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“What she said…” “What he said….” Reflections from the 2nd Annual Bring Your Boss to Work Week

Asking your boss to spend time with you can be a risky task.  It may require you to step out of your comfort zone.  However, those who did it and shared their experiences with us had great things to say about the experience.  Below (and in random order) are some of the comments I received, both from Texans and from VI professionals in other states.  What was the highlight of the experience for you? Getting to show off my student's math success Having an administrator come and having my student anticipate her bus trip independently. I was proud to get to show my director how well a bright student was doing on learning braille and keyboarding.  We had planned on seeing a student with CVI and multiple disabilities too, but she was sick.  My director said we could make another appointment to see her sometime!  The whole experience was very positive.  Thank you...
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Do you have the time?

Each year when a new school year begins, time becomes a topic in every conversation. You might hear the following phrases from teachers, administrators, students and parents: time management, not enough time in the day, time to get up, time to go to bed and from VI teachers, so many students, so little time.  We all have our favorite technology solutions to save us time, emails, voice mails, smart phones, notebooks, e-readers etc. Our students are taught technology to access information quickly,  increase their time management and productivity.  But what about our students who need more processing time? How do we slow down to allow them the time they need? How do we stay quiet and wait for them to learn?  Lilli Nielsen, Barbara Miles and Jan Van Dijk’s teaching strategies suggest they we take the time to become better observers of our students with unique processing and idiosyncratic communication patterns....
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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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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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NUBS or UEB: A Unified Braille Code Could Be Adopted Soon

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has released a three-part article entitled: The Evolution of Braille: Can the Past help Plan the Future? BANA website (http://www.brailleauthority.org/) Part 1 traces the use of braille as a viable reading medium from the 1960s to the present and takes a close look at how print has changed over the same period. Part 2 discusses the more technical aspects of braille translation, challenges faced by current transcribers of current codes, the need for accurate forward and backward translation with the least amount of human intervention, and the impact of the use of refreshable braille displays. Part 3 discusses the future; it explores the options for change and examines Unified English Braille (UEB) and the Nemeth Uniform Braille System (NUBS) as examples of code unification. BANA feels that it is at a critical juncture, and they have four choices: Continue to tinker with the current codes...
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Emerging Writing

I just listened to a presentation on emerging writing in children who are 3-5 years of age.  What I kept thinking to myself was “How can we support the participation of children with visual impairments in emergent writing activities?” Here is a definition of emergent writing and a link to the paper it came from: “The broad construct of emergent writing includes the physical marks that young children make on paper, the meanings that children attribute to these markings, and the social contexts in which the writing takes place (Clay, 1975; Rowe, 2008).”p.54 Preschool lab Ohio State University  Getting the physical marks on paper may be the hardest part for a child with a visual impairment.  In children with typical vision, these marks start out as scribbles and/or pictures. For some children with visual impairments, just providing high contrast markers, good lighting, using a light box as a writing surface, using...
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"mouthing pillow"

While watching a video of a student we see on an ongoing basis, we got the input of one of our local occupational therapists, and what great input she gave!  We watched this student, who has visual impairment and very limited motor abilities, play by continually flipping a pillow onto her face.  While the pillow was on her face, she appeared to be moving her mouth a little bit.  This student, due to motor limitations, has not been able to bring objects to her mouth to explore them.  Our OT suggested creating a "mouthing pillow."  We used a firm, foam pillow that would not be floppy, made a pillow case from "headliner" fabric because it sticks well to the male velcro, and sewed elastic with notebook rings so that objects could be affixed and removed easily for washing the case.  The objects we selected it have characteristics similar to objects that...
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