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Fall 2007 in regular print (128 mb) - Texas School for the Blind

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Fall 2007 in regular print (128 mb) - Texas School for the Blind ...

    Abilities

Family Wisdom

    The Blind Photographer: Finding beauty through the eyes of an unlikely shutterbug ............................................ 2 A Quest for Focus: Lubbock’s Ninth Annual Family Conference ............................................................................ 5

    Finding a Tele-Support Group ..................................................................................................................................... 6 Meet Texas Parents of Blind Children (TPoBC) ........................................................................................................ 8 It’s FREE! ...................................................................................................................................................................... 9 A Note From the Texas Assn. of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (TAPVI) .................................... 14

    Effective Practices

    Informed Choices: Accountability and Individualization........................................................................................ 15 Nemeth Braille Translation Technology.................................................................................................................... 26 News & Views

    Blind Children’s Program: Challenges Ahead ......................................................................................................... 29

    Looking Forward at TSBVI ........................................................................................................................................ 31 Short-Term Classes for Academic Student at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired ................. 32

    Book Reviews .............................................................................................................................................................. 32 New Resources from NCDB ...................................................................................................................................... 34 Announcement of Competition to Attend International Congress ........................................................................... 35 Bulletin Board Regional, State and National Training and Events ................................................................................................... 37

    Nicole Slaughter, who is seen in this self-portrait, has discovered that

    photography is something she loves, and she dreams of making it her profession.

     Find out why this mom is proud to call herself a photographer in her article,

     “The Blind Photographer: Finding beauty through the eyes of an unlikely shutterbug,” found in the Family Matters section starting on page 2.

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    The Blind Photographer:

     Finding beauty through the eyes of an unlikely shutterbug

    Story & photos by Nicole Slaughter, Photographer/Stay-at-Home Mom, northern Indiana

    Abstract: The author relates how she uses photography as a way to see the intricate details of

    the world and to share that beauty with others.

Keywords: Family wisdom, visual impairment, albinism, photography, career, art

Editor’s Note: We’re thankful for Nicole’s permission to include her article in TX SenseAbilities;

    a version of it had previously been published in Albinism InSight, Summer 2007. All photos ?

    FAMILY WISDOM Nicole Slaughter. We invite you to spend some time on Nicole’s personal website at

    <www.whitepegasus.com> to see her other beautiful works of art.

I absolutely love photography and I’m proud I

    can call myself a photographer. I got into

    photography after the birth of my second

    daughter in December 2004. With the birth of

    our first daughter I was afraid to even touch the

    camera. I thought I might break it or something

    silly like that. So my husband did almost all of

    the photograph-taking. As he was working part

    time, it worked out well. But when our second

    daughter arrived and he was working full time,

    someone had to capture the special moments.

    So I forced myself to pick up the camera on

     Christmas Eve and have not put it down since.

Right about now, you might be wondering why I titled this ―The Blind Photographer.‖

I was born with a condition called Albinism. This condition is recessive, inherited, and affects

    my hair, skin and eyes. Albinism affects about 1 in every 17,000 individuals in the US. This

    number varies around the world. The two main types of albinism are Ocular Albinism, which

    effects mainly the eyes, and Oculocutaneous Albinism, which affects hair, skin and eyes.

    There are varying degrees, types and severities of albinismway too many to try and list here.

While in the womb, our eyes need pigment to develop correctly. In a person with albinism, the

    pathways do not develop correctly due to the lack of, or little pigmentation, resulting in loss of

    vision capability.

Visual acuity ranges from as good as 20/60 to as bad as 20/400 (or blind). I myself am

    considered 20/200 on the eye chart. This means I see at 20 feet away what a ―normal‖ sighted

    person can see at 200 feet away. Quite a difference!

Some common eye problems caused by albinism include:

1) Nystagmus, irregular rapid eye movement back and forth, or in a circular motion;

2) Strabismus, which is eye misalignment or otherwise know as crossed eye - lazy eye;

3) Photophobia, sensitivity to bright light and glare;

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    FAMILY WISDOM

4) Astigmatism, refractive error;

5) Optic nerve hypoplasia, underdevelopment of the optic nerve;

6) Nearsightedness, inability to see thinks in the distance. (read street signs etc);

7) Farsightedness, can’t see things up close (when reading a book need to hold it far away

    from them).

Persons with albinism generally cannot really correct their vision much (if at all) very easily.

    Persons with albinism have to find an eye doctor willing to work closely with them in order to

    have any hopes of helping their vision. Even then there are no guarantees. This could be

    another story by itself.

Now enough of the biology lesson, as there is so much more I could add, but it is irrelevant to

    the story at hand. So if you wish to know more about albinism please visit

    <http://www.albinism.org> or <http://www.positiveexposure.org>.

    I have encountered all kinds of responses to my

    albinism and visual acuity (sight). But the ones I

    have received about me being photographer are

    perhaps the most amusing. People seem to think

    that just because I am considered ―legally blind‖ that

    I can’t see. I have been asked questions like ―How

    are you able take good photographs?‖ and ―You

    took this?‖ People seem to have this misconception

    that if you are legally blind that you are totally blind

    and that it is all or nothing. This simply is not true.

     I was doing a wedding for a family member of my husband’s last summer and got the comment, ―You’re visually impaired right? So you can

    actually take good pictures? You can see through the camera?‖ And all I could think was, ―they

    would not have asked me to do it otherwise‖. I told her my portfolio speaks for itself. But still,

    that she would even think to say something like that to me is amusing.

What I see? I see beauty and color in life. I can see everything you see, just maybe a little

    differently. Or maybe a lot differently, but I think even normal sighted persons all see things

    differently. I often get asked if things are blurry, and for me the answer is no. My vision cannot

    be compared to someone with normal vision. I am a

    very visual person despite my disability.

About a few weeks ago my husband and I went to a

    local conservatory and had fun shooting flowers. There

    was a flower there called Anthurium. I had no idea the

    detail that was on the flower. I pulled it onto the

    computer, zoomed in and wow was I amazed. I would

    have never seen the intricate detail on the piece of the

    flower sticking up, had it not been for my camera and

    magnification on my computer.

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That same day we took our girls to the park and I had the opportunity to shoot a squirrel that

    was on the tree close to the swings when our girls were playing. While I could not see the

    expression on his face I could see where he was, and I could tell if he was looking towards me.

    I think my husband thought I was crazy while looking through the photographs on my computer

    because I was so amazed by the squirrel hanging off the side of the tree. I never realized how

    long their little fingers or claws were until then. It’s the fine detail that my vision misses every

    day.

     FAMILY WISDOM It’s amazing the detail that can be seen in a child’s eyes. I never knew the amazing detail and

    shading in my daughter’s eyes until I learned to use my camera. Kids move so fast that my

    eyes capturing that detail, as I want to see it, is not easily possible. That’s where my camera

    comes in.

Water drops can have cool reflections in them. I can

    see the water drops and they are in focus to me. But

    as far as detail goes, like seeing great detail of the

    reflection in the water drop, I can’t see that very well.

    Thanks to my camera, I get to see those awesome

    reflections, colors and details.

I am very thankful for the digital age. If it were not

    for the digital camera I would not be able to do this. I’m free to take several shots of each image, without

    worrying about the cost of developing film. I couldn’t afford it otherwise. I know some think the

    first shot should always be perfect. I do try to do so, but lets be real; that’s impossible in reality,

    or that is my opinion anyway. Visually impaired or perfect vision, there is too much that comes

    into play.

    There’s so much beauty in the world and I don’t want to miss it all. Capturing my daughter’s lives is amazing and fun. I love every moment of it and am glad that I am able to document

    them.

    Photographing other people’s lives is my honor and my

    pleasure. Capturing someone’s wedding, pregnancy, family

    and so on is something I truly enjoy. I have found what I

    want to do in life besides being a wife and mother. I’m glad

    to have the vision that I have, I think it allows me to do

    what I do. Perhaps gives me a different perspective on

    things. Albinism does not define me nor does it decide who

    I am. But it does help make me who I am through my

    experiences. It challenges me as a person and a

    photographer.

    My camera goes everywhere I do. I think my work speaks

    for itself. I can take good photographs and love every

    moment of it. I think that all of the TLC I put into my work

    shows, and sets me apart from some of the other photographers. I will never stop learning and have so much to learn. But being ―legally blind‖ or ―visually impaired‖ will not stop me from accomplishing my

    dream of someday being a professional photographer.

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    FAMILY WISDOM

    A Quest for Focus: Lubbock’s Ninth Annual Family Conference

    By Christina Weller, Blind Children’s Specialist,

    Division for Blind Services, Amarillo, TX

Abstract: The author highlights a family conference held in West Texas that gave family

    members the opportunity to gain insight and experience on expanded core curriculum areas

    for students who are visually impaired.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, blind, visually impaired, family training, expanded core curriculum,

    core services

    ―This conference seemed to open all our eyes to the fact that we can accomplish more

    as a family unit than we can by ourselves.‖

    ―This conference has brought our family closer together and that has been such a relief.

    I feel that if I had not attended that my husband may still feel that it is something that he

    is not 100% a part of.‖

    ―We really enjoyed this conference. My other child was able to learn more about how

    vision loss really affects life. Terrific training.‖

These are just a few of the comments received from the Ninth Annual Family Conference, A

    Quest for Focus, which was held in Lubbock last spring. Over 300 blind and visually impaired

    children, teenagers, and family members participated in this unique hands-on opportunity to

    gain knowledge about blindness and to learn about the skills and techniques that help people

    who are blind be productive and independent.

The program featured 16 sessions that ran concurrently throughout the day, and during the

    program simulators were available that allowed parents and siblings to personally experience

    each child’s particular visual condition. These sessions were designed to give parents and

    siblings multiple opportunities to learn about various low vision and non-visual techniques for

    independent living. For example:

    ? Future chefs had the opportunity to learn adaptive techniques to prepare and eat food;

    ? Parents learned practical skills to help their children become better organized;

    ? The families enjoyed a fun and unique O&M lesson by traveling through obstacles,

    including tunnels where everyone had to get on their knees and crawl; and

    ? The conference participants explored practical ways to identify money and manage their

    personal finances.

To the glee of the parents, one session was devoted to techniques that will enable their blind

    or visually impaired children to perform all kinds of chores around the house (sorry, kids).

    Another session delved into the mysteries of the Davinci...oops, sorry...the Braille code. Who

    knew it could be so easy!

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    And don’t we all love those devices that make our lives easier? Consumers and family members were able to compare and contrast a wide array of low vision devices that ranged from over-the-counter devices to prescription items. Additionally, the conference was a great opportunity for everyone to see some of the more high tech devices such as computer access utilizing screen enlargement, screen reading software, and notetaking devices. Families were also able to examine several low tech adaptive devices that can be useful for individuals with orthopedic and cognitive challenges as well as visual disabilities. It is amazing what is available at your local hardware, discount, or toy store! FAMILY WISDOM

    This is all good for the here and now, but what about the future? Well, one session gave participants the opportunity to identify their strengths and assets while learning ways to plan for the future by developing transition notebooks and personal resumes.

    What about dating, relationships, or even marriage? Yes, there was even a session on building important social and relationship skills. Families even had the opportunity to learn grooming skills, make-up application, and the importance of appearance for social and vocational success.

    And what about recreational skills, you ask? Conference participants had the opportunity to express their artistic creativity utilizing clay, drawing with different types of textures and mediums, weaving, and collage. Families also had the opportunity to compete in sporting activities and games that were adapted for blind and visually impaired individuals.

    The conference ended on an upbeat note with a panel of young adult consumers who inspired families by recounting their experiences and successes in high school, college, and work.

    The conference was an overwhelming success! Families were able to gain new skills and knowledge, and they had the opportunity to network with the parents and siblings of children with similar disabilities.

Kindness is the language the deaf hear and the blind see. - Mark Twain

    Finding a Tele-Support Group

    By Michele Chauvin, Parent, Sugar Land, TX

    Abstract: The Jewish Guild for the Blind sponsors tele-support groups for parents of children with visual impairments. They are open-ended, informative and supportive discussions of issues and topics of concern for parents raising children with visual impairments. These groups are composed of parents with children who have the same eye conditions. They are professionally facilitated and are offered at no cost to parents. They meet by phone on a weekly basis. A mother shares how participation in this group helps her to find answers to unique questions about raising a child with retinopathy of prematurity.

Keywords: parent support group, blind, visual impairment, retinopathy of prematurity

    Our daughter, Lauren, arrived by emergency C-section at 26 weeks, weighing only 1 lb. 2 oz. She spent 5 months in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and received supplemental oxygen. During that time, Lauren developed ROP (retinopathy of prematurity). Although she had several eye surgeries, Lauren lost her vision completely because her retinas formed scar

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    FAMILY WISDOM

    tissue and detached from her optic nerves. As first time parents, we brought our baby girl home uncertain of her future. The next few months felt like a whirlwind, as we visited numerous doctors, therapists and specialists. Lauren also received Early Childhood Intervention services. Eventually she attended PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) for several years at a public school near our home. This fall she will go to an inclusive public Kindergarten class. Over the years, raising a child who is blind, mobile and will be a Braille reader has posed many challenges.

    In the past, we participated in several BVI (blind & visually impaired) events and groups to gain more insight into Lauren’s world. We greatly valued this time with other BVI families. Recently we heard that the Jewish Guild for the Blind (JGB) provides parent tele-support groups for BVI families. In the spring of 2006, I joined a JGB support group for parents of children with ROP. Through this group I met other parents across the US with children who are blind and who were also premature, like Lauren. Although we live near a large city, we had yet to meet other families with a child who is totally blind due to ROP. We had met other children who were visually impaired due to ROP, as well as others who were functionally blind due to different eye diseases. So this was the first time to truly connect with other families sharing similar challenges we thought were unique to us.

    Even after attending numerous workshops, conferences, and local and state parent meetings, we still did not have the answers to some of our questions. Topics that seemed simple to parents of sighted children often confused us. By connecting with this support group, we are learning there are other families experiencing similar issues and celebrating similar milestones. When will my child zip by herself? Will dental visits ever go smoothly? What toys will interest her? How do we teach her to make her own meals, dress herself, or brush her teeth? Now we have a wonderful resource for information and encouragement specific to our concerns.

    The ROP parent group has weekly phone discussions, which are professionally facilitated and free. I enjoy the convenience of visiting with other families by phone from home, as traveling to meetings is not always possible. We also have frequent guest speakers join the discussion, and I appreciate the opportunity to consult with numerous professionals who work specifically with BVI populations. So far we have talked with an APE (adaptive physical education) teacher, an O&M (orientation & mobility) specialist, a director of a school for BVI, an OT (occupational therapist), a speech therapist, a BVI college graduate and more.

    In a nutshell, the JGB parent tele-support group for ROP has been a huge blessing in regard to raising our daughter who is blind. This weekly dialogue and consultation session provides us an open format for questions and answers, with new insights gained weekly through sharing and listening to others who have similar situations and challenges. What a comfort to know we are not alone. Thank you to our facilitator, Susan Barron, and to the Jewish Guild for the Blind for providing this invaluable service.

    For additional information, you can visit <www.jgb.org/programs-parent-tele.asp>.

    To request additional information, or to make a referral, please contact: Daniel Callahan by phone: 212-769-7815 or e-mail: <parent-groups@jgb.org>.

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    By Laura Weber, President, Texas Parents of Blind Children, Friendswood, TX

    Abstract: Learn about the newest family organization in Texas for parents who have children Meet Texas Parents of Blind Children (TPoBC) who are blinda state chapter of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. A

    membership form is included as an insert with this issue of TX SenseAbilities.

Keywords: Family Wisdom, family organization, National Federation of the Blind, state chapter

Texas Parents of Blind Children (TPoBC) is the state chapter of the National Organization of

    Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Our state chapter was formed last fall at the National

    FAMILY WISDOM Federation of the Blind of Texas State Convention, and we’d like to invite all parents, relatives,

    educators, blind adults, and others interested in promoting opportunities for blind children in

    Texas to join with us to achieve our goals:

    ? to create a climate of opportunity for blind children in home and society;

    ? to provide information and support to parents of blind children;

    ? to facilitate the sharing of experience and concerns among parents of blind children;

    ? to develop and expand resources available to parents and their children;

    ? to help parents of blind children gain understanding and perspective through partnership

    and contact with blind adults; and

    ? to function as an integral part of the National Federation of the Blind in its ongoing effort

    to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against the blind, and to achieve for the blind

    security, equality, and opportunity.

It is our sincere belief that our kids can do anything and that by joining together, we can make

    a difference in the future of all blind children. The NFB is changing what it means to be blind.

    Our philosophy is:

The real problem of blindness is not the loss of eyesight. The real problem is the

    misunderstanding and lack of information that exist. If a blind person has proper training and

    opportunity, blindness can be reduced to a physical nuisance.

The TPoBC board is made up of five Officers who are all parents of blind children and four

    Advisors who are blind adults active in the NFB. Please feel free to contact any one of us to

    join TPoBC or to ask any questions you may have.

    President: Laura Weber, Friendswood, Texas, 832-971-7571, laura.weber@comcast.net

Vice President: Marsha Lindsey, 469-583-1975, queen.marsha.lindsey@gmail.com

    Secretary: Leticia Flores Sturgill, Pearland, Texas, 281-412-9490, letonflor@yahoo.com

    Treasurer: Sally Thomas, Manvel, Texas, 281-692-1180m andysally@houston.rr.com

Member At Large: Dan Sturgill, Pearland, Texas, 713-858-0752, sturgilldan@yahoo.com

TPoBC Board Advisors:

    Tommy Craig, Austin, Texas, tecraig@earthlink.net

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    Angela Wolf, Austin, Texas, sassywolf@peoplepc.com FAMILY WISDOM

    Diane Yoder, Austin, Texas, Lady-dy@earthlink.net Brenda Dunn, Austin, Texas, jbd22@sbcglobal.net

    It’s FREE!

    By Laura Weber, Texas Parents of Blind Children President, Friendswood, TX

    Abstract: As a parent of a blind child, the author shares with other parents numerous

    blindness specific resources that are available for free.

Key words: Family wisdom, blind, free resources

Raising a child is expensive. Raising a child with special needs is extremely expensive. As

    the mother of a 5-year-old daughter who is blind due to Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), I

    found out very quickly that items made for low incidence disabilities such as blindness are

    often outrageously priced since they can’t be mass marketed. What follows is a brief list of

    things that I have found that are free. Most of this information is directly from the websites

    listed. I know that I’m probably only touching the tip of the iceberg on free materials available,

    and I encourage other parents and professionals to e-mail me other free or low cost items for

    children who are blind or visually impaired, to be published in a follow-up article. My e-mail

    address is <laura.weber@comcast.net>. Good luck on your search to find great materials to

    educate and entertain your children!

    THE ROSE PROJECT AND ANNA’S BOOK ANGEL PROJECT

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to

    increasing the opportunity for literacy by providing high quality, low cost Braille books for

    children.

They have two programs that offer free Braille encyclopedia articles and books for children.

The Rose Project

World Book Encyclopedia articles in Braille. A free service for blind students in grades 1-12.

Anna’s Book Angel Project

In loving memory of Anna Kirstina Bonde, hundreds of Braille books have been made in her

    name, which we are giving away free. Online registration is available for this program! You can

    use our online form to enter your child’s name in the drawing to win one of these free books!

    Effective January 2006: every child is eligible to win at least one free book per year (please re-

    register each year, even if you previously received an ―Anna‖ book.)

Contact information

    Seedlings Braille Books for Children, P.O. Box 51924, Livonia, MI 48151-5924

    (734) 427-8552 or (800) 777-8552, <info@seedlings.org>,

<http://www.seedlings.org/special.php>

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THE READBOOKS! PROGRAM

ReadBooks! is a national children’s Braille literacy program to encourage families with blind

    children to read print/Braille books together. National Braille Press, along with Seedlings

    Braille Books for Children, is distributing attractive Braille book bags to families with blind and

    visually impaired children, ages birth to seven, across the country. The distribution process is a

    collaborative effort with educators and early intervention professionals. Parents may order the FAMILY WISDOM book bags themselves, or go through their child’s certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or DARS Division for Blind Services (DBS) caseworker. ? an age-appropriate print/Braille book for three age groups: birth3, 45, and 67 in English or Spanish; Each bag contains:

    ? a Braille primer for sighted parents entitled Just Enough to Know Better;

? a colorful print/Braille place mat;

? print/Braille bookmarks;

? Because Books Matter, a guide for parents on why and how to read books with their young

    blind child;

? a gift coupon redeemable for another print/Braille book or Braille/large print playing cards;

    and

? print/Braille magnetic letters.

Contact information

    888-965-8965, ext. 34 <http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/readbooks/request.html>

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND (NFB) KERNEL BOOKS / BLINDNESS IN

    EVERYDAY LIFE

Right now all Kernel Books are free* in all formats. Books are available in large print (P),

    Braille (B), and on cassette (C2 two-track) or (C4 four-track), as noted. (* Kernel Books

    deal is available while supplies last.)

Contact information:

410-659-9314, ext. 2216 (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time) <materials@nfb.org>

    <http://secure.nfb.org/ecommerce/asp/default.asp>

DOTS FOR TOTS

Dots for Tots is a series of multisensory storybooks designed specifically for visually impaired

    preschoolers as part of both our Special Collection and Partners in Literacy programs. Each kit

    combines print and basic Braille so parents can help their blind children begin their journey into

    reading.

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