The “Now What” for Texas
Authors: Kate Borg, Director of Outreach Programs and the Texas Deafblind Project Coordinator, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Edgenie Bellah, Family Engagement Coordinator, Texas Deafblind Project/Outreach Programs, TSBVI
Keywords: Texas Deafblind Project, National Center on Deaf-Blindness, NCDB, families, communities, family engagement, family organizations, partners, Family Engagement Report, best practices
TSBVI Outreach and the Texas Deafblind Project have been taking what we’ve learned from participation in the Family Engagement Initiative to many of our partners in the disability and education communities, including family members and professionals. We invite you to join us in considering how Texas can increase our commitment to following the lead of families. It will take professionals learning together to deepen sensitivity and understanding of the unique experiences of families with children/young adults who are blind, have low vision, and are deafblind.
As part of our newly renewed 5-year grant, the Texas Deafblind project wrote goals, objectives, and activities using the Family Engagement Report as a guide. We gave special focus to using culturally and linguistically responsive strategies to ensure that families are able to equitably engage in their children’s education opportunities. We place great value on the vital importance of family connections through networking and family organizations. Project staff have cultivated strong relationships with individual families, family groups, and family organizations through a coordinated network. Because of these relationships we are able to individualize connections according to linguistic, cultural, and social needs.
TSBVI Outreach and the Texas Deafblind Project are grateful for the guidance we have received from annual family focus groups and needs assessments. Based on their feedback, we are excited to announce the return of our Family Engagement Series model. A primary outcome of the series will be families feeling more confident in their ability to foster positive connections within their families and communities. We also are responding to families from across the country by bringing our statewide family leadership training initiative to the national stage. We look forward to partnering with family organizations, other state deafblind projects, the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB), and the National Family Association for Deaf-Blind (NFADB) to focus on family leadership within different systems (e.g., education, medical, community, agency, etc.). Texas continues to benefit from the contributions of our earlier graduates! As growing families engage in these training opportunities, TX SenseAbilities will be a wonderful platform for them to share the wisdom they gained from their experiences and collaboration.
Because families “are the guiding force” and their lived experiences “drive our shared responsibility to the goals that they choose for themselves and their loved one,” (NCDB, 2022) we are so grateful to our Texas families who partner with us and help us better understand and model best practices in family engagement. TSBVI Outreach is dedicated to supporting professionals statewide to understand and implement these best practices.
National Center on Deaf-Blindness. (2022). The value of family engagement: Identifying unique needs and priorities of families with children who are deaf-blind https://www.nationaldb.org/products/families-engagement-priorities/