would like to know more about the Summer Earn and Learn program, please contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office and speak to a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor. Your local office can be found by clicking on this link: https://twc.texas.gov/offices/vr-general-services.html.