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2020 Texas Focus Conference: Self-Determination

This year's conference includes an optional half-day preconference and two full days of training during the main conference. 

There are also a number of related events including a Family Social Hour on Friday evening, vendor displays, and a luncheon on Saturday.

Please review this information to determine which sessions you would like to attend prior to registering online through our secure online registration partner, ESC Works.


PRE-CONFERENCE: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2020

TIME

ACTIVITY

11:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Sign-in

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Family Luncheon

1:00 PM - 1:15 PM

Housekeeping & Welcome

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM

Music for Self-Expression and Self-Advocacy
Jane Rundquist & Dan Butler

Visual impairment can be an isolating factor in regards to participation in school and community activities.  Music can be an equalizing factor because there are numerous opportunities for student self-expression and ways to participate, regardless of skill level.  This session will share collaborative approaches between the student, the VI professional, and music program in and outside of school.

Objectives include:

  • Explore steps in forming a student band from funding through performance.
  • Learn how to use music to increase self-awareness and self-expression in students with visual impairments.
  • Learn how to collaborate with music programs/classes/teachers to include children with visual impairment.

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Break

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Creating with Blind Abandon: Creating an Accessible Art Program for Visually Impaired Students
Katherine Trimm, CTVI & Linda Brown, Braillist

As a CTVI and a braillist, over the years, we have many students who love art, but do not usually have the opportunity to express themselves creatively.  In general education art classes, our students are often found sitting at tables manipulating Playdoh while the rest of the class creates art projects.  We researched extra-curricular artistic opportunities for our students to no avail!  We visited various museums to find opportunities for our students to tactually explore art, but found that touching is not allowed!  We resolved that our students could become tactile artists.  Our session will explore ways to create an accessible art program for students who are visually impaired.

Objectives include:

  • Explore ways to collaborate with fellow CTVIs and community members on how to reach students who would benefit from an accessible art program.
  • Learn about possible resources available to help with obtaining materials for projects.
  • Share ideas for accessible art projects.
  • Explore areas of the ECC covered by our art program.

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Accessing the Arts: Teaching Self-Determination through Advocacy
Kate Borg, TSBVI Outreach Director

A short-term program in Utah gave students tools to advocate for accessibility to the arts. Each student was required to visit an exhibit, production, concert, etc. and then write a letter to the organization telling them what was and wasn't accessible. Come learn about the amazing outcomes and learn how to implement this fantastic activity with your students!

Objectives Include:

  • Understand how advocating for arts access supports the ECC.
  • Learn how to easily involve students in community advocacy.


MAIN CONFERENCE: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2020

TIME

ACTIVITY

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Sign-in and Continental Breakfast

 

8:30 AM - 9:15 AM

Housekeeping and Welcome

 

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM

General Session

SEE Differently
Kristin Smedley

Kristin will take the audience on her journey that began with her crying on the couch, crushed by the weight of not one but two blindness diagnoses, to cheering as her blind sons are thriving and achieving their dreams.  She’ll discuss the key parts of her journey that allowed her family to move out of a victim story and soar on a hero’s journey.  Participants will laugh and cry right along with Kristin as she reveals her biggest fears, greatest challenges, and most extraordinary (and often hilarious!) stories that have made her boys and their sighted sister who they are today: high achieving social butterflies with more smiles and success than Kristin ever dreamed.

Objectives Include:

  • Understand that perceptions drive our expectations which directly cause our outcomes.
  • Be inspired to look at a current life challenge differently to create a different outcome.
  • Be ignited to look for ways to collaborate with others to move forward together.
  • Be excited for their own extraordinary journey based on the SEE formula!

10:15 AM - 10: 45 AM

Break

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

General Session

Finding Wheels:  Strategies to Build Independent Travel Skills for Those with Visual Impairments 
Anne L. Corn, Ed.D.

As students move from adolescence into adulthood, one of the biggest challenges is to take control of one’s travel needs. Finding Wheels is a new TSBVI publication and it covers such topics as using transportation technologies, learning to hire and fire drivers, dealing with frustrations of not being able to drive, how to budget for transportation, how to choose personal, public, hired, or volunteer wheels. This publication includes new scenarios, objectives, challenges, content, vignettes, and activities. Included are also first hand accounts by parents and individuals with visual impairments and a piece by Christopher Tabb about new technologies used by travelers. Finding Wheels may be taught by a COMS as an adjunct to orientation and mobility services and/or taught by a TVI as a part of the Expanded Core Curriculum.  There is also one chapter on driving with low vision.

Objectives Include:

  • Participants will identify ways in which adolescents and young adults begin to take charge of their transportation needs.
  • Participants will discuss challenges that are presented in Finding Wheels that enable travelers to become problem solvers before or during travel.
  • Participants will learn how to integrate the Finding Wheels Curriculum into their orientation and mobility or ECC lessons.
  • Participants will learn elements of pre-driver awareness for those who meet the state’s visual requirements for driving with bioptic telescopic lenses.

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch on Your own

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

The Foundations of Self-Determination for Young Learners with Significant Disabilities Pt. 1
Philip Schweigert, M.Ed.

The role of communication is fundamental to self-determination. It is the means by which one can exercise their ability and desire to control their own life and participate most fully in society. This two-part session will describe the early stages of expressive communication, and how they relate to the development of self determination. It will then describe intervention strategies at these early levels designed to build this capacity for our learners with sensory and multiple disabilities.

Objectives Include:

  • Participants will be able to describe essential elements of communication.
  • Participants will be able to identify at least three fundamental communication rights. 
  • Participants will be able to describe the difference between intentional and intentionally communicative pre-symbolic levels.
  • Participants will be able to identify at least two objectives for a learner at any of the pre-symbolic levels of expressive communication development.

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

Utilizing the Technology Tool Box to Complement Traditional O&M Skills
Greg Stilson

Gain knowledge of technology that facilitates the learning of orientation and mobility (O&M) skills, self-determination and other areas of the ECC. Receive an introduction to various pieces of technology, from apps to stand-alone devices, which, when used to complement established O&M skills, will enable students to travel more confidently, step outside of their comfort zone and have access to information they previously may not have had. Attendees will learn about visual interpretation services such as Aira and BeMyEyes, GPS devices and navigation apps.

Objectives Include:

  • Learn about technology that supports O&M, self-determination, and other skills addressed in the ECC.
  • Identify technology options for navigation, including apps, visual interpretation services and devices.

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

Thriving Blind:  A Parent's Secret Sauce to Guide Blind Children to Their Greatness
Kristin Smedley

Kristin Smedley was initially crushed by the fact that her two blind sons would never achieve the massive dreams she had for them including play baseball, be the class valedictorian, or achieve Dean’s List in college.  Blindness, as she says, scared her to death. Little did she realize that when her dreams for her sons were extinguished, her boys would be free to chase their own dreams as opposed to being held back by hers. Kristin will vividly describe the miraculous moment that would change her perception of blindness and the trajectory of her family’s journey.  Participants will leave inspired by the many achievements of Kristin’s children and will be armed with resources to create a path for their own blind children to soar!

Objectives Include:

  • Explore their current perception of blindness and how it is impacting their child’s journey.
  • Deep dive into Kristin’s key areas of focus for her blind sons: Education, Social (Including sports and extra-curricular), Vocational, Independence, and Technology.
  • Be inspired and equipped to guide their blind children to thrive.

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

Disclosing a Can-Do List
Valerie Alvarez, Blindness Training Coordinator

This presentation is designed to give students, families and professionals who work with BVI students ideas and strategies on how to attack the world after he/she finishes high school. During our time together, we will redefine disclosure as being the act of disclosing a person’s Can-Do List before disclosing the disability. This new and different methodology can assist the student in obtaining employment, establishing meaningful relationships and becoming as independent within his/her capacity. Finally, the presentation will be filled with interactive activities to help the participants get a full understanding of the content.

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Breakout Session 1

Self-Determination: Relationship-Based Programming from Theory to Practice
Deanna Peterson, TVI, TDHH, TDB with TSBVI Outreach

Using a case study, this session will focus on how, through a process of collaboration, an educational team increased resilience and self-determination for Kersten, a young lady who is DeafBlind.  Kersten’s team addressed three critical areas, targeted toward decreasing her moments of distress and increasing her moments of joy and success.

Objectives Include:

  • Participants will gain knowledge about the implications of DeafBlindness and how those implications relate to student distress levels.
  • Participants will gain knowledge of how to provide programming for learners who are DeafBlind with a focus on building the student's feelings of success, independence, and connectedness. This session will focus on strategies for increasing self determination for students who are DeafBlind.

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Break / Visit Exhibits

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Breakout Session 2

From Picasso to Einstein: Making Accessible Experiences
Kate Borg, TSBVI Outreach Director

The typical museum experience is a no-touch, no-interaction zone where everything is hidden behind glass and not accessible to students with vision impairments. Come learn some strategies for bringing these experiences to our students in a fun and accessible way.

Objectives Include:

  • Learn about the importance of advocating for and creating accessible arts and STEM experiences for students.
  • Identify exhibits or experiences in their local communities that can be made accessible.
  • Learn how to involve students in the advocacy process.

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Breakout Session 2

My Reflection Matters
Valerie Alvarez, Blindness Training Coordinator

This presentation will be an interactive session that will give participants ideas on how to provide VI students techniques on hygiene and social norms. It will allow the participants to hear from a working professional who is blind give suggestions on topics such as: ideas for putting on makeup, tips on hygiene areas for both females/males, how to establish personal and professional relationships and general self-advocacy strategies. At the end of the presentation there will be a Q&A with the presenter to allow for an open discussion about social issues facing both youth and adults who are blind.

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Breakout Session 2

Health and Sexuality Panel - Let's Talk about Sex... in the 21st Century
TSBVI Panel Members:  Michael Clinkscales, Social Worker; Cristi Fleming, Health Teacher; Dori Senatori, EXIT Instructor; John Rose, STP Programs Teacher

Finding an entry into this critical and private topic can be a challenge with students, families and administrators.  Panelists will share their experiences in planning and providing lessons whether individually or in small groups for students of different ages and functioning levels. Presentation content will be tailored to role of attendees.

Objectives Include:

  • Identify factors that prevent or compromise students' exposure to and learning about health and sexuality in comparison to typically developing peers. 
  • Describe strategies to help team members, including parents and administrators, understand the critical need for instruction in this area and support student learning.
  • Define components of effective lessons (e.g., ways to integrate technology) for this student population and list helpful resources for VI professionals
  • Provide examples about how lessons on social media can increase. students’ media literacy skills and their capacity to make wise judgments about social media use.

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Breakout Session 2

Interactive Activities to Strengthen Brain Pathways in the First Eight Years of Life
Judy Lee Cameron, PH.D.

Dr. Cameron will use interactive educational materials designed to teach parents and other adults working with children how adults can do activities with children to strengthen brain pathways. She will introduce the First Pathways Game (www.firstpathwaysgame.com), a free set of 250 activities that help strengthen children's brain development and talk about how to adapt the activities for children with special needs.

Objectives Include:

  • The value of adult-child interactions in strengthening brain development.
  • Specific activities to strengthen problem-solving skills, language development, motor functions and early creative play.

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Breakout Session 2

The Foundations of Self-Determination for Young Learners with Significant Disabilities Pt. 2
Philip Schweigert, M.Ed.

The role of communication is fundamental to self-determination. It is the means by which one can exercise their ability and desire to control their own life and participate most fully in society. This two-part session will describe the early stages of expressive communication, and how they relate to the development of self determination. It will then describe intervention strategies at these early levels designed to build this capacity for our learners with sensory and multiple disabilities.

Objectives Include:

  • Participants will be able to describe essential elements of communication.
  • Participants will be able to identify at least three fundamental communication rights. 
  • Participants will be able to describe the difference between intentional and intentionally communicative pre-symbolic levels.
  • Participants will be able to identify at least two objectives for a learner at any of the pre-symbolic levels of expressive communication development.

5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

After Hour Activities

Family Social

Appy Hour


MAIN CONFERENCE: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2020

TIME

ACTIVITY

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM

Sign-in and Continental Breakfast

 

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Breakout Session 3

Using Yoga and Movement Activities to Increase Self-Determination Skills in Students with Visual Impairments
Kassandra Maloney, COMS

Yoga and movement activities can have a profound effect on one's self-determination and self-efficacy abilities. In this session, you will discover how you can use fun activities like yoga and movement to increase your student's self-determination skills. Participants will be asked to participate in the movement section of the class. Please come dressed in comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely.

Objectives Include:

  •  Discover how yoga and movement can help their student with visual impairments become a better leader, demonstrate better self-efficacy skills, and increase their self-determination skills.
  • Experience a movement class that they can share with their students.
  • Learn typical modifications and adaptations to use in order to keep their students safe while having fun.

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Breakout Session 3

Writing and Implementing Self-Determination Goals: Give it a Try, Don't Just "Get By."
Samantha Hoffman and Wenona Lewis, Tomball ISD

Attend this session to learn how a vision team write collaborative self-determination goals with their students to increase their problem-solving skills and independence while limiting the times they settle for just "getting by." Gain skills on teaching your students to address challenges related to their vision even when they appear to be successful in school, at home and in the community. Acquire tips on addressing challenges that may not be easily noticed so that “getting by” can be avoided and students can continue to achieve. Working collaboratively as a team to support a student’s self-determination goals will be discussed.

Objectives Include:

  • Learn about including students in creating self-determination goals.
  • Gain skills on helping students to increase their independence by teaching them to work on challenges instead of settling for just “getting by.”
  • Acquire tips on working collaboratively as a team to support students’ learning of self-determination.

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Breakout Session 3

Facilitating Self-Determination Through Active Learning
Perkie Cannon, Claire Heins, Dana Frankland, and Laura Hampton

Active Learning, based on the work of Dr. Lilli Nielsen, focuses upon the importance of play and the development of opportunities for students who have severe multiple disabilities to be active participants in their own learning rather than passive recipients. Utilizing Active Learning concepts and environmental designs provides these students with tools to engage in their environment. In this session, two teams, consisting of an Education Service Center Consultant, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment and/or a Special Educational Teacher, will discuss how their collaborative teams successfully facilitated Active Learning to build self-determination in a classroom setting. The challenges of implementation and the myriad of supports for school personnel as well as the student will be explored. Through videos of student progress and other documentation, the audience will gain an awareness of the crucial value of the Active Learning approach to empower a student’s ability to advocate for themselves and the resources necessary to support implementation.

Objectives Include:

  • Provide brief overview of Active Learning Concepts, including Active Learning Planning Sheet.'
  • Developing and supporting the collaborative team.
  • Identify potential environmental challenges.
  • How to encourage buy-in with other team participants.
  • Explore challenges and successful supports within a district setting.
  • Resources

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Breakout Session 3

Health and Sexuality Panel - Let's Talk About Sex... in the 21st Century
TSBVI Panel Members:  Michael Clinkscales, Social Worker; Cristi Fleming, Health Teacher; Dori Senatori, EXIT Instructor; John Rose, STP Teacher

Finding an entry into this critical and private topic can be a challenge with students, families and administrators.  Panelists will share their experiences in planning and providing lessons whether individually or in small groups for students of different ages and functioning levels. Presentation content will be tailored to role of attendees.

Objectives Include:

  • Identify factors that prevent or compromise students' exposure to and learning about health and sexuality in comparison to typically developing peers 
  • Describe strategies to help team members, including parents and administrators, understand the critical need for instruction in this area and support student learning 
  • Define components of effective lessons (e.g., ways to integrate technology) for this student population and list helpful resources for VI professionals
  • Provide examples about how lessons on social media can increase students’ media literacy skills and their capacity to make wise judgments about social media use.

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Breakout Session 3

Interactive Educational Strategies to Enhance Stress Resilience in Children from 0 to 25 Years Old
Judy Lee Cameron, PH.D.

Dr. Cameron will use interactive educational materials to teach how activities adults and children can do together will improve executive function skills and how these improve children's stress resilience. This workshop will focus on problem-solving skills, emotion regulation and decision-making skills. How to adapt these activities for children with special needs will be discussed.

Objectives Include:

  • How strengthening brain pathways for executive function skills improves stress resilience.
  • Specific activities that improve executive function skills.
  • How to adapt these activities for children with special needs.

10:00 AM - 10:15 AM

Break

10:15 AM - 11:45 AM

Breakout Session 4

Parents and Advocacy Collaboration
Caroline Nelson

Awaiting Description

Objectives Include:

10:15 AM - 11:45 AM

Breakout Session 4

Using Yoga and Movement Activities to Increase Self-Determination Skills in Students with Visual Impairments
Kassandra Maloney, COMS

Yoga and movement activities can have a profound effect on one's self-determination and self-efficacy abilities. In this session, you will discover how you can use fun activities like yoga and movement to increase your student's self-determination skills. Participants will be asked to participate in the movement section of the class. Please come dressed in comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely.

Objectives Include:

  •  Discover how yoga and movement can help their student with visual impairments become a better leader, demonstrate better self-efficacy skills, and increase their self-determination skills.
  • Experience a movement class that they can share with their students.
  • Learn typical modifications and adaptations to use in order to keep their students safe while having fun.

10:15 AM - 11:45 AM

Breakout Session 4

Why O&M?
Sandy Baker Olphie, M.Ed., COMS and Naia Subedar, B.S.

Sandy and Naia will share their O&M journey and experience from the perspectives of the instructor and the student. They will show a video they made of young adults using their O&M skills and discussing the impact of O&M instruction during elementary through high school upon their college lives. Naia will discuss how she has applied her O&M skills to everyday life now as a career woman. The audience will participate in discussing challenges and solutions in convincing stakeholders the value of O&M instruction to students' future lives.

Objectives Include:

  • Learners will understand the importance of providing O&M services to elementary, middle school and high school students who have visual impairments.
  • Learners will also gain new methods to explain to students and families the importance of O&M services and the impact it has on self determination and life after high school.

10:15 AM - 11:45 AM

Breakout Session 4

Facilitating Self-Determination Through Active Learning
Perkie Cannon, Claire Heins, Dana Frankland, and Laura Hampton

Active Learning, based on the work of Dr. Lilli Nielsen, focuses upon the importance of play and the development of opportunities for students who have severe multiple disabilities to be active participants in their own learning rather than passive recipients. Utilizing Active Learning concepts and environmental designs provides these students with tools to engage in their environment. In this session, two teams, consisting of an Education Service Center Consultant, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairment and/or a Special Educational Teacher, will discuss how their collaborative teams successfully facilitated Active Learning to build self-determination in a classroom setting. The challenges of implementation and the myriad of supports for school personnel as well as the student will be explored. Through videos of student progress and other documentation, the audience will gain an awareness of the crucial value of the Active Learning approach to empower a student’s ability to advocate for themselves and the resources necessary to support implementation.

Objectives Include:

  • Provide brief overview of Active Learning Concepts, including Active Learning Planning Sheet.'
  • Developing and supporting the collaborative team.
  • Identify potential environmental challenges.
  • How to encourage buy-in with other team participants.
  • Explore challenges and successful supports within a district setting.
  • Resources

10:15 AM - 11:45 AM

Breakout Session 4

Self-Determination: Building Confidence in Our Babies / Starting Out the Right Way!
Katy ISD Panel:  Elaine Robertson, Instructional Officer; Irene Conlan, TVI; Carolyn Samson, TVI

Did you know you can start building self-determination starting at birth? Participants will learn strategies on how to start building self-determination by educating families of babies, birth to 3 years of age. Participants will also learn the importance of collaboration between family, teacher of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility specialist, ECI agency and administration to ensure smooth transition from IDEA-C (ECI) to IDEA-B (school).

Objectives Include:

  • Increase knowledge of what self-determination means as part of the Expanded Core Curriculum.
  • Learn strategies on how to build self-determination at a young age in order to ensure a smooth transition from home to school.

11:45 AM - 12:30 PM

Break

12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

General Session

Building A Healthy Brain! The Foundation of Lifetime Health & Well-Being
Judy Lee Cameron, PH.D.

Dr. Cameron will provide an overview of how neural circuits in the brain a built over the course of development and how important experiences are in shaping brain architecture that helps children adapt to their environments and individual needs. She will cover the basics of brain development, adaptations to disabilities, the impact of life stresses and how to strengthen resilience to stress. She will utilize interactive educational materials to enhance traditional educational materials such as slides and videos.

Objectives Include:

  • How life experiences build brain pathways over development.
  • The impact of life stresses on brain development.
  • How to help children build resilience.