Braille Monitor April 2006
by Barbara Cheadle
From the Editor: One of the most exciting elements of national conventions each year has come to be the programs and activities sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC). Barbara Cheadle is the NOPBC president and editor of Future Reflections, the division’s quarterly magazine for parents and teachers of blind children. Just reading about division convention plans for families with blind youngsters is exciting. Everyone with a need to learn more about helping blind children to grow up well-adjusted, competent, and independent should make plans to be in Dallas the first week of July at the NFB convention. Read on to learn the details of the NOPBC activities.
- pity) + (skills x confidence) + blind role models = self-determination
self-determination + (talent x perseverance) = SUCCESS
Several years ago actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck hit it big with a movie called Good Will Hunting. Among the early scenes in the movie is a young man in janitor’s garb (Will, played by Damon), working out a long and complex math equation on a blackboard in a deserted college classroom late at night. It turns out that this rough, uneducated young man from a blue-collar, working-class neighborhood is a mathematical genius. However, the discovery of his talent does not lead immediately to success. Like the formulas he worked out late at night, the equation for his success is not a simple “two-plus-two-equals-four.” Emotional scars from an abusive childhood, the fear of losing old friends, and habits of carousing, drinking, and fighting are factors that have to be balanced by the introduction of new factors—new relationships, intellectual challenges, emotional healing, and self-confidence—in order for him to take the first step toward fulfilling his natural potential.
The equation for success for a blind child also has complexities. It is not as simple as learning Braille or being surrounded by positive, loving parents and teachers. Skills and attitudes are crucial factors, no doubt, but other elements must be factored in, and some elements must be subtracted.
Fortunately, those of us parents who are math-impaired don’t have to solve this problem by ourselves. Over 2,500 experts—blind members of the National Federation of the Blind—will gather in Dallas, Texas, in July for the express purpose of working out formulas for success for all blind people. The event is the NFB national convention, and the problem-solving begins on Saturday, July 1, 2006, with the Equation for Success seminar.
Sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), this day-long event begins with a kid-friendly general session in the morning, and in the afternoon offers break-out workshops for adults and special, fun-filled activities for blind children and sighted siblings. The day will end with an informal, everyone-is-welcome family hospitality, and two no-parents-allowed teen talks (one for boys, and one for girls). And that is only the beginning. During the next four days NOPBC will sponsor over a dozen other special programs for family members and teachers.
This year the theme is more than a metaphor. We will actually be conducting math workshops for parents and special math-related activities for children and youth. Rumors have it, for example, that the NFB Jernigan Institute’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) will sponsor a special chemistry program for the teens on July 1. And we have other prominent partners.
MATHCOUNTS® <www.mathcounts.org> (which is the math equivalent of the national spelling bee competition) is collaborating with NOPBC to conduct a mock kids-versus-adults math competition to be followed by a lively and informative Math Now! forum on Sunday, July 2. The director, Larry Jacobson, and deputy director, Kristen Chandler, are planning to join us in Dallas for these events as a kick-off for promoting participation by blind students in MATHCOUNTS competitions nationwide.
We are also pleased to announce that the Texas School for the Blind, widely known for its publications division and extensive Web site resources, will partner with the NOPBC to provide exciting programming in Active Learning, the educational approach pioneered by Dr. Lilli Nielsen for blind kids with severe multiple disabilities. We also look forward to collaborating with the school on other program items, as well as welcoming teachers and students from the school as participants and guests to the convention.
In addition to the new offerings, the always popular, much anticipated standards are on the 2006 program: the Cane Walk, Braille Carnival, IEP workshops, teen drop-in-and-get-acquainted party, teen hospitality room, Braille book flea market, Parent Power Workshop, and the NOPBC annual meeting. Maria Garcia, paramedic and president of the New York Parents of Blind Children division, is also hoping to offer some programs in emergency preparedness for children and families. The programs she organized last year in Louisville were a big hit, and we have had many requests to repeat them.
The 2006 speakers will include dynamic favorites who always stimulate, inform, and encourage: Joe Cutter (early years O&M), Ann Cunningham (tactile art education), Heather Field (language development, toys), Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the NFB (kid-talk), Melissa Riccobono (Braille Carnival buddies), the staff and students from the Louisiana Center and Louisiana Tech O&M master’s program (Cane Walk), and many others. We will also be welcoming students from the Indiana School for the Blind again this year. The last two years they came as members of the COGS Club; this year they return as Leo Club members.
Among the speakers new to us in 2006 is Eric Vasiliauskas, M.D., a pediatrician who has two blind sons. An active NOPBC member from California, Dr. Vasiliauskas has already gained a reputation for his lively and informative presentations. We will also hear from another doctor and medical researcher, Alfred J. Lewy, M.D., Ph.D., who is conducting studies about melatonin and sleep cycles in children. And we will hear, of course, from the 2006 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award winner.
There is no experience like the NFB national convention. The NOPBC activities for parents, as exciting and as helpful as we hope you will find them, are only a small part of this phenomenal, one-of-a-kind event. If you will go back and read the equation following the title, you will find this element: role models. The convention has 2,500 potential role models for your child and your family. Most will be role models to emulate with pride, others will be reverse models: examples of what not to become. Why? Because the Federation is a membership organization, a cross-section of society—old, young, smart, dumb-as-dirt, cranky, pleasant, naïve, sophisticated, educated, uneducated, skilled, unskilled, clumsy, graceful. Blind people really are just like everybody else, and the convention highlights that fact in a way that no amount of rhetoric can convey.
So make your plans and join us in Dallas. You don’t have to be good in math to learn this equation.
NOPBC Schedule of Events
Day 1: Saturday, July 1
Childcare: The NFB offers
childcare (NFB Camp) all day Saturday, July 1, and during other convention sessions
throughout the week for infants and children ages six weeks through ten years
of age. NFB Camp preregistration packets are available from NFB Camp director
Carla McQuillan, NFB of Oregon, 5005 Main Street, Springfield, Oregon 97478;
(541) 726-6924. Preregistration for NFB Camp is required.
Fees: $35 for two adults plus children. $15 for one adult (no children). $25 for one adult plus children. The fee helps cover the cost of workshop materials, the packets and handouts from all NOPBC sessions, AV equipment for our speakers, the cost of our teen hospitality room, and other expenses incurred by the NOPBC at the convention.
8:30 a.m. NFB Camp opens
8:00 - 11:30 a.m. The Equation
11:30 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Workshops
Activities for children, ages 6 and up
2:45 - 3:45 p.m. Workshops
Activities for children, ages 6 and up
4:00 - 5:00 p.m. Workshops
Activities for children, ages 6 and up
5:00 - 5:30 p.m. Break, pick up children from NFB Camp
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. General wrap-up session, report from kids and youth, poster display
8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Family Hospitality
8:00 - 9:30 p.m. Teen Talks
Day 2: Sunday, July 2
8:00 - 10:30 p.m. Cane Walk: Session I
10:00 - 12:30 p.m. Cane
Walk: Session II
The Cane Walk is for blind kids, their family members, and teachers. It is conducted in collaboration with Joe Cutter, the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University, and the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
Morning (time to be announced) MATHCOUNTS® “Kids versus Adults”
This is a closed competition.
Competitors must register in advance. Please send an email to Curtis Chong at
<email@example.com> if you are interested in competing. Kids must
be in middle school, and adults must be high school graduates. The competition
and the Math Now! forum (see below) are both conducted in collaboration with
MATHCOUNTS® and the NFB Jernigan Institute.
2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Math Now!
Everyone welcome! Results and prizes for the MATHCOUNTS® competitors; a live oral math round with the top kid and adult winners; information about new technologies, software, and math manipulatives; displays.
2:00 - 5:00 p.m. An Introduction to Active Learning. A seminar and hands-on demonstration about implementing active learning for blind children with severe multiple disabilities.
1:00 - 5:00 p.m. Teen get-acquainted, drop-in-anytime party, co-sponsored by Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM).
Time to be announced Just for Dads
Day 3: Monday, July 3
12:45 - 4:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality
1:00 - 3:00 p.m. NOPBC annual meeting and program
3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Parent Power workshop
5:00 - 7:00 p.m. Braille
Book Flea Market and reunion for Braille Readers Are Leaders
Day 4: Tuesday, July 4
7:00 - 9:00 a.m. NOPBC board meeting
Lunch break Teen Hospitality
7:00 - 10:00 p.m. Workshops
(IEPs, resources, and other topics)
Day 5, Wednesday, July 5
1:45 - 6:15 p.m. Teen Hospitality
2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Cane Talk.
Informal, drop-by anytime discussions with Joe Cutter and other mobility instructors
3:00 - 4:30 p.m. CPR for
Infants and Toddlers
An introductory course for the whole family
5:00 - 6:30 p.m. Teens
Can Do CPR: An introductory course especially for teens
Day 6: Thursday, July 6
Lunch break Teen Hospitality
Banquet NOPBC 50/50 raffle
Day 7: Friday, July 7
NOPBC announces contributions to the White Cane Fund, tenBroek Fund, Kenneth Jernigan Memorial Fund, and Imagination Fund.
2006 NOPBC Preregistration Packet
request by mail, email, fax, or phone to: NOPBC, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore,
<firstname.lastname@example.org>, fax (410) 659-5129, phone (410) 659-9314, extension 2361
Please include the information below when you request a preregistration packet:
Phone number: (H) _________________________ (W) ________________________________
Please send me the packet information by:
___ Mail: _____________________________________________________________________
(address, city, state, zip)
___ Email: ___________________________________________________________________
___ Fax: _____________________________________________________________________
I am (check all that apply): ___ Parent ___ Teacher ___ Blind adult
___ Relative and/or friend of a blind child ___ Other professional