Future Reflections                                                                                     Spring/Summer 2004

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As the Twig Is Bent

National Federation of the Blind 2004 Convention
Schedule of Activities for Parents, Teachers, and Kids
sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC)
Marriott Marquis Hotel
Atlanta, Georgia
June 29 - July 5, 2004

This year’s NOPBC seminar theme is taken from the title of one of the early Kernel Books: As The Twig Is Bent. In the preface of that book, Dr. Jernigan begins by saying, “There is a well-known saying that, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. What is true of plants is also true of people.” He goes on to say, “Every day all of us are, at least to some degree, bending the twig that will determine the final shape of their [blind children’s] lives.” We hope that parents who attend the NOPBC activities and participate in the many other 2004 NFB convention programs will leave with greater confidence in their ability to shape their children’s lives so that they will grow into active, productive, independent, and valued members of their communities.

Social skills will be the primary focus of the seminar and workshops on Tuesday, June 29. Barbara Pierce, who over the years has become one of NOPBC’s most sought-after workshop leaders, will give a major presentation on that topic during the morning general session.

Also on the morning agenda will be guest speaker Joel Snyder from National Captioning Institute, Described Media Department. Joel, a trained actor with many years of experience in audio-description, will talk about the value of accessing the popular media for knowledge about social skills critical to functioning in our culture.

As in recent years the first part of the program will be kid friendly with a kid talk between Dr. Maurer and the children in the audience, and a youth panel. We will take a brief break before 10:00 a.m. to allow parents time to take the kids to the annual Kenneth Jernigan Braille Carnival, coordinated this year by the three M’s: Melody Lindsey, director of a rehabilitation program in Michigan; Maria Morias, a blind mother and educator; and school counselor Melissa Riccobono. The morning session will end at 11:30 p.m., giving parents enough time to pick kids up from the Carnival or NFB Camp and get lunch before hitting the afternoon workshops.

In the afternoon, parents and children ages eight and up will have several delightful workshop choices. These workshops and the rest of the line-up of NOPBC sponsored activities throughout the convention week are described in the agenda below:

Tuesday, June 29

• 8:00 a.m. Registration

Note: please see the preregistration form with information about fees, etc., at the end of this article. The form will also be available through June 10 on the NOPBC Web page at <www.nfb.org/nopbc.htm>. For more information, you may also contact NOPBC President, Barbara Cheadle, at (410) 737-2224. If you leave a voice mail message requesting a packet, please spell your name and give your mailing address and phone number.

• 9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. As the Twig Is Bent—NOPBC Parents Seminar (General Session)

Childcare or NFB Camp. This is not a service provided by NOPBC. Please see information elsewhere in this issue about how to preregister for NFB Camp (childcare).

• 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Kenneth Jernigan Braille Carnival

Children, blind and sighted, ages six and up, are invited to attend this popular program filled with two hours of games, crafts, and other fun Braille-related activities. The carnival booths are sponsored by NFB affiliates and other organizations that come to participate in the convention. Volunteer carnival buddies are recruited from within the NFB membership. All children must be accompanied by a Braille Carnival buddy or other adult.

Lunch 11:30 - 1:30 p.m.

On your own. There are two good restaurants in the hotel that serve lunch and numerous fast food restaurants in the nearby attached mall. However, we will also give you the opportunity before the morning session adjourns to meet parent leaders that are from your region and/or that have a child close to your child’s age so that you may, if you wish, make arrangements to join them for lunch.

• 1:30-5:00 p.m. NOPBC Parent Workshops

1. Beginning Braille for Parents

Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Learn how simple and fun Braille can be! By the end of this seminar, participants will be able to write a simple sentence in un-contracted Braille. Conducted by Caroline Rounds and Nancy Burns. Nancy is the president of the NFB of California and Caroline is a Braille teacher with the San Bernardino school district. She is also a blind Braille user and a former NFB scholarship winner. This workshop is an adaptation of the highly successful model developed by the NFB of California.

2. Movement, Music, and Play: The Connection to Early Socialization Skills, 0-7

Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00 p.m.

This is a MUST session for all parents of little tykes. Conducted by early childhood O&M specialist, Joe Cutter, and Australian-born, award-winning musician and special education professional, Heather Field.

3. Body Language, Gestures, and Facial Expressions: How Much Do Blind Kids Really Need to Know? How Much Do Visually Impaired Kids Miss?

Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00 p.m.

The title just about sums it up. Panels of socially competent blind adults will share their experiences and provide insights and suggestions to parents. Older blind children and youth are welcome to attend at the discretion of parents.

4. Friendships In and Beyond the Classroom

Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Fostering friendships between blind and sighted youth requires more than attending class together in the same school.  This seminar will explore a variety of strategies and ideas for promoting friendships between blind and sighted peers in a variety of social settings— school, the religious community, clubs, etc.

5. Socialization, Blindness, and Additional Disabilities: There Is Hope

Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00 p.m.

This session focuses on the special challenges in helping blind children with additional disabilities develop appropriate social skills.

6.  Tactile Graphics: A Touching Experience

One session: 1:00-2:30 p.m.

This is cosponsored by the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind (IBTC) and NOPBC for parents, teachers, and all who are interested in learning about specialized graphics technology intended for the blind. 

• 1:30-5:00 p.m. Youth Programs

• 1:30-5:00 p.m. Audio Description: The Visual Made Verbal

Cosponsored by the NOPBC and the National Captioning Institute, Described Media Department. Sighted high-school-age students will learn the principles of audio description. They will view segments of videotaped programs, learn how to analyze them to determine what text to add, and break up into teams to write a description for a segment, practice it, and be prepared to give the description live later that evening. From 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., blind middle and high school students will be invited to review the described segments, critique them, and cast their votes for best audio-described script, best voice, best use of language, and other superlatives. All students (describers and reviewers alike) will receive certificates from the National Captioning Institute, Described Media Department.

• 1:30-5:00 p.m. Exploring the Solar System: Youth Scavenger Hunt

Imagine that you could squeeze the solar system into the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Travel to the moon, pick up artifacts from Mars, and explore the rings of Saturn—all within the confines of the hotel. Young people, blind and sighted, ages eight and up, will learn about the earth’s solar system as they explore the Marriott Marquis through a scavenger hunt. Sighted youth will also have the opportunity to travel this universe-in-a-hotel with a white cane under blindfold as part of this educational and fun afternoon. Federationists Mildred Rivera, Melissa Williamson, and astronomers Noreen Grice of the Hayden Planetarium in Boston, and Dr. Dennis Dawson, chairman of the Astronomy Department at Western Connecticut University, will conduct this lively, educational program. Mildred Rivera is a civil right lawyer who has conducted many of these scavenger hunts in past years. Melissa is a mother and an elementary school teacher. (Both are blind.)

• 7:00-8:00 p.m. Audio Describers Review and Judging

Blind and visually impaired middle school and high school teens are invited to sign up to review the afternoon work of the amateur teen audio-describers. Teens may sign up in advance or at the door. For fairness and impartiality all reviewers will be required to wear sleep shades (blindfolds).

• 8:00-9:00 p.m. Teen Discussion Groups

As in previous years, experienced, sensitive blind leaders will conduct two talk sessions, one for young men and one for young women, ages fourteen to eighteen, on the all-important teen topics of dating, relationships with parents, social interactions with peers, and more.

•  7:00-10:00 p.m. NOPBC Family Hospitality

Relax and chat in an informal atmosphere with other parents, teachers, and blind adults while your kids roam and play around the tables. There will be some door prizes and a few mixer games, but mostly this will be an unstructured evening in which you can network with others. While parents will be responsible for supervision of their children at hospitality, again thanks to Heather Field, a Discovery Toys® display with a play area for children will be in the room.

Wednesday, June 30

• 8:30-1:00 p.m. Cane Walk

Session 1: 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Session 2: 11:00-1:00 p.m.

This workshop will begin with a brief discussion of why the NFB promotes the use of the long cane with the metal tip, early use of the cane, and the value of blind instructors. It will conclude with an overview of the difference between the discovery method and traditional O and M instruction. After the introduction parents, teachers, and kids will be issued canes and sleep shades (blindfolds) and then teamed with a volunteer instructor for a cane walk through the hotel and, for those who have not yet registered, to the NFB registration area. Volunteer instructors are recruited from current and former students of the Louisiana Tech/Louisiana Center for the Blind O and M program as well as other experienced volunteers at the convention. Coordinated by Christine Brown and Joe Cutter.

• 1:00-5:00 p.m. Teen Get-Acquainted Party

Sponsored jointly by NOPBC and Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). All teens are invited to drop in anytime at this room for games and music or just to hang out with other teens. Supervised at all times by BISM counselors.

Thursday, July 1

• 1:00-3:00 p.m. NOPBC Parent Power—Annual Meeting

Keynote address by the 2004 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children, roll call of POBC affiliates, updates on educational issues, committee reports, and elections.

• 3:30-5:00 p.m. Braille: It’s More Than Dots

A workshop for parents and older youth. Internationally known Braille expert Dr. Sally Mangold will discuss the versatility of Braille in a variety of life settings for a diverse population of students, including those with partial vision or additional disabilities. The workshop will include a breakout session to provide children and parents a hands-on demonstration of the Braille educational learning tool, SAL (Speech Assisted Learning).

• 5:30-7:30 p.m. Braille Readers Are Leaders Annual Reunion and Braille Book Flea Market

Cosponsored by NOPBC and NAPUB, and made possible through a grant from the UPS Foundation and the efforts of UPS volunteers from the Atlanta office.

Come and help celebrate Braille and the accomplishments of the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and Literacy Program. You will find lots of free food, great fellowship, Braille mentors for the kids, and, best of all, a chance to browse and pick up some great Braille books at the flea market. Donations from the Braille book flea market will go into the newly established Braille Readers Are Leaders Reunion and Mentorship Fund.

Bring the whole family. Stay for the NAPUB meeting at 7:00 p.m. All Braille enthusiasts are invited, but former contestants and winners are extended a special invitation. All current or former Braille Readers are Leaders contestants are eligible for a special door prize: a refurbished, just like new, Braillewriter!

Friday, July 2

• 7:00 a.m. NOPBC Board Meeting

Evening—NOPBC Parent and Youth Workshops

• 6:30-8:30 p.m.  Drop-In “Discovery Time” with Heather Field (Discovery Toys®) and Joe Cutter (early childhood cane travel and movement). This informal drop-in session is for parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Bring your child with you.

• 7:00-9:00 p.m. Astronomy Is for Everyone

Drop in anytime; everyone is welcome. Children must be accompanied by adults. Look at hands-on models and tactile maps. Astronomers Noreen Grice and Dr. Dennis Dawson will answer your questions, describe the materials, and demonstrate that everyone can access astronomy.

• 7:00-8:00 p.m. The Benefits of Sleepshade (Blindfold) Training for Partially Sighted Children and Youth

Does it really help? Why do the NFB training centers use sleepshades? Are sleepshades effective for young children in school settings? Can parents use them effectively? Should parents learn techniques under sleepshades? Come with your questions and an open mind, and we will honestly explore a topic frequently shunned or dismissed by traditionally trained O and M instructors.

• 8:00-9:30 p.m. Standards, Accountability, IDEA, and No Child Left Behind: What Do They Mean for Blind Students?

An update on the status of significant education legislation and trends in education policy and practice with an emphasis on their impact on the education of blind students. Moderated by NOPBC second vice president Marty Greiser. Speakers will include Mark Riccobono, Coordinator of Educational Programs, NFB Jernigan Institute, and NFB Director of Governmental Affairs, James McCarthy, who will give an update about the IMAA and IDEA.

        • Childcare for the above NOPBC workshops will be available courtesy of NOPBC.

Saturday, July 3

Tour Afternoon

The NOPBC encourages parents and children to take the afternoon off and enjoy Atlanta. We especially recommend the Fernbank Science Center and Planetarium Touch the Universe tour. NOPBC has collaborated with the NFB of Georgia to bring astronomers Noreen Grice and Dr. Dennis Dawson to Atlanta to assist with this special activity.

• 7:00 p.m. Audio-Described Family Night at the Movies

Movie title to be announced. Presented by NOPBC and the National Captioning Institute, Described Media Department.

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