Volume 16, Number 3
Barbara Cheadle, Editor
Convention Report, 1997
An Education for a Full Life: Report on Parent
Activities at the
1997 NFB Convention 1
by Barbara Cheadle
"What's All the Fuss about Mr. Magoo?" 11
by Julie Hunter
Parents: The True Teachers 13
by Deborah Prost
NOPBC 1997 Annual Meeting 17
State Division Reports: California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan,
Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee Valley, Washington,
and West Virginia 19
Sensory Safari: A Hands-On Wildlife Exhibit for Blind Children and
Report on the 1997 NFB Camp 30
by Carla McQuillan
Music Education: Not Just a Frill 32
by Dr. Ralph Bartley and Karen McDonald
New Publication from JOB 38
by Lorraine Rovig
IEP's: Updates, Tips, and Strategies 39
Focus on Infants and Toddlers: Encouraging Independent Mobility 43
Materials Available to Parents of Infants and Toddlers
It Isn't All So Technical 44
by Nancy Coffman
Insights from an Instructional Assistant 47
by Denise Mackenstadt
The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young
Blind Child 50
A New NOPBC Publication
What Contests Can Do: Report on the 1996-1997 Braille Readers are
Leaders Contest 52
1996-1997 Braille Readers are Leaders Winners 54
Braille Helps Girl Become Book Champion 55
by Danny Heitman
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! 57
Letters to the Editor 63
"If those of us who are blind have
appropriate training and equal opportunity, we can get along as well as anybody else
earning our own way, having a family, and leading a regular life."
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, Introduction to The Journey, 1993 (the fifth Kernel book).
The desire parents have for their children to have full and happy, or "regular," lives was the driving force behind the activities organized for families of blind children at the 1997 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
Everyone wants a "full life." We may not be sure what it is that will make our lives fulfilling, but we never stop dreaming or striving to get it.
But what if a child is born blind or becomes blind early in life? What is the likelihood of having a "full life" then? Can a parent do anything to increase a blind child's chances for a regular life? Although the short answer is a firm, "Yes," parents need a lot more than that to make it come true. Parents desperately need both hope and particulars, the big picture and the recurring details. The 1997 NFB Convention provided healthy doses of both to about 200 family members of blind children.
The week's activities for families began on Sunday, June 29 with:
* an all-day seminar for parents,
* a field trip to a nearby children's museum for the younger children,
* a Red-Cross Baby-sitting Course for teens, age 13 to 18,
* dance lessons for adolescents and older children,
* an orientation to the hotel for teens, and
* a family hospitality night.
The morning session for the parents seminar was as packed with exciting, upbeat ideas and information about blindness as the meeting room was packed with people. A panel of blind children from ages 7 to 17 was indisputably the emotional highlight of the morning. Their well-prepared speeches (which were read from Braille notes) are printed elsewhere in this issue. The reading of these Braille speeches was the perfect lead-in for James Gashel, the NFB Director of Governmental Affairs, who came to the podium to speak about a profound victory for Braille literacy: the inclusion of Braille literacy provisions in the newly re-authorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) The rest of the morning zipped by as the audience heard from parents, professionals, and a panel of blind adults. Parents addressed the topics: "Creative Solutions to Impossible Educational Situations" and "Life is Like a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich." Educators, such as Dr. Ralph Bartley, Superintendent of the Kentucky School for the Blind, made outstanding presentations on the topics, "Instructional Assistants (Aides): Help or Hindrance?" "Music Education, Not Just A Frill," and "Access to Technology: When Computer Games Become Serious Business." Another exciting event of the morning was the recognition of winners in the 1997 Braille Readers are Leaders contest.
In the afternoon parents and educators had the choice of attending seven different concurrent workshops. Two of the workshops provided in-depth information about technology and music education, and two others focused on deaf-blind children and blind multiply handicapped children. The "Blind and Multiply Handicapped" workshop featured displays and demonstrations of the equipment and materials developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen. One lucky winner went home with one of her "Little Rooms" donated by Colleen Austin of Lilliput, L.L.C. Inc. The "Social Skills and Blindness" workshop was back again this year by popular demand. Friendships and the social skills required to get and keep them are, as we all know, among the essentials of a happy life. Literacy is also fundamental to a productive life in a modern society. The last two workshops, "The Bridge to Braille: Braille at Home and in the Classroom" and "How to Organize a Braille Storybook Hour" focused on this vital skill.
While the adults were engrossed in their activities, the kids were pursuing their own style of fun and learning. About sixty children ages 4 to 12, chaperoned by blind and sighted volunteer members of the National Federation of the Blind, went on a field trip to a nearby Children's Museum. A television news crew was on hand to film parts of this adventure for a news story about the NFB Convention.
Older adolescents, those 13 and up, had the opportunity to enroll in a Red Cross Baby-sitting Course. Twenty-three teens, more than half of whom were blind, had eagerly signed up for the course.
Carla McQuillian, who is the blind owner and operator of a Montessori pre-school program, taught the class in conjunction with local Red Cross staff. The course did a great deal to build self-confidence in the fifteen blind teens, and it helped forge friendships among all the youth who took part. The kids also had the chance to get both volunteer and paid experience as child-care providers throughout the week. Twenty of the teens volunteered as helpers at NFB Camp and many were hired by parents who needed sitters at different times throughout the convention week.
The baby-sitting course was followed by a dance workshop led by a blind dance teacher, Chyvonne Blanchard. There was no need to ask the kids if they had a good timethe laughs and squeals heard above the shuffle of feet and the boisterous music of the Macarana said it all.
But that wasn't the end of the activities for the day. In the evening Mildred Rivera, a former camp counselor and a civil rights attorney by profession, organized an evening of teen activities, including a treasure hunt designed to help youth learn about the hotel and get to know other teens in New Orleans for the convention.
Meanwhile, parents and their younger children enjoyed a relaxing evening with hot dogs and root beer at the Family Hospitality night sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Carolyn Sasser, president of the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Louisiana, was a gracious hostess to the event. Her daughter, Angela (who is blind) and some of Angela's friends provided entertainmentsinging accompanied by guitarsfor the group.
The following morning, Monday, June 30, the NOPBC sponsored two "Cane Walks" conducted by Pediatric O&M specialist, Joe Cutter; Arlene Hill, a blind cane travel instructor from the Louisiana Center for the Blind; and other selected blind volunteers from the NFB. About 30 children in each group, plus parents and other observers, were introduced to the fundamentals of cane use. Escalators, elevators, steps, carpets, tile, big rooms, little rooms, fountains, quiet nooks, and busy corridors created an exciting learning environmentone that was further enhanced by the camaraderie of experienced and inexperienced cane users working out travel problems together.
Plenty of time was left by the end of the one-hour Cane Walk for parents and children to register for the NFB Convention, then hit the exhibit hall to take in all the latest in technology and aids and appliances for the blind. Those who were interested in becoming more informed about blindness issues also had the opportunity to observe the Resolutions Committee debate the 18 resolutions brought before it, or to attend one or more of the 10 seminars and meetings scheduled that afternoon. NOPBC also sponsored a Youth Room from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. This space gave teens a place to "hang out" and the opportunity to meet other teens.
Tuesday afternoon, following the NFB Board of Director's open meeting, the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children conducted its Annual Business Meeting and program from 1:00 to 5:00. As usual, the keynote speech was given by this year's winner of the Educator of Blind Children Award. This year's recipient, Mrs. Deborah Prost, is especially inspirational. A blind teacher of blind children, she shared her philosophy, experience, and unique perspective with an appreciative audience. Her speech is also in this issue.
The program included an exciting presentation by Sensory Safari volunteers Lloyd Dubuisson and Ray Stroup about their new Trophy Mount Donation Program (see article elsewhere in this issue about this program). A large part of the meeting was dedicated to reports from our state organizations of Parents of Blind Children. These reports, which brimmed with enthusiasm, creativity, and vitality, are reprinted in this issue.
We also had a light side to our meeting when Daniel Lamones, a blind children's performer, showed up for a "surprise" break. He soon had us up on our feet to sing, clap, stomp, and Thuupt' (you had to be there) to some of his delightful tunes. Door prizes donated by the Maryland Organization of Parents of Blind Children added to the fun.
This year's meeting was also the occasion to announce and plug two new NOPBC products: a video, "White Canes for Blind Kids," produced by member Myra Lesser; and the book The Bridge to Braille, by NOPBC vice-president Carol Castellano and her daughter's Braille teacher, Dawn Kosman. Information about how to obtain these great new products is also printed in this issue. The meeting concluded with elections. The officers and board members for the coming 1997-1998 year are: President, Barbara Cheadle (Maryland); First Vice President, Ruby Ryles, (Louisiana); Second Vice President, Carol Castellano (New Jersey); Treasurer, Julie Hunter (Colorado);
Secretary, Martin Greiser (Montana); and Board Members: Pat Jones (Tennessee), John Salka (New York), Crystal McClain (Ohio), and Carolyn Sasser (Louisiana).
Tuesday evening (for those who weren't ready to hit the sack early) offered 10 meetings, workshops, receptions, and even a play written by Jerry Whittle and performed by the Louisiana Center for the Blind Players. Proceeds from the "Growing Up in Tennessee" (the play was based on the childhood of Kenneth Jernigan) went toward supporting the Louisiana summer training program for blind children.
Wednesday morning everything was in place for the opening of the first general session of the 1997 Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind. With a record-breaking registration of 3,346, the hall was crammed with just about every chair the Fire Marshal would allow in the space we had. The Louisiana affiliate welcomed the delegates with a Dixieland band which wove among the crowd playing a medley of tunes including "When the Saints Go Marching In." The band was followed by members of the Louisiana delegation dressed Mardi Gras style, throwing beads and urging folks to dance. After the band departed, the Convention got down to business. Most sobering was the announcement that Disney had decided to resurrect the old half-blind cartoon character, Mr. Magoo, in a live-action film. The Convention overwhelmingly voted to urge Disney to reverse their plans and not bring back this stumbling, bumbling character which had caused so many blind and partially blind children to suffer the taunts and jeers of classmates calling them "stupid Magoo."
That evening, the NOPBC conducted a three hour IEP workshop. One of the earliest and most popular programs sponsored by the NOPBC, this year's workshop topped them all. Presenters at the workshop were: NOPBC parent advocates Lisa Mattioli (Pennsylvania) and Loretta White (Maryland); Doris Willoughby, author of the Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired; and Ron Gardner, Legal Director with the Disability Law Center in Salt Lake City, Utah (Ron is also blind and hearing-impaired). Topics included: "Overview of the IEP Process," "Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Section 504 Complaints: An Alternative to Due Process Complaints," "Tips for Parent Advocates," and "Implications of the Amended and Re-authorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)." The parents who come to this workshop year after year testify that it keeps getting better and better, and this year was the best yet.
Thursday afternoon, following another top-notch general session of the NFB Convention, parents had the option of a free afternoon of organized tours or dropping in on the open-ended "Kids and Canes" discussion group conducted by Joe Cutter, Pediatric Orientation and Mobility Specialist from New Jersey. About 35 parents and professionals skipped the tours and came to the workshop to learn more about encouraging independent movement in their children and students.
Although this session was the last official activity sponsored by the NOPBC at the NFB Convention, it was by no means the last opportunity for parents to learn, network, and have fun. For example, one of the items on the agenda for that evening was a showing of the movie, Jurassic Park, by Descriptive Video Services (DVS). Then, later in the evening, parents and older students could have fun helping the National Association of Blind Students raise funds at their annual Monte Carlo Night.
The general session on Friday focused on technology, the blind in other nations, and library for the blind services. Blind professionals also gave a fascinating account of their experiences in such diverse fields as medicine, law, and child care. Friday's events concluded with the annual banquet, often regarded by many as the highlight of NFB Conventions. Fine food, good company, rousing songs, impressive award presentationsincluding scholarships awarded to 26 outstanding blind college studentsand an inspirational address by Dr. Kenneth Jernigan, President Emeritus of the NFB, characterized the 1997 annual banquet of the National Federation of the Blind.
The Convention wrapped up on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. after a whirlwind day of conducting the final business of the organization--debating resolutions, listening to reports, and setting goals for the coming year.
And that's what happened (well, a sampling of what happened) at the 1997 NFB Convention. But a summation of events tells us little of what the event means emotionally to parents and their blind children. Comments overheard at the convention, the results of workshop surveys, the steady rise in the number of families who attend the Convention, and the occassional letter give a glimpse of what parents think and feel about this experience. It only seems appropriate, therefore, to end this report with the words of a parent who attended the convention for the first time this year. Here is what Cathy Helms of Alabama says about what the 1997 NFB Convention meant to her family:
July 14, 1997
Dear Ms. Cheadle,
I was so glad to have the opportunity to meet you in person at this year's National Federation of the Blind Convention in New Orleans. This was our first convention or opportunity to meet with a group of parents and [blind] adults that shared the same interest and attitudes about blindness.
Our oldest son, Jared, who is seven, was born with bilateral retinoblastoma. Through many treatments and doctor's appointments the issue of blindness often got ignored or put off till some other time. I'm glad to be able to share with you that our ability to attend this year's NFB Convention has made a world of difference in our family. Jared gained a great enthusiasm for Braille and cane travel, and he learned a respect for blindness. Not that he hasn't been learning Braille all along, but when you meet people who actually are "in your shoes" and they tell you how much Braille has meant to themor even more persuasive to Jared, how much they wish they had the opportunity to learn Braille as a childit becomes real and clear.
My husband and I also enjoyed the opportunity to ask lots of
questions and listen to advice from the many other parents and professionals at the . I have no doubt that attending this year's NFB Convention has had a positive effect on Jared and our family. Next year I hope to attend again and bring the grandparents, too!
Thank you for your help and for your part in a great parent/child convention.
Sincerely, Cathy Helms
Around the Block, to the Mall, and Beyond
Editor's Note: At the seminar for parents and educators of blind children sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children at the 1997 NFB Convention in New Orleans, one of the most delightful and inspiring presentations was a panel of blind youngsters talking about their experiences in learning to be independent. Each presenter prepared and read remarks in Braille. It was clear that all of these students are growing up understanding and living by Federation philosophy. The first speaker was Cody Greiser (age 10), whose father Marty is Secretary on the NOPBC board. Kyle Neddo (age 7) is the son of Dawn Neddo, the President of the Michigan parents division. Amanda Jones (age 10) is the granddaughter of Pat Jones, President of the Tennessee Valley parents division. And Bret Boyer graduated from high school last January. This is what each student said:
CODY GREISER: Hello, everyone. My name is Cody Greiser. I am ten years old and live in Polson, Montana. Next year I will be in the fifth grade. My Dad says I was two-and-a-half when I got my first cane, but I really don't remember that. My O&M teacher comes once a month to our school, where he shows me how to follow sidewalks and go around the block and stuff like that. Mrs. Colburn and I practice those things when he is not there.
I don't use a cane in my house or my Dad's house or my Grandma's house or in the classroom, but I do just about everywhere else. If I don't have my cane with me, I have to be very careful. Sometimes I get so excited about recess I leave the room without it. Then I think, "Oh my cane," and go back and get it. If I lay my cane down on the playground, sometimes kids take it, but I always get it back.
When I get in the car, I put my cane crosswise on the floor or between the seat and door. Once, when I went to my Dad's, I forgot my cane and had to use a collapsible one he had. I didn't like it because when it collapses, it feels like you're going to step into a hole. I have been to lots of conventions, and I like Detroit the best because everything wasn't carpeted, and they had lots of escalators. Escalators are really neat, but I hate the moving sidewalks in airports because the end comes when you are not ready.
I like going up in the mountains where I can climb on steep
hillsides and throw rocks off cliffs. I like the way they bounce
all the way to the bottom. I have been skiing but really don't like
it because you can't use your cane. Somebody should invent a ski
When I walk down the railroad tracks with my Dad back to the
slew and the river, I throw rocks on both sides to see what's over
there. No matter where I go, I sometimes run into things. If I hit
something really, really hard, the first thing I do is check to see
if I'm bleeding. I've had bruises, bumps, and stitches, but that's
the way it goes because I don't want to sit around. Thanks for
KYLE NEDDO: My name is Kyle Neddo, and I got my first cane when I
was three years old. I like to use my cane because I can take my
time looking at things and go where I want to go. Sometimes people
at school say I take too long. They want to drag me along, but they
don't know that I can do it myself. Some of my friends at goalball
don't use a cane, and they have their mom or someone guiding them
around. I feel good being independent using my cane.
My cane helps me play games where we chase each other, keeping the ball away. I can play just like sighted kids when I use my cane. My friends think that I have a special power. Really, I just learned to use my ears and my cane together from my friend Allen Harris.
[Editor's note: Allen Harris is blind also and is the state president of the NFB affiliate in Michigan.]
AMANDA JONES: Hello. My name is Amanda Jones. I would like to tell you about a time when I was selling things for school. I was walking down the street with my cane, and a dog started barking at my sister April and me. We were scared of the dogs, so we started running back up the hill. Another thing happened to me when I was selling candy for the girls' choir. My neighbor Jimmy let me in, and my grandma started looking for us. When she finally found us, we didn't want to go home. Last year I was almost late for the bus. I had to fly up the hill. I almost fell on my nose. I beat my sister for once. April was running behind me, and her backpack was on one shoulder.
The last thing I wanted to talk about was when I tried out for track and cross country. I have tried out for both of them each year ever since fourth grade. What I want to tell you about is when I ran the 100-meter run. I did better last year than I did in fourth grade. I made twenty-two seconds last year and forty-two seconds the year before. I also tried out for the 200-meter run. My sister and I made the same score, which was sixty-seven seconds. Other things I tried out for were shot put, running jump, and the 400-meter run, all of which I am not good at. Right now I am learning to go around in my school because I will have to change classes every day. I am in the band, playing the clarinet.
Have a nice day. I will be going to the Baby-sitting Course, now.
BRET BOYER: Good morning, everybody. I'm here today to talk about my independent travel experiences. So let's start with my first independent journey. I was three years old and was determined to mail a letter. I decided that I would go to the mailbox that I thought was at the corner of the block. I set out to find it. Keep in mind that this was before I had ever heard of a caneI was introduced to a cane when I was five. Anyway, I continued to walk down the block, looking for the mailbox, which I did not find. As all little kids do, I lost concentration and found myself stumbling around and crying in driveways and yards. Finally a lady found me and brought me home. To this day I've never found that mailbox.
A few years later I was introduced to the cane but would only use it when my mobility teacher came. My first real experience of independence was in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the National Convention in 1992. I had my NFB cane, and I went cruisin' around that hotel. I didn't go to general sessions much. I remember the feeling that I could go anywhere and do anything. I explored every room in that hotel. If I found stairs, I went with them. If I found a door, I went inside. But I don't think the room service employees liked it much when I found myself in the room service kitchen elevator.
Like I said, that was one of my turning points. From then on I would use my cane in school and going to classes. But at that point I lived in a small town in New Jersey. I was independent, but not fully. I would still use a sighted guide whenever I could. I never really ventured out on my own.
I went to the conventions after North Carolina, and in Detroit I met a student who was at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB). He told me about a program that the CCB offers high school students in the summer time. I went through the program, which gave me my independence, I believelearning how to clean, shop, cook, and travel almost anywhere in Denver, Colorado, on my own. I liked Colorado so much I decided to move there. I finished high school and graduated in January of this year. Then I became a full-time student at the Colorado Center, which I am still today. This has given me the complete independence that I have earned. Learning how to take care of an apartment, manage it, and just do everything on your own is a great experience.
Before I go, I want to share one more travel experience with you. During the summer program of 1996, I worked for the American Red Cross the last four weeks of the program. One day after work I was so tired that I caught my bus and fell asleep. I was supposed to catch another bus and join the other students to go home. But, as I said, I fell asleep. I woke up, and I was on the bus that everyone else from CCB had caught home. It turned out that the one bus I had taken from work was the bus I needed to take to go home. Pretty amazing! I would like to thank everybody, and I hope everyone has a great convention.
"What's All the Fuss about Mr. Magoo?"
by Julie Hunter
Reprinted from POBC News and Views, the newsletter of the Colorado Parents of Blind Children.
From=20the Editor: By far one of the most painful tasks of a parent of a blind child is that of trying to help the child cope with othersespecially other children'sattitudes about their blindness. There isn't a blind childincluding and sometimes especially those with partial visionwho hasn't experienced some level of teasing about their eyes and vision. Sometimes it is relatively mild, arising out of ignorance and thoughtlessness. But it can too often turn into painfully cruel teasing and taunting.
But whether thoughtless, or deliberately cruel, the potential for
damage to a child's developing self-esteem is very real, and it's
a rare parent indeed who doesn't agonize with and for the child
whennot if, but whensuch incidents occur.
Every parent who has gone through this, therefore, should be concerned about the following report on Disney's plan to revive an old partially blind cartoon character, Mr. Magoo. Here's what Julie Hunter, the parent of a blind daughter and a leader in the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children has to say about the damage this can do:
Have you seen the headlines? "Advocates For the Blind Blast Mr. Magoo Push", reads an article printed recently in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, the National Federation of the Blind is protesting the Christmas season release of a Disney movie resurrecting the character of Mr. Magoo. Many of you will remember the cartoon character conceived by Disney animators in the 1950's. Mr. Magoo was a nasty, stubborn old man whose personality was based loosely upon that of W. C. Fields. However, the humor in the cartoon episodes was primarily derived from situations involving Mr. Magoo's extreme myopia. For instance, in one cartoon feature, "Ragtime Beat", Mr. Magoo mistakes a bear for his nephew, Waldo, and tells the bear to "Get yourself a new coat. You're disgraceful!" In typical fashion, Mr. Magoo makes ridiculous assumptions based on what little he sees as he fumbles through life.
Walt Disney Studios recently finished filming the non-animated Mr. Magoo movie starring Leslie Nielsen, and the National Federation of the Blind is up in arms. There is concern that the general public will see Mr. Magoo's buffoonery as the norm for severely nearsighted people. Will the stupid antics of this old sour-puss translate into laughter on the playground when a child with low vision bumps into something? Will negative assumptions be made about a blind person's competence in traveling? Some say that sensitivities are running too high and that we all need to be able to laugh at ourselves. Indeed, it is likely that most blind and visually impaired people have one or more stories to tell about mix-ups or misunderstandings that have happened to them due to their blindness about which they have later laughed. In fact, I would venture to say that many of us, blind or sighted have at least started to say "Excuse me" to an inanimate object bumped from behind. But, we maintain our dignity and self-respect by choosing when, where, and to whom we reveal our foibles. Laughing at ourselves is healthy, but creating jokes from a stereotype can be hurtful. In the early days of television, radio, and movies prejudices against racial, ethnic and other minority groups was common. The "drunken Indian," the "thieving Mexican," and the "lazy black man" appeared in cartoons and films for decades until those groups made it clear through political clout and consumer influence that the blatant stereotyping had to stop. Now the blind and their supporters must do the same.
Mr. Magoo is a severely visually impaired man who reveals no blindness adaptive skills. He is not representative of the blind population. Although on one level the audience understands that he is a caricature, on a deeper level Mr. Magoo's antics may foster doubts about a blind person's ability to function independently, and that is no laughing matter.
Parents: The True Teachers
by Deborah Prost
Editor'Note: The following presentation was made on Tuesday, July 1, 1997, at the Annual Meeting of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Mrs. Deborah Prost, this year's winner of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award, is a blind woman who has taught blind children for 17 years. The quality of the speech reprinted below is ample demonstration of why she was selected this year's award winner. Here is what Mrs. Prost has to say about teaching blind children:
It is a real honor for me to have received the 1997 Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award because I know that the National Federation of the Blind wants the best for blind children, and therefore has high standards and expectations for their teachers. I will continue doing all I can to meet these standards and expectations for the good of my students. I thank the Federation again for the award. I also thank God for the ability to find creative ways to teach my students the skills of blindness and for the love He gives me for each student as a unique individual.
First, I want to let each of you know how important your role is as a parent in your child's life. You have a special ability to help your child become independent and successful that no one else possesses. You know your child better than anyone. There are areas in which you can teach your child far more effectively than I, or any teacher. I would like to discuss some of these, as well as ways in which we as parents and teachers must work together so that blind children can really succeed in life rather than just "get by."
Let me describe the ways in which my parents and my grandmother were the key positive influences for me as a child. These will illustrate areas where you can be the main influence in your child's life. As parents, you don't need any degrees or professional skills. You just need common sense and the qualities of real interest in, involvement with, and, most of all, love for your child.
When I was a child, my mother and grandmother stressed the importance of good grooming and a neat personal appearance. They expected no less from me in these areas than they would have if I had been sighted. If I looked unkempt or anything was amiss with my grooming or dress, they would let me know. Sometimes I would resent this, but now I'm thankful that they expected the best from me. They made shopping for clothes fun. They let me know what kinds of clothes were in style, what colors looked good on me, and what clothes and accessories went well together. It was not assumed that, because I was blind, I would be uninterested in color and style. They did not tell me to buy all white blouses or solid colors because it would be easier to match outfits. Instead, they both came up with ways for me to identify and match clothing. For example, my mother bought tags, each of which had a string on the end. I would (and still do) write a description of a particular outfit on one of the tags, tie it to a hanger, and use that hanger for the particular skirt and blouse, pants and top, or dress. My grandmother would sew buttons or tags that I had Brailled inside blouses or sweaters that were alike except for color. My mother and grandmother would always tell me all of the colors in a particular outfit, and I would (and still do) find features of each outfit that are easily identified by touch. I remember what color that outfit is and identify it by its particular tactile features.
As a child, my parents didn't allow me to develop habits that would set me apart from my sighted friends. For example, I would put my fingers in my eyes. My parents didn't let me get by with this just because I was blind. When I would do this, my mother would quietly knock on a table or other surface nearby as a signal to me. When I started rocking back and forth, she told me that this was not normal, did not look good, and that other children didn't do it. I immediately stopped. This approach may sound cruel to some people, but to me, love must sometimes be tough. You are helping your child more by being honest with him or her. I really appreciated my parents' approach to such habits when I was in graduate school and attended a get-together with some friends on a Saturday night. We were discussing mainstreaming, and a blind man who was there said, "Blind people are no different from anybody else, and blind children should be mainstreamed." Since I was standing beside him, I knew that he was rocking back and forth during that whole conversation.
My parents allowed me to simply be a kid. Our family would go to the beach every summer where my grandparents had a cottage. My parents taught me the basics of swimming, and arranged for me to have lessons. I loved swimming in the ocean, and a friend and I would have contests to see who could float the longest and who could go out deeper into the ocean.
I participated in all family activities, including chores. It is important that you as parents teach your blind child to do household chores just as you would teach your sighted child.
My parents didn't let me get away with inappropriate behavior, but disciplined me when necessary just as they did my brothers. For example, I once was quite upset when my mother forbade me to use the telephone for several days, and ordered me to call one of her friends and apologize for making a crank call to her house at four o'clock in the morning. It just didn't seem fair that my friend who was making crank calls with me could still use the telephone and didn't have to call anyone and apologize.
Good grooming and personal appearance, lack of inappropriate habits, and full participation in every aspect of family life are areas in which you, as a parent, are your child's real teacher. They are just as important as the skills your child gains in school.
In order for your child to learn the alternative techniques for successful living as a blind person, you also have an important role. You must work with teachers and, if necessary, the school administration to ensure that your child receives this instruction. These techniques include Braille, cane travel, keyboarding, and use of appropriate computer technology.
As a parent, you are a full-fledged participant by law in your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). This means that you have ultimate control of the skills your child will or will not be taught. In order to take this control, you must know what skills will ultimately help your child throughout life, not just during the school years. When deciding whether or not your child needs specific alternative techniques of blindness, you must consider three important factors:
First, you must think about what skills will promote long-term independence for your child. For example, your child may be able to read print now, but have a deteriorating eye condition. Your child may be able to read print for very short periods of time, and then his or her eyes may tire. In both of these situations, the child will benefit from instruction in Braille. It is better for the child with deteriorating vision to learn Braille so that no matter what happens, he or she will be able to read. Some teachers of the visually impaired disagree with this approach, saying that it is better to wait until the child is totally blind and to concentrate now on use of residual vision as much as possible. I feel that there is a problem with this view. It would be more traumatic for the child to not be able to read at all for a while after becoming totally blind. There would be times of discouragement and frustration that could be avoided by learning Braille first. After becoming totally blind, the person who had previously learned Braille, even as a secondary reading medium, would make an easier adjustment from reading print to reading Braille, without going through a time of not being able to read anything. The child who can read print for short time periods may be able to do quite well in the early grades with regular and/or large print, but will have difficulty when required to complete long reading assignments in late elementary, middle, and high school. The child in this scenario who learns Braille will have the choice to use Braille or print, depending on task requirements. Braille could be used for reading novels and notes for oral book reports, while print could be used for reading labels and mail.
The second important factor is practicality. The child who can read print for short time periods could benefit from a closed circuit TV. However, this aid is not portable. Will the child have one at home and one at school? What happens to the child in middle or high school who is required to travel throughout the school building to change classes each day? It seems that Braille is an important part of the solution to this problem.
The third factor you must consider is that the skills your child learns must enable him or her to function most efficiently and to meet the same standards as other children of the same age and in the same grade. Your child must have all the tools necessary to work on an equal level with sighted peers. A child who writes all work in print by hand, uses print and low vision aids alone for reading, takes twice as long to complete work as sighted students, and does not enjoy reading for pleasure because reading is tiring this child is definitely not working on an equal level with sighted classmates. A child who can get around independently only during the day or only with a certain type of lighting is not functioning on an equal level with sighted peers.
In summary, you as a parent have the most important role in your child's life. You can play a major part in laying the groundwork for him or her to become a contributing member of society. Ideally, the teacher of blind children will work with you in laying this groundwork by teaching the alternative techniques of blindness.
You have the ultimate authority in terms of what instruction your child receives. In order to take this authority, you must make sure that this instruction promotes long-term independence, is practical, and enables your child to compete on terms of equality with sighted peers.
You must also be knowledgeable about the IEP process, and always be an active participant in your child's IEP. To obtain the knowledge you need, you have an excellent resource in the National Federation of the Blind.
We can all work together in this organization to help blind children obtain the skills necessary for real success in life.
NOPBC 1997 Annual Meeting
NOPBC Officers and Board
President: Barbara Cheadle (Maryland)
First Vice President: Ruby Ryles (Louisiana)
Second Vice President: Carol Castellano (New Jersey)
Secretary: Martin Greiser (Montana)
Treasurer: Julie Hunter (Colorado)
Board Positions: John Salka (New York)
Pat Jones (Tennessee)
Carolyn Sasser (Louisiana)
Crystal McClain (Ohio)
It's so tempting to try and find a different title for the NOPBC Annual Meeting. "Annual Meeting" sounds so stuffy and dull, and that simply doesn't fit the exciting, fast-paced, information-packed, fun-filled, and emotion-charged reality of NOPBC meetings.
Sure, sure, you think. Informative, maybe, but exciting? Fast-paced? Fun!? That's rightthe 1997 Annual Meeting was all that, and here's the report to prove it!
Let's begin with fast-paced. In a little over four hours we packed in:
* a key-note presentation by Deborah Prost, the 1997 Teacher of Blind Children Award winner (see page 13);
* guest speakers from Safari International regarding their hands-on wildlife Sensory Safari program (see page 28);
* a presentation about our new NOPBC publication, The Bridge to Braille;
* a viewing of the new NFB video, "White Canes for Blind Kids";
* reports from about 30 NOPBC committees, networks, and state parents divisions (see state reports in this issue);
* a report on the 1996-1997 Braille Readers are Leaders Contest (see page 54);
* greetings and a report from the newly organized Canadian parents organization;
* a report on the year's activitiesthe Parent's Seminar in Washington D.C., the Southeast Parent Leadership Conference at the Rocky Bottom Camp of the Blind in South Carolina, and the trips made by President Cheadle to revitalize old, and organize new, parent chapters; and, of course,
* a business meeting complete with elections.
Although we had a tight agenda, we found time to draw for numerous door prizes (such as children's books and baby quilts donated by the Maryland Parents of Blind Children) throughout the afternoon. The membership was also treated to a surprise "bootie break" led by Daniel Lemons of "Blind Ambition." This children's musician and entertainer (who also happens to be blind) soon had us standing up, singing, stomping, clapping, and making some other most peculiar noises. After a lively 10 minutes of song and laughter, we returned to the business of the day refreshed and a little less numb you-know-where.
The meeting concluded with a report from the nominating committee and elections. The nominating committee members were:
Chairman, Marty Greiser (Montana), Loretta White (Maryland), and Myra Lesser (Pennsylvania). Those elected to the NOPBC board for one-year terms were: John Salka (New York), Pat Jones (Tennessee), Carolyn Sasser (Louisiana), and Crystal McClain (Ohio).
Appreciation was expressed for the hard work and creative leadership of the two members going off the board this year: Joe Larson (Nebraska) and Barbara Freeman (Washington).
It would be hard to pick one highlight of the meeting. All of the presentations were excellent, and all provided wonderful information. But if I had to choose, I think I would choose the state parent division reports. It was truely exciting to hear about the many creative projects and programs implemented by our state level parent chapters. About half of those reports are reprinted in this article, and others will appear in later issues. Please read them. The reports demonstrate how much can be accomplished when parents of blind children join in partnership with the organized blindthe National Federation of the Blindto bring about equal opportunity and integration for blind children throughout the nation.
Here are the division reports from California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virgina: California Parents of Blind Children
Report by Shirley Baillif, President
California is a large state. This is both a blessing and a curse. We have the potential for a large membership but the many miles separating us make getting together for meetings and/or seminars quite difficult. Our annual meeting is held during our NFB of California state convention, which is held alternately between northern and southern California to help accommodate the members. Consequently, most of our contacts are through networking. As president, I have some exciting and productive experiences through this mediasuch as reassuring heartbroken discouraged parents and helping to set the groundwork for successful IEP meetings.
In addition to our annual meeting we had two other successful events this year. Our vice-president, Donna Sexton, conducted a seminar for young girls in Northern California. The girls were given instructions and tips concerning make-up, skin care, and exercise. The highlight, however, was the rap session that followed. The outstanding concern was learning to shop when first leaving home (for college or a job) and not having mother along to help.
In southern California, we held our annual Halloween Party. This started three or four years ago with our local parents of blind children (POBC) support group. It has now extended to include children and adults of my family and that of our neighbors as well as POBC families and friends. This has been a great learning experience for both the blind and the sighted.
I want to thank our vice-president, Donna Sexton, who took over late last summer, when ill health besieged yours truly. But with renewed health comes renewed spirits, and we are making plans for a better tomorrow.
Colorado Parents of Blind Children
Report by Julie Hunter, President
Our annual meeting and elections were held November 9, 1996.
The following officers were elected:
Julie Hunter, President
Retta Masloff, Vice President
Audrey Smith, Secretary
Bob Hunter, Treasurer
Raul Gallegos, Board Member
Caressa Gallegos, Board Member
Community outreach is, I believe, very important. To achieve this goal this past year, we sent parent representatives to:
--an AER (the professional organization for teachers and rehabilitation counselors of the blind) meeting on vision stimulation,
--a low vision/literacy conference,
--and a community resource program sponsored by the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind.
We also put together and mailed out numerous information packets to families of blind children around the state, encouraged new parents over the phone, and used other networking techniques and referrals to assist Colorado parents of blind children.
Fund raising this year went quite well. We sold entertainment coupon books, held a mail solicitation, and organized a garage sale. Our efforts resulted in a profit which enabled us to assist one family to come to the NFB National Convention this year.
Regarding our other programs, our Cane Exchange Program continues to be strong. We had four participants in the Braille-By-Mail Program. This is a Braille correspondence course which I teach to members who want to learn Braille [Julie is a certified Braille Transcriber]. Our newsletter, News and Views covers all of our activities and is growing in popularity. It is published approximately four times a year.
The Colorado Center for the Blind and the Colorado Parents of Blind Children joined efforts in establishing a summer day camp program for youth between 8 and 12 years old. Our grant writing has been successful, and the first day camp will be conducted later this summer. We also have a new parent focus group which has a good program and a new brochure which we designed and produced.
Maryland Parents of Blind Children
Report by Christine Highlander
In the last year, educational advocacy has been a priority for the Maryland Organization of Parents of Blind Children. In addition to working individually with families from one end of the state to the other, the Federation was instrumental in getting the Maryland State Department of Education to begin Brailling the Maryland State Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP), thereby allowing Braille users to participate. This is very exciting because the MSPAP is all about accountability for the education of children in Maryland. Finally, we are on the way to getting school districts to accept responsibility for the education of our blind children.
Our Cane Bank continues to thrive. We placed canes with children at more than half of our activities. Our Braille Storybook Hour which is held at the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is now in its fourth year. It has been a very successful activity in bringing together blind children and their families with blind adult and teen role models. It has also resulted in more than fifty new books being added to the children's collection at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
In May, the Parent Division hosted a Braille Readers are Leaders Awards Celebration to honor the Maryland participants in the nationwide National Federation of the Blind contest. The children received awards from both the NFB and the Friends of the Library for the Blind.
Last August we extended our activities to include a week-long day camp for children in grades 1-5. This was done in partnership with Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM). The program, which utilized blind counselors, provided extended time periods for blind children to be taught by, and to socialize with, blind role models and blind peers. We will have camp again this summer, and by request from the teens, we will add a four-day youth retreat at a KOA campground for blind teens.
The Parents Division has also been involved in a service learning program for regular middle and high school sighted students. A program to Braille and adapt card and board games has been in operation for two years. Blind adults teach the students to Braille the games with a slate and stylus, and provide training in the awareness of blindness issues. This program meets state board of education criteria for the required high school credit in service learning.
At our NFB state convention we held a workshop on physical education and recreation, and a Halloween costume party for the kids. We also sponsored a number of other social activities for blind children and their families throughout the year. These have included a Christmas party, a family picnic, and a specially-designed trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
Our fund raising hasn't been as good as some years, but we still raised enough through our annual baked goods auction, a quilt raffle (handmade by one of our parents, Danielle Becker), and grant writing to support all of our projects plus help pay some of the transportation cost for parents and blind teens to come to New Orleans this year for the NFB National Convention.
Michigan Parents of Blind Children
Report by Dawn Neddo, President
The POBC of Michigan has been extremely busy. We just finished another successful school year of tutoring. Our tutoring program runs from October through June and meets twice a month. Our adult blind NFB members tutor our children on subjects such as Braille, Nemeth math, cane travel, Braille music code, social skills, and goalball. We end each season with a fun family picnic where everyone's favorite game is a water balloon fight. We all have a great time, and we've grown into an NFB family.
We hold our parents support group meetings during the tutoring sessions. This has worked out well. We have speakers, videos, or just conversations sharing concerns and helping each other with our IEP's.
During the summer months we sponsor a family day camp. Our dates this year will be August 11 through 15, 1997. We have day trips planned for a water park/wave pool, a zoo visit, a tour of a sports arena, a nature trail walk, and a hands-on tour of a post office. In this program blind children and their families come together with blind adult role models from the NFB. The activities also give the children an opportunity to use the blindness skills they've learned throughout the year.
In October we are planning a parents seminar in conjunction with our NFB state convention.
A special project that we are hoping will be successful this year is our "Blind Children's Right to Read Act" (Braille Literacy Bill). This September we parents will be at our state capitol advocating for our children's right to read.
Our fund-raising efforts were so successful this year that we were able to fund all the programs above plus provide a bus to bring parents and other NFB members to the National Convention herein New Orleans.
Minnesota Parents of Bind Children
Report by Barbara Schultz, President
The major thrust for our activities this year came out of the responses we received to a questionnaire we developed and sent out to our mailing list. (I have extra copies in case the format would be helpful to anyone.) The information received was valuable in determining needs and will continue to help us focus our energy where parents want it.
We sent our Braille Readers Are Leaders contest forms to anyone who expressed an interest and promoted it in our new Parents' column in the NFB of Minnesota newsletter. We had three Minnesota participants last year and are hoping to hear there were more this year. We have requested and received gift certificates to send to all who participated in the contest.
We held our first fund raiser in May at a local Barnes and Noble bookstore. We set up a display of NFB literature and Braille/print children's books in the store. We also gave away Braille alphabet cards and had blind children there Brailling people's names for them on their Braillers. The store gave us a percentage of its sales for the two hours that we were in the store. The success of this, beyond the funds raised, we hope is in increased awareness of the importance of Braille and the abilities of our blind children.
We have the beginnings of a mentoring program, pairing blind children with blind adults. This is a slowly developing program which we hope will grow into positive support and relationships for all participants.
We coordinated with the Shriners on an audio described performance of the Shrine Circus. A total of 45 people attended, including 15 blind children, 2 blind adults, and their families. Everyone enjoyed the experience.
We have several things in process for the coming year including a Minnesota Resource Guide for parents of blind children, a play group for preschool blind children, and a public service announcement for Radio Talking Book.
Although we are excited about these programs, I feel our most important function is the individual contact with parents, answering questions, supporting each other, and sharing resources. The time I spend one-to-one with another parent is always the time when I learn the most and find I am able to share the most of what I have learned. The growth of our organization here in Minnesota has been frustratingly slow at times, but the support I can give to and receive from other parents is what makes our organization worthwhile.
Missouri Parents of Blind Children
Report by T.J. Dixon, President
On April 12, 1997, the Missouri chapter of the POBC was officially reorganized at the state convention of the Missouri National Federation of the Blind. The following officers were elected: President, T. J. Dixon; Vice President, Crystal Attaway;
Treasurer, Lawrence Luck; Secretary, Susan Trotter; and Board Member, Brian Attaway. A Charter of Affiliation was presented by Gary Wunder, President, NFB of Missouri and Julie Hunter, Treasurer, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Thus far the response to the organization has been outstanding. We already have between 30 and 40 members.
My wife, Kathy Watts Dixon, is organizing and chairing our new white cane exchange program. Kathy is the former President of the Arkansas POBC and a former member of the National NOPBC Board. We have already raised funds to help get the project started.
Speaking of fund raising, we have one in the works! The town where I live (Liberty) has an annual Fall Festival. I have permission to organize an arm wrestling tournament, proceeds to go to the Missouri POBC, at the festival this year. I am a professional arm wrestler, and you would be amazed at how supportive arm wrestlers can be for a good cause.
On August 30, 1997, we will have our first meeting and family activity at the Bass Pro Museum in Springfield. Bass Pro has live fish in aquariums and thousands of different species of stuffed fish and animals. The museum has agreed to give us a meeting room and a guided tour of the museum, allowing the children to touch many different animals and displays. All of this will be free of charge. We are not sure about lunch yet. They have been so nice I hate to ask them if I can drop a fishing line into one of the aquariums.
We are also working on getting school districts to change policies that have been harmful to blind kids. Melissa McCann is a 14 year old who currently lives in Boliver. Melissa, totally blind from birth, grew up and lived in Springfield, Missouri, for the first 12 years of her life. When Melissa was old enough to start school, Danny and Candy decided they wanted their daughter to go to public school rather than the school for the blind. But when Melissa started school her parents were very disappointed to hear from the professionals that Melissa was incapable of learning to read or write and would have to be in a class with mentally handicapped children. Danny and Candy McCann were always concerned about this, considering how intelligent their little girl seemed at home. When Melissa was 12 they moved her to the small town of Boliver. Melissa's special education teacher in Boliver agreed with the McCann's about Melissa's learning capabilities. So this teacher taught herself to read and write Braille so she could begin to teach Melissa, at the age of 12, how to read and write. (The teacher is what is called a "generalist"she has no special training or certification in visual impairment.) Within 1-1/2 years of reading instruction Melissa is now reading grade 2 Braille well enough to not only compete in the NFB's 1997 Braille Readers are Leaders contest, but also to finish fourth in her category.
We cannot sue the Springfield school district for money, however, we can make them change their policy. This is extremely important since this school district is now telling the Vice President of our Missouri POBC, who has a 3 year old blind daughter, the same story they told the McCann's when their daughter was that age. Wethe Missouri Parents of Blind Childrenwill stay on top of this situation. Now is the time to turn our dreams for our children into actions.
Nebraska Parents of Blind Children
Report by Lyndon Willms
Hello. My name is Lyndon Willms and I am a member of the Nebraska Parents of Blind Children (NPBC). I would like to take this opportunity to help you become familiar with the Nebraska Parents of Blind Children organization (NPBC).
The NPBC is a branch of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, which is a division of the National Federation of the Blind. We are also a division of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska. The purpose of our group is:
* 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.=20
The NPBC was formed in August 1994 with these purposes as our guide. We currently have more than 20 members in our organization.
Our Officers' and Board Members' time and skills are donated on a voluntary basis. We are currently working on our fourth annual golf tournament as our major fund raiser for the year.
In NPBC we use our funds in several different ways. We have created a lend/lease program for equipment in which a family or school district can request a certain piece of equipment from our group on a loan basis. Did you know that a Braille 'n Speak, a piece of equipment that is almost essential for junior high and high school age blind students, costs more than $1,400? A Braille writer, an item that a child needs by first grade, costs $750. Each year the NPBC gives at least five technology grants worth up to $500 each to blind and visually impaired students. We also donate $250 per year to the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska for a college scholarship for a blind or visually impaired student. In addition, a camp scholarship of $250 is also awarded to school-age children who wish to attend any camp.
This coming year we anticipate working more closely with organizations such as the Lions Clubs and the Optimist Clubs to raise funds to help blind and visually impaired children acquire the necessary technology to enable them to become productive and successful in today's society.
Tennessee Valley Parents of Blind Children
Report by Pat Jones, President
This has been a busy year for the Tennessee Valley Parents of Blind Children. We participated in a parent panel in Knoxville sponsored by the Tennessee Outreach Project for Children and Youth Experiencing Dual Sensory Impairments in the fall. We brought with us many modified items for people to see. We were congratulated by area teachers that attended because they learned so much from us parents. A gentleman from the school for the deaf also complimented us on our presentation.
My husband, Jerry, and I are Advisory Board Members for Tennessee Outreach Project, and we participated in a panel to try to come up with ideas on how to identify more children in areas that have no services. We have some counties in Tennessee where we have no children registered.
We participated in a Health Fair for area teachers who were taking an extended education science course at UTC last summer. We set up a table with literature and science projects that our twins (who are both blind) had completed. One project was a representation of a human body of tactile organs, the other was a hanging solar system with styrofoam balls wrapped with yarn in a blanket stitch. Debbie Robinson, who is blind and a member of our parents group, and myself were available to answer questions.
We've also made presentations at AARP meetings and the Lions Clubs. The main speakers there have been the twins because we feel they can convey more about blindness than we could ever get across. They (the twins) have been such a positive force in our area in teaching the public that the blind CAN DO. I've had parents who, when I talk to them the first time, tell me that they had seen the twins on TV or heard about them from someone else, and they feel more confident about the possibilities for their own blind children because they've seen or heard about what our twins are doing.
One activity we had for the summer was an outing at a local veterinarian's home. It was really GREAT. Our hostess invited us into her home where she had a standing harp and spinning wheel. Everyone could spin, or play, or just look. We brought a pot luck dinner and ate under the trees in her yard. Before we finished eating a large pony arrived for riding. All the kids took their turn on the back of the pony. One of the children was just shaking with delight. It was a real treat because we got to look at the horse trailer, too. After the pony ride, we all went back inside to learn how to play the harmonica. The music teacher presented everyone who wanted to play with their own harmonica and had them all playing within an hour. Next, our hostess brought out their Nubian goats and llamas for hands-on looking. Later we were joined in the yard that evening by her Great Pyrenees dog, Mary, a collie, and a nice quiet-type peta turtle.
We had a salad luncheon for our parents in the fall. At that luncheon we had a mother of a blind, Downs Syndrome child speak.
In the spring we had a couple of workshops in our home to Braille children's playing cards. We used slates and styluses and Braille writers. The work went quickly, and everyone had a great time.
At our NFB state convention we set up display tables full of adapted items and had an area with blind adults available to answer any questions a parent might have. We had the video "It's OK To Be Blind" running in another area.
We held a Read-a-thon in April to raise money for the trip to the convention. We took the Read-a-thon to our local Books-a-Million store and read to children who were in the store. Most had never seen Braille, let alone a child reading Braille. Our garage sale in May was a great success and if anyone ever needs someone to make signs, our Vice President, Judy Williams, is a real pro. Part of the funds we raised went toward helping nine parents from our group come to the NFB National Convention here in New Orleans.
Washington Parents of Blind Children
Report by Barbara Weller, President
Since last convention we have kept very busy. We had our annual picnic which was open to blind members of the NFB as well as families of blind children. That is always a great success. In October we had the NFB of Washington state convention meeting, which many families attended.
For the first time we had a fund raiser last fall. We sold Christmas wreaths and greenery. We were very successful and were able to help several families make it here to the NFB Convention in New Orleans. We now plan to make this an annual fund raiser in the hopes of raising more funds, bringing more families to convention, and funding other activities for families as well.
The first weekend of June we had our Spring Conference and Annual Meeting. We were fortunate enough to have Greg Trapp as our speaker. Mr. Trapp is a blind attorney who works for a disability law center in New Mexico. He spoke to us on estate planning and access to technology. His presentation was very interesting and informative. It was enjoyed by members both new and old.
Plans are now underway for a picnic this summer and other events to be announced.
West Virginia Parents of Blind Children
Report by Keri Stockton, President
We had an excellent program at our Spring Annual Meeting (held in conjunction with the NFB of West Virginia State Convention).
This year parents, teachers, and interested Federationists enjoyed hearing Mr. Don Capps speak. Mr. Capps is President of the NFB of South Carolina and a long-time national leader within the NFB. We also watched our video "That the Blind May Read," and received warm greetings from Mr. Ed McDonald, President, NFB of West Virginia.
Mrs. Loretta White, President of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children, gave a presentation entitled "Strategies for Teaching Braille and Other Academic Skills for Blind Children."
We had an overwhelmingly positive response to our conference, and we continue to hear from people who attended. Several teachers have contacted us for materials for their students and students' families on the need for Braille and cane travel. As I was preparing to leave to come here to the National , I received a call from a parent who has been in contact with me on other subjects concerning her young daughter. Loretta's speech was so captivating and inspiring that she decided that she needed information about cane travel. She now knows how important this training is to her daughter to attain independence. It will be my great pleasure to fill that request.
At our annual meeting we discussed potential projects and fund raising ideas. We will be placing print/Braille books in selected libraries across the state, so that blind children could learn to use and enjoy the public libraries of West Virginia as do their sighted peers. The first library has already received five books, and I challenge other NFB Parents groups in other states to begin working to make neighboring public libraries truly accessible.
We have decided to present a Braille book of their choice to each new entrant to the upcoming 1997-1998 Braille Readers are Leaders contest and to each child who improves his or her score from last year. We felt this would be an incentive to each student to do his or her best. As the last order of business we held our elections. The following are our officers for the 1997-1998 year:
President, Keri Stockton
Vice President, Renee Bailey
Secretary/Treasurer, Tim Cecil Morris
Sensory Safari: A Hands-On Wildlife Exhibit for Blind Children and Adults
From the Editor: In just a few short years (six to be exact) Sensory Safari has become a much-anticipated part of the preliminary activities at the Annual Conventions of the National Federation of the Blind. An exhibit of "touchable" mounted wildlife from all over the world, this event attracts children and adults of all ages. But it isn't just the opportunity to touch otherwise untouchable animalssuch as tigers, bears, and cobrasthat makes this such a unique experience. The volunteer guides are superb. These members and friends of Safari International (the sponsoring organization) make this the intriguing, fun, and educational experience that it is. Courteous and knowledgeable, they adjust the amount of information and assistance they provide to the desires of each individual. Whether you want to zip through on your own without much information or assistance, or whether you want to linger and ask lots of questions, you can do it "your way" thanks to these excellent volunteers.
At this year's NFB Convention the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children invited Safari Club International officials to give a presentation about the traveling Sensory Safari, and about a new program initiated by the club to bring permanent Sensory Safari collections to locations around the country. The information distributed by Mr. Lloyd Dubuisson and Mr. Ray Stroup was enthusiastically received by the representatives of some 25 parent divisions from all over the country. As a result of this meeting, several of the parent divisions have begun discussions with Safari Club International about how to bring Sensory Safari exhibits to their states.
The following article describes the opening of the first permanent Sensory Safari at the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired:
Sight impaired gain `vision' of wildlife:
Permanent Sensory Safari dedicated at Louisiana School for the Visually impaired.
by Ray Stroup SCI Education Coordinator
Reprinted from Safari Times, December, 1996.
More than 30 students of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired eagerly awaited the opening ceremony for their very own Sensory Safari on November 12.
The Sensory Safari exhibits are permanently located at the school and will provide the children with a hands-on safari of taxidermy wild game animals taken in Africa, North America, and Asia.
The display is arranged to allow the blind and visually impaired to explore the animals by touching the size, texture, and shape of large animals and hides. The Sensory Safari will be open to the public by appointment during school hours. To better serve the students, all items are described in large print, and Braille directories are available in the school's safari room.
Earlier this year, SCI Central Louisiana hosted a Sensory Safari as part of the 24th annual state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Louisiana. When Lloyd Dubuisson, board member of SCI Central Louisiana, attended the function, numerous people approached him to discuss the possible opportunities for Sensory Safaris in their own communities.
Dr. Richard N. Day, superintendent of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, called Sensory Safari "... an exciting and dramatic enhancement of our educational and recreational resources."
Leading up to the ribbon-cutting ceremony were several speakers who welcomed the first permanent SCI-sponsored Sensory Safari in a facility for the visually impaired. Speakers included Dr. Day; SCI Central Louisiana President Michael Lindsey, SCI Past President John J. Jackson III; Betty Schroeder, education curator at the Greater Baton Rouge Zoo; and B. J. Militello of the Greater Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce.
All of the Sensory Safari's mounted animals were donated by local SCI chapter members, the SCI International Wildlife Museum, and the SCI Trophy Mount Donation Project.
Dubuisson's experience with several Sensory Safari exhibits has led him to motivate others to become involved in the program. He is editing a videotape of the ceremony and including footage filmed by local television station Channel 9 and his assistant, Cathy Dawson. Dubuisson will show the video at SCl's Silver Anniversary Convention.
For more information about Sensory Safari exhibits, contact:
Ray Stroup, Education Coordinator, Education Department, SCI, 4800 West Gates Pass Road, Tucson, Arizona 85745, telephone (520) 620-1220, extension 223; or Jerry Nielsen, Director of Development, SCI at the same address and telephone number, extension 276.
Report on the 1997 NFB CAMP
by Carla McQuillan
Editor's Note: Carla McQuillan is the owner and operator of Children's Choice Montessori School and Child Care Center in Springfield, Oregon. She is also blind and holds the office of President of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon. In addition to her employment and volunteer work with the NFB of Oregon, she donates an incredible amount of time every year as the volunteer Director of NFB Camp, a day care program for children whose parents attend the NFB National Convention. Her talents, energy, and commitment are appreciated by the many families who benefit from this program. Here is her report about the 1997 NFB Camp:
Water fights, trips to the mall, a visit to the Children's Museum, and a ferry ride on the Mississippi were just some of the many activities that kept over 100 blind and sighted kids busy and happy during the 1997 NFB Convention. Called "NFB Camp" this convention day-camp service provided by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children allows parents to take part in the NFB Convention knowing that their children are happy and enjoying the convention, too.
Other activities during the week included: tours of the hotel's glass elevators, excursions to the French Quarter, descriptive video movies, a musical presentation by Daniel Lamond of "Blind Ambition" (a blind performer), outdoor water play, walks through the mall, crafts, and indoor games.
For the first time this year the NOPBC organized a Red Cross Baby-sitting Course which took place at the beginning of the convention. A total of twenty-two teens, half or more of whom were blind, registered for the course. The course was co-taught by local Red Cross volunteers from New Orleans, and by myself (Carla McQuillanI am also a Red Cross certified instructor). All but two or three of the teens completed the course satisfactorily and received Red Cross certificates. Throughout the week seventeen of these teens (many of them blind) volunteered as interns to assist with NFB Camp. Paired with experienced adult counselors at the NFB Camp, the teens gained valuable training and experience which should later help them get paying jobs back home. The younger kids in the Camp also benefit from this arrangement. They saw, perhaps for the first time, blind teens in a responsible role. It was true "role-modeling" in action!
Many volunteers also helped make the Camp a success, but special thanks go to Corrine Vieville (a blind teacher from California) who planned and provided materials for a week's worth of craft projects for the entire camp.
I look forward to again planning and directing next year's NFB Camp. For those of you interested in planning ahead, here are some dates and preliminary plans for NFB Camp for the 1998 NFB :
Saturday, July 4: For parents: an all-day NOPBC sponsored Parents Seminar. For children: NFB Camp will provide a full day of fun activities centered around learning to appreciate blindness techniques, such as cane travel and Braille. All children, sighted and blind, between the ages of 4 and 12 are welcome. Activities will include cane decorating, making pictures with a Braille slate and stylus, and more. All activities will take place in the hotel-no field trips on this day. Child care will be provided for children under age four.
For youth: A Red Cross Baby-sitting Course and other training and/or social activities.
Monday, July 6: For Parents: Annual Meeting of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. For Children: NFB Camp will sponsor a field trip to a Dallas dude ranch for the day.
Be sure to check the next issue of Future Reflections and upcoming Braille Monitors for more details on the events planned for the 1998 NFB Convention!
Music Education: Not Just a Frill
Dr. Ralph Bartley and Karen McDonald
Editor's Note: The following two items are edited versions of speeches given at the June 29, 1997, Seminar for Parents of Blind Children in New Orleans. Dr. Ralph Bartley, Superintendent of the Kentucky School for the Blind, is well-known and respected by members of the Federation and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. He is a former winner of the annual Educator of Blind Children Award, and an early supporter of Braille literacy legislation. Karen McDonald, wife of Ed McDonald, President of the NFB of West Virginia and former National Board Member, is becoming known in her own right as a talented musician and advocate for music education for blind children.
Dr. Ralph Bartley:
About a year ago we at the Kentucky School for the Blind began a process of examining the future direction of the Kentucky School for the Blind. One of the issues we decided to take a look at was the role of music education at the school.
Music has historically played an important role in the lives of blind and visually impaired students. From its inception to the present, the Kentucky School for the Blind has a long tradition of music instruction for its students. But in today's education climate every program must be examined and evaluated and plans for the future shape and direction of these programs must be formulated.
We put a group of folks together and said "What we want you to do is look at the music program at the Kentucky School for the Blind. Tell us what it has been, what it is now, and what it needs to be for the future. Because if we don't do something it may not continue to exist at all. We do not have a model music program right now. If we are going to have a music program for blind and visually impaired students, we want it to be a model for others."
Then we told the music sub-committee, "Get the hard data. We don't want to make a decision on emotions or historygive us the hard facts. We think we should strive for a great music program. Tell us if that's true and why." That was the job and challenge we posed to the music subcommittee of the curriculum committee.
What we found was that research documents the validity of the title of this panel presentation: "Music Education: Not Just a Frill." In recent years a significant amount of research has been devoted to the development of the brain and the effects of that development on subsequent learning ability of young children. It's now recognized that the listening to, and studying of, music enhances the ability of children to learn in other areas. This study was done at the University of California at Irvine. Preschoolers who were given piano and singing lessons dramatically improved in spatial reasoning as compared to children who were given no musical experience. The study concludes that music excites inherent brain patterns and enhances their uses in complex reasoning tasks.
As Peter Jennings stated when reporting on this study on ABC news "If you want a child to do better at math, not to mention all their other studies, they need more music."
We began with that data. Next we wanted to know if the music program at the school for the blind in the past meant anything. Was it important? For this data we surveyed the Kentucky School for the Blind alumni. Next, we surveyed our parents and staff in an effort to receive input about the importance of music to blind children today. We distributed almost six hundred surveys and received one hundred ninety-seven responses. That's almost a third or 33 percent. I wish I would have had that good a return when I did my Ph.D. dissertation. Seventy point sixty-five percent (70.65%) said that music was very important in the education of KSB students and another 26.63 percent indicated that it was an important part of the curriculum. So 96 percent to 97 percent of those surveyed said, in one way or another, that music was important. Only 3 percent said music instruction was average or unimportant. The overwhelming response from parents, students, staff, and alumni confirmed the importance of music education. We also asked the respondents about the quality of music instruction. Sixty point ninety six percent (60.96%) rated their instruction as excellent while another 30.82 percent rated their experience as good. So again an extremely high percent--91 percentreported positive feelings about their music instruction at KSB.
Not satisfied with raw statistics alone, we went on to prepare a list of students and alumni who reported that music had played a significant role in their lives. One hundred and thirty-five individuals appear on this particular list. We also did an informal survey of our current students. We asked them if they were interested in music and, if so, to tell us what areas in music they would like to pursue. Without exception, all the students surveyed said they were interested in music and listed a wide variety of instrumentsfrom drums to pianowhich they wanted to learn how to play.
In conclusion, we discovered that at the Kentucky School for the Blind there are two important areas in which music and Braille music are particularly important. These are the areas of personal growth and academic growth. The data we collected and the results of the research from our own survey supports this. The members of the KSB Music subcommittee believe that the study of music enhances the personal growth of every student who participates. Discipline, responsibility, goal-setting, the sense of accomplishment upon reaching a goal, and the self-confidence required for performance are but a few of the qualities which are taught in the process of learning music.
In regard to the area of academic improvement, we noted that Individual Education Plans (IEP) goals for our blind students often addressed the student's need for one-on-one help. It's generally accepted that the child who is blind can benefit from small group or individual instruction, which is the way that most music is taught. Teaching instrumental music is a hand-over-hand process that fits in very well with the educational process which provides the greatest benefit and progress for many blind students.
Kentucky is in the midst of educational reform. Music education for all students in the state, not just the blind, is an important part of that educational reform. The KSB Music subcommittee reported that the study of music can play a substantial role in the ability of the Kentucky School for the Blind to meet the goals of that educational reform. Music, it concluded, has a connection with literature, history, geography, and a variety of other subjects. In short, it is an important part of the total curriculum.
The Music subcommittee made a number of recommendations as a result of its study. One of them was to identify teachers on the KSB staff who could teach Braille music. Another recommendation was that we find a way to make sure that students had access to Braille music. This highlights not just the importance of music instruction, but the need for blind students to be able to read music.
Perhaps the most important result of our study is that we have now initiated a music program for all blind students in the area. This includes students enrolled in the public schools and very young children in the Visually Impaired Preschool Services program. We went to these programs and asked them if they had families and students who would come, and the answer was "Yes." So, hopefully in about a month we're actually going to start a program of music for any blind student whether they are enrolled in the Kentucky School for the Blind or not.
Finally let me acknowledge all of the fine work of the staff of the Kentucky School for the Blind. Because of their hard work a fine Music Education will continue to be as much a part of the school's programs in the future as it has been in the past.
Think back and recall your school days. Were you involved in your school band or choral group? Did you take piano lessons and play in a recital?
"Yes," you might say, "But I was never a very good musician. That's just something I did for fun. I never intended to make a career out of playing the saxophone."
Well, not every kid who plays high school football goes on to be a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Yet no one would disagree that for many students athletics are important ingredients in a well-rounded high school education.
By the same token, not every student who plays in the band or sings in a choral group goes on to be Ray Charles or Ronnie Milsap. Yet music is an equally vital part of a well-rounded education.
Music education is valuable in many ways: Performing music helps one develop a greater understanding and appreciation of many different styles of music. Playing in a band or singing in a choir teaches the value of teamwork. Practicing for performance deadlines helps a student develop a sense of responsibility for setting goals and working to achieve them. What's more, playing music can be just plain fun!
These things are true for virtually all students, whether blind or sighted. However, in the case of a blind student especially one attending public schoolmusic may take on additional value. For example, performing in a chorus or band alongside sighted students may give a blind student a sense of belonging and may contribute to that student's acceptance and respect by his or her sighted peers.
If we agree that music is such a vital part of a complete education, then it should go without saying that no blind child should be denied the right to full participation in any and all music education activities a school has to offer. Let me take a moment to say a few words about my personal experience with music education. I received my entire elementary and secondary education at a residential school. Therefore I have no direct personal experience with music education in a public school setting.
At the West Virginia School for the Blind, music was an important part of nearly every student's education. Many of us started piano lessons in first or second grade, and that automatically meant learning to read Braille music. By fifth or sixth grade, some of us began learning to play an instrument in preparation for joining the band. This also required a knowledge of Braille music. By seventh grade, virtually every student joined the chorus.
For those of you who may not know, Braille music is a system of music notation that uses Braille characters to represent the notes, expression symbols, and other information contained in a music score. Unlike print music, Braille music notation does not use the conventional staff. Rather, the notes and symbols follow one anothercharacter by character and line by linejust like literary Braille. Unlike sighted musicians who can play as they "sight read," blind musicians must read the Braille music score and memorize it measure by measure in order to be able to play it. However, contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, Braille music is not some sort of esoteric code that requires a genius to interpret.
Let me be quick to add that it is certainly possible and not unreasonable for a blind student with some innate musical talent and the desire and commitment to succeed to attend college and major in some aspect of music. However, it is my experience as a music major with a degree in piano that a blind person could not complete such a program without the ability to read Braille music, just as a sighted person could not earn such a degree without the ability to read music in print.
But let's get back to the topic at hand: music education for blind children in today's public schools. As we all know, in recent years the education of blind children has shifted dramatically from residential to public schools. We also know that all too often blind students attending public schools find it necessary to fight for the right to equal opportunity and equal treatment in all academic areas, including music classes. As I said earlier, every blind child should have the same opportunity as his or her sighted peers to participate in whatever music education activities a school may offer.
Yet regardless of what the law may say and regardless of what we may know to be right or appropriate, parents will probably need to take positive steps to ensure that such opportunities are not denied. Perhaps the first step is to become as vocal about insisting on good music education as you have been in demanding adequate instruction in reading and writing Braille. But the problem, as we know, is that many so-called "vision" teachers lack proficiency in literary Braille. Therefore it's not very likely that many of them will be able to offer much help to a blind student who wishes to learn Braille music. Therefore, the next step might be to seek out blind persons in the community who happen to know something about Braille music and who may be willing to help a blind student learn it. I, for example, recently began working with a blind student in my community who wants to improve her knowledge of Braille music for piano. (This student happens to be enrolled at the school for the blind where -deplorable as it may be-the piano teacher is not adequately trained to teach Braille music.) Of course, one good way to locate such blind mentors in your community would be to contact your local Federation chapter or state affiliate. Also, our NFB Music Division is in the early stages of developing a mentoring program through which blind persons who know Braille music can be matched with other blind individuals who wish to learn it.
There are several other resources that may be helpful in addressing concerns related to music education for blind children especially the matter of Braille music. For example, the Hadley School for the Blind offers both introductory and advanced correspondence courses in Braille music notation. These courses are available without charge to blind students who are already proficient in Grade Two literary Braille.
The American Printing House for the Blind sells some Braille music scores and lesson books for blind persons who already know the Braille music code.
The Music Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress is probably the most comprehensive source for Braille music information and materials, including a variety of teaching materials.
If a student already knows Braille music but needs to obtain the score for a particular piece, there are Braille transcription services which produce Braille music scores that are not otherwise available. An annual publication called "Individual Braille Transcription Services" is available from National Braille Press. This publication includes a listing of those services which transcribe Braille music.
A relatively new computer software company called Dancing Dots has developed a program known as GOODFEEL. The purpose of this program is to convert material from MIDI files or from the LIME notation program into the Braille music code. If this GOODFEEL program is as good as it is reported to be, it should help increase the amount of material available in Braille music as well as decrease the time required to produce it.
Much of what I have said here today has focused on Braille music. I recognize, however, that there probably are blind students attending public schools who know nothing about Braille music but who are participating with some success in various music education classes=FEplaying in bands and singing in choruses. Perhaps these students are learning their music from tape-recordings, from working directly with the teacher, or even from other students. Nevertheless, such methods, in my opinion, have their limitations. My argument in support of Braille music is essentially the same argument that the National Federation of the Blind has made for a decade or more in support of literary Braille. We in the Federation maintain that reading Braille confers the same benefits on the blind that reading print brings to the sighted. Similarly, I would argue that blind musicians would want and need to learn to read Braille music for the same reasons that sighted persons learn to read print music.
It may be possible for a student to get an education using face-to-face readers, tape-recorded books, and oral exams. But none of these methods provide the same flexibility and advantages that come with the ability to read and write Braille. Likewise, a blind student may be able to take music classes and get by with using tape recorders or other such methods for memorizing music. Yet none of these is equal to reading the actual music score.
We've all heard statements in recent years which have relegated the artsincluding musicto the status of "frills" rather than staples in our education system. When budgets are reduced, all too often it is programs in the arts that get cut first. However, this very attitude has caused a lot of people to rally in support of the arts and arts education.
Similarly, when it comes to the education of blind children, we must not relegate music to "frill" status. We, as parents of and advocates for blind children, must recognize the importance of music as part of the total education picture, and we must insist that blind children receive the same quality of music instruction and services from the schools that they receive in all other aspects of their education.
Here is a list of Braille music resources cited in the preceding article:
* Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093 800-323-4238.
* American Printing House for the Blind, PO Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206-0085, 800-233-1839.
* Music Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20542, 800-424-8567.
* National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115, 800-548-7323.
* Dancing Dots (producer of the GOODFEEL translation program), 130 Hampden Road, Third Floor, Upper Darby, PA 19082-3110, (610) 352-7607.
For more information about the NFB Music Division and its
Music Mentors Program please contact Karen McDonald at 330 Hill
Avenue, Keyser, West Virginia 26726, telephone: 304-788-0129
New Publication From JOB By Lorraine Rovig, Director Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB)
Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB) is a free, national program offered by the National Federation of the Blind in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. Transition programs love to steer their students toward the free subscription for the only recorded job magazine in the U.S. and JOB's other recorded publications. Contact JOB for a "JOB Sample Pack" if you are unfamiliar with this program.
JOB's 1997 National Job Seminar is now available free on two cassettes (2-track). Wonderful lively presentations include "Techniques for Blind Teachers" by Mary Willows and Melissa Williamson, "How to Find, Train, Use, and Fire Readers and Drivers," "Hiring Decisions: Tips to Young Job Hunters," by Dr. Ralph E. Bartley, Superintendent of the Kentucky School for the Blind, and "Blind Workers in Medical Fields," along with several more intriguing presentations on this 3-hour set of tapes. JOB would like your request on letterhead if you are a professional; others may call or write for a copy of the "1997 National JOB Seminar." By the way, the table of contents is posted on www.nfb.org under the heading "Services."
What can you do if you do not go on to college or if you do not want a professional job? Check our "Jobs Blind People are Doing with a High School Education or Less" (2-track, two cassettes/set).
This is a compilation of excerpts from past issues of the JOB Recorded Bulletin and past National JOB Seminars. Some of the jobs mentioned are: laundry worker, carpenter, factory worker, and model. Again, professionals, please make your request on letterhead to:
JOB/NFB, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, MD 21230,
or e-mail to: [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Others may call JOB from 12:30 to 5 p.m. EST on 800-638-7518.
IEP's: Updates, Tips, and Strategies
Editor's Note: Many readers and members of our parent divisions have asked me to beef up the information we share about IEP's and the IEP process. Some have asked me if we could do "model" IEP's for certain age groups. Others have asked me to discuss handling difficult IEP situations. And yet others wanted more details about how to write IEP goals for important, but unusual (to the schools, anyway) skills such as self-advocacy. This seemed like a reasonable request, so here is the first run of what I hope will become a regular feature in Future Reflections:
IEP Goals and Objectives for Self-Advocacy
by Doris M. Willoughby
Introduction: Mrs. Willoughby has many years of experience in writing and implementing IEP's as a teacher of blind and visually impaired children. She is also the renowned co-author of the Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students, published and distributed by the National Federation of the Blind. The following goals and objectives are samples of those she has used for years with her blind students. Please note that when "teacher" is used without any other designation, it refers to the specialized teacher of the blind and visually impaired.
Preschool through Primary Grades
Goal: The student will begin to explain his/her needs and methods, and begin to obtain his/her own materials. Objective: Given materials and equipment readily accessible to the student (e.g. Braille paper), the student will have them ready when needed 85% of the time as recorded by a checklist. Objective: In a situation which the student does not know how to handle (e.g., not finding a needed book despite a reasonable effort), he/she will ask for help in an appropriate manner 85% of the time as measured by teacher observation. Objective: With assistance from a familiar person, the student will help to explain his/her methods upon request, to the satisfaction of the teacher.
Objective: Given a situation (real or contrived) in which someone is offering help which is clearly unnecessary, the student will state that he/she is able to do the task without help 85% of the time as measured by teacher observation.
Fourth through Ninth Grades
Goal: The student will take increasing responsibility for explaining his/her methods, obtaining materials, and making arrangements.
Objective: Given a familiar type of task or situation, the student will select appropriate methods and materials and explain them as necessary 85% of the time as measured by teacher observation. Objective: Given a new type of situation with which he/she has no prior experience, the student will ask for help if needed, assertively suggest ideas, and decide how to handle the situation in the future 85% of the time as measured by teacher and parent observation.
Objective: Given the periodic IEP reviews and conferences, the student will assertively participate in an age-appropriate manner 85% of the time as measured by teacher and parent observation. Objective: With assistance by a knowledgeable adult, and given an interested group of six or more people, the student will explain methods used by blind persons in a satisfactory manner as observed by the assisting adult.
Tenth through Twelfth Grades
Goal: The student will take responsibility for his/her own arrangements and materials, seeking out advice and help as necessary.
Objective: Using the appropriate forms provided by the itinerant teacher, the student will obtain information about books and materials needed for each semester/school year and place orders for the items and/or orders for transcription or recording, if needed, with 85% accuracy and timeliness as recorded by the teacher. Objective: Given a person asking about the student's sight, the student will give an appropriate answer (or decline to answer, if that is appropriate) 85% of the time as measured by teacher and parent observation.
Objective: Given a task or situation with which he/she has no prior experience, the student will obtain information and decide how to proceed with satisfactory results 85% of the time as measured by teacher and parent observation.
Objective: Given a description of a problem of public misconceptions about blindness, the student will discuss it in a mature way and suggest ways to minimize the problem 85% of the time as measured by teacher and parent observation. Objective: When a teacher or a class subject is new to the student, he/she will discuss methods with the classroom teacher before class starts in a satisfactory manner as observed by his/her teacher.
The U.S. Department of Education has issued proposed rules (regulations) for the implementation of the IDEA Amendments of 1997 and are now seeking public comments on these proposed rules. IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is the law which establishes and regulates the IEP process. The rules governing the new amendments to the law will have an impact on how well the IEP process will work. It is important, then, that weparents and teachersexamine the new rules carefully and send in comments. The entire text of the noticeconsisting of a preamble, the proposed rules themselves (34 CFR parts 300, 301, and 303), and an appendix to part 300=FEcan be found electronically at the following world wide web address [www.nfb.org] under the "Laws and Regulations" heading. The proposed rules to implement IDEA 1997 are on the world wide web (see address in box at bottom of this page).
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the National Federation of the Blind have examined the provisions and proposed rules which impact blind and visually impaired children and will submit comments which will include several recommendations. These are:
(a) The NOPBC recommends that consistent language be used when referring to blind or visually impaired children. The law currently uses the phrases "visual impairment including blindness"section 300.7(b)--and "blind or visually impaired"section 300.346(a)(2)(iii) and section 300.22(b)(6). We propose that to eliminate confusion, and to be consistent with nearly 30 state Braille literacy laws, that the phrase "blind or visually impaired" be adopted and that the phrase "visual impairment including blindness" be eliminated.=20
(b) The NOPBC recommends that a note of explanation be added to the section regarding the provision of Braille instruction section 300.346(a)(2). The note should emphasize that "provide" means "provide." That is, it is assumed that these children will receive Braille instruction and that rare exemptions will be allowed only when appropriate reading and writing assessments, including an assessment of the child's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille, determines that Braille is not needed. It should be emphasized that when there is disagreement or while an assessment is being ordered that Braille instruction shall be the default during the interim. There should also be another note explaining that Braille instruction cannot be denied because other reading and writing media (that is, print or tapes) are also appropriate.
© NOPBC commends the department for efforts to insure that the highest standards are used for special education and related services personnelsection 300.136. However, without an additional note, this provision could condone practices that have screened out disabled persons from such professions as Orientation and Mobility.
Until very recently, for example, the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) routinely denied O&M certification to blind mobility instructors. This long-standing AER practice naturally inhibited university O&M training programs from accepting blind students.
However, there are many highly-qualified, agency-trained blind mobility instructors who are not AER-certified, and who are currently employed in both eduation and rehabilitation programs. NOPBC believes that blind mobility instructorswhether agencyor university-trainedare excellent role models as well as safe instructors for blind children. Therefore, NOPBC recommends that section 300.136 be amended by inserting a new subsection which would read: "(h) To the extent that such standards may screen out or tend to screen out individuals with disabilities, the state shall assure that such standards will not be utilized."
(d) Finally, NOPBC commends the department for recognizing and defining Orientation and Mobility as a distinctive related-service for blind or visually impaired studentssection 300.22(b)(6). This distinction is important. The travel or mobility needs of other disability groups should not be confused with, or merged, with the unique orientation and mobility needs of the blind. NOPBC does recommend that part (ii) of the definition of "Orientation and Mobility" under section 300.22(b)(6) be revised to read: "Teaching blind and visually impaired students to use the long cane, as appropriate, as a tool for safely negotiating the environment." The current wording is unnecessarily lengthy, and implies that a cane is less important to persons with some vision than those who are totally blind. This, it seems, is a subjective, individual determination and has no bearing on the need for, or the provision of, this service.
Letters in support of these recommendations would be very helpful.
Comments must be received on or before January 20, 1998. You can mail, fax, or e-mail your comments to the following: Regular mail: Thomas Irvin, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, Room 4607, Mary E. Switzer Building, 330 C Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202. Fax: (202) 260-0416. E-mail: [email@example.com] The subject line for your e-mail must read "Assistance for Education."
Focus on Infants and Toddlers:
Encouraging Independent Mobility
Materials Available to Parents of Infants and Toddlers
White Canes for Blind Kids
VHS video, 12 minutes
National Federation of the Blind
Fee: $15 plus $5 S/H
Order from: National Federation of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
The ability to move about and explore their surroundings is essential to the healthy development of all children, blind and sighted.
This video demonstrates how the use of the white cane enables blind children, from toddlers through teens, to move about quickly, safely, and confidently. Parents interviewed in the video describe the benefits of early cane use for their children.
Video footage, taken at a NFB National Convention, shows a wide range of blind persons of all ages traveling, singly and in groups, with their canes. These real-life scenes and on-the-spot interviews with parents and blind adults encourage parents to view the white cane with a positive attitude. In the modern world, white canes have become for the blind both a tool for, and a symbol of, independence.
Pathways to Independence, Orientation and Mobility Skills for Your
Infant and Toddler
Publisher: The Lighthouse, Inc.
Fee: $2.50 for a single copy
$2.00 each for 10 or more
Order from: The Lighthouse, Inc.
Attention Publications Department
36-20 Northern Boulevard
Long Island, New York 11101
Literature for parents of blind infants and toddlers should be easy to read, it should focus on practical tips that parents can put into use immediately, and, most of all, it should be positive in approach. The bottom line is that when a parent finishes reading such literature they should feel less like crying and better prepared, mentally and emotionally, to get on with the business of being a parent.
The publication, Pathways to Independence, Orientation and Mobility Skills for Your Infant and Toddler, meets this criteria. Distributed by The Lighthouse, Inc. for a small fee, the information is presented in a positive context. It has good descriptions of action-oriented activities, the photos enhance the text, and the text contains some good general parenting advice.
The booklet lacks one thingit does not address cane use among
toddlers beginning to walk. However, since so much of the text
focuses on the pre-walker, this is not a major detraction.=20
Furthermore, the use of the white cane by childrenespecially very young childrenis admirably addressed in the new video issued by the National Federation of the Blind, White Canes for Blind Kids.
Here now is an excerpt from the booklet, Pathways to Independence, Orientation and Mobility Skills for Your Infant and Toddler:
Landmarks and Clues
Introduce your baby to his environment in an orderly fashion to help him understand that there is an order to his world over which he can gain control. By drawing your child's attention to important landmarks and clues, you help him organize his understanding of his environment and encourage outward exploration.
A landmark is any familiar object, sound, odor, temperature, or factual clue that is easily recognized and is always present in a permanent location. Distinct features such as sills between rooms, carpeting, wood floors, paneled versus plaster walls, built-in cupboards or hallways between rooms can provide recognizable, permanent and unique landmarks within your home.
A clue may be something heard, touched, smelled or seen that gives people information about where they are. Environmental clues, such as the sound of the toilet flushing, traffic noise common to one side of the house, distinctive temperature changes between rooms, all provide your baby with information he can use to help determine where he is, where he wants to go, and how to get there.
Throughout the day, you can reinforce the idea of landmarks and clues by describing them as your baby encounters them. For example, "I hear the key in the front door. Daddy's home." Or, "You're in the hallway. The floor feels cold and hard."
It Isn't All So Technical
by Nancy Coffman
Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from a recent issue of News From Blind Nebraskans, the newsletter of the NFB of Nebraska. Ms. Coffman describes a mixture of low-tech, high-tech, low-vision, and Braille devices she found interesting as she browsed through the exhibit hall of the 1997 NFB. Here's what she has to say:
Our National Convention always has a wide variety of exhibits. The beauty of the exhibit hall is that there is something for everybody. One of the things people learn when they stroll through it is that sometimes the most modern, high-tech device is not the best solution to a problem, or the best method for performing a given task.
One of the places that a lot of people start is the NFB Store. This store is operated by our Materials Center and carries the simple low-tech stuff that we all need to get along in the world. We carry the neat writing tools that don't require batteries or a plug-in. Most of the goodies we carry don't have cords. We carry those silent watches with hands and no speaker. Those of us who use low-tech Braille watches feel no shame when we check the time twenty times in a boring meeting. After all, we know that everyone else is doing it too. They are probably no more aware of our obsession with what time it is than we are of their clock-watching.
Other booths around the exhibit hall also had relatively low-tech items. Ann Morris Enterprises was there this year with a wide variety of watches, tape recorders, kitchen gadgets, and convenience items. Independent Living Aids also had a variety of low-tech, relatively low-cost items.
Whether we like it or not, however, sometimes high-tech stuff is needed by blind people living in a high-tech world. Our technology needs only vary slightly from those of our sighted peers who use and enjoy the gadgets we long to use and enjoy on an equal basis. The biggest gap between what the technology sighted people use and that which we use is price. Unfortunately, we need extra hardware and software to benefit from the computer technology available to the sighted. Much of the high-tech stuff in the exhibit area was what we need to add-on to our sighted peers' computers. I'll start there.
One of the programs that caught my attention this year was Zoomtext Extra. This program is a large print program with a very basic speech component built in. The speech uses the sound card that comes in most computers. The speech is fairly good. It must be kept in mind that the speech reads what is enlarged. This program is meant for those who prefer large print and want speech as a back-up. It is not meant to be a speech screen reader with large print added. The case is quite the opposite.
Another development that made me happy was from Enabling Technologies. All of their Braille embossers (printers) are now able to do 3 sizes of Braille. Jumbo is available for those who need their letters somewhat bigger, normal size is available, and a small size, commonly used by the Japanese, is also available. Graphics is also available. In order to change the size of the Braille you produce, you simply use a software switch from the keypad on the machine. No bars to flip over and replace.
An intriguing speech feature I saw was available when using IBM Web Explorer with the IBM Screen Reader. I am hoping it will take hold with other screen reading software. The feature changed the voice so that you could tell what would move to another part of the World Wide Web, and what was just text for information. JAWS for Windows is coming out very soon with a software synthesizer that will use the sound card in your computer effectively. It will be interesting to see what the price will be on those packages. The sound they produce is quite good, and we are hoping that they will be an inexpensive alternative to a premium synthesizer such as a DECtalk. JAWS for Windows also was demonstrated with refreshable Braille displays. Window-Eyes by GW Micro, Automatic Screen Access for Windows by MicroTalk, Window Bridge by SynthaVoice and Outspoken for Windows were also shown. They all are competitively priced products with a cadre of loyal users.
In regard to scanningor Optical Character Recognition items, Arkenstone, Telesensory, and Kurzweil Educational Systems all had products to show. The Omni 1000 by Kurzweil Education Systems uses a software synthesizer with your computer's sound card. Demo disks were available so people can give it a try with any Hewlett-Packard compatible scanner. Telesensory Systems has a very nice portable unit that does a good job and does not require a separate computer. All of the systems read with reasonable accuracy.
The Thermal Pen was a neat gadget. It is a battery-operated or electric pen that heats at the tip. When used with special paper, it makes a raised line as you write. This might be especially good for teaching people to sign their name, print letters, and draw. I had fun with it. Tactual graphics were a popular feature this year with two or three companies demonstrating ways to produce them.
Dancing Dots was there for the first year. It is a program for translating music into Braille. A MIDI file (a form of computer data file for music performances) is produced and then used to perform the translation. Dancing Dots can sell the program or take music that needs to be translated and translate it.
Low vision aides were abundant this year. Several closed circuit televisions were demonstrated including some portable units. One of the portable units was of particular interest to me. The viewing was done through a lens-size screen over each eye. The print was quite clear, and the camera was hand-held. The screens were mounted on a frame like a visor which went around the head and had a strap in the back. The one limitation I found was that I was unable to get the screens close enough to my eyes to read for significant amounts of time without strain. For those needing transportability, this system might be an option. Standard magnifiers and monoculars were also available.
One of my least popular exhibits was the Talking Signs and the Marco. These devices allow you to hear signs which have transmitters on them sending a message to your infrared receiver. If you are not pointed directly at the sign, you will not get an accurate signal. I used one at Access Midwest and found them to be frustrating and of little use.
Finally, the travel aids were, for me, a convention exhibit bonus. My personal favorite was the Atlas Speaks program by Arkenstone. It is virtually a talking map. One of the things you can do is to tell it where you are within a city and where you want to go. It will then show you the most direct route. It even tells you how far it is. It tells you if there are "T" intersections and streets that cross at odd angles. Strider was also shown at some point although I was not able to attend that demonstration. Strider allows you to know where you are at any given time by satellite.
Insights from an Instructional Assistant
by Denise Mackenstadt
Editor's Note: One of the most puzzling figures in the educational landscape of blind children in public schools today is the instructional aide. Parents and teachers are often uncertain what the role of these aides should be. Denise Mackenstadt has been doing this job intelligently and knowledgeably for several years. Her husband Gary, who is blind, is a long-time leader in the NFB of Washington, and Denise herself is a leader in the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. At the 1997 seminar for parents of blind children in New Orleans she spoke to the audience about what should and should not be part of an aide's responsibilities. This is what she said:
I live about twenty miles northeast of Seattle and am an instructional assistant, as we are called, in the Northshore School District. We have about 20,000 students in an area of sixty square miles. There are approximately twenty blind and visually impaired students on our caseload. I am assigned to a normally-developing fourth grade blind boy. He is totally blind and a Braille user. There are some additional problems that affect his learning, but they are not directly related to his vision. I spend four hours a day at the school. I am a member of the school staff, which is an important part for me to play, because, in order for our student to become an integral member of the school community, I have to do a lot of PR, a lot of educating. My presence really helps allay the fears and anxiety that are frequently seen in a general education staff. I think that we have been very successful over the last two and a half years. The fourth grade teacher he will have this fall has actually requested that he be in the class. I view that as a real asset and something we can be proud of.
I've been with the National Federation of the Blind since 1970 in a variety of roles, so of course I've brought that experience to this job. However, my job description does not really require anything that you would recognize as specific to working with a blind student. My job description says that I am to follow directions given by a certified teacher, that I keep accurate records, that I know how to operate office equipment like the photocopier and rhisograph, and that I have some knowledge of technology. The certified teacher that I work for is the teacher of the blindthe vision teacher. She happened to want me to have this position even though she was warned not to hire me. She stipulated in the job announcement that an applicant must have a basic knowledge of Braille and white cane use. Since I was the only applicant who had those skills, I was hired.
A year ago Washington passed a Braille literacy bill, due to the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind. Part of that bill is unique in that one of the legislators, who was a former school board member, stipulated that the Braille competency requirement must also apply to any assistants producing Braille materials or instructing a student in Braille. So I was required to take the National Library Service Braille Competency exam, which I did last year and passed.
This provision of the Washington law reflects the influence that instructional assistants have on the educational program of blind students. Frankly I see my student more often than the certified teacher does. I have more interaction with him. I see him in areas that are critical to his social development, such as playground, lunchroom, PE, musicthe times he interacts socially with his peers. I have a tremendous impact on what he does every day.
The thing I appreciate most is that the classroom teacher, the vision teacher, and I have agreed that our ultimate goal is to work me out of a job. Our goal is that this student will become increasingly independent so that by middle school he will be able to meet a good number of his own needs or will be able to get the materials he needs through transcription services, readers, working with his teachers, etc. That has to become the goal for all of us who work with these children because, if they are mainstreamed into a regular school program, they have to acquire those skills. As parents your goal is to enable your children to handle their own lives and to determine their own destinies. As educators that must be our goal also.
I am very cognizant of my own limitations. I am not certificated. I really try to maintain close working relationships with all the certificated staff. I eat in the teachers' lounge in order to talk to other teachers, to hear what's going on, to work with other teachers on their projects. I work in the lunchroom so that I really get to know the custodian. As all of us who have worked in schools know, the people who truly run the school are the secretary and the custodian. I was gratified to see that I had been successful in that effort. At my end-of-the-year evaluation my principal noted that I still work in the lunchroom even though our student doesn't require my presence. Aides have to mingle with the staff because we are an itinerant program. Most of the regular educational staff has no idea of what we do, so part of our job is to make it very easy for them to accept this blind student as a regular student in the classroom.
As a non-certified staff member, there are some experience and knowledge in instructional skills that I just do not have. I don't necessarily know the progression in reading instruction or mathematics instruction. These are areas in which I need to learn from and work with the classroom teacher and vision teacher. I am there to adapt the regular education program for our blind student and to teach the specific blindness skills he needs. In addition I provide all transcription services. I come to school in the morning, check with the teacher about what is happening in class, and look at her plan book. She may tell me that she is going to give a four-page reading exam that day, it has to be Brailled by 11:00 a.m., and it's now 8:30 a.m. This means that I have to have the test transcribed into Braille that this student can actually read by 11:00 a.m. That's the reality of a public school program.
The responsibility for instructing the blind student in the standard curriculum belongs to the classroom teacher. At times, out of misunderstanding, the regular classroom teacher will expect me to instruct the blind student in areas that are not my responsibility or within my expertise. Avoiding these misunderstandings can be a difficult task. My goal for the coming year is to learn how to avoid these confusions of responsibility. The classroom teacher must be willing to accept the blind student as just one more student in a class of fourth graders. I must sometimes go to the instructor and say, "this student is in need of help on this math problem." Then I walk away to assist elsewhere in the classroom so that the teacher can spend time with the blind student.
This past year my office was too accessible to the blind student. He needs to stay in the classroom more. He performs better in the classroom because there he wants to be like the other kids in the class. And, if he is going to be like the other kids, he will have to meet classroom expectations behaviorally and instructionally. I'm locking my door this coming year. He's not going to be able to wander in and out quite as much.
Those are some of my goals for the upcoming school year. This past year my professional goals were to pass the Braille Competency Examination and to learn more about computer technology for the blind in education. My goal for my student was to develop and improve his self-esteem. I took from the National Federation of the Blind and from what we've done at our rehabilitation centers in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Colorado the understanding that I couldn't accomplish a lot just using a self-esteem curriculum. I could do all the talking I wanted, but what was really going to build his self-image was his feeling of competence using his blindness skills. That, I am very pleased to say, has happened. His feeling of competence as a Braille reader and as a blind traveler and his ability to communicate his needs to his sighted peers or adults has improved his self-esteem as much asno, more thanany of the head talks he and I could have had.
The advantage of being married to a blind man has been that, when my student comes to me saying he can do or not do such and so, I can say, "Hey, don't talk to me about it." I can say "I know my husband." Even if I weren't married to a blind person, as an instructor I would have to know adult blind people for my own education, for mentoring him, for helping him to understand that there is an adult future for him to dream of and be a part of. That is really what our goal has to be as educators. In conclusion I would say that I have the best job in the world because I am working with kids, one-on-one.
The Bridge to Braille:
Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child
A New NOPBC Publication
Barbara Cheadle, NOPBC President:
The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children is pleased to announce the availability of our first NOPBC publication: The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child.
Co-authored by Carol Castellano and Dawn Kosman with illustrations by Lynne Cucco, this spiral-bound, easy-to-read, large-print book fills a much needed gap in literature for parents and classroom teachers of Braille students.
On another level, it is instructive that this book is co-authored by a parent of a blind child and by a Braille teacher of the visually impaired. Although everyone professes to believe in cooperation between parents and professionals, we are often sadly short of sound models to follow. The quality of this book is a testament to the good things that can happen when parents and teachers respect and value each other's unique perspective and talents.
Here now, is a description of the book from the NOPBC news release, and information about how to order it:
The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young
by Carol Castellano and Dawn Kosman
Illustrations by Lynne Cucco
copyright 1997 National Organization of Parents of Blind Children=20
Order from: National Federation of the Blind, Materials Center, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. Make checks and money orders payable to NFB. VISA, DiscoverCard, and MasterCard are accepted. Orders by telephone taken after 12:30 p.m. EST. Call (410) 659-9314.
When her first child was three years old, The Bridge to Braille co-author Carol Castellano wondered how she would teach her daughter the alphabet. If her child had been sighted, she would have begun helping her recognize letters and numbers, but what was a parent to do when the child was blind? Castellano knew the importance of early literacy experiences for children, but could such experiences be translated into a meaningful form for a blind child?
When her daughter was in kindergarten at the local public school, new questions came up. How do you form capital letters in Braille? How do you write 2 + 2? The other children in the class, all of them sighted, had page after page of colorful work sheets which provided practice in reading readiness, counting, adding, and subtracting. Was there a way for a blind child to take part in all this learning?
Castellano began collecting answers for the questions that arose as she problem-solved with her daughter's classroom and Braille teachers. At last, she and Braille teacher Dawn Kosman put all the information together in a book, The Bridge to Braille:
Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child. Chapters like "Setting the Stage for Success," "Adapting Materials," "Doing Math in Braille," "Independence in the Classroom," and "Using Technology" show parents and teachers how to guide blind children from early literacy experiences all the way to full participation in the classroom. The book de-mystifies the education of blind children, the authors say, and enables parents and teachers to give ordinary help with schoolwork to children who happen to be blind.
The Bridge to Braille is published by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC), an organization dedicated to creating a climate of opportunity for blind children at home, in school, and in the community. A division of the National Federation of the Blind, NOPBC provides information, resources, and support to parents and teachers of blind children and fosters contact and partnership with blind adults.=20 For further information contact:
Carol Castellano, 23 Alexander Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940, (201) 377-0976 or Barbara Cheadle, President, NOPBC, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230. (410) 659-9314. E-mail:
What Contests Can Do: Report on the 1996-1997=20
Braille Readers are Leaders Contest
Each year the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) and the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB) conduct a reading contest for youngsters who read Braille. Schools and libraries across this nation sponsor such contests for print readers, but almost no one besides the National Federation of the Blind urges blind children to read as much and as widely as they can.
Do our efforts accomplish anything constructive? You bet they do! And not just for the winners. Here are some brief comments taken from letters sent to us by parents and teachers of contest participants:
Crystal McClain, Mother
Macy is in kindergarten, and this is the first time she has entered this contest. She just started reading in January. Now, since she is reading, she constantly requests Braille books. In the past I had both print-Braille books and print books, and I read both [to her]. Now, Macy only wants the print-Braille books so she can read, too. Thanks for making reading exciting. Next year I'm sure Macy will be an avid reader and a challenge to the other Braille Readers are Leaders contestants.
Edwin Zehner, Father
Thank you for conducting this contest each year. Mingkhwan [my daughter] has been in the United States just over a year, having arrived at the age of 8 in January, 1996. When she arrived she was just finishing the second year of kindergarten at the Bangkok School for the Blind. She knew very little English and only the 26 alphabet characters of the English code. Your contest has provided an extra motivation to help her read more. In the past week or two Mingkhwan has begun going beyond the assigned reading time just because the book was "fun." We look forward to next year's contest when perhaps we will be able to add to the list of winners!
Marion Young, Teacher
Thank you for allowing my student to enter this most exciting contest. The contest helped motivate my student to read more Braille pages.
Jo Lynn Chesser, Mother
I would like to thank you for the work you do with the NFB and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. I would also like to express my gratitude for the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest. I know a lot of work must go into this. Amber has placed three times and obviously loves to read. When she first started competing in this, those months were about the only time she read. Now it's year `round, and the books get better and better. In fact, she has recently expressed an interest in majoring in English and becoming a writer. Thanks for all you do.
Individual parents and teachers are not the only ones who find this contest a useful tool to encourage blind children to read. An increasing number of residential schools for the blind are actively promoting the contest among their students, making it a school-wide project. To reward and further encourage this kind of participation, the Braille Readers are Leaders Contest initiated an award two years ago for the residential school or schools which demonstrated outstanding participation in the contest.
No one criteria is used in determining the award winner. The judges consider numerous factors, such as the percentage of enrolled students who enter the contest; and, to be sure we are fair to schools with large non-reading multiply handicapped students, the percentage of students enrolled in academic programs who enter the contest. The judges also consider quality factors:
How many of the students improve their performance over the previous year? How many national winners do they have? What is the quality and quantity of the materials the students read?
This year's national School for the Blind Outstanding Participation Award winner is the Kentucky School for the Blind. Under the guidance of the new superintendent, Dr. Ralph Bartley, both quality and quantity of participation zoomed up over the previous contest years. With nineteen participants, four of whom were named national Most Improved winners, the school had a 29 percent participation rate out of sixty-five enrolled students. KSB also stood out among others in quality factors as well. The Kentucky School for the Blind truly deserved the honor and the $200 cash prize that came with this award.
The judges also believed that two other schools deserved Honorable Mentions for their support of the contest: Washington State School for the Blind, which had 18 percent participation and two national winners; and the Arizona State School for the Blind and Deaf, which boasted three national winners and a 17 percent participation rate.
1996-1997 <R>Braille Readers are Leaders Winners
* Kathy Garrett, Kentucky. Seventh grade.
* April Garrett, South Carolina. Twelfth grade.
* Jennifer Hyams, Kentucky. Third grade.
* Lonnie Swafford, Kentucky.Tenth grade.
* Virginia Salyer, Kentucky. Sixth grade.
Print to Braille
* First: Clarisa Darcy, Washington. Eleventh grade. 967 pages.
* Second: Brandy Turner, Arizona. Twelfth grade. 854 pages.
* Third: Amy Moore, Washington. Ninth grade. 575 pages.
* First: Paige Hardin, Georgia. 2,160 pages.
* Second: Desiree Oudinot, Pennsylvania. 1,909 pages.
* Third: Angela Marie Lucek, Louisiana. 1,871 pages.
* First: T.D. Olsen, New York. 5,019 pages.
* Second: Stuart Weller, Washington. 4,338 pages.
* Third: David Wright, Illinois. 3,576 pages.
* First: Angela Leigh Hubbard, Virgina. 14,765 pages.
* Second: Amber Jo Chesser, Louisiana. 10,666 pages.
* Third: Maria Gabriela Smith, Alabama. 10,422 pages.
* First: James Konechne, South Dakota. 12,073 pages.
* Second: Josh Young, Arizona. 7,863 pages.
* Third: Josh Baker, Arizona. 7,101 pages.
Braille Helps Girl Become Book Champion
by Danny Heitman
Reprinted from the Sunday Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 13, 1997.
Eight years ago, Angela Lucek was born into a family of readers. When her mother, Vivian, was a little girl, she read every book in her school library. Walt Lucek, Angela's father, is also a spirited reader who likes to read books aloud with his children. So perhaps it was only natural that Angela would come to love reading herself. But before Angela could follow the family tradition, she had one major obstacle to overcome. Legally blind, Angela faced a world where most books were forever closed to her. But that didn't stop Angela.
Today, Angela is a tireless enthusiast of Braille books who has won national and state awards for her achievement. Last year, Angela won third place in her age division in the national Braille Readers are Leaders contest. The honor came after Angela read 63 booksthat's 1,871 pages of Braille. Angela also won the Louisiana State Library's grand prize for its summer reading program in her division, beating out children who were much older.
When Angela was born in San Antonio, she spent her first four months struggling for life in an intensive care unit. She battled a variety of health problems before doctors allowed her to leave the hospital, Walt Lucek said.
"Everything's OK now, except for her eyesight," Angela's father added, "If she has a large print book, she can make things out if she holds it close, but it's a strain. With the vision problems, it was either read to her, or let her listen to the tapes (recorded books). But she was never very interested in tapes.
"When Angela was in the hospital, we didn't know if she was going to make it," her mother recalled. "Of course, we were very happy that she lived. But my biggest sorrow was thinking that she wouldn't read. Reading is a great love of mine. When I was in elementary school, I decided that I wanted to read every book in the school library. It took me a couple of years, but I did it."
In encouraging Angela to use books, the Luceks faced two options: books on tape, or Braille volumes. But books on tape failed to charm Angela. She "wouldn't sit still for five minutes with the books on tape," said Vivian Lucek, "Since she's learned Braille, we can't get enough books for her."
In a study published last year, researchers concluded that Braille readers stimulate the same part of the brain when they read that sighted readers use when their eyes scan a text. Other experts have found that because of the way the brain works, Braille users retain more of what they read than people who use recorded books.
"There's just no comparison between Braille and recorded books," said Warren Figueiredo, a resource specialist with the Braille and Technology Center of the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired. "Recorded books may be good for recreational reading, but for homework, you definitely need Braille. Recorded books are passive. You sit there and listenthat's all you do."
"In school, you have to be able to find and retrieve things, and that's almost impossible with recorded books. Also, punctuation and spelling are virtually invisible in recorded books."
Four years ago, Walt Lucek's employer transferred him from San Antonio to Louisiana. Lucek, who works for Mazda, was given a choice of which part of the state he'd call home. Lucek decided on Baton Rouge, figuring that the state's capital city would have the best services to help Angela learn.
So far, the Luceks have been happy with their decision. Angela attends Villa Del Rey Elementary School, where she's gotten instruction tailored for the visually impaired.
"We've been very fortunate with her teachers," said Walter Lucek who credits the public school system with advancing Angela's command of Braille. Vivian Lucek mentioned teachers Beryl Threeton and Gail Canova as being especially helpful with Angela.
As Angela's reading skills have progressed, the Luceks find themselves constantly challenged to find Braille books for her. Figueiredo allowed Angela to borrow many of the books that she used for her reading contests, Vivian Lucek said.
Because the family also includes 4-year-old Janice and 1 and a ½-year-old Bridget, who are both sighted, the Luceks must often buy both regular and Braille versions of books. "It costs $37 for the `Cat in the Hat' in Braille," Vivian Lucek said. The print version is $10.
Despite the expense, the Luceks have built a formidable
Braille library, including Braille cookbooks that allow Angela to
work in the kitchen. "Last night, I made `Peaches and Cream,'" said
Angela referring to a dessert cake she had prepared with her
mother. Using special equipment, Vivian Lucek also transcribes
direction from cookbooks into Braille recipe cards for Angela.=20
Most of the Luceks' Braille books were purchased through the mail. Though a crucial source of Braille materials for Angela, mail-order buying doesn't afford Angela the pleasure of browsing that other readers enjoy. That convinced Vivian Lucek that the public library should have a children's Braille collection.
Library officials took Lucek's suggestion to heart. Last January, staff at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, with help from the state library and several local organizations, opened a Braille collection for youngsters. Project donors included the Baton Rouge Downtown Lions, the LSU Delta Gamma sorority, Junior League of Baton Rouge, and the Greater Baton Rouge chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.
Since the collection opened "Angela gets so excited when we talk about going to the library," Vivian Lucek said. Books in the collection bear their titles in little ridges of Braille near the spine. To browse, Angela runs her fingers along the shelf, pulling books and scanning titles until she finds something of interest. "Whenever she comes to the library, Angela makes a beeline for the books," said Emily McCoy, who oversees the Braille collection as head of children's services. "Her first time here, she just grinned and read the title of every single book on the shelf. She had this look of really intense concentration on her face. She's very goal-oriented. She always goes straight for the books."
"One of my happiest moments as a mother was the first time Angela read to me in Braille," Vivian Lucek said.
"It's really more of a nuisance than a handicap," Walt Lucek said of his daughter's blindness. "She can learn just as much as anybody else."
To share Angela's reading and supervise her homework, Walt and Vivian Lucek have learned Braille, too, though not as well as Angela. "We haven't been able to keep up with her," said Walt Lucek. "This summer, we're taking a correspondence class in Braille from Hadley School for the Blind."
The Luceks are also trying to start a special arm of the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind for parents of blind children.
In the meantime, when she's not reading, Angela has decided on another goal to keep her busy.
"I want to be a writer," Angela said.
Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
New Toy Line: Miss Ochie
Linda Zani Thomas of New Jersey, which some readers may recognize as the author of several articles on blind multiply handicapped children, wrote and asked us to print the following information:
A friend of mine created a toy line that is not only appropriate for all children, but is especially good for children with visual impairments. Will you please run a paragraph (below) in your publications?
Attention Parents! Did you know there's a new toy that's a wholesome role model that literally and figuratively embraces all children, including those with visual impairments?
Introducing...Miss Ochie and her Circle of Friends. This friendly plush octopus stuffed animal has Braille messages on her many arms. She teaches kids that there's a place where differences don't matter; where cooperation, caring, and sharing are part of every day. That place is the Circle of Friends, featured in the accompanying book Julie's Beach Adventure: The Friendship Circle.
Miss Ochie and the book are available for $24.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling by writing to: Miss Ochie and Book Offer, 766 Knox Court, Yardley, PA 19067. Personal checks and money orders accepted. For more information, call 800-289-0009.
Myra Lesser, a former member of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children Board and a leader in the Pennsylvania parents organization, has voluntarily filmed, edited, narrated, and/or co-written two videos for the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, and is in the middle of working on a third video. The videos"It's OK to be Blind" and "White Canes for Blind Kids"are wonderful educational tools, and the NOPBC deeply appreciates the time Myra devoted to these projects. But we are not the only ones who appreciate Myra's talents. Myra sent us the following information about a video documentary she did independently on her son, Alex:
A clip from my video, "What's It Like To Be A Kid Who's Blind," was included as part of the awards entry by the Access Tucson TV Station to the Alliance for Community MediaHometown Awards. This entry won first place for Overall Excellence in Programming for an Access Center. The same clip from my video is also included in the video brochure, "Access Tucson, Where Tucson's on TV."
My video is also recommended by Kids on the Block, the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, and NOPBC, as well as by many parents, and educators throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The following information is reprinted from In Touch, the newsletter of the New Jersey Parents of Blind Children:
Many easy-to-use math-teaching aids are available in toy stores, educational supplies stores, and catalogues. Some of these items can be used by blind children as they are, without adaptations, and others can be easily adapted with self-stick textures and self-stick Braille. The items below are available from Summit Learning. Call 800-777-8817 to get a catalogue.
Unifix Cubes are a wonderful math teaching aid. These stackable cubes stay put when interlocked. This allows the child to examine and count them. Many blind children who had difficulty before, learn math concepts with ease when the concept is demonstrated in their own hands. Unifix Cubes can be used to teach the basicsone-to-one correspondence, counting, tens and ones, etc.and more advanced math concepts, too. The cubes are color-coded and can easily be coded for tactual use with snips of Wikki Stiks and self-stick textures such as felt, cork, and velcro.
Multilinks are interlocking, snap-together cubes and triangles which children can use to learn and explore math concepts. They are also fun to use as a building set because the triangles have connectors on many sides; interesting shapes and angles can be created.
Fraction Stax and Rainbow Fraction Tiles are two fraction sets which contain pieces that can be held in the hands. Fraction Stax have pieces that stack up over spindles and Fraction Tiles form bars across a holding tray. Both can be adapted with self-stick Braille. Fraction illustrations in math books show fractions expressed in various shapes: pie shapes, bars, parts of objects, etc. It is important that blind students have the opportunity to see fractions expressed in many different ways, too.
Jane K. Kronheim sent us the following information about her internationally known "Learning Pillows":
Each pillow is approximately 8 ½" by 11". The pillows are made of felt and feature raised bumps, lines, shapes, strong visual and tactual images, and objects. They are colorful and provide strong contrast. Excellent for eye-hand coordination, tactual and visual discrimination, memory, pre-reading including pre-Braille skill development, buttoning, zipping, etc. There is so much you can learn with a Learning Pillow! Each pillow has a written story/text inserted inside the packaging.
Here is a description of one of the ten pillows available:
Bumpedy Bumps is a pre-Braille experience to help your child or student learn about the world of bumps. Bumps are designed in a variety of places in order to encourage tactual exploration. The prices for learning pillows range from $20 to $40 plus shipping costs. For further information contact: Jane K. Kronheim, P. O. Box 345, Greenfield, NH 03047. Telephone/fax: (603) 827-3859. E-mail:
Adam Emerson Honored
Adam Emerson is the son of long-time leaders in the Parents of Blind Children Division of the NFB of Michigan. Sunny, Adam's mother, was also a national leader in the NOPBC. She organized and developed our Homeschooling and Blindness Network when she began homeschooling Adam several years ago. Adam, who is legally blind due to albinism, has become an active member of the NFB in his own right as a young adult. We were, therefore, tremendously pleased to receive the following announcement regarding Adam's selection as a Calvin College Scholarship recipient. Congratulations, Adam! Here is the announcement:
Below you will find the name of a Calvin student from your circulation area with his or her address, high school, and parents as well as the scholarship(s) earned this year to Calvin, a Christian, liberal arts college with a 1997-98 enrollment of approximately 4,100. One of the largest christian colleges in the nation, Calvin regularly is honored by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best colleges or universities in the midwest.
Calvin College Recipient, Adam C. Emerson, Mr. & Mrs. Charles
Emerson Sterling Heights, Michigan High School: Home School
Scholarships: Calvin Presidential Scholarship--$5,500.00
A Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers
By Gregory Hurray, this wonderful little reference book for young readers and writers (elementary grades) has been Brailled by the National Braille Press, Inc. Only one volume, each spelling word entry is written first in grade 1, then in grade 2. When a word has no contractions, it is written only once. In addition to the spelling entries, which are words commonly used by young children just beginning to write, there is a Mini-Thesaurus for eight basic words used in a child's vocabulary: Then; Big; Small or Little; Good, Nice, or Great; Went or Ran; Asked; Answered; and Said. There is also a section elaborating on 12 different Theme WordsWords by Subject: such as The Calendar, Geography, Colors, Body Parts, and so forth.
The National Braille Press, Inc. is selling both the print and Braille editions for the same price: $7.00. Order from: The National Braille Press, Inc., 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115. Phone number: (617) 266-6160.
Unlock the Treasures
We have been asked to print the following announcement from the American Printing House for the Blind:
Unlock the treasures that make learning concepts fun! Help is on the way with Tactile Treasures: Math and Language Concepts for Young Children with Visual Impairments, a new informal assessment and training tool for preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary children designed by the American Printing House for the Blind. It helps students gain an understanding of basic concepts and vocabulary that are prerequisites for reading and math.
Over 90 concepts related to shape, size, comparison, amount, position, and page orientation are presented and reinforced with the use of this kit which includes 79 thermoformed sheets and a teacher's guidebook with fun scripts and stories that bring the tactile images to life. Objects encountered on the tactile pages are numerous; from pretzel, button, and rings, to zippers, scissors, and shells. This adds interest, encourages exploration, and broadens vocabulary for young children. The entire kit includes 3 binders and both a print and Braille Guidebook. Tactile Treasures: 1-08842-00...$120.00. To order or for more information call 800-223-1839.
Blazie Engineering Catalog
We have been asked to print the following announcement:
Blazie Engineering, manufacturers and distributors of technology-based products for blind and visually impaired people, announces publication of their 1998 catalog.
The new catalog features more than 70 items. Included are Blazie Engineering products, printers and Braille embossers, screen reading software for both Windows and DOS, speech synthesizers, Braille graphics software, Braille translation software, computer accessories, and more. In addition to Blazie Engineering's own products, manufacturers represented include Duxbury, Raised Dot Computing, Henter-Joyce, Franklin, Digital, G.W. Micro, Syntha-Voice, and others.
Blazie Engineering's catalog contains product warranty and service information, as well as details about special seminar and product training. The 64-page catalog is available at no cost in large print, Braille, on audiocassette and by accessing blazie.com on the World Wide Web. For more information, contact Blazie Engineering, 105 East Jarrettsville Road, Forest Hill, MD 21050, or call (410) 893-9333.
Beautiful Kids Modeling Agency
The following information comes from an article published in Photo District News, an international publication. Anyone interested in getting more information about how a child might become a model or how to hire models from this agency may contact Ginnie Cummo, President, Beautiful Kids, Inc., P.O. Box 506, Ironia, NJ 07845, phone: (973) 927-7759.
Beautiful Kids, Inc. is a modeling agency that represents differently abled children for all types of print advertising. Ginnie Cummo, who started the agency in October 1994, has 300 models, ranging in age from 16 months to 14 years..."My husband is an advertising executive with Toys 'R' Us and they've used disabled children in their advertising but they always had difficulty finding them." Cummo started out in advertising and knows the modeling business because her children and now her grandson have modeled.
"I've had quite a few children working so far," notes Cummo, whose clients include Scholastic Books; Parent Guide magazine; Toy Works, a division of Kay Bee Toys; and several rehabilitation catalogues. Beautiful Kids models earn the standard $75 an hour.
"With 49 million disabled people in this country," says Cummo, "I
think clients are beginning to understand that not only is it good
for business to see them represented, it's also good for people to
see that they're represented."Susan E. Davis
Leadership Training for Blind Youth:
The following information is reprinted from a recent issue of the Braille Monitor, the monthly publication of the National Federation of the Blind:
Do you know a future leader in the blindness communitya young man or woman, blind or visually impaired, who has the intelligence, energy, and determination to make a difference in the lives of visually impaired persons in your country? The International Program at Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia is open to candidates from throughout the world who demonstrate these leadership qualities and who are interested in participating in a one-year academic and training program.
Now in its twelfth year, the Program announces the start of the admissions process for the 1998-99 academic year. You are invited to nominate candidates who meet the qualifications required for admission and who would benefit from taking part in the program. To qualify, a participant must 1) be blind or partially sighted, 2) be between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one at the start of the program, 3) be in good academic standing, 4) have a basic knowledge of English, 5) be interested in adaptive computer technology for the blind, and 6) demonstrate independence and leadership skills.
The Admissions Committee reviews all nominations and invites appropriate candidates to complete a full application.
The International Program is designed to develop leadership capabilities of young blind and partially sighted individuals from around the world, to provide them with the skills they will need to succeed in higher education and the work place, and to help improve the situation of other blind and visually impaired persons in their countries.
Courses in adaptive computer technology, English as a second language, and leadership development form the core of the curriculum, while emphasis is also placed on learning in an intercultural environment. Educational field trips, music programs, and sports activities are also offered.
For information and admissions materials, contact Lawrence F. Campbell, Admissions Committee, International Program, Overbrook School for the Blind, 6333 Malvern Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19151-2597, United States, (215) 878-8700, fax (215) 878-8886, e-mail: [firstname.lastname@example.org].
Letters to the Editor
Editor's Note: Articles by blind kids are, understandably, a big hit with our readers. The following letter came in response to an article by Cortney Osolinski, a delightful youngster whose mother is very active in the parents organization of the National Federation of the Blind in New Jersey. By the way, for those who are curious, I did send this letter on to Cortney's mom so she could contact this wonderfully enthusiastic teacher.
January 23, 1997
I work with blind and visually impaired people in the state of Maine. I recently came across a wonderful article by one of your subscribers ("Almost One Hundred and One Ways to Decorate Your Cane" by Cortney Osolinski Summer, 1996 Future Reflections). I would just like to say that this young woman is an inspiration to all of us. I intend to share this article with students and parents alike, many times-over. I'm in awe of her creativity and positive outlookit is definitely to be admired.
The second part of my request is a little bit more difficult. I am wondering if there is any way you could share my name and address with her (I certainly recognize for safety sake you could not give me her address). I would love to correspond with this young woman in an attempt to capture from her how she came to be so creative and positive. Likewise, if she were willing, I have several students on my caseload whom would love to pen-pal with her. I would greatly appreciate it if you could at least share my letter with her in some fashion. With that attitude and creativity, she will go far in life!
Editor's Note: This letter was sent directly to Carol Castellano, a frequent contributor to Future Reflections. Carol heads up our NFB parent organization in New Jersey and is also Second Vice President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children.
April 8, 1997
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Your article, "The Blind Child in the Regular Elementary Classroom," is a must read article for all those interacting with Michael. Armed with a dozen copies, I first placed a copy of your article in his permanent file! Child Study Team members, the principal, occupational therapist, commission teacher, special teachers, and his classroom teacher all received a copy.
Your hands-on approach gives specific suggestions on how to enrich not only the classroom experience but daily interactions as well. The article is sequential and detailed. You outline many solutions to the daily frustrations we as parents face when new teachers work with our child. It is my hope that, each individual reading this article truly understands their significant role in aiding my child's independence.
Carol, the hours of love and thought that you have put into this work will not go unnoticed. As a caring parent of a visually impaired child, I thank you once more. You are a very special parent, and Serena is lucky to have you!
Neshanic, New Jersey
Editor's Note: This letter came in response to the article "Deaf-Blind and Determined" in the Winter/Spring, 1997 edition of Future Reflections. Readers may contact the organization to which Professor Hardy-Braz refers by writing or calling: National Family Association for Deaf-Blind (NFADB), 111 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point, NY 11050; 800-255-0411, extension 275.
Dear Ms. Cheadle.
I recently read your Winter/Spring 1997 edition of Future Reflections wherein an article mentions that there is no national organization for parents of individuals who are both deaf and blind. Please be aware and make your readers aware that indeed there is such an organization. It is called the National Family Association for Deaf-Blind. I've enclosed more information on that organization for you and your readers. I have found this organization to be extremely helpful and friendly towards parents and family members and highly recommend it. Raising a child who is both deaf and blind can be a challenge but no one has to do it alone. There are many deaf and blind individuals in society who are willing to help.
Steven T. Hardy-Braz, Psy.S., NCSP
Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf
Editor's Note: Most letters we receive mix business with compliments. Since the business part (address or name change, etc.)
is both private and of no interest to readers, the following letters have been appropriately edited.
August 14, 1997
To whom it may concern:
My son, Andrew, will be 3 years old in December and it has been a joy watching him grow and develop. Everything I've been getting from the Kernel books, the Braille Monitor, Future Reflections, the Kenneth Jernigan lending library, etc. has helped [us] to keep a positive attitude for Andrew's future. Aside from Andrew's vision impairment he also has cerebral palsy, and he just got a wheelchair last week!
Mrs. Cathy Behof
February 5, 1996
Dear Mrs. Cheadle,
Thank you for your excellent magazine. I look forward to it for personal use as well as a resource for the Illinois Parents of the Visually Impaired.
Eileen Martin, Newsletter Editor
Illinois Parents of the Visually Impaired
An affiliate of the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired (NAPVI)