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Transition Forum for Unified English Braille (UEB)

As you are probably aware, the COSB Board has appointed me to represent COSB on the Board of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA).  In that capacity, I attended the Transition Forum for Unified English Braille (UEB) in Louisville In October and summarized that meeting in a presentation at the COSB Business meeting the next day.  I will repeat some of that information below for those who couldn't attend the business meeting.  In addition, I just returned from my first BANA Board meeting, also in Louisville, and have more information from that meeting.  I hope that in this message and future ones, I can assist COSB’s schools and programs in preparing for the transition to UEB.  With some planning and forethought on our part we can make this a smooth transition for our students and our staff members over the next few years.  The UEB is not so much a new code...
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Color Vision Deficiency

image of all bout color blindness bookRecently there was a post on the AERNet mailing list asking for advice on a referral made for VI instructional services for a student whose only concern was “color blindness” (more accurately called a color vision deficiency, or CVD.  Whereas some vision-related etiologies may have an associated CVD, most individuals with a color vision deficiency do not have additional (uncorrectable) problems with their vision.  In Texas, a student who only presents with CVD would not qualify for the services of a TVI, because Texas’ commissioner’s rules state:             …..a student with a visual impairment is one who:            (i)  has been determined by a licensed ophthalmologist or optometrist                  (ii) to have no vision or to have a serious visual loss after correction; or                 (iii)  to have a progressive medical condition that will result...
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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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Exploring options, exploring galaxies

My husband reads science and is a self-proclaimed geek.  I am not.  I am more of a "tourist" in the world of science and technology, coming and going randomly.  It is as a tourist that I sometimes pick up his books and magazines and read them. I recently read the following paragraph in a book about math and how it affects our world: “A way to wonder One method we can all use to pour forth one creative idea after another is to begin with our everyday world, imagine some subtle property slightly altered, and then explore this altered state. Which features remain the same? Which features are different?  Exploration of a hypothetical world generates whole galaxies of new ideas. And we'll discover a synergistic interplay in which those new ideas will lead us back to new insights into our familiar, everyday world" [Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making...
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Guitar Braille Music Blog

In case you student(s) wants to learn how to play guitar, there is a blog called "Guitar Music in Braille."  Tina Davidson, a certified Braille Music Transcriber, a rare bird by the way, has done a wonderful job digging up and creating information related to Guitar braille music.  Take a gander if interested.  The web address is:  http://www.guitarbraille.blogspot.com
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Learning To Listen Listening To Learn

One of our initiatives this year in the outreach department is to explore listening as a focus topic. Those of us in the VI field understand the importance of listening for individuals who are visual impairment, yet it is a topic about which very little has been written. As part of this initiative, we are forming a study group to read and discuss a new book Learning to Listen Listening to Learn edited by Lizabeth Barclay from AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) Press. We also plan on participating in the Learning to Listen Listening to Learn webinar series through AFB (American Foundation for the Blind). If you would like to join in these webinars, here is a link to the information.  AFB webinars So, stay tuned and we will periodically post comments and suggestions as we delve into this resource and topic. Eva Lavigne Outreach Transition Specialist
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Webinar on How to Provide Described and Captioned Video

A second forward-looking webinar will be presented on October 24, 2012 for teachers, administrators, and parents. In collaboration with the DCMP (Described and Captioned Media Program), the Video Description Research and Development Center (VDRDC) continues to provide a solid foundation for anyone interested in providing better access to video (including web-based) for students who are blind and visually impaired. This webinar is entitled "Do It Yourself" Educational Description: Guidelines and Tools. Topics will include: An update of the activities of the VDRDC The "Dos and Don'ts" of description Live demonstrations of two FREE software programs which can be used to add description to media  An overview of resources for obtaining described materials for use in the classroom Mary Ann Siller, M.Ed. National Consultant in Blindness and Low Vision Dallas, Texas
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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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Bring Your Boss to Work Week: November 5 - 9

One of the most common refrains among VI professionals is “I wish my supervisor knew what I was doing.”  In fact, in a recent survey on issues related to performance evaluations, the most common comment was “Ride with me, see what I do.” Again this year, TSBVI and TAER will partner to sponsor the Second Annual Bring Your Boss to Work Week, November 5-9. By encouraging your supervisor to spend a half-day with you will be able to increase his/her understanding of the scope of students and the range of their challenges and what it is like to be an itinerant VI professional. This experience can also provide you with a chance for informal and child-specific conversations about being an itinerant VI professional; about the importance of expanded core curriculum programming, professional development and a chance to demonstrate how VI-specific resources benefit students with visual impairments. In addition to the advantages...
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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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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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Optimizing Vision

The student with low vision who is functioning in a general education classroom setting may be experiencing a multitude of visual challenges unique to the environments in which (s)he works.  As a TVI, I need to have a construct in my head in order to quickly organize my observations of each environment, so that I can make adjustments and/or recommendations for accommodations. For starters, I must consider the lights or brightness in the room.  There are certain eye conditions that make lighting either detrimental (ocular albinism) or vital (optic nerve hypoplasia).  Questions I might ask myself are:  What is the lighting source?  Is the student getting so close that her head obscures the light?  Would a task light help?  Where should the light be directed?  If an outlet is nearby, the APH lamp is wonderful.  Another option is a battery powered OTT® light that can be moved from room to room.  When positioning...
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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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