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Learning to Sign Together

Of the top three questions I’m asked is some sort of variation of “how can I learn sign language so that I’m staying a couple of steps ahead of my child’s communication development?”  This question is a great one to ask.  One of the best ways to promote our children learning sign language is for their communication partners – your family, including your other children –  to have enough signs to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities.  While there are great sign language classes offered in a lot of towns, it is often hard for parents to attend these classes because of busy family schedules and child care issues.  If the family happens to live in rural communities, the distance between their home and the nearest class presents a barrier.  Thankfully, the traditional sign language classes are not the only option.  Videos: Last November, Kate Hurst posted a blog highlighting Sign with...
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Independence Science Access Blog

Back to school's always a mess.  One difficult problem involves Science, since participation depends on how accessible the labs and curriculum are for students with a visual impairment. So when you manage to get the accessible science lab equipment, then what, you then have to learn how to use the equipment, right?  Here is a link to the Independence Science Access Blog. Cary Supalo Ph.D. along with Dr. Greg Williams and the Independence Science researchers have developed lab safety and preparation videos to help a student and TVI become familiar with their lab environment.  Enjoy the  Independence Science Blog.
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New School Year

Just to get things rolling with a new school year beginning, here are a few links with loads of information, inspiration, and answers to many questions that students/clients may have. BlindHOW, "Finding answers & sharing knowledge related to any question regarding blindness & visual impairment" Braille Institute documents and multimedia files for information, research or education. VisionAware™, Resources for Independent Living with Vision Loss And, looking forward to professional development... AER will hold its next International Conference in San Antonio, TX in 2014.  The AERBVI Board also approved a request from the Orientation and Mobility Division to hold a separate conference in 2013 specifically focused on Orientation and Mobility, similar to the "mega conference" held in New Orleans, LA in 2003 with over 600 in attendance.  Location and date are yet to be determined.  
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Top 15 Reasons To Be Part of the DBMAT and Texas Chargers Family Retreats This Year!

Texans are fond of saying that it ain’t bragging if it’s true!  Well, Texas claims the right to do some serious bragging that we have four strong, ever growing, and active family organizations.  Not only should we be proud that we have so many, but thankful that they lead our community in making services, supports, and connections the best they can be for individuals who are visually impaired and deafblind.    These four organizations are the Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (TAPVI), Texas Parents of Blind Children (TPOBC), Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT), and Texas Chargers. In this blog, I want to highlight the two organizations that are part of the deafblind community – DBMAT and Texas Chargers, Inc. – and their family conferences.    If you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in one of these annual events, this is your year! The 40th Annual DBMAT Family...
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Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

As the school year begins, families of students who have difficulty using typical printed instructional materials effectively often have concerns and questions about "accessible instructional materials" and if those materials could be needed by their children. The August back-to-school edition of the AIM Connector highlighted resources that address questions frequently asked by families at the start of school. Access the AIM Factsheet for Families AIM Basics for Families (2011). This booklet, available in English and Spanish, will help you and other members of your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team decide whether the student needs AIM, what type of specialized format the student needs, how to access the materials for the student, and what supports the student needs to use AIM. AIM: A Technical Guide for Families and Advocates (2011). This guide Includes background information on AIM provisions in IDEA, definitions of terms, a thorough description of the decision-making process for AIM, and where...
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Free On-line Video Tutorials for Voiceover!

Watch Brian Charlson, Director of Technology at The Carroll Center as he demonstrates how to use Voiceover  screen reader on the iPhone. Thesefree tutorials focus on the use of Apple products and blind friendly apps. There is also a videoUsing Apple TV with Voiceover showing how to use the digital entertainment center device, Apple TV. All videos are captioned and audio described. Enjoy the show! VoiceOver Screen Navigation on the iPhone 4S Using Apple TV with Voiceover Identify Anything with VizWiz on the iPhone Gestures with VoiceOver on the iPhone 4S Accessing BookShare with Read2Go on Apple iOS
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Study Funded by the U.S. Department of Education

We are seeking Special Education Teachers and Speech-Language Pathologists to participate in an interesting study funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  Participants must: Currently serve at least one student with complex communication needs at any grade level, including early intervention/early childhood special education. Be responsible for developing communication-related IEP/IFSP goals for one student, as described above. NOT currently use the Communication Matrix to evaluate students. Participants will receive an honorarium ranging from $200-$350 depending on the group they are assigned to. If you are interested in further details about this study, please email . Grant #H327A110010 U. S. Dept. of Education Dr. Charity Rowland, P. I.
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New Feature on Ambutech Canes

If you have ordered a new Ambutech cane recently you will likely be surprised to find a new feature when changing your cane tip.  Ambutech is now including a Cordlock device with all canes that use the hook style tip.  Previously when changing a tip you had to be careful to hold the cord so that it would not release back into the cane shaft after being pulled out as the tip was removed.  Many people would place a pencil or pen between the knot on the cord at the loop and the cane shaft to make replacing the hook style tip a bit easier, and then remove it after the new tip was installed so the cord and tip could be drawn back into the shaft of the cane.  The challenge with this approach was that a pen or pencil was not always nearby when changing a tip and using...
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Early Childhood Brain Development Presentation Aids

Early Childhood Brain Development – Presentation Aids  ReadyNation, a business-early childhood partnerships, and the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University collaborated to develop a range of tools to help non-scientists present information on early brain development and the importance of investing in early childhood programs. The Brain Science of Early Childhood tools include annotated PowerPoint, videos, and one-page information briefs.
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U.S. Department of Education Mathematics Instructional Materials

U.S. Department of Education Encourages Use of New Guidelines for Accessible Math & Science Instructional Materials On June 22, 2012 the U.S. Department of Education released a “Dear Colleague” letter encouraging states and local education agencies to request that textbook publishers use the most recent version of the Mathematical Markup Language (MathML) Structure Guidelines when providing accessible instructional materials to students who are blind or who have print disabilities. According to the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard Center (Center), use of the new MathML3 guidelines will improve the accessibility of mathematical and scientific content in core instructional materials for students who are unable to access traditional print materials.
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Take a Memo: Ten Tips for Successful Voice Dictation on a Mac

This article explains speech recognition past and present using built-in and purchased software. The article also has a nice explanation of the difference between speech dictation and voice control. If you have a student who needs to use speech dictation this article has very useful tips. The website is called "TidBITS Apple news for the rest of us".  This is the article URL. Sharon Nichols
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How to use VoiceOver on Mac OS X Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion is the latest Operating System (OS) from Apple for all of their Mac products. If you are purchasing or your school is purchasing a new Mac, chances are it will come with Mountain Lion as the OS. When a new Mac OS is created there are changes made to all aspects of the software including VoiceOver. This does not mean that any skills you might have learned are obsolete but that new features have be added. The new features are meant to make the computer more accessible using VoiceOver. The place to find how to use the new improved VoiceOver is on Apple's VoiceOver help website. This is from the Website. VoiceOver Getting Started This guide explains how to use VoiceOver, the advanced screen reader built into OS X Mountain Lion (version 10.8). This guide includes lists of VoiceOver commands. To navigate the guide, select a link from the...
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iPad Calculator Apps and the Order of Operation

calculator thumbnailWhen deciding on a calculator app for students with visual impairments, you have to consider a few features.  Some of the considerations are: Size of the numbers and operations on the keys (for low vision users) Color contrast between the keys and background Reflow resolution when using Zoom (screen magnification feature) How well it works with VoiceOver for users needing screen readers That is all good if you are keeping this in mind, but here is just one more glitch concerning calculator apps.  It's called "Order of Operation".  So what does this mean? A math problem that does not have any parenthesis in the equation yet contains addition and multiplication operations, the order of operation rule states that the multiplication operation is solved first before addition. Huh? Let's take a math problem like 2+3x4=n.  If you solve this problem from left to right, the answer will be 20.  If you solve...
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Online "Hark the Sound" Game

Hark the Sound, an educational game for blind students that uses the ARROW KEYS is now available online for free.  One of their new games for young blind students is called “Save the Animals”.  The game requires the student to identify the first letter of the animal they hear then press the correct braille letter on the keyboard.  The home row keys  FDS and JKL are used to type in the braille letters.  To access the online application and game, Go to: Click on “Browse the games now” Press your right or left arrow keys until you hear “braille games”.   Press your up arrow key once.  Continue to use your right or left arrow keys until you hear “Save the animals” then press the up arrow. A wonderful way to reinforce braille with a new student.
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PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR: 2012 SWOMA Conference Nov. 1-3, 2012 @ TSBVI in Austin, TX Registration information available later this summer Check our website for statewide trainings listing.
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iPad Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments

Robert Miller of the Oklahoma School for the Blind Assistive Technology Lab has written an in-depth curriculum for using the iPad with VoiceOver, Zoom and Refreshable Braille Displays. The curriculum will guide you and your student step by step through setting the accessibility features up to teaching specific gestures and commands needed to use the iPad with VoiceOver and Zoom.  As with any shared curriculum, please give credit to the author or authors when distributing the curriculum.  Robert asks for any feedback to help him improve his curriculum. Three versions of the curriculum can be found on the Oklahoma School for the Blind website.  
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Hand-Under-Hand Videos

If you are trying to explain hand-under-hand to teacher or families, try showing these video examples from Washington Sensory Disabilities Services (WSDS) . There are a variety of examples and one of them is probably similar to a student you work with.  They can be found on the video section of their website. Ann Rash VI Educational Consultant Outreach Program
Recent Comments
Guest — Mary Ann Siller
Hello, when I downloaded the epub doc...It sent me to a file that wanted me to find another file source. Is the epub another appl... Read More
Sunday, 13 April 2014 18:06
Guest — Sharon Nichols
Mary Ann,I fixed the website but had to give up on the Epub. It must have moved and I couldn't find it. Thanks.
Monday, 04 May 2015 09:53
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Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans

Alliance of and for Visually Impaired Texans – Information about their listserv: The 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature begins January 8, 2013 and ends May 27, 2013.  The Alliance of and for Texans (AVIT) is trying to grow its email listserv to ensure fast notification to those interested in its upcoming legislative efforts. Many legislative actions have very short notice, so fast communication is critical. This AVIT Listserv will be the primary means of sending information related to a bill AVIT is working on requiring O&M evaluations for all students being considered for eligibility as visually impaired.    Sometimes we have less than 24 hours notice that an action is about to occur.  In addition, the AVIT Listserv provides a way to communicate on a variety of issues related to consumers and professionals who are visually impaired, blind, or deafblind. If you would like to be added to the AVIT Listserv, please...
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Roundtable on Social Skills Issues at TAER 2012

In a session on Social Skills at TAER 2012, the participants were asked to brainstorm activity and lesson ideas to help incorporate social skills lessons into their instruction.  In 10 minutes, they came up with  a whole exciting range of proposals.  Maybe these ideas will help spur your creative thinking! Miscellaneous: Table etiquette, social obligations, hosts Make tactile placemat with spoon, knife and fork placement. Have students set table. Go to restaurant (or set up in your classroom). Practice etiquette at the table (e.g. table setting, ordering, manners, tip, pouring, passing food around). Plan a game night. Make phone calls. Invitations. Shopping. Passing food – Utensil placement. Family style serving. Practice polite conversation, contacting a friend. Practice appropriate manners (e.g. utensil use/accessibility, closed mouth while chewing, not everything is finger food, napkin in lap, perhaps pulling out chair for friend) Payment arrangements Phone etiquette Role play in cafeteria Dating: Expresses interest...
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Summer Professional Development Opportunities for Orientation and Mobility

June 30th Contemporary Issues in Rehabilitation and Education For the Blind 11th ANNUAL REHABILITATION AND ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY CONFERENCE Hilton Anatole Hotel, Dallas, Texas Sponsored by National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) and Professional Development & Research Institute on Blindness (PDRIB) Louisiana Tech University. July 18-22 AER International Conference Hyatt Regency Bellevue, Bellevue, Washington Alternatives For those that are not able to attend a conference and would still like to participate in professional development activities, Association for Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) offers on-line training topics specific to orientation and mobility, that are also approved for Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals (ACVREP) credit hours. Chris Tabb  
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