Future Reflections

 ISSN 0883-3419

 Volume 18,  Number 1                    Barbara Cheadle, Editor                               
Spring, 1999

Copyright 1999, National Federation of the Blind

Future Reflections Subscription

Contents

The Summer of Independence
by Carol Castellano

NFB Blind Mentors
   A Chance to Teach, A Chance to Learn by Debbie Kent Stein
   Tutoring Class by Allison Hilliker

The Whole Truth About Partial Sight
by Christine Faltz

Braille, Print, or Both?

Resources for Helping Blind Music Students
by Mary Smaligo

What Can You Do For Your Multiply Handicapped
Blind Baby?

by Sheila McElhern

Teacher Recognition: Kim Challand, Braille Instructor 

Letters to the Editor

IEP (Individualized Education Program) Strategies
by Barbara Ebenstein

You’ve Got Mail
by David Andrews

From the Blind Kid Listserv
   *Canes for Low Vision Kids* 
    *Braille or Print? How About Both!*
    *Why did God Make Blind People?*

White Canes and Bible Verses

Belonging on Terms of Equality Within the Religious/Spiritual Community
by Lauren L. (Eckery) Merryfield

No Kidding Around for Child Care Centers and the ADA

The Blind Child in the Regular Preschool Program
by Ruby Ryles, Ph.D.

Finding Her Way
by Karen Crowe

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

NFB Book Order Forms:

Modular Instruction for Independent Travel
   for Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired:
  Preschool through High School

  by Doris M. Willoughby and Sharon L. Monthei

The Seeing Summer
 by Jeannette Eyerly

 The Summer of Independence
by Carol Castellano

Editor’s Note: Many readers will recognize Carol as the co-author of The Bridge to Braille: Reading and School Success for the Young Blind Child. Carol is also the President of the New Jersey Parents of Blind Children, and the First Vice President of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. The following article was written sometime following the summer of 1998. Here is what Carol has to say about her daughter’s “Summer of Independence:”

 My daughter Serena had just graduated from elementary school. We spent many mornings that summer practicing the route from our home to the Junior High School, where Serena would be entering seventh grade. The route seemed complicated. There was an auto repair shop along the way where cars and pickup trucks often jutted out onto the sidewalk. There was the blended curb at Main Street. There were high hedges that blocked traffic sounds and a driver’s view. There was the busy driveway of the school to be negotiated. Serena and I both felt a bit daunted by the task.

In July we put our practice sessions on hold for awhile. Serena was about to leave for the Buddy Program at the National Federation of  the Blind’s Louisiana Center for the Blind. Run entirely by blind persons, the four-week program promised learning activities, friendships, and fun to blind/visually impaired fourth to eighth graders. My husband, son, and I put Serena on a plane bound for Ruston, Louisiana. The airline assured us that they would take good care of our girl on the flight and make sure she made her connecting plane. Even with their assurances, I felt heavy-hearted until we heard later in the day that Serena had arrived safely at her destination.

 Four weeks is a long time for a family to be without one of their children! I couldn’t wait to make that first phone call during week one, to see how Serena was doing. A cheerful female voice greeted me. The young woman identified herself as Serena’s counselor, and said that Serena was doing fine. Serena’s voice was a little shaky, but she said she was having fun and working hard. She told me she was living in an apartment with two roommates and a counselor. She mentioned picnics and movies and swimming at a lake. Their days sounded busy, with classes in the morning and activities in the afternoons and evenings.

 During the call of the next week, I asked Serena if she’d tried any new foods during her stay in Louisiana. I was thinking of the gumbo and jambalaya and crawdaddies that might be served in that part of the country.

 “Yes,” Serena answered. “I’ve had new foods. We had Hamburger Helper. It was great! And we made Garbage Dip. I’m going to make that for you when I get home.”

 It turned out that a major part of the program is for the students in each apartment to plan, shop for, and prepare their own meals. Thus, the appeal of Hamburger Helper!

 In the phone call of the third week, we heard about horseback riding and potluck dinners, art class and dancing. Serena was beginning to miss us quite a lot, but there was only one more week to go. The counselors assured us that she was doing fine.

 The day of her return finally arrived. We really missed our girl, and I found myself practically in tears as we paced the airport corridor waiting for the plane to land. A few moments after we spotted her smiling face, I encircled my daughter in a relieved hug. I automatically reached for her hand and felt a slight drawing away before the small hand settled comfortably in mine.

 “Serena!,” I exclaimed. “You haven’t held hands with anyone for a month, have you!”

 “I guess not,” she responded after a moment of thought.

 “And I bet you haven’t been guided by anybody, either,” I added.

 “Not really,” she replied.

 The enormous significance struck me.

 “Our job,” I whispered to my husband, “is going to be to stay out of her way!”

 In the first few days after Serena’s homecoming, I was amazed at how many times I had to check my hand, as I reached out of habit to grab her hand, move her, turn her, guide her. Each time I was struck both by the utter importance of disciplining myself not to touch her and also by how terribly automatic it was to do so! And this was in a family that was well aware of the importance of independent movement. I realized that too often we still had taken the easy way out (in the short term) and pulled Serena along.

 As the days went on, Serena told us about the activities at the Center. She learned how to sweep, vacuum, do laundry, and clean the bathroom. Welcome home, kid! Serena explained that in addition to doing the work of keeping the apartment clean, the students also attended classes in daily living skills. She also asked if we could buy the ingredients for that Garbage Dip. Mmmmm.

 This child who had just lived on her own for a month—no mom to get out the cereal, no dad to grab the milk—now automatically moved to do her share of household tasks. We loved her new self-reliance. It was the most natural thing to Serena to continue taking care of herself. It was we who were so conscious of the difference. We had to learn how to keep the process of independence going and not get in its way.

 Serena told us more and more about the program. We learned that there were daily, individualized classes in Braille and computer, with the teachers starting at whatever point was right for each student. There were also daily cane lessons during the ten-block walk from the apartments to the classroom building.

 There was also plenty of fun. In addition to the horseback riding and swimming, the students went bowling and roller skating. They learned how to play goalball. They visited a waterpark and an amusement park. They attended art classes and dancing classes. They baked brownies and bread. They went out to dinner and the movies. There was also time for hanging around talking and sharing thoughts about being blind.

 Every day, Serena continued to demonstrate the results of her month of independent living. In addition to her self-reliance and initiative around the house, she seemed socially more capable, too, joining in confidently to conversations and speaking in a stronger voice. She figured more things out for herself and was more aggressive in her problem solving.

 It was in her movement, however, that we saw the most dramatic results. She was much more assertive in her movement now. She traveled with a new self-assurance that seemed to have as its underlying assumption, “Of course I can do this. Why on earth would anyone ever question it?” Even the way she carried herself had changed. Her head was high, her shoulders resolute. She looked as if she had finally claimed the treasure that was rightfully hers!

 I began to feel as if some kind of magic had taken place. I suppose it was the “magic” of a child responding to well-thought-out activities taught in a total-immersion setting by competent blind role models and mentors in an atmosphere of support, encouragement, hard work, and fun!

 The Center’s program culminated in an impressive travel experience. The students and counselors went as a group by bus to a local shopping mall. There, the students were paired off and given assignments to complete. Partners were allowed to help each other if necessary. Counselors followed unobtrusively and only intervened if a student really needed help.

 Each pair of students had to find the food court and ascertain what types of food were available. Then they had to order lunch at the restaurant of their choice, find a table, and eat. After lunch, Serena’s task was to locate the movie theater and find out what movies were showing. Her partner had to find the hardware store and then locate a certain section within it.

 “You did all that?” I asked Serena in disbelief. “You went to a mall and found a restaurant and bought yourself lunch and located the movie theater?” I was amazed! Serena had never been given this kind of challenge before. She rose to it beautifully! No wonder she seemed so confident and self-assured.

 One day not long after her return, Serena said to me, “By the way, Mom, the route to the Junior High? Gonna be a piece of cake.”

  With gratitude to program directors Pam Dubel and Joanne Wilson for the thought and energy they put into this wonderful program and with loving thanks to my husband Bill Cucco for giving me the courage to let Serena attend.

 From the Editor: The Louisiana Center for the Blind is one of three NFB Centers which operate summer programs for blind children and youth. Here is how you may contact them for more information:

 

Blindness: Learning in New Dimensions (BLIND, Inc.)
Joyce Scanlan, Director
100 East 22nd Street, South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404-2514
(800) 597-9558  and (612) 872-0100
 fax: (612) 872-9358
e-mail: <info@blindinc.org>
website: <www.blindinc.org>
Children’s Program Director: Joyce Scanlan

 Colorado Center for the Blind
Julie Deeden, Director

1830 South Acoma Street
Denver, Colorado 80223-3606
(800) 401-4632 and  (303) 778-1130
fax: (303) 778-1598
e-mail <ccb@ccb-denver.org>
website <www.ccb-denver.org>
Children’s Program Director: Dan Wenzel

 Louisiana Center for the Blind
Joanne Wilson, Director

101 South Trenton
Ruston, Louisiana 71270-4431
(800) 234-4166 and  (318) 251-2891
  fax: (318) 251-0109
e-mail: <wilsonj@lcb-ruston.com>
website: <www.lcb-ruston.com>
Children’s Program Director: Pam Dubel

 NFB Blind Mentors

From the Editor: The word “mentor” is derived from the ancient Greek epic poem The Odyssey. In preparation for his long journey Odysseus chooses his friend and advisor, Mentor, to be the guardian and tutor of his son during his absence. In modern usage a mentor, according to the American Heritage Dictionary is “a wise and trusted counselor or friend.”

 Mentoring, as we know it today can take several forms. It can be formal, for example, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Or it can be unplanned, as when a neighbor, teacher, coach, a religious leader, or someone else takes a special interest in a young person and becomes his/her trusted advisor and friend. Formal or unplanned, the term implies commitment. Erwin Flaxman, a leading researcher on mentoring wrote: “Throughout the country, mentoring has come to be considered a powerful way to provide adult contacts for youth who are isolated from adults in their schools, homes, communities, and workplaces.”

 In the case of blind children and youth, the adults from whom they are most often isolated are blind adults. It is not unusual for a blind child never to meet another blind adult—or in some cases, even another blind child—until long after he/she starts school. But with the founding of the NFB parents’ division—the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children—more and more parents discovered that the NFB is a natural resource that includes, among other things, potential mentors for them and their children. With affiliates in every state plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, the NFB is the most widely accessible means for blind youth to come into contact with a variety of blind adults of all ages, skills, occupations, and interests.

 Mentoring in the NFB most often takes the “unplanned” course. When a parent, a blind child or youth, or a newly blinded adult attends an NFB function—such as a National Convention, a state convention, a local chapter meeting, a seminar, a picnic, etc.—he/she meets someone they like, and who takes a special interest in them. Without any formal structure or guidance, just the willingness on both parties to make a commitment of time and energy, the mentoring relationship grows and flourishes. 

 As the mentee grows in confidence and no longer needs an active mentor, he/she often becomes an informal mentor to someone else in the organization.

 Formal mentoring programs require more deliberate planning and coordination as well as a commitment of time and resources from all parties involved—parents, adults, and youth. These programs are not easy to start, or to keep going, especially on an all-volunteer basis. But some NFB affiliates—including Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, and New Jersey—have developed some very exciting, rewarding mentoring programs, which are truly changing the lives of blind children.

 Here are two reports, one from Michigan and one from Illinois, which demonstrate something of what these mentoring programs can mean to the blind youth involved:   

 A Chance to Teach, A Chance
to Learn

by Debbie Kent Stein

 Reprinted from Parents Helping Parents, the Newsletter of the Illinois Parents of Blind Children, a Division of the NFB of Illinois, May/June, 1998.

 In the Federation, people often talk about the need for blind people to learn alternative techniques from one another. Over the past several months, Patti Chang and I, both of us blind Federationists, have had the chance to put this ideal into practice by mentoring two blind teens. We meet with the girls every few weeks, sometimes at Patti’s home, sometimes at mine. Often we prepare a meal together. We give the girls pointers, but they do everything on their own, from grating breadcrumbs to frying bacon. Patti has also taught child-care techniques, with her 18-month-old daughter, Julia, as a demonstration model. We’ve done some work on mobility, and last week the girls planted bushes and tulip bulbs in my garden.

 The girls were eager to learn, and there is a great deal they want to know beyond gardening and cooking. We talk as we work. We share experiences, some frustrating and some rewarding. In their quest for knowledge about living as blind women, the girls raise a host of challenging questions. Not every question has a ready answer. But for all of us, this time together is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow. 

Interview with
Shanetta Winston, age 15

 When I first went to Patti’s house, I wanted to learn how to do laundry. That day we cooked meatloaf, and I made mashed potatoes. Debbie Stein’s daughter Janna was there, too. We washed dishes together, and it was fun having a partner.

 One time we went downtown with Patti and saw where she works as a lawyer. I liked the way she works with her clients. It was really cool. We went out to lunch, and I went up to the counter by myself and asked them for what I wanted. That really felt good!

 I didn’t think I would like gardening, but I loved it. Planting the tulip bulbs was easy. But I hated the part where we had to spread manure. I just hated the whole idea of that!

 Since I’ve been going to Patti’s and Debbie’s, I use the stove more at home, and I cut things like tomatoes. At school, I’ve been helping the parents of some of the younger blind kids. I take them (the parents) on cane walks under sleepshades so they can find out what using the cane is like. I want to tell parents that if you have a child that’s blind, be sure to let them do things, because they really can. And I still want to learn how to do laundry.

 Tutoring Class

by Allison Hilliker

Editor’s note: The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan has operated an all-volunteer bi-monthly tutoring class for blind children for a number of years. Blind adults, blind teen-agers, and sighted members of the affiliate volunteer as instructors/mentors for this program. Allison Hilliker wrote the following essay for a school assignment. In it, she describes her experience as a mentor/tutor in the NFB of Michigan program.  Allison is an honor roll student, and will be a high school senior this fall. Here is what Allison has to say:

 At first I was unsure of whether or not I really wanted to go. Did I actually want to crawl out of my nice, warm bed in the middle of winter to spend my Saturday mornings watching a bunch of little kids learn to read? Then again, the idea mildly intrigued me that someone just might need my help.

 When I got to the tutoring class, I was surrounded by a dozen or so kids ranging in age from four to fourteen. There were a few adults around, but it didn’t take me long to see that they needed all the help they could get. Although I wasn’t quite sure what I should share with them, the kids quickly pulled me into their cluster and bombarded me with all sorts of different questions. I was so caught up in their enthusiasm to learn that what I thought would be difficult for me to share with them became natural and easy. You see, what I was sharing with them was Braille—literacy for the blind.

 In all of these kids, I saw a part of myself. They were hungry to learn to read or write or do math. Unfortunately, like me, these things were supposed to have been learned in school like other kids learn them. But because of low quality programs or poorly trained teachers, all of these blind kids were behind their sighted peers in their skills. Some had partial vision, like me, and even though they struggled with print, their teachers didn’t feel they needed to learn Braille. The totally blind kids also had slow skills because they, too, weren’t getting adequate training or instruction. Very sad facts considering they were all intelligent children!

 That’s why I felt this tutoring class was so important. I, too, have experienced the same frustrations that all of them were going through, and I wanted to do what little I could to help them improve their skills. Growing up, I could see print rather well, but as the print grew smaller, it became apparent that unless I learned Braille, I would never keep up. Like these children, I trusted educators to teach me what I would need in order to be literate. Unfortunately, in our state, there is no law that requires blind kids to be taught Braille, even though there is one that says you should teach all children to read.

 At the tutoring classes, I saw a fourteen-year-old who was partially sighted who could hardly read Braille. Like me, she was becoming frustrated with print, but had hardly any Braille skills to help her read in school. Another child, who was totally blind, read Braille relatively well, but when her fifth grade class worked on geometry, she was told she wouldn’t be able to do angles because she had never been taught Braille math (Nemeth code). She was more than smart enough, and upset because she really wanted to be able to do the things the rest of her class were doing. Still another child could write on a Braille writer, but was never taught to use a slate and stylus (which is equivalent to pencil or pen). Her teacher thought she would never have a need for it. These are all simple, basic requirements to achieving literacy.

 Working in this class made me determined to make a change so that, in the future, blind kids can get what should be taught them in school like the rest of their classmates. This shouldn’t have to be done on Saturday mornings. It should be something they are entitled to receive right along with the sighted child sitting in the desk next to them.

 In the past few years, the NFB in our state has been trying to do something to improve this problem. A proposed Braille literacy bill, if passed, would ensure blind kids in Michigan the right to be taught to read and write Braille. Up until this time, I hadn’t realized that I could really make a difference. Now suddenly, seeing how badly these kids wanted to learn to read, I was inspired to help change their future. I didn’t want them to have to go through the same struggles that I have. I wanted to make it easier for them and maybe even inspire them, too.

 Although I have never been a crusader, this lack of basic human rights is cause enough for me to persevere and keep on fighting. Just one pair of hands running across a sentence, being able to read it, is definitely worth every bit of my effort.

 If you are interested in organizing a more formal mentoring program for blind children and their families in your state or community, please contact Barbara Cheadle, President, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230 (410) 659-9314, <barcheadle@erols.com>

The Whole Truth About Partial Sight

by Christine Faltz

Reprinted from the December, 1998, Braille Monitor, the monthly publication of the National Federation of the Blind.The article was originally published in the Steppingstone, the newsletter of the Long Island Parents of Blind Children. 

From the Editor: As the blind mother of a little girl who is also blind, Christine is especially interested in blindness issues and the challenges of raising a blind child to be a normal kid. Here is an article she wrote last summer:

 As President of the Long Island Chapter of Parents of Blind Children, I am often contacted by parents in search of resources and information for their children. While I have been aware for some time that blind people with usable residual vision face special problems, I am becoming increasingly conscious of the many negative consequences of the mainstream handling of partially sighted people.

 Let me be clear. I am not overly concerned with the individual whose residual vision allows him or her to perform most of life’s tasks with age-appropriate skill and efficiency. If a legally blind or low-vision child is using regular print or large type without magnification and without fatigue and pain, and if he or she can travel independently and safely in unfamiliar areas, the alternative techniques of blindness may well not be necessary. However, when I hear that a child cannot read efficiently without magnification and that inability to keep up with assignments in school is accepted as a natural consequence of visual difficulties, I am deeply troubled by the culture of denial, fear and misinformation which will ultimately result in a young person ill-equipped for college, employment, or community involvement.

 Why do teachers, eye-care specialists, and some parents choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that  a blind person without proficient Braille and independent mobility skills is significantly less likely to become gainfully employed? How could an efficient reading system, such as Braille and a safe, effective travel tool like the white cane, engender mistrust and fear so intimidating and distasteful that thousands of men and women are robbed of the chance to take advantage of their full potential, growing to believe that it is normal for them to be slow, inefficient, uncomfortable, and in need of extraordinary accommodations? What about their inability to read to their children—if indeed they have the self-esteem and wherewithal to create  a family—and their  avoidance of socializing except in familiar areas because they cannot travel independently?

 Part of the problem lies in the definition of legal blindness. There are many people who are functionally blind, despite having visual acuity above that of legal blindness. Another complication is society’s fear of anything it doesn’t understand. I often hear “This is a difficult age” or “I tried Braille with him; he didn’t want any part of it.” A teen-ager who refuses cane instruction because he or she will look different is going to progress from a difficult age to a difficult life of dependency and inability to experience the full range of possibilities for employment and recreation because he or she cannot go wherever the best job interview or the best party is. Is it better to rely on your friends, dates, and colleagues to get you around, or is it better to be a competent, confident traveler, eventually practically oblivious to your travel tool as it becomes a part of you?

 When a child resists learning math because  it seems too difficult or because there is something more fun to do at the moment, we don’t give in; we should treat students who don’t like learning Braille the same way. It is often difficult for parents to envision their children as adults, and it is common to have the not- my-child attitude—after all, if you act as if  your child can do anything despite being afflicted with pesky visual problems, won’t he or she  have the confidence to persevere and succeed? You bet!—Assuming that child is also equipped with the necessary tools to put such values into practice. You can tell the child of a broken home who attends a poor school in a dangerous neighborhood that with belief in oneself one can surmount any personal obstacles. But if his or her performance is not  commensurate with inherent ability and if a  lackluster performance pronounced to be  “just fine” and “all one can expect from someone in such a situation,” where will all those fine words and good intentions get the student?

 It is not acceptable for a child with poor vision to skate by, depending on special allowances and privileges, if he or she is capable of age-appropriate work. A child who is functionally blind and has average to above-average intelligence and no complicating disabilities should be handing in school assignments with everyone else; should not be fatigued by reading, and should be completing reading assignments along with sighted classmates. A child who struggles valiantly to keep excellent grades, suffering with eyestrain and headaches, spending inordinate amounts of time on homework, relying on parents, siblings, or classmates to read to him; unable to read the notes and papers she writes— is not amazing or extraordinary for all those unnecessary, Herculean efforts. That child is a casualty of fear and ignorance, someone losing out on extracurricular and other social activities, someone whose belief in his or her supposed self-worth and equality is being challenged at every level. The lack of normal vision will never be a nuisance, an inconvenience to this person: it will be a lifelong social and employment handicap, a source of increasing frustration and resentment — a recipe for failure at worst and of untapped potential at best.

 Parents and teachers must look beyond the here and now. When they are gone, their children and students must be able to live, not merely survive, on their own. Their lives should not be peppered with “If onlys” and “What ifs.” They should not grow up with the notion that there was nothing more anyone could have done to give them opportunities equal to those available to their sighted peers. Any skill which has the slightest chance of easing their way should be developed in them while they are young. Shouldn’t a disabled child be given every reasonable chance to be fully equal, fully independent, a fully contributing, first-class citizen? Legally blind, low vision, partially sighted, practically blind—the lexicon of political correctness, euphemisms, and denial marches on. If your child is not capable of age-appropriate work and play, vision problems by themselves are no excuse. ‘Partial sight’ should not be allowed to result in a partial life.

Braille, Print, or Both?

From the Editor: I’ve been asked by parents and teachers to print something about the nuts and bolts of how to evaluate a child for print and/or Braille. In light of the 1997 IDEA amendments, which require that an evaluation is done before an IEP team can decide to not provide Braille instruction to a blind or visually impaired child, this seemed like a good suggestion. I decided to reprint portions of the guidelines used by teachers of the visually impaired in my state (Maryland). Even though I served on the task force that developed the guidelines (and therefore admit I might have some bias), I do think they are about as good as any I’ve seen.

  The guidelines were developed by the Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Special Education, in consultation with the Mid-South Regional Resource Center, University of Kentucky. The document is called Selection of Reading and Writing Media for Students with Visual Impairments: Braille, Print, or Both? A Resource Document, December, 1992. It is a 24-page document (not counting the preface and contents page) with appendices that include: “A. Definitions, B. Assessment Questions for Families and Students, C. Functional Vision Assessment Questions, and D. Reading List.” I have reprinted the preface and parts IV and V of the five-part body of the document.

 A limited number of free print copies of the complete Maryland Resource document are available from:

 National Organization of
Parents of Blind Children

1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

 Other print/Braille assessment kits and evaluation guidelines are available from:

American Printing House for the Blind
1-800-223-1839, website: <www:aph.org>

and the

Texas School for the Blind, (512) 454-8631, website: <www.tsbvi.edu/publications/>.

 Here now are the excerpts from Selection of Reading and Writing Media for Students with Visual Impairments: Braille, Print, or Both? A Resource Document:

Preface

In recent years, the use of Braille by school-age children who are visually impaired has become the focus of advocacy groups and educators. Many individuals have come to believe there has been a decline in the use of Braille, and see this as a cause of illiteracy among blind and visually impaired students.

 To address concerns that had been raised in Maryland, the State Department of Education established an advisory panel in November, 1991, to develop guidelines to be used by Admission, Review, and Dismissal/Individualized Education Program Committees (ARD/IEP Committees) when determining reading and writing media for students with visual impairments. At the same time, a task force was formed by the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland to draft legislation related to literacy for students who are blind and visually impaired. These efforts took place concurrently for most of the 1991-92 school year. Participants in both of these activities included members of the Department, local school systems, the Maryland School for the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council for the Blind, and consumers.

 In May, 1992, Governor William Donald Schaefer signed H.B. 859, Blind Student’s Literacy Rights and Education Act. This legislation creates a presumption that proficiency in Braille is essential to the literacy of blind and visually impaired students and imposes certain procedural requirements on the decision-making process beyond what is contained in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and COMAR 13A.05.01. [Editor’s note: with the passage of the 1997 IDEA amendments, this statement is no longer true. IDEA now has a Braille literacy provision, too.] The primary purpose of this document is to provide guidance and direction to local education agencies and state operated programs for implementation of this legislation. 

Additionally, it is intended that this document will increase the awareness level about Braille among school personnel, provide a mechanism that will allow for consistency among local education agencies and state operated programs when making decisions about a student’s reading and writing media, and assist ARD/IEP Committee members in their educational decision-making.

 While literacy involves more than reading and writing, these two functions remain critical keys for achieving literacy. This document focuses on reading and writing, assuming that other functions will be addressed as needed. The document also has a strong focus toward Braille. This emphasis is not intended to discourage other options available to students who are blind or visually impaired. These options are widely accepted and used, and are generally familiar to professionals and the general public. It is hoped that this emphasis will counterbalance what is perceived by some as a long-standing preference for print and that the use of Braille will be more positively received by school personnel and families.

IV. Assessment Process

The following guidelines are designed to assist in the assessment of students who are readers, or who have the cognitive ability to become readers. The ARD/IEP Committee must have the medical and functional vision data and be aware of future reading needs. Other information about cognitive and affective development, learning style, and motor skills will assist in the development of appropriate individualized teaching strategies. Assessments should be conducted in a prompt and timely manner. Reading and writing instruction in Braille and/or print should never be delayed, but should be initiated on an interim basis as necessary.

 Medical Information:

Current medical information about the eye condition should include etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, best corrected near and distance acuities, and visual fields. A low vision report may provide helpful information about: contrast sensitivity, binocularity, eye fatigue, recommended visual environment (e.g., glare reduction and illumination adjustments), ocular-motor skills, and prescribed optical and non-optical low vision devices.

 Medical information about additional disabilities may be relevant. Some physical conditions and cognitive impairments may affect the student’s ability to read and write. Medication can impact visual and/or tactual functioning.

 Functional Vision Information:

A comprehensive functional vision assessment will be the cornerstone of the overall assessment. In order to obtain the most complete information possible, the team should work closely with family, student, classroom teachers, and related service providers to evaluate the following factors:

 Physical Factors: Working distance from page, endurance, fluctuating vision, fatigue, headache, backache, eye strain, stamina, posture, arm strength, and head position provide information on the functional use of vision.

 Environmental Factors: The student’s reaction to natural and artificial lighting, glare, color, and contrast sensitivity are critical to performance expectations.

 Print Reading Factors: Performance demands created by print size, print style, spacing, clarity, contrast, and reading speed and accuracy both silent and oral must be part of the total assessment.

 Handwriting Factors: Legibility, pen type, and writing and reading speed and accuracy provide information concerning a student’s ability to carry out functional handwriting demands.

 Low Vision Technological Factors: Dependence on CCTV, hand-held magnifiers, and other support mechanisms provide further data concerning a student’s functional vision.

 Note: In evaluating prereaders, more emphasis must be placed on the physical and environmental factors plus available medical information. 

Projected Reading and Writing Needs:

An assessment of reading and writing needs will carefully consider how a student will function in upcoming years as print size diminishes and reading demands increase. The appropriate reading and writing media must provide for effective personal communication and full participation in community, vocational, and social settings. 

General Educational Information:

Cognitive Development: A student’s concept development; visual, tactual, and auditory discrimination; perception; and language development should be evaluated to determine how the student is functioning relative to peers in the areas of reading and writing.

 Affective Development: Consideration of socialization skills, recreational and vocational interests, plus motivation for learning will help the ARD/IEP Committee gain insight into how the student’s affective development is impacting the ability to perform general educational and specific visual tasks over time.

 Fine Motor Skills: Consideration should be given to the student’s current tactual discrimination, hand and finger dexterity, finger isolation, finger touch, finger strength, and page turning ability. These aspects of physical development assist in selecting strategies for teaching reading and writing, either print or Braille.

V. Decision-Making Process

The decision to teach Braille, print, or both will take into consideration all of the information gathered during the assessment. The assessment information will help the team select from among the following options. Students may be taught to use:

1. Braille

2. Print

3. Braille, complemented with print

4. Print, complemented with Braille

 The remainder of this section provides examples of the kinds of assessment data that will assist a team in choosing one of the four options. Of course, assessment descriptions provided below are somewhat generic, i.e., not all parts of the descriptions will apply to each student. Since students are individuals, not everyone will fit neatly into one of the four categories. In reviewing these descriptions, team members should ask which factors best describe the individual student.

 It is also important to remember that when the selected option includes both Braille and print, the amount of usage with one or the other will vary with each student. Student input should be obtained so that the team decision is sensitive to student preference and concerns. Additionally, as a student’s vision or visual demands change over time, the usage of one medium over another may change.

 However, even though a student may use one medium more than another at a given point in time, it is critical that the student develop proficient use of both. For the preschool student, this will mean that opportunities for visual and tactual activities are provided equally. Later, the amount of time teaching or practicing with a certain medium will depend on all assessment data and the current needs of the student. The team must continually focus on the ultimate outcome that the student will be able to choose and use the medium of preference or the medium most functional for a given situation.

Which Students
 Should Learn Braille?

Medical Factors: Student is totally blind, nearly so, or is expected to experience rapid loss of vision.

 Physical Factors: An additional disability does not interfere with the ability to learn Braille.

 Environmental Factors: Adjustments in natural and artificial lighting do not enhance student ability to read print.

 Print Reading Factors: If the student can read print at all, reading is extremely slow and laborious, even when all print factors have been adjusted for maximum efficiency.

Handwriting Factors: Student cannot read own handwriting to carry out functional handwriting demands.

 Low Vision Technological Factors: Student cannot read print at any comfort level, even using a CCTV or other non-portable devices.

Which Students
Should Learn Print?

Medical Factors: Student has a stable eye condition, or has a prognosis of continued improvement.

 Physical Factors: Student experiences no fatigue or discomfort from reading. The nature of an additional disability prohibits tactual reading. Student, when systematically assessed, exhibits inability to process tactual information with any accuracy and facility.

 Environmental Factors: Student does not require extensive modifications in natural or artificial lighting in order to read comfortably for extended periods of time.

 Print Reading Factors: Student reads regular print comfortably and efficiently, in most settings and circumstances. Reading rate and accuracy is commensurate with student’s expected grade level. Performance level is commensurate with overall ability. Student can use print easily for all academic, nonacademic, and vocational needs.

 Handwriting factors: Student has legible handwriting and can easily read own and others’ notes at a comfortable distance, even after some time has elapsed.

 Low Vision Technological Factors: Student reads regular print without low vision devices and comfortably uses pocket-size magnification for reading fine print, such as the telephone book, medicine labels, dictionary, and encyclopedia.

 Which Students Should Learn Braille Complemented with Print?

Medical Factors: Student has diagnosis or prognosis of severe visual impairment, has a degenerative eye condition, or has severely restricted visual fields.

 Physical Factors: Student holds book close to face, can read only large print, or regularly suffers from headaches, fatigue, or visual discomfort after reading. Student exhibits strong preference for tactual exploration and learning. Student can read using an electronic low vision aid, but with effort; cannot read with hand-held magnifiers with any reasonable speed or comprehension. Student is consistently unable independently to complete assigned school work in a timely manner.

 Environmental Factors: Glare and/or lighting variations make reading difficult or impossible in many settings.

 Print Reading Factors: Student’s print reading speed is far below that of other students of the same development level. Student consistently demonstrates inaccuracy when reading. Student has difficult in reading a variety of print styles or print on colored background.

 Handwriting Factors: Student can only read notes when written with a broad tip pen 1-2 inches high and may have difficulty accurately reading what was written, or can only read notes using a CCTV or other non-portable devices.

 Low Vision Technological Factors: Student can write only when using a CCTV or other non-portable devices.

Which Students Should Learn Print Complemented With Braille?

Medical Factors: Student has a currently stable eye condition but is at risk of eventual deterioration, has a slowly progressive eye condition, has restricted visual fields, or has fluctuating vision.

 Physical Factors: Student posture during reading results in back and neck strain or headaches. Student complains of watering eyes, blurring, or other visual discomfort after extensive reading or writing tasks. Student cannot complete assignments without relying on other individuals or technology for reading and/or note taking.

 Environmental Factors: Glare and/or lighting variations make reading difficult or impossible in some settings.

 Print Reading Factors: Student cannot read regular print, easily and accurately, for an appropriate length of time in order to complete tasks throughout the day. Student may read material in both regular and large print formats. Student reads primarily in large print format combined with optical or electronic low vision devices. Student is unable to maintain a reading rate commensurate with grade level work demands. Student depends on extraordinarily large print for accessing practical information such as oral report notes, grocery lists, names and addresses, etc. In preschool, observations should include how a student approaches learning, i.e., a visual versus tactual approach.

 Handwriting Factors: Student has difficulty producing and reading own or other’s handwriting.

 Low Vision Technological Factors: Student may use CCTV or other non-portable devices for visual materials such as maps and diagrams.

  Resources for Helping Blind Music Students

by Mary A. Smaligo

Editor’s Note: Mary Smaligo, an instructor of piano and voice, has taught elementary and high school chorus, band, and strings in Pennsylvania public schools. Her knowledge on the topic of resources for blind music students arises out of her own experiences in trying to get Braille music instruction for her blind daughter, Beth. Mary also actively shares her knowledge and provides encouragement to other parents about music education as a volunteer through the NOPBC music network. As helpful as the network is, however, it does not reach all parents, nor does it reach another audience that needs information about the importance of Braille music: school music teachers. So, Mary submitted an article to Future Reflections and to the Music Educator’s Journal, a national journal published by the Music Educators National Conference (MENC). In September, 1998, MENC published Mary’s article. Here is (with appropriate revisions) Mary’s article: 

 While literary Braille is well-known as a tool that blind students can use to read text, surprisingly few people are aware that Louis Braille, a blind piano teacher, also invented music Braille to help blind students learn to read and play music. The general principles of literary Braille and music Braille are similar. Both systems use a “cell” containing six dots in varying combinations that blind people read by touching, but music Braille, which is the only internationally unified code, assigns different meanings to the dot combinations.

 Music educators can help blind Braille readers learn music reading skills. An entire Braille music symbol system correlating to the print music system exists, and a large amount of sheet music for individual or group use is available. Taking advantage of existing resources, teachers can provide Braille music so that blind students have the opportunity to learn to read music at the same time that sighted students do. If the effort is successful, the Braille student can read music independently and can participate in ensemble groups or perform as a soloist to the extent that his or her musical ability allows.

 Blind students are a low-incidence factor in the overall population; in an entire career, a music teacher may encounter such a student only once or twice. Overwhelmed by what seems to be required, but unable to locate suitable resources, the teacher may still try to do the right thing despite having virtually no tools. A general awareness about Braille music and its availability can help to resolve this dilemma. Although this article is not a comprehensive, detailed survey of existing resources for blind music students, a number of readily available resources are discussed.

Colleagues and Parents

The assistance that local teachers of blind students can provide through their thorough knowledge of resources, specifically in educational settings, cannot be underestimated. Such a teacher, usually employed by the area’s major special education office, may already teach the blind student who is entering the music class. Acquiring classroom music textbooks for the proper grade level, helping the student to Braille his or her own musical compositions, determining Braille music reading readiness, contacting Braille music transcribers, and acting on behalf of the student’s needs and school personnel are just some of the ways in which these local teachers can help music educators and their students.

 Parents of blind children may already be well on their way to locating resources for their child. Collaborating with parents, especially if they are also working with the child’s Braille literary teacher, can be invaluable. It is advisable to consult with them frequently as to resources and progress and to explain to them how they can help advance their child’s music education. Parents may be able to supplement the teacher’s efforts to obtain information and material and will appreciate being kept informed.

First Steps for the Youngest

Like most sighted students, blind students begin to learn to read in first grade, and like many sighted students who take music lessons, they begin learning to read music one to three years later.

 A tactile music staff with various textures for notes (sandpaper, cardboard, etc.), along with verbal explanations, can provide the student with some idea of the format of printed music, the shapes of print notes and symbols, and the linear motion of notes. Much of this information will transfer to learning to read Braille music when specific note and symbol reading is introduced to all students.

Beyond Recorded Music

As a music student progresses, a desperate but dedicated teacher may decide that having the student listen to recorded music and learn by memorization is the only option available for helping the student maintain progress with the rest of the class. While helpful in some aspects of music education for all students, these methods alone are insufficient for blind students learning how to read music. Even if a sighted student already knew how to read music, a committed music educator would not permit him or her to learn music using only recorded materials and rote methods.

 In combination with Braille music reading, however, instrumental teachers who teach individuals, small groups, and bands/orchestras would do well to use a lesson book that comes with a play-along cassette or CD. The nature of Braille music reading means memorization of each lesson after the student reads it and the teacher is confident that the student understands it. A play-along cassette, which should never be used as a substitute for Braille music, can streamline memorization efforts and equalize the mechanics of Braille music reading in comparison to standard printed music.

 A free correspondence course for learning to read Braille music notation is offered by the Hadley School for the Blind. [Editor’s note: See the resource list at the end of this article for contact information for this service and other resources discussed in this article.]

National  Library Service

The Music Section of the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is the main source for borrowing Braille music in the United States. Materials in Braille make up the largest portion of the collection. The NLS holdings, which include virtually all available printed and hand-produced Braille scores, recordings, and texts, offer instrumental music, vocal and choral music, some popular music, librettos, textbooks, instructional method books, and music periodicals. Recorded courses for beginning guitar, piano, organ, accordion, recorder, voice, and theory have been purchased or specifically developed for the NLS program. Anyone who is unable to read or use standard printed materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations may receive service. Loaned items are sent to borrowers and returned to NLS by postage free mail. The staff also provides information about purchasing or borrowing music from other sources.

 Blind or otherwise visually disabled persons can enroll in the National Library Service system upon request. A letter or call to the Music Section of NLS from the music teacher, the student’s parents or guardians, or the teacher of the blind who provides services to the student will bring information about all NLS Braille music resources. Loans are made in the name of the certified individual, and teachers, parents, or guardians can request materials for the student’s use. (For example, while a music teacher or school would not be loaned How to Read Braille Music, the eligible student can borrow it in both large print and Braille.) If the Braille teacher, the music teacher, and the student will be working together, arrangements can be made to borrow two Braille copies and one printed copy of the same book in the student’s name so that each person has a book to use.

Useful Publications

A simple, concise resource is How to Read Braille Music, Book I, which is written on a fifth-grade reading level so that it can be used as a self-help resource for beginning through intermediate level Braille reading musicians. Especially useful in the classroom, How to Read Braille Music includes vocal and instrumental music code peculiarities, as well as an index of music symbols.

 The Primer of Braille Music, another possibility, contains thirty lessons, twenty-four of which cover the basic knowledge required for reading music. Lessons 25-30 cover vocal and instrumental music. Each lesson presents the same information for both sighted and blind users, with Braille characters and signs on the left side of each page and text and music on the right side.

 Although it was published in 1960, Braille Music Chart, new revised edition, available in print and Braille, is still useful as a ready reference in classroom music lessons and as a guide for Braille readers to music symbols written on the chalkboard for sighted students. Containing a complete list of all Braille music symbols, it may also be useful to the advanced student. The Dictionary of Braille Music Signs, a more detailed reference work, is suitable for advanced students.  

If knowledge of increasingly advanced Braille music notation becomes necessary, the New International Manual of Braille Music Notation, published in 1996, is now available in print, Braille, and CD-ROM.

 The Central Catalog, published by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), lists volunteer-produced Braille, large-print, and recorded textbooks; commercially produced large print textbooks; and regular press Braille and large-type books produced by APH. The database from which the catalog is produced daily is called APH-LOUIE and is available on the Internet by subscription through APH.

Transcription Resources

One particularly important resource from the National Library Service is an annually published circular listing Braille music transcribers around the country. Because some music that the teacher wants his or her students to learn to play may not be available in Braille through the usual channels, access to transcribers is necessary for successfully mainstreaming blind students into the music class.

 If a music teacher uses worksheets for the class, a Braille music transcriber can transfer the printed text and music to Braille. Turn-around time for this sort of Brailling makes it necessary to plan well ahead. While music transcribers now have the technological advantage of computer software to assist in the process, time must still be allowed for the transcriber to receive the printed worksheet, mentally convert the printed notation into Braille, and then input the result. Using software similar to word processing, the transcriber can then correct, copy, move, delete, and save the data in the file. The file is then printed on a Braille printer and sent back to the requestor, or a disk can be sent for printing if the requestor has access to a Braille printer. Each Braille music transcriber determines the cost for each page of Braille.

 Band and choral music otherwise unavailable can easily be sent to a Braille music transcriber in the same fashion as the worksheet.

 It is also possible to become trained as a certified Braille music transcriber. Prerequisites include a Library of Congress certificate in literary Braille and some specialized equipment. For more information, contact the NLS.

 Some newly developed software automatically converts print to Braille, allowing a sighted person with no knowledge of Braille music transcription to scan printed music into a database from which Braille can be printed. Other software offers similar or other functions related to or supportive of computerized transcription of Braille music reading. This area of software development is very new, and a number of products are being developed by private enterprises. Music educators interested in computer technology for their blind students are encouraged to contact the NLS or other advocacy organizations to obtain the latest information.

Organizations

In circumstances other than school situations, a call to a local blind association, rehabilitation agency for the blind, or chapter of the National Federation of the Blind could provide extra help, if needed. A list of state agencies that administer rehabilitation and special education services is available from NLS.

 The National Braille Association assists those involved in developing and improving skills and techniques for producing materials for those who are print-handicapped. A central depository for hand-transcribed Braille masters, the association offers items for sale at prices under cost, and all production is done by volunteers. The catalog, free upon request, offers brass, string, woodwind, percussion, organ, piano, and voice music materials, as well as items on harmony theory and popular music.

 A source of general information is the Music Education Network for the Visually Impaired (MENVI). It describes itself as “a coalition of parents, educators, and students” who function as a network providing information and resources, including phone numbers, on music education topics concerning blind students. MENVI will send a membership application and regular newsletters in Braille and print containing helpful articles upon request. Recent newsletters have addressed such topics as free Internet services for the blind, exercises that parents can use to begin their blind child’s musical education, and tips for blind children on how to learn to sing in a choir.

 Located at the University of Bridgeport, with satellite locations throughout Connecticut, the Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped (MACH) offers a variety of courses and programs focused on Braille music, musicianship, and using the computer as a music tool. Affiliated with MACH, the National Resource Center for Blind Musicians responds to inquiries about sources for Braille music and provides advice on accessible music technology.

 The National Federation of the Blind’s mission is to seek “the complete integration of persons who are blind into society on a basis of equality.” The organization focuses on legislative issues, publishes a monthly magazine, Braille Monitor, and two quarterlies, and sells additional publications and assistive devices through its Materials Center. Two divisions, the Music Division and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, have established the Music Education Network for the Benefit of Blind Students, which is coordinated by volunteers.

For College-Bound Musicians

For the past three years, the MACH Summer Music Institute has offered a three-week live-in program for blind college-bound music students. The program focuses on music, Braille music, and computer skills (including composition and scoring) and helps students develop strategies for university-level academic study and on-campus living. To obtain a brochure and an application, send a request to MACH.

 In addition to its Preparatory and Conservatory Divisions, which address the needs of beginning and advanced students, the Southern California Conservatory of Music offers bachelor and associate degrees in music to blind students through its Braille Music Division. Its stated goals are to prepare the serious student for a professional career and to train the motivated student for a full, active cultural life and influence in society. The Conservatory can be contacted through MENVI.

 While blind students may attend any college or university as long as they meet the school’s requirements for all students, there are other college-level courses specifically for blind students and teachers at various locations throughout the United States. Help in locating these programs may be obtained by contacting the organizations dedicated to promoting music education for blind students.

Help Is At Hand

Those involved with music education for blind students make up a small community that is growing steadily. These highly active groups, many of whom know each other and are aware of each other’s work, are generous with their information and often suggest additional resources beyond their own that may be helpful to the inquirer. Many of these are free or minimally priced. With a few phone calls, letters, or e-mail messages, music educators can obtain as much help as they need to provide the same education to blind students that sighted students receive.

 Editor’s Note: The following resource list  contains all the music resources referenced in the article above:

 Hadley School for the Blind, 700 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093-0299.
Phone: (847) 446-8111 and (800) 323-4238. Fax: (847) 446-9916.
E-mail: <hadley@theramp>

 Music Education Network for the Visually Impaired (MENVI), Southern California Conservatory of Music, MENVI Headquarters, 8711 Sunland Boulevard,
Sun Valley, CA 91352.
Phone: (818) 767-6554.
Fax: (818)768-6242.
E-mail: <taeschr@ix.netcom.com>

 Music Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped, Library of Congress,
1291 Taylor Street, N.W.,
Washington, DC 20542.
Phone: (202) 707-9254 and
(800) 424-8567. Fax: (202) 707-0712.
E-mail <nlsm@loc.gov>

Music and Arts Center for the Handicapped (MACH), National Resource Center for Blind Musicians,
600 University Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06601. Phone: (203) 366-3300.
Fax: (203) 368-2847. E-mail: <1027301.163@compuserve.com>

 National Braille Association, Inc.,
Three Townline Circle, Rochester, NY 14623-2513. Phone : (716) 427-8660.
Fax: (716) 427-0263.

Publications

Braille Music Chart, new revised edition, 1960. American Printing House for the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, P. O. Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206-0085.
Phone: (502) 895-2405 and (800) 223-1839.  Fax: (502) 895-1509.

 The Central Catalog: Textbooks for Students Who Are Visually Handicapped. Educational Resources Network of the American Printing House for the Blind, P. O. Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206-0085. Phone: (502) 895-2405 and (800) 223-1839. Fax: (502) 899-2274.
Web site <http://www.aph.org>

 Dictionary of Braille Music Signs, Bettye Krolick. 1979. Music Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20542. Phone: (202) 707-5100 and (800) 424-8567.
Fax: (202) 707-0712.
TTY/TTD (710) 822-1969.
 E-mail <nlsm@loc.gov>

How to Read Braille Music, 2nd ed., Bettye Krolick, 1998. Opus Technologies, 13333 Thunderhead Street, San Diego, CA 92129-2320. Contact Samuel O. Flores, phone: (619) 538-9401 or
e-mail: <samf@opustec.com>

 New International Manual of Braille Music Notation. 996 OpusTechnologies, 13333 Thunderhead Street,
San Diego, CA 92129-2320.
Phone/fax: (619) 538-9401.

 Primer of Braille Music, Compiled by Edward W. Jenkins. American Printing House for the Blind, 1839 Frankfort Avenue, P. O. Box 6085, Louisville, KY 40206-0085. Phone: (502) 895-2405 and (800) 223-1829. Fax: (502) 895-1509.

What Can You Do For Your Multiply Handicapped Blind Baby?

by Sheila McElhern

Reprinted from a 1998 issue of Steppingstone, a publication of the Long Island Parents of Blind Children..

 Hold your baby and talk to him face to face. Make eye contact even if your child can’t. This provides vision stimulation and places the child in a position to reach out and touch you. It encourages imitation and adds to the bond between you.

Stimulate all the senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing. This is best accomplished by including your child in everyday activities. Bring her into the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, etc. Talk to her about what you are doing. Let her touch things before you use them: her diaper before she’s changed; her washcloth before she’s washed; her spoon before she eats.

 Movement is good. Gently sway, rock, and bounce your baby. Wait in between and see if he gives you some indication that he would like to continue.

 Comment on baby’s movements. Respond to her sounds with words. If your child is hearing-impaired, touch her to respond to movements and sound.

 Tell your baby what is about to happen before you begin or end an activity. 

Avoid clutter; it’s confusing. This is true of clutter you can see and clutter you can hear. Don’t provide more than two or three toys at a time. Don’t have the TV or the radio on at the same time. If your child is playing with a sound toy or you are singing to him, turn the TV or radio off.

 Pay attention to your child’s reactions. If he’s over-stimulated, he’ll let you know by tuning out, turning away, and pretending he’s asleep or crying. Try to end activities before your child has had enough of them.

 Encourage your child to play on his belly (unless there is a medical reason not to.) If he doesn’t like this, start with him lying facedown on your belly. Sing to him and rub his back. If he’ OK with this, place him on his belly every day for as long as he will tolerate it. Place one or two toys near his hands.

 Avoid being overly protective. Take the baby out, as health permits, to any place or function that you would take any other small child. This allows the child to be exposed to language, touch, tastes, and smells and allows for more varied social interaction.

  Choose one to three favorite songs, poems, or stories and do them every day. This will help develop your child’s memory as well as interactive skills and help to stimulate speech.

 [Editor’s Note: Never place an infant to sleep on his or her stomach; if he or she falls asleep this way, turn him or her onto one side or onto his or her back. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that infants under one year of age placed on their stomachs to sleep run a higher risk of succumbing to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).]

Teacher Recognition

Kim Challand
Braille Instructor

 From the Editor: Ed Zehner, President of the Illinois Parents of Blind Children, sent me a copy of the following letter for consideration for publication in our Teacher Recognition feature. Here is what Ed says about Kim Challand:

 Mr. William Peters
DeKalb County Special
     Education Association
DeKalb, Illinois

Greg Romanek
Special Education Liaison
DeKalb School District
DeKalb, Illinois

 Dear Sirs,

 I am writing to commend the fine work of Kim Challand, the Braille instructor who has been working with my daughter, Mingkhwan (10 years old, third grade) at Tyler Elementary School since September 1997. Here are some of the things we like about her:

 She is enthusiastic about the Braille medium and expects our daughter to perform well using it. She has never tried to steer Mingkhwan away from Braille to tapes. She shows concern when our daughter reads slowly, rather than assuming the slowness is a fault of the medium itself. In short, she is a model of good attitudes about Braille.

 She listened to our desire to foster improvement in our daughter’s independent travel skills. She worked repeatedly with aides, teachers, and students to get them to curb their desire to “help.” Her efforts have really paid off in improved independent travel skills.

 Kim incorporates slate practice in class work so that our daughter’s skills on this instrument continue to improve.

 The physical education teacher, the adaptive PE instructor, the aide, and Kim have promoted full inclusion in gym class—including full participation in team sports such as basketball (which another vision specialist had once told me was impossible!)

 Kim has actively sought ways to demonstrate Braille and independent travel skills to Mingkhwan’s sighted classmates, and has included Mingkhwan in the demonstrations. Mingkhwan was initially hesitant about participating, but now takes pride in these experiences.

 Kim introduced a simple drawing tool that Mingkhwan and sighted students can use with equal ease. Mingkwan draws, with crayon or pen, on a piece of Braille paper which is laid on top of a wire screen attached to a clipboard.  These drawings are equally decernible by sight and by touch. This is the first time that Mingkhwan has been able to enjoy independent drawing with other kids.

 A few weeks into the school year, Kim began Brailling the classroom teacher’s  grade and comments on a strip of paper which she then staples to Mingkhwan’s returned assignments. This allows Mingkhwan to monitor her own work.

 Last spring we had tried and failed to get Braille music incorporated into the IEP. When Kim Challand took over the case, she asked why music wasn’t included, and then proceeded to get it transcribed. (Last year, it would have taken a special, formal IEP meeting to get this done. This year, such common sense moves have been made administratively).

 Kim gracefully handled  the frustration of a computer system that failed to work as expected. This system, which should have made it possible for a classroom aide to prepare Mingkhwan’s handouts and other class assignments for Braille translation and printout, was non-operational for some four months. In that time, Kim simply worked with another Braille transcriber and did extra transcribing work herself. And she took the initiative to call the specialists—repeatedly—until they got the equipment working right.

 Two different aides received training in Braille from Kim. Within a couple of weeks the aides were preparing simple Braille materials on a Braille writer and interlining (copying print letters above the Braille letters) some of Mingkhwan’s work for the regular teacher.

 Kim has promoted among the  entire school staff a positive attitude towards us as parents and high expectations for our daughter. She has been an extremely patient, determined, and creative instructor when working with  Mingkhwan (believe me, we understand the need for all these qualities).

  When we have found a new resource through mail or the Internet, Kim is as eager as we to see what can be learned from it. She has returned the favor by passing along materials that might interest us.

 All in all, we are extremely pleased with Kim’s competence, with her positive attitude towards the skills Mingkhwan is learning, with her high expectations for our daughter’s future, and with the way she has been working with us and with the other members of the school team. We hope we will be able to look forward to additional work with her in the future.

 Sincerely,
Edwin Zehner

 Recognition for Teachers
of the Visually Impaired

 Has your son or daughter had an exceptional Braille teacher, early childhood specialist, Orientation and Mobility instructor, or other teacher of the visually impaired? Would you like for him or her to receive public recognition for the difference he or she is making in your child’s education? Future Reflections will publish letters of recognition from parents or other caretakers of blind children.

 The letters should be one to three typewritten pages in length and include sufficient detail about the teacher and the circumstances to be of interest and inspiration to our readers. Please be sure to include: the name and address of the sender, the teacher’s name, the student’s name, the name of the school district, and any other pertinent details. Photographs, color or black and white (no slides, please) would be helpful. If you want the photograph returned, please include a self-addressed envelope. If you want multiple copies of the print issue should your letter be published, please indicate how many you want. We will send them to you free of charge.

 Send your Teacher Recognition Letter, other information as requested, and photos (if any) to:

Future Reflections
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230. 

Letters to the Editor 

From the Editor: The Winter, 1998, issue of Future Reflections (Volume 17, Number 3) generated a flurry of letters, e-mails, and phone calls from readers. Here is a sample of them: 

To: <epc@roudley.com>
Date: Wednesday, December 2, 1998 

Wanted to thank you for your most recent Future Reflections regarding multiply disabled children. I have been reading your magazine for years. As a “professional” (I’m a rehab teacher), I always find something worthwhile. However, as a parent of a child who is blind and multiply impaired I have always been disappointed. I have felt that your magazine, Future Reflections, has ignored our children and has been “elitist.” Children who are “just blind” can do anything, mine can’t. I came close to not reading the most recent Future Reflections as I no longer work as a rehab teacher since the birth of my youngest child. I am so glad I opened it and started reading. I no longer feel kids like mine are being ignored. 

Thanks,
Shoshana Brayman

 

South Carolina Commission for the Blind

Aiken, SC 29803

December 14, 1998

 Dear Ms. Cheadle: 

The Winter 1998 issue of Future Reflections is right on target for many of the families I serve. I often struggle with finding relevant materials for these families who have multi-handicapped children. Please send a copy to each of the families on the attached list and thanks for all you do!

 Sincerely,

Liz M. Lewis, Children’s Rehabilitation

 

To: <epc@roudley.com>

Date: Sunday, November 22, 1998

 Barbara, you’ve outdone yourself. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see an issue devoted to the multiply handicapped. I heard from one parent already who saw my articles. Fantastic job!!!!!

 Thanks again.

Linda Zani Thomas

<ZTZG22@aol.com>

 P.S. Barbara: Please feel free to give out my home number and e-mail address to those who may wish to contact me.

 

12/7/98

 Dear Ms. Cheadle:

 Many kudos for the Winter ‘98 issue of Future Reflections. I have been reading the magazine for several years. This issue was one of the most helpful. I also like the focus on one topic. Maybe using just one topic wouldn’t work for every issue, but this one was very much needed. I truly enjoyed it, too.

 It seems to us in the program in which I teach that the breakout of the population of visually impaired kids in Oregon is similar to that of New Jersey. The need for dialogue and communication about parenting and teaching multihandicapped blind/partially sighted kids is great. Take my students for example. Out of six students only one is not multihandicapped in some way. I think we have to include kids with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia) as multihandicapped since LD really impacts their learning. I’d like to read more on this topic.

 

The articles in Future Reflections in this issue that really stand out for me were the piece about Nicole White, the wonderfully child-oriented approach of Dr. Hammer in his article on self-stimming, and the piece by Denise Mehlenbacher about student Ya’Wana Fields (which goes to show how we teachers can have great success sometimes by giving kids a decent shot at literacy, and not accepting what other people say about a student).

 I will be showing this issue of Future Reflections to our staff at our next meeting in a few days.

 Thanks again. NFB publications are my window to the experiences of a wide range of blind people—the consumers of our services. I rely on them to make my work as useful to kids as possible. I thank you deeply for all your help.

 Sincerely,

Barbara Hanawalt, VI Teacher  

 IEP (Individualized Education Program) Strategies

by Barbara Ebenstein

Reprinted with permission of Exceptional Parent Magazine, a monthly magazine for parents and families of children with disabilities.  

 How will we educate Risa? I worried about how I would communicate my daughter’s special needs to our school district and how the district would respond. How could they possibly understand this beautiful child who lives without words?

 Risa entered a special education nursery school class while I was a law student. My professors were understanding of my unorthodox class schedule and sudden absences. Risa experienced one educational crisis after another until I developed an approach to special education that permitted me to obtain the services she required.

 I now work as an attorney representing parents in special education matters. I also conduct parent workshops. I never come away from one of these sessions without having learned something useful. The strategies presented here are based on not only my own legal knowledge and experiences, but also on the collected experiences of many parents.

Ten Strategies

1. Keep “business” records.

Treat your relationship with the school district as a business relationship. All communication should be in writing, and you should keep a copy of every document you submit. Keep brief notes of important telephone conversations. Keep a written record of all verbal agreements, and give a copy to the school district.

 Hand deliver important documents directly, or use certified mail and keep the return receipt.

 Keep a diary noting the dates you submitted documents. Some regulations require that the district comply with time requirements. For example, they may have 30 days to respond to a written request. If so, you need to know the date you made the request. Legally speaking, if it is not in writing, it never happened.

 2. Document all of your child’s unaddressed needs. A parent’s insistence that a child requires a specific service is never sufficient. Every unaddressed need should be described, in writing, by a professional who knows your child or has evaluated him or her for this purpose.

 Letters from your child’s pediatrician, therapist, or other professionals can be brief, but should include a description of the child’s special need(s), the educational impact, and a “prescription” for needed services.

 3. Review your child’s classification. Many states have lists of conditions that permit eligibility for special education services. These are educational classifications, not medical terms. For example, in New York State a child with a medical diagnosis of attention deficit disorder (ADD) may have an educational classification of “other health impaired” or “learning disabled.”

 Ideally, special education services should be provided on the basis of a child’s individual needs. Unfortunately, some school districts provide children with services according to their classification.

 If you are dissatisfied with the services your child receives or his class placement, begin by reviewing his or her classification. Is it the most appropriate classification? Would denied services be available if the child’s classification were changed? If so, have your child evaluated by an appropriate expert. Your child’s classification may also need to change as he or she develops new strengths and weaknesses.

 4. Cooperate with the school district’s reasonable evaluation process. The school district needs your consent to conduct an evaluation; however, if you refuse, they can request an impartial hearing. The hearing officer will deem the proposed evaluation reasonable, and the district may be permitted to proceed without your consent. All you will have accomplished is the destruction of your relationship with the school district. Save your energy for battles you can win.

 5. Be sure the committee has accurate reports. If you disagree with an evaluation done by the school district, there are several steps to take. First, review the inaccurate report –what is wrong with it? Was it performed when your child was not taking his usual medication? Were inappropriate tests used? Was the evaluator unfamiliar with your child’s strengths and limitations?

 Second, ask about the evaluator’s position and credentials. After receiving a devastating speech assessment on my daughter, I discovered it had been written by an inexperienced speech teacher. I obtained a more detailed report from my child’s private speech therapist—a woman with a Ph.D. and many years of experience. The district followed the therapist’s suggestions and agreed to remove the teacher’s report from Risa’s file.

 If you disagree with the school district’s evaluation, you are entitled to an independent evaluation at the district’s expense. The district may place a reasonable cap on the cost. If the district disagrees with the necessity for another evaluation, you may need to go through an impartial hearing. But if you know an evaluation is inaccurate, it is worth fighting.

 You must state your disagreement with the school district’s evaluation before they use it to determine your child’s placement. If you disagree later, the district will assume that your objection is to the placement rather than to the accuracy of the evaluation. This becomes a more difficult battle to win.

 If all evaluations from experienced professionals are contrary to your expectations, consider whether they might be right. Is it possible that you are denying the severity of your child’s problem? If not, pursue other experts at your own cost. If you obtain private reports, it is your choice whether or not to share them with the team. You may decide to share only those documents that strengthen your position.

6. Build accountability into the child’s IEP. The school district has a legal obligation to make the necessary arrangements to provide related services promised on the IEP. If a related service is not provided as required, parents have a right to full due process. Request an impartial hearing in writing. Most districts will solve the problem immediately rather than face the time and expense of an impartial hearing they will probably lose.

 The follow-up of specific educational objectives is more difficult. For example, a child who is included in a regular class may have a classroom teacher, a resource room teacher, and a psychologist. Usually, no one is designated to have authority to make sure all of them are pursuing the IEP objectives.

 There are several things you can do to prevent this situation. First, be sure the IEP clearly states who will be responsible for follow-up; this can be a brief statement on the front page of the IEP. Second, list only two or three important educational objectives to your absolute priorities. Remember, the IEP can specify the teaching method or materials to be used. Finally, make sure all professionals who will be working with the child actually read the IEP and are aware of the objectives they should be working toward.

 7. Work things out before the annual review. Submit all reports to the committee three weeks before the meeting. Insist that all school district reports be given to you at that time. If there are questions or issues to be resolved, try to work them out before the meeting. The best annual review is a short meeting in which the committee gives approval to what has already been decided.

 Many parents believe that they can obtain an impartial hearing to compensate for their own lack of preparation for the annual review. This is a serious error. A due process hearing will determine only whether a school district acted in compliance with federal and state mandates. It is not a second chance for the parents to “get it right” by bringing in late reports.

 8. Negotiate. The process is not an all-or-nothing deal. Reasonable negotiation is possible. Several years ago, I wanted my child evaluated by an Alliance for Technology Access center far from my home. The school district agreed to pay for the evaluation and purchase suggested computer hardware. I agreed to pay for our transportation and lodging.

 9. Consider all proposals for inclusion carefully. Federal law requires that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment. This means including the child in a regular classroom whenever possible. But successful inclusion usually requires support and related services. Sometimes, a school district will include a child without providing needed services. Too often, this is a cost-cutting maneuver which sabotages the child’s placement. If you and your school district decide to include your child in a regular classroom, be sure that all teacher training, follow-up procedures, support, and related services are provided.

 10. Treat the annual review as your most important business meeting of the year. Dress for business. Bring a sufficient number of copies of all documents in case they have not been distributed to all committee members prior to the meeting.

 Request a meeting time that permits all adult members of a child’s immediate family to attend the annual review. If a child’s father is involved with the family, he must attend—I cannot stress this point enough. Request a meeting time that permits his involvement. Meetings are often dominated by women. The presence of the child’s father lends credence to the family’s full participation in the meeting. Special education is not a woman’s issue; special education is a family issue.

 You’ve Got Mail

by David Andrews

 Reprinted from the March, 1999, Braille Monitor.

 From the Braille Monitor Editor: If you have dipped a toe into the ocean of Internet access, you have probably met or conscientiously avoided a listserv. Federationists frequently inquire about how to join the various NFB Internet discussion groups. I recently asked David Andrews, System Operator for the NFB’s computer bulletin board, to compile in one place all the information about our various discussion lists. The following article is the result: 

While the part of the Internet that gets the most attention is the World Wide Web (www), the Internet service that people use the most is electronic mail or e-mail. That is just as true for members of the National Federation of the Blind as it is for our sighted friends. One use of e-mail which has exploded over the past several years is mailing lists, also called listservs.

 An Internet mailing list or listserv is a list of people who use electronic mail to discuss a topic of mutual interest. In general, when you decide to join a mailing list, you send an e-mail message to a special address, with some specified words either in the body of the message or in the To: line or the Subject: line. Your name is then added to the list of subscribers to that list, and you will automatically receive in your electronic mailbox, a copy of every message sent to that list.

 This kind of communication has a number of advantages and a few disadvantages. First, when properly used, mailing lists allow for very focused topical and timely discussion. You can get answers to specific questions quickly. You can also read and answer mail at your convenience. Support and a real sense of community can develop—something we know a lot about in the NFB. On the downside, message threads sometimes wander, and lots of off-topic messages get posted. Also, because of the impersonal nature of the medium, people say things that they wouldn’t say in face-to-face conversations—personal attacks, so-called flames. Nevertheless, inside and outside the NFB Internet mailing lists are an increasingly popular mode of communication. In fact, over one hundred lists cater to blind and visually impaired people, and tens of thousands of lists exist overall.

 The NFB and many of its divisions now sponsor mailing lists. The majority, but not all of them, are hosted by our computer bulletin board service, NFB Net. In fact, NFB Net is the grandfather of all of our discussion lists, having started NFB Talk and Blind Talk back in 1991. NFB Net hosts eleven lists as of January, 1999.

 To subscribe to a list on NFB Net, send a message to <listserv@nfbnet.org>. Leave the subject line blank, and write the word “subscribe” followed by the name of the list to which you are subscribing in the body of the message.

 Please note that “listserv” has eight letters: listserv; there is no e on the end. All the body of the message need contain is the word “subscribe” plus the list name, which is a word up to eight characters in length. While names here are shown preceded by the < and followed by >, these punctuation marks are the conventional indication of the beginning and end of an address and should not be included in what you type when subscribing. Also please note that some of the list names contain hyphens, which must be used. Finally, each list is available in two different formats, regular and digest. A regular list means that you get a copy of each message as it is sent to the list, and digest mode means that you get only one message every twenty-four hours. This message contains all the individual messages for the past 24-hour period. On NFB Net digests are composed and sent each evening at 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

 Below are information on each list and the list names needed to subscribe. These list descriptions were taken from the information automatically sent to you when you subscribe to the list. If you have any problems, please contact David Andrews by e-mail at either<dandrews@visi.com>        
or <david.andrews@nfbnet.org>.

 The purpose of the NFB Talk list is to disseminate information about the NFB and its activities. It is also intended for the discussion of the NFB’s philosophy of blindness and topics of specific interest to members of the National Federation of the Blind and our friends as they relate to the NFB, our policies, activities, and philosophy. The list name is <nfb-talk>, and the digest name is <nftalk-d>.

 The Blind Kid list is sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Started in mid-January of 1999, this is our newest list. It shares information for people interested in the welfare and development of blind children. Second, it is a means of communication between the members and supporters of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children to promote and discuss the activities of the Division, such as the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest, Future Reflections, and the like. The list name is <blindkid>, and the digest name is <kids-d>.

 The Blind Law mailing list is sponsored by the National Association of Blind Lawyers. The purpose of Blind Law is to discuss legal matters and topics directly related to blind people and their blindness. If you have a blindness-related legal question, post it to the list, and a member of the National Association of Blind Lawyers will help you. The list is also intended as a means for the members of the National Association of Blind Lawyers to stay in contact with each other. The name of the list is <blindlaw>, and the digest name is <bllaw-d>.

 The purpose of the GUI Talk list is to discuss the use of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) by blind and visually impaired persons. The GUI includes, but is not limited to, Microsoft Windows 3.X, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, X/Windows, and the Macintosh OS. The GUI can also include graphical interfaces used on consumer electronic devices, office equipment, bank machines, and the like. GUI Talk provides a forum in which we can ask questions and get answers to those inquiries. We can share tips and tricks, discuss software and hardware used to access the GUI, and more. GUI Talk also provides access to the resources and information provided by the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind, the world’s largest demonstration and evaluation center for computer technology used by blind people. The list name is <gui-talk>, and the digest name is <gtalk-d>.

 Also in the computer arena is the National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science mailing list. The list is for discussion of the business and operation of the NFB in Computer Science. It is a way for our members to keep in contact with each other, to discuss the business and operation of the division, and to share information about the worlds of computer science and technology with each other. The list often contains a variety of technology-related announcements from both the general and adaptive marketplaces. The list name is <nfbcs>, and the digest name is <nfbcs-d>.

 The Human Services Division of the NFB started its own list in the fall of 1998. The National Federation of the Blind Human Services Division is an organization of professionals who are blind and working or aspiring to work in the fields of social work, psychology, rehabilitation, and counseling. We have established our own mailing list to trade tips about our professions and, more important, to trade information and maintain a forum for discussion about serving and advancing in our professions. Since our common ground is blindness and professional status in one of the human service professions, we will focus most closely on issues involving blindness. The list name is <humanser>, and the digest name is <human-d>.

 The National Association of Blind Entrepreneurs also has its own list. If you are a blind person running your own business, this list is for you. This is the place to exchange ideas and questions on such matters as speech-friendly bookkeeping programs, where to get general information about the market and pricing, how to design visually appealing business materials, business transportation issues, etc. Let your experience teach others. The sum of our knowledge is greater than our individual experience. The list name is <nabentre>, and the digest name is <entre-d>.

 The next mailing list is sponsored by the National Association to Promote the Use of Braille (NAPUB). The purpose of this list is twofold. First, it is a means of communication between the members and supporters of NAPUB, promoting and discussing the activities of the Division, such as the Braille Readers Are Leaders contest and other topics. Second, the list is intended to promote Braille, Braille literacy, and the use of Braille generally. The list is an opportunity to share information about sources of Braille materials, stories about learning Braille, methods of teaching Braille to children and adults, discussion of Braille-producing equipment and software, and anything else Braille-related. There will also be occasional posts concerning issues of major importance to the blind as well as announcements concerning activities of NAPUB and the NFB. The list name is <napub>, and the digest name is <napub-d>.

 Guide dog users also have their own list. The list is sponsored by the National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU), an NFB Division. The purpose of this list is to provide guide dog users and other interested people with an easy way to access information about guide dogs and to assist people to deal with issues related to working with a guide dog. Topics can include, but are not limited to, the benefits and disadvantages of using a guide dog, guide dog schools, training, care, equipment, puppy raising, public access, legislation affecting guide dog users, public attitudes about guide dogs and their use by blind people, and NAGDU activities. The list name is <nagdu>, and the digest name is <nagdu-d>.

 The National Association of Blind Students (NABS) moved its list to NFB Net late in the summer of 1998. Here is what they have to say about themselves and their list: The National Association of Blind Students is an organization of students who are blind. We have created our own mailing list, NABS-L, to provide a forum for the discussion of issues relevant to blind students in every major and grade. On NABS-L we can ask questions, suggest solutions, and share experiences. Occasional posts will also concern issues of major importance to the blind as well as announcements concerning activities of NABS and the NFB. The list name is <nabs-l>, and the digest name is <nabs-d>.

 The final list on NFB Net is called Blind Talk. The purpose of Blind Talk is to discuss general topics of interest to blind and visually impaired persons, our friends and relatives, and anyone else who is interested. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, computers and adaptive access technology, Braille and Braille literacy, cane travel, guide dogs, alternative techniques of blindness, and training centers. Blind Talk is intended to promote the positive philosophy of blindness developed and promoted by the National Federation of the Blind. If you wish to subscribe to Blind Talk, send your name and e-mail address to David Andrews at <dandrews@visi.com> or <david.andrews@nfbnet.org>, and I will subscribe you. The list is available in either regular or digest format. Please specify which list you wish to join.

 All messages on listservs hosted on NFB Net are also stored on the system for reference or later perusal. You can telnet to NFB Net by pointing your telnet client to <nfbnet.org>. You can also dial-in using a standard modem by calling (651) 696-1975. In addition files, but not messages stored on NFB Net, are also available via the World Wide Web and via FTP. You can go to <http://www.nfbnet.org> or <ftp://ftp.nfbnet.org> to retrieve files, including past issues of the Braille Monitor, Future Reflections, and more.

 In addition to the lists on NFB Net, a few lists are hosted by the NFB of California site, which is run by Brian Buhrow, chairman of the NFB’s Research and Development Committee.

 The most popular of these lists, <brl-monitor>, provides the entire text of the month’s Braille Monitor directly to your electronic mailbox. Well over 400 readers from around the world subscribe to this list. This is an efficient, timely, and inexpensive way to receive the Monitor.

 To receive the Braille Monitor electronically, send a message to <listserv@nfbcal.org>. Leave the subject line blank, and in the body of the message write “subscribe brl-monitor” followed by your full name. For example, if I wanted to subscribe, I would put the following in the body of the message: subscribe brl-monitor David Andrews. I would then send the message to <listserv@nfbcal.org>.

 The NFBCAL site also hosts the Blind Professional Journalists list. Here is part of the message sent to new subscribers:

 “Welcome to the Blind Professional Journalists Listserv! This list is an informal gathering place for people who want to ask questions and exchange ideas on how blind people succeed in journalism. We welcome working journalists or those who intend to write for a living on deadline. We expect that our group will include writers employed at newspapers, magazines, TV stations, or public affairs departments. We also welcome students wanting to pursue journalism careers or former journalists who, after becoming blind, wish to acquire effective alternative techniques for working in our highly competitive arena.

 “Among the topics we expect to discuss in the listserv are technology that lets you manipulate information quickly and on deadline; reportorial techniques specific to blindness, ranging from managing the interview to managing visual aspects of the story; nuts-and-bolts solutions concerning transportation; and techniques for working with reader/driver/assistants, employment issues specific to blind professionals—from how to get hired to how to fund adaptive equipment—and ways of cracking informational barriers in order to keep you informed so you can do your job exceptionally well. To subscribe to this list, send a message to <listserv@nfbcal.org> and put “subscribe nfb-bpj” followed by your name in the body of the message.”

 The NFBCAL site also hosts lists for the NFB’s Research and Development Committee and the Science and Engineering Division. The NFB-RD list discusses matters of interest to the committee as well as topics related to the development and use of technology by and for blind persons. To join the list, you must contact Brian Buhrow, chairman of the committee, at <buhrow@nfbcal.org>. Tell him a little about yourself, who you are, and what interests you about technology for the blind.

 Finally, there is the NFB Science and Engineering Division List. It discusses topics of interest to division members as well as subjects of interest and use to blind scientists and engineers. To join the NFBSE list, contact the Division President, John Miller, at <millerja@isl.stanford.edu>. Again, tell him a little about yourself, who you are, and what interests you about science and engineering. You need not be blind to be on these last two lists; you just need to be interested in blindness issues as they relate to these topics.

 If your NFB division or group wishes to start its own list, please have the President or an authorized officer contact David Andrews by telephone  at (651) 696-1679 or by e-mail at <dandrews@visi.com> or <david.andrews@nfbnet.org> to make the arrangements. See you online.

From the
Blind kid Listserv

® Canes for Low Vision Kids ¬
® Braille or Print? How About Both! ¬
® Why did God Make Blind People? ¬

 Editor’s Note: The Blind Kid list, or listserv, as Mr. Andrews explained in the preceding article, “You’ve Got Mail,” is sponsored by the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a division of the NFB. (The “You’ve Got Mail” article also describes how to subscribe to the Blind Kid listserv.) In the short time we have been on-line, Blind Kid list members have talked about an amazing variety of issues and topics concerning blindness and blind children. Some of the topics are pretty standard—canes and Braille, for example—but others, such as the discussion about God and blindness, have taken us into sensitive territory where people are often reluctant to tread. Standard or sensitive, it seemed to me that Future Reflections readers might enjoy “listening in” so to speak, on some of these conversations. So, here is a sampling of our listserv conversations:

 ® Canes for Low Vision Kids ¬

March 18, 1999

Holly and Karen:

 I guess mobility is one of my biggest concerns. I am terrified that an overly confident Madeline will be in an unfamiliar environment (new school, field trip, friend’s house) and will fall down a flight of stairs, off the edge of a jungle gym, or down a ravine. Occasionally, she trips or bumps into something, but not any more often than the sighted kids her age (right now).

 I’ve heard that if the lighting is a certain way, a flight of stairs can look like a ramp to a person with low vision. Yikes! Even if she does not use a cane, I suppose an O&M instructor can teach her how to interpret certain features, like curbs.

 Thanks again. It is really helpful for me to hear how well your children are doing. (I saved the post about clickers, because having difficulty finding people in a crowd seems to be a common problem with low vision kids.)

 Missy

 March 24, 1999

Hi All,

 Still weeding through mail! Good grief! Anyway, on the subject of travel and the low vision child, I am low vision myself (20/400) and so is my husband (20/200 corrected) and we both use a cane, I more than he.

 As a child, I tripped up curbs, ran into things, missed steps, and, as Missy mentioned, misinterpreted a flight of stairs as a ramp once. Now, I agree that everyone bumps into something occasionally or trips up a curb. But is this because the sighted person doesn’t have the tools to make sure this doesn’t happen? Of course not. It usually happens because a person is carrying on a conversation, daydreaming, or just generally not paying attention. This happens to blind folks, too. But, if you have a child with low vision who is not using a cane, or does not carry one that he can use if he needs it, does he/she have all the tools he/she needs to make sure this embarrassment does not occur? No way!

 Let’s imagine, for a moment, that you had never been introduced to shoes. You have only house slippers. Inside, you do great, only stubbing your toes occasionally, sometimes slipping on floors, but that’s okay, everyone does that. You decide one day to go for a walk. Walking along, you are forced to step into puddles, onto rocks, and, since your soles aren’t used to the pavement, you occasionally trip and fall. How much attention, do you think, would you be paying to your feet? I would bet quite a bit, trying with all your might to avoid anything that might hurt your feet or trip you up. How familiar does this scenario sound to you low vision folks? I used to live it every day before coming to the realization that a white cane could change all that, if I allowed it to.

 How realistic is it to expect someone to walk a long distance in shoes made for the house? Not very. Neither is it realistic to expect the low vision child to travel without a mobility aid available, whether they need it at all times or not. I feel strongly that a low vision child should have a choice; they should be given the tools, taught to use them, and encouraged to use them when needed. I remember as a child wishing that there were something—anything—which would help me find stairs! I never really considered a cane because those were for “the blind kids”. My mom would say “Come on slowpoke, let’s go!” She didn’t know (because I wasn’t willing to admit it) that I was slow because I was frightened of what might happen if I missed that first step. I’m sure there was a time when I had no fear, as many of your kids do, but experience soon taught me to tread cautiously, watch my feet, and take it slow! And it was so unnecessary!

 As I mentioned, I now use a cane. I won’t lie and say that I use it all the time, but it is always at my disposal if I need it. Sometimes I forget to carry it, and I always, without exception, regret it. I still have problems, because of long conditioning, using it around my family. This is something that I am getting better at because I know that my family understands, but it is still difficult for me.

If you put a cane in the hand of your low vision child, allow them to let go of you and walk alone, look at them with pride and encourage their independence, they will think nothing of using this wonderful tool of blindness when they need it. It breaks down the barriers, lets the public know, in no uncertain terms, why they have to look at things closely or need help finding the “X” on the signature line. It prevents them from tripping, falling, missing steps, or feeling lost in a crowd. I have fallen down steps, tripped up or down curbs, bumped into people, knocked over displays; but NEVER when carrying my cane.

 Whatever you do, don’t allow your child to settle for living with embarrassment! Get over it, give them a cane, and be proud of their ability to walk alone with competence and confidence. Would you give your child only slippers to wear? Of course not! Yes, the cane is visible; a label that tells the world that your child is blind. But isn’t he? Would you rather have people view him as clumsy, slow, dependent? Because that’s what people think, and that’s how he feels when he makes a mistake. Telling a child with low vision that everyone makes mistakes does no good when that child knows he makes those mistakes because of his lack of vision. He blames himself; then walks on with his head down, watching out for the next obstacle. 

By giving your low vision child a white cane, you give him the power to choose when and where to use it. He will soon learn when a cane is useful, and when it is simply not needed. With your guidance and support, he can learn what the obstacles are, to locate them, and to maneuver around them with grace. He will hold his head high, confident in his abilities. And when he trips, bumps into walls, or misses a step, it will truly be just a mistake, just like the little mistakes we all make every day; nothing more.

 Tammy

 ® Braille or Print? How About Both! ¬

March 18, 1999

 Our oldest son Ethan, age 7, uses both large print and Braille. He has optic nerve atrophy, nystagmus, and mild Cerebral Palsy. He is in a regular first grade classroom and is pulled out 4 days a week for 1 to 2 hours for Braille instruction. He started learning Braille in kindergarten. I wish now that I hadn’t been so resistant to him learning Braille earlier. My thought was that he could “see,” so we would just enlarge everything or use magnification aids. His visual acuity is 8/300, but you wouldn’t know it! He is a very visual learner. Slowly I realized that the Braille would actually give him more independence. He is doing great. I can proudly say that he is now reading Braille nearly as well as large print. He doesn’t seem to prefer one to the other at this point.

 Overall, Ethan is a great kid! We are very proud of him!!!!

 Holly

® Why did God Make Blind People? ¬

Editor’s note: The following conversation on the listserv began with a mother sharing a poem her son wrote. The following thought-provoking discussion was also reprinted in the Illinois NFB newsletter, the Braille Examiner. Here is how the discussion began:

 Hi everyone:

 Today my son is reading a poem he wrote to the whole school over the intercom. It’s a project they all had to do in his Religion class. My son goes to a private Catholic high school. Hope you all like it… Oh, just to let you know, Pat was a victim of a felony crime when he was 8 years old that occurred at a “regular” school, wherein the defendant, who was an older child, pled guilty. Pat’s Dad has not seen him since he was 1 ˝ years old, Pat was born blind, and a young friend of ours died recently. PLEASE DO NOT GET ME WRONG, PAT IS VERY, VERY HAPPY, but he does not understand why all the terrible things happen in the world! This may help you understand why Pat wrote this poem.

Lord Help Me Understand
Lord help me understand
Why people hurt each other,
As I see no rhyme or reason
For hurting one another;
Lord help me understand
Why a Father leaves his son,
As I see no rhyme or reason
To why these fathers run.
Lord help me understand
Why there are deaf and blind,
As I see no rhyme or reason
To do that to mankind;
Lord help me understand
Why young, good people die,
As I see no rhyme or reason
To leave so many left to cry.
Lord, I know I ask a lot of thee,
But you see all these
Apply to me.

 The poem initiated several letters in reply.The following response came from Bill, a blind attorney who lives and works in Springfield, Illinois. He is also a member of the Board of the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois. He wrote:

 Hello again,

 That is a wonderful question, one which I have seldom asked myself since childhood, but one which has been asked of me often—particularly by people seeking to affirm their skepticism. God is very important to me, and has become increasingly so as I think about the future welfare of my son in an increasingly cold and fragmented society. When people ask me why God would force me to live as a blind person, I make the following points which I consider an honest answer to the question:

 Blindness certainly imposes its limits on what I can do, and maybe on aspects of what I experience. I am not one of those who say, “blindness is inconsequential.” However, other aspects of who I am, and who I am not, limit me; and I don’t even regard my blindness as the most severe of these limitations. I also observe this to be true for others who, although they can see and are otherwise in good health and have average-or-better intelligence, have lonely, monotonous, or conflict-filled lives because they can’t, or won’t, develop the interpersonal skills that make social living possible.

 I think of the scriptures in which God’s prophets describe a time in which the lame will walk and the blind will see. Hasn’t that happened, through technology, to a large degree? While we in the NFB like to take credit for changing what it means to be blind, I believe equally that it was God’s hand that both created these possibilities and guided us to make those possibilities a reality. That kind of social progress is, by no means, inevitable. Observe some of the other social conditions which education ought to have been able to change, and observe that tolerance seems to be less in vogue than I recall it being even 20 years ago. It is for the victims of such injustice that I pray, and for societies continued willingness to let us participate even though we do many things differently.

 While I don’t consider it miraculous that I was able to become an attorney and to support a wife and child despite my blindness, I know personally of others who have viewed my success as evidence they should push beyond their own fears, laziness, or self-imposed limitations. The scriptures are full of examples of not only blind people, but also widows, lepers, and others who could give up or get wrapped up in their own problems, but whom God helped because they could look outside of themselves for guidance and even help others. If the fact that God has us out here leading “normal” lives inspires others positively, perhaps that fact explains why God enables us in the ways he has, rather than simply making us like everyone else.

 It’s fascinating how often I have been approached by people who have had some major tragedy in their lives years ago, such as the death of their baby, who prayed for a different outcome and now cannot forgive God. I don’t hold myself out as a Godly, or even a particularly religious person; so it surprises people that I am at peace about being blind—and hopefully gets them to think about what God has done for them, too.

 Jody who lives in New Hampshire responded next:

 Hello. Thank you for both of your messages. Here is my answer to your question, which you are welcome to share with the blind children and the parents’ newsletter.

 When I was a little girl and I asked my mother why I was blind, she would say being blind is a character builder. I think she meant that the challenges I faced would teach me more than I would learn if I could see. When I considered that everyone else could see, I thought I might prefer not having all those challenges.

 This was a hard lesson when I would come home crying because the other kids made fun of me, but I think I understand what my mother meant. Because I was blind, I had to think about things that sighted people take for granted. I had to remember where things were and plan in advance. I learned to rely on my memory and judgment in making decisions on what was right for me.

 Many people tried to say I couldn’t do things when I knew I could. I had to learn to be determined. Whenever someone said I couldn’t do something, I did it anyway. I was told I couldn’t do judo, now I have a third degree black belt. I was told that I would have trouble raising a baby, now I have two children and one grandchild. I was told I couldn’t climb a mountain, I thought of that from the top of the mountain. I learned to know myself and maybe that is what God was trying to teach me.

 Many people have easy lives and many people have very sad lives compared to mine. I was born very early and my parents were told I might not live. I could have died and so I am happy that I fought hard to live and if being blind is a result, then I will accept it.

 It is important to think of what you CAN do, not what you can’t do. I can do judo, so it doesn’t bother me that I can’t play tennis. I am a ham radio operator, but I am not a bird watcher. If you read Braille then you can read in the dark when sighted people can’t. Think of what you can do that is special. Have a CAN DO attitude and you will meet the challenges.

 Some blind people don’t like being different because they are afraid people will notice them. Other people do things differently so they WILL be noticed. There is nothing wrong with being different. Everyone is different from everyone else. Some people are tall, others short, others fat, and others thin. Everyone notices you are blind, but it really doesn’t matter because they notice all the other things about you too.

 If God made us blind then it must be OK to be blind. We are all special in our own ways. It is important to be yourself.

 Barbara Pierce is President of the NFB of Ohio and her thoughts came next:

 We live in a world in which things are not always easy or pleasant. For one thing there is evil, and no one fully understands why that has to be, but apparently it does. I believe that God and His love are greater than evil and that in the end He will triumph over all that is wrong or bad.

 But I do not believe that blindness or poverty or illness or natural disasters fall into the category of evil. These hard things can make us stronger and better people if we allow God to be a part of our effort to cope with them. St. Paul tells us in Romans that, “All things work together for good for those who love God and try to do His will.” I try to live my life like a sailboat. I don’t know where I am headed, and I can’t be sure of calm weather, but if I can allow God to stand at the tiller and provide the wind that fills my sails, I have learned that I will not end up on the rocks. It takes years and lots of experience to come to this faith, but I believe these things to be true. Blindness can be hard, but so can many other things in life. Trusting God is the easiest, most reliable way to survive and be content.

The last letter in this exchange is from Pat’s mom. She wrote in part:

 Thanks for the discussion of “Why God Made Blind People.” I hope people did not get the impression that my son Pat, who wrote the poem the other day and read it to his whole school for a Religion project, was on a “pity party.” He is quite the opposite. ...

 I do want to say that the letters sure made Pat think about God more, and I believe they helped him understand more. The people really wrote incredible e-mails about his poem, which meant a lot to both of us. I want to thank all who did!

 I think one of the major problems with Pat is that he is very brilliant, first in his class at school, and because he is a bright child he is always looking for “that reason” and sometimes, there’s just NO reason. I think he’s finally beginning to understand that!

 Thank GOD!

 White Canes and
Bible Verses

Editor’s Note: I found the following item in a recent edition of Advocacy in Action, the newsletter of our Ohio NFB Parents Division. Crystal McClain is the President of the affiliate, and the editor of the newsletter. Crystal was intrigued by an unusual example of enlightened attitudes about blindness that she discovered tucked away in a book of devotions. Such little gems are exciting to discover because they confirm that we are making progress; our message about the capacities of the blind is getting out to the public, in sometimes very unexpected ways and places. One doesn’t have to be religious or a Christian to appreciate the positive message about blindness conveyed by this devotion. Here it is as Crystal shared it with the Advocacy readers:

 Well Look What I Found

 While I was looking for the perfect devotion to give at a monthly United Methodist Women meeting, I came across an article in my sixteen-year-old daughter’s book One Year Book of Youth Devotions by Josh McDowell. I opened the book to the middle and right there on page 187, the July 5th devotion, was the article listed below. Have a look and see what you think of this. I liked it!

 July 5th White Cane

 Have you ever seen a person who is blind walking down the street? How did that person know where to go, when to stop, and when to turn? Many blind people use a white cane. 

A white cane can become an amazing tool in the hands of a man or woman (or child) who knows how to use one. Some people who are blind can walk as well as, and as quickly as, someone can with perfect eyesight because they’ve mastered the use of the white cane. The sight-impaired person can tell by the way the cane bounces whether he’s on a sidewalk or grass or a path. The sound of the cane’s tapping against the ground changes when the person approaches large objects like a wall or a building. The sound of the cane announces a sudden drop-off like a curb, or even a small obstacle, like a tricycle or a roller skate.

 Using a white cane to find your way is kind of like using God’s Word. God’s Word warns us of things that can trip us up or hurt us, just as a cane warns a blind person of obstacles in his or her path.

 Of course, you don’t carry a Bible with you all the time, do you? And sometimes there’s just no time to thumb through the Bible looking for answers, right? That’s why it is so important to memorize God’s Word. When you memorize a verse of the bible, it’s always available to you; you’re never caught without the tools you need to make a right choice; and it’s a lot easier to go the right way without hesitating or stumbling. 

So why not start—one verse at a time—to hide God’s Word in your heart and mind so that it can guide you, even in the dark? Make the following verse your motto: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NIV) After all, a white cane isn’t much help if it’s left at home, right? 

Belonging On Terms of Equality Within the Religious/Spiritual Community

by Lauren L. (Eckery) Merryfield

Reprinted from the News from Blind Nebraskans newsletter, 1996, Issue 4, the newsletter of the NFB of Nebraska.

 Editor’s Note: The meeting of the group to which Mrs. Merryfield alludes in the following introduction laid the foundation for a new division in the NFB. In 1997 the group organized into the National Association of the Blind in Communities of Faith.Here is what Lauren Merryfield has to say on this topic: 

Author’s Introduction: This presentation was made at a meeting of Federationists interested in problems and solutions to the full inclusion of blind persons within the religious/spiritual community. This meeting occurred at the NFB annual National Convention in Anaheim, California, on July 1, 1996.

I was a panelist along with the Reverend Robert Parrish, Mike and Barbara Smith, and the Reverend Sam Gleese. I hope their comments will be published also; they were wonderful.

 I was asked to speak for five-to-seven minutes. I have so much to say on this subject that my first draft would have taken thirty-six minutes to present. Whittling it down to the “bare bones” was difficult and time-consuming. As I am retyping this for publication, I may very well “put some of the meat back on the bones” as I go along.

 It is now November of 1996 as I submit this article for publication. I am remembering how, shortly after the meeting in July, a young woman approached me tentatively, nearly whispering with unnecessary guilt. She knew something was missing in her spiritual search but she could not figure out what it was. When she began to realize she was being treated differently and that this situation was not contributing to her spiritual growth, she felt guilty and was afraid to think about it, let alone talk about it. She harbored a certain fear that maybe some people were right; maybe God did think less of her. She was nearly in tears when she told me that after our meeting, she felt closer to God. She finally felt the support she had been missing.

 I do not know the name of this person, but I believe she could have been any of us. Certainly it seemed like a reflection of me.

 I believe that working toward equality in family functioning, education, socialization, and employment are paramount in improving the lives of blind persons. However, the most important factor of all is our conscious contact with our Creator. When interference with our spiritual growth seems apparent, it becomes necessary, on the human level, to work toward effecting positive change. Our inclusion is not just a social process or a political stand—our inclusion is part of the process of our spiritual growth—our continued improvement in the practice of the presence of God, or whatever term one chooses to use.

 Here are the remarks I made at the 1996 meeting:

 Good afternoon! My name is Lauren Eckery. My formal education includes a master’s degree in Social Work, (partially funded by my 1986 NFB scholarship) and several courses through Unity School of Christianity.

 I’ll begin by stating that I am concerned about using the term “religious” without the balancing term “spiritual” in the name of this group. Religion often pertains to ritual, dogma, judgmentalism, and other human-made concepts. Spirituality, on the other hand, relates to who we truly are—deep within our souls—practicing the presence of God (or whatever one chooses to call our Creator).

 Religion may or may not include spirituality. One may be very spiritual without being particularly religious. Most of us practice some of both in our lives, therefore, I would like to find both terms in our name when we formally organize. This would include more of us and more of the situations which we face. 

The apparent lack of inclusion goes far beyond what any one of us chooses to call our Creator. The problem also pervades the setting, including, but not limited to, the church, mosque, synagogue, spiritually oriented meetings, such as twelve-step programs, and other support systems with which we may affiliate. 

Many blind persons have experienced quite a number of obstacles to full inclusion in their religious/spiritual community. We have had less access to the collection plate; hymnals, textbooks, Sunday bulletins, newsletters, and other printed materials; transportation; social activities; and teaching and leading opportunities. But most of all, we lack being accepted as an equal.

 The problem is further intensified by the fact that whenever we relocate to another setting, even in our own hometowns, no matter how far we have progressed, it’s like reinventing the wheel.

 Here are some examples of problems that I have personally faced through the years. I am absolutely certain that I am not alone in these experiences, though many of us have felt reluctant to bring these issues out in the open. However, discussing the problems as they are will lead to solutions as we promote our equal inclusion.

 Since I was very young, people have told me “ You’ll see someday in Heaven, Honey.” I’m glad I’m not waiting around for that, but living my life right now.

 When I’ve offered to help, some people say they don’t need any help, then go across the room and ask a sighted person to help.

 When I desire to contribute something, I’m often reminded of how I am only expected to be a receiver, not a giver. Access to the collection plate or bag has been a consistent problem. It seems rude to me how the thing gets passed in front, above, behind and around me, as if I am not even there. Sometimes I mail my money in so I know the church will get it. I’d like some of my church members to visit our Friday session at this convention of the National Federation of the Blind and see how well we collect funds for our organization when we “pass the buckets” to some 3,000 blind people!

 I’ve been admonished that as long as I am physically blind, I am unhealed—if I prayed more, tried harder, I could see. I believe blindness is a different way to be; not a sick, sinful, or incomplete way to be.

 I’ve also been told that blindness symbolizes difficulty with perception of any kind. Logical conclusion: all blind people have perception difficulties in general. But this is simply not true.

 I’ve been advised that my blindness means  that I am not created in the image and likeness of God. But who else’s image would it be, if we believe in one Creator? This image is big enough, broad enough, and diversified enough to include us. God does not make mistakes, and blind people are not mistakes.

 Certainly, when a situation or condition can be improved, God’s creativity and healing power are wonderful! However, when some people do not “get over” situations or conditions, this is not proof of failure, on their part or God’s. We are all well and whole in spirit.

 Sometimes I encounter overprotective and controlling behavior. Some people have difficulty separating a kind deed from the need to control. These days, this behavior is often called co-dependency. Since blind people are presumed to be dependent, co-dependent folks tend to flock to us and sometimes they get a big surprise!

 On getting into a car, for instance, I’ll hear: “Watch your head,” or (inside the building) “Let me put you over here.” Excuse me, but I have managed my head for many years. Furthermore, I am not a bag of potatoes. I am a person with a heart, mind, body, and soul!

 On the other hand, some people are so afraid of offending me, or they cannot imagine what to talk about with a blind person, that they avoid me. These people never get close enough to find out much of anything about blind persons or me in general.

My daughter and I do not have family in the city in which we live. We have sought “family” in several churches, as I have seen sighted people do, only to find “Sunday friends.” When I resist unnecessary help, some people have the “well see if I help you again” attitude. When we have needed the kinds of help which any family might need, I am often asked: “Where are your parents?” or “Don’t they have an agency to help you people?” These reactions are disheartening and unnecessary. 

When I do behave intelligently or skillfully, I am often seen as having “special gifts” which make me extraordinarily spiritual—not a fact, not true! On the other hand, I’ve been seen as trying to outshine other people to make them feel inferior—also untrue! I’m just using alternative techniques that anyone could use if they had good blindness training.

 Now, concerning spiritual education, this is what happened to me. I intended to receive training to become a Licensed Spiritual Counselor several years ago, but encountered many snags.

 My then home church was reluctant to fund me. Though my former minister and I both wrote very intelligent, convincing letters to the school, I was told I could not attend classes unless I had a companion or a dog (I prefer to use a cane). This was not acceptable since the underlying assumption was that I needed a constant caretaker. The school’s attorneys saw me as a liability—not a fact, not true! They finally agreed to make an exception for me, but would not provide educational materials in an accessible format for me. This was unacceptable since I desired a solution that would give me an equal chance to participate and succeed.

 This matter was finally put on hold since my main responsibility right now is to be employed so that I can support my now fifteen-year-old daughter, Lynden, whom some of you have read about in NFB publications. I am currently a reservationist with Westin Hotels and Resorts.

 It sometimes seems that we are seldom given the opportunity to have equal input around our inclusion. Sometimes well intended people assume that they know more than we do about our own capabilities or needs. Often, we are not assertive enough to insist on equal treatment since we’ve been conditioned for so many years to stay in our ascribed role of helplessness.

 But I believe there are loving, caring, cooperative, willing, open-minded people out there who will work with us, and have worked with us, for full inclusion. I’ve known some of them.

 As the characters in the movie, “Angels in the Outfield” say: “It can happen!” Most of us know that, with God, all things are possible.

 I may never become a salaried Social Worker, Spiritual Counselor, or ordained Minister, but there are all kinds of ways for me—for us—to do our work. The Government will not legislate it and others cannot do it for us; this is our work to do. I am here today to help us belong on terms of equality within the religious/spiritual community. Thank you.

 No Kidding Around for Child Care Centers
and the ADA

Reprinted from the Winter, 1998, issue of The ADA Today, a publication of the Rocky Mountain ADA Technical Assistance Center.

1 . Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply to child care centers? Yes. Privately run child care centers—like other public accommodations such as private schools, recreation centers, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and banks—must comply with title III of the ADA. Child care services provided by government agencies, such as Head Start, summer programs, and extended school day programs, must comply with title II of the ADA. Both titles apply to a child care center’s interactions with the children, parents, guardians, and potential customers that it serves.

 Child care center employment practices are covered by other parts of the ADA. For more information about the ADA and employment practices, please call the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at (800) 669-4000(voice) or (800) 669-6820 (TTY).

 2. Which child care centers are covered by title III? Almost all child care providers, regardless of size or number of employees, must comply with title III of the ADA. Even small, home-based centers that may not have to follow some state laws are covered by title III. The exception is child care centers that are actually run by religious entities such as churches, mosques, or synagogues.

 However, private child care centers that are operating on the premises of a religious organization are generally not exempt from title III. Where such areas are leased by a child care program not controlled or operated by the religious organization title III applies to the child care program but not the religious organization. For example, if a private child care program is operated out of a church, pays rent to the church, and has no other connection to the church, the program has to comply with title III but the church does not. 

3. What are the basic requirements of title III? The ADA requires that child care providers not discriminate against persons with disabilities on the basis of disability; that is, that they provide children and parents with disabilities with an equal opportunity to participate in the child care center’s programs and services. Specifically:

 ·  Centers cannot exclude children with disabilities from their programs unless their presence would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others or require a fundamental alteration of the program.

 ·  Centers have to make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices to integrate children, parents, and guardians with disabilities into their programs unless doing so would constitute a fundamental alteration.

 ·  Centers must provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services needed for effective communication with children or adults with disabilities, when doing so would not constitute an undue burden. 

·  Centers must generally make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. Existing facilities are subject to the readily achievable standard for barrier removal, while  newly constructed facilities and any altered portions of existing facilities must be fully accessible.

 4. How do I decide whether a child with a disability belongs in my program? Child care centers cannot just assume that a child’s disabilities are too severe for the child to be integrated successfully into the center’s child care program. The center must make an individualized assessment about whether it can meet the particular needs of the child without fundamentally altering its program. In making this assessment, the caregiver must not react to unfounded preconceptions or stereotypes about what children with disabilities can or cannot do, or how much assistance they may require. Instead, the caregiver should talk to the parents or guardians and any other professionals (such as educators or health care professionals) who work with the child in other contexts. Providers are often surprised at how simple it is to include children with disabilities in their mainstream programs.

 Child care centers that are accepting new children are not required to accept children who would pose a direct threat (see question 8) or whose presence or necessary care would fundamentally alter the nature of the child care program.

 5. My insurance company says it will raise our rates if we accept children with disabilities. Do I still have to admit them into my program? Yes. Higher insurance rates are not a valid reason for excluding children with disabilities from a child care program. The extra cost should be treated as overhead and divided equally among all paying customers.

 6. Our center is full and we have a waiting list. Do we have to accept children with disabilities ahead of others? No. Title III does not require providers to take children with disabilities out of turn.

 7. Our center specializes in “group child care.” Can we reject a child just because she needs individualized attention? No. Most children will need individualized attention occasionally. If a child who needs one-to-one attention due to a disability can be integrated without fundamentally altering a child care program, the child cannot be excluded solely because the child needs one-to-one care. 

For instance, if a child with Down Syndrome and significant mental retardation applies for admission and needs one-to-one care to benefit from a child care program, and a personal assistant will be provided at no cost to the child care center (usually by the parents or through a government program), the child cannot be excluded from the program solely because of the need for one-to-one care. Any modifications necessary to integrate such a child must be made if they are reasonable and would not fundamentally alter the program. This is not to suggest that all children with Down Syndrome need one-to-one care or must be accompanied by a personal assistant in order to be successfully integrated into a mainstream child care program. As in other cases, an individualized assessment is required. But the ADA generally does not require centers to hire additional staff or provide constant one-to-one supervision of a particular child with a disability.

 8. What about children whose presence is dangerous to others? Do we have to take them, too? No. Children who pose a direct threat—a substantial risk of serious harm to the health and safety of others—do not have to be admitted into a program. The determination that a child poses a direct threat may not be based on generalizations or stereotypes about a particular disability; it must be based on an individualized assessment that considers the particular activity and the actual abilities and disabilities of the individual.

 To find out whether a child has a medical condition that poses a significant health threat to others, child care providers may ask all applicants whether a child has any diseases that are communicable through the types of incident contact expected to occur in child care settings. Providers may also inquire about specific conditions, such as active infectious tuberculosis, that in fact poses a direct threat.

 

9. One of the children in my center hits and bites other children. His parents are now saying that I can’t expel him because his bad behavior is due to a disability. What can I do? The first thing the provider should do is try to work with the parents to see if there are reasonable ways of curbing the child’s bad behavior. He may need extra naps, “time out,” or changes in his diet or medication. If reasonable efforts have been made and the child continues to bite and hit children or staff, he may be expelled from the program even if he has a disability. The ADA does not require providers to take any action that would pose a direct threat—a substantial risk of serious harm—to the health or safety of others. Centers should not make assumptions, however, about how a child with a disability is likely to behave based on their past experiences with other children with disabilities. Each situation must be considered individually.

 

10. We have a “no pets” policy. Do I have to allow a child with a disability to bring a service animal? Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your “no pets” policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean that you must abandon your “no pets” policy altogether, but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.

The Blind Child In The Regular Preschool Program

by Ruby Ryles, Ph.D.

The National Organization of
Parents of Blind Children

1800 Johnson Street * Baltimore, Maryland * 21230

Blind children, if given a chance, can play and learn right alongside their sighted peers. An open mind, a positive attitude, and a little creativity are usually all it takes to integrate blind students into regular preschool programs.

 To help you understand how you, too, can be successful in integrating a blind preschooler into a regular program here are some answers to common concerns expressed by preschool teachers and administrators. Remember that this is only an overview of common concerns. The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) can help you with additional literature. We can also refer you to other local and national resources.

A BLIND CHILD IN OUR PRESCHOOL PROGRAM?

 BUT...I don’t have any specialized training.

 None is needed. All successful preschool teachers possess knowledge of general child development and instructional techniques appropriate for this age. The blind child can learn the same concepts that are taught the other children. The only difference is the method of learning. The blind child must make more extensive use of the other senses. They also need parents and teachers who will “bring the world to them” through lots of hands-on experiences.

 For example, pre-reading skills should parallel those of the sighted child. Concepts such as big and little, same and different, prepositions (over, under, in, out, behind), shapes, number concepts, and scores of others are easily taught with concrete objects as an alternative to pictures on paper. Raised line drawings are also useful and provide one form of readiness for tactile reading.

 BUT...How will he get around?

 Parents are used to helping their children get accustomed to new places and will guide you in this respect. Usually, one or two visits to the classroom when the other children are not present will be sufficient to orient the child. Children will use many cues to find their way around. The sound of the wall clock or heat register may be a landmark. They quickly learn that the story time area is carpeted and that the dress-up area is next to the windows where they can feel the sun or hear the rain.

 In moving outside the classroom a child may sometimes use the teacher or another child as a guide. More and more blind preschoolers are using white canes for independent travel. If the child in your school uses one, ask the parents about how and when it should be used, where the child should store it when not in use, and what to do if the child misuses the cane.

 BUT...We have so many rowdy children— she’ll get hurt.

 All children get bumps and bruises. Learning to cope with groups of people is a natural and vital part of learning to live in our society. Protecting a child from the boisterous, rowdy play of other four-year-olds denies her a crucial stage in her development. Encourage the blind child to join in the running, wrestling, and rowdiness of her classmates. If she has been overprotected, she may need some extra encouragement and demonstrations of how to play in this manner. Skinned knees and tears from bumps last a few moments. The negative effects of sheltering last a lifetime.

 BUT...He isn’t really blind; he can see some.

 Blindness does not mean that the child is totally without usable vision. The majority of blind children have varying amounts of residual vision, which can be quite helpful. “Legal blindness” is a term you may hear. It simply means that a child has 10% or less of normal vision. Teachers need to know that many factors affect what, and how much, a child may see at any particular time. Type of eye condition, fatigue, lighting, excitement, etc. all affect a partially sighted child’s vision.

  However, the child with partial vision is often placed in an unenviable position. She may be expected to perform tasks visually, even though her vision may not be the most efficient means to accomplish the particular task. Partially sighted children should be encouraged to become skilled in using their tactile, auditory, and even olfactory senses as well as vision. They should, for example, learn to read Braille.

 Talk to the parents whenever you have questions. The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC) can also help with information and resources.

 Blind children sometimes suffer from the “I’m Special” syndrome. Because their education does require some adaptations, they often come to expect and demand unnecessary “accommodations.” One little boy with partial vision was always allowed to sit next to the teacher during story time so he could see the pictures. Soon he expected to be next to the teacher in every activity. This caused resentment among the other children. After a consultation with the parents, it was decided that the boy could examine the pictures in the book before or after story time and take his turn next to the teacher like everyone else.

 BUT...What about movies, field trips, picture books, etc?

 Adults accompanying the class on field trips should provide descriptions of “untouchables.” Short descriptions of pictures in storybooks are enjoyable for all the children.When needed, an adult may verbally describe movies or other performances quietly to the child. Painting and coloring helps children develop fine motor skills and are a part of the preschool experience, so the blind student should participate, too.

 Some blind children may resist activities which require them to put their hands into unfamiliar substances (i.e. clay, finger-paints, paper mache, rice/bean/sand tables, etc.). Usually a loving, firm, “we’ll do it together” approach will help your blind student get over this problem.

 With a little imagination on your part, your blind student will easily gain as much as his sighted friends from your standard preschool curriculum.

 BUT...We do not have any materials or equipment for a blind child.

 A blind youngster in your classroom requires little outside the standard preschool materials and equipment. Often well-meaning attempts to create specialized materials result in meaningless activities. For example, plastic models of animals are often confusing and meaningless to a blind child. As often as possible, use the real item to teach concepts. Without concrete teaching, a blind child may possess the vocabulary but lack the concept.

 One preschool blind child seemed to know all about birds and their habits until one visited his class. As his turn came to pet the bird, his surprised exclamation of “It can walk, too!” startled his teacher. Discussions of birds had left him with an incomplete concept. He examined the bird’s legs and talons, felt it take a step and gained an understanding on which more complete concepts could be built.

 BUT...I don’t know Braille.

 You don’t need to. The blind child will be taught Braille by a specially trained teacher of the blind and visually impaired. However, you should find ways to expose your blind preschooler to Braille, just as you expose your sighted students to print. Twin Vision® books (regular print children’s books with Braille pages added) can be borrowed for use in the classroom with all the children. Inexpensive Braille labels can be added to print labels in the classroom. For information about how to obtain Twin Vision® books and other Braille materials for blind preschoolers please contact the NOPBC.

 BUT...We can’t provide an aide.

 Young children learn to solve problems by doing for themselves. An important part of the child’s life is knowing when to do it himself and when to ask for help. The additional assistance we too often give a blind child teaches dependency. This robs the child of confidence and the opportunity for problem solving.

 Yes, he will need additional hands-on directions for many things. But this doesn’t need to be a problem. For example, finger plays and motions to songs, dances, and exercises are normally learned by watching the teacher demonstrate. Such activities are easily demonstrated by putting the blind child’s body through the motions, so everyone learns them together. 

Sometimes a child may have had so few opportunities for experiences that more individual attention is required for a time. If so, work to find creative solutions. Talk with the parents. Check into other resources. See what can be worked out.

 BUT...I don’t have the heart to discipline him.

 Then prepare yourself for the worst. As with any undisciplined child, tantrums, abnormal mannerisms, poor socialization, inattention, and delays in learning will quickly follow. Like any other child, a blind child needs firm but loving discipline so he can learn how to get along in this world.

 BUT...How will the other children react to him?

 Most preschoolers are curious, but not cruel. They have not yet learned the negative attitudes about blindness, which are prevalent in our society. The children will mostly take their cues from you. You must learn to be open and natural about the child’s blindness. If you treat the blind child differently, then the other children will too. If you expect him to perform and participate just like the other children, then the children will treat him likewise.

Finding Her Way

by Karen Crowe

Editor’s note: The Braille Monitor, the monthly magazine of the National Federation of the Blind, carried the following reprint in the April, 1999, issue.

 From the Braille Monitor Editor: Kids who read the January/February, 1999, issue of American Girl magazine know a good deal more about what it’s like being a blind teen-ager than they did in 1998. That’s because the issue carried a wonderful story about Federationist Cortney Osolinski from New Jersey. The reporter did a great job of accurately describing Cortney’s day and her methods for getting her work done. But Cortney also did a fine job of helping the reporter to understand what Courtney was doing and what she thinks about being blind. Here is the article:

 Cortney Osolinski is hurrying to get ready for school. She checks the time by feeling the raised dots on her watch. To choose her outfit, she feels the texture of the clothes in her dresser and pulls out a soft ribbed shirt. Cortney, thirteen, has special ways of getting ready in the morning because she can’t see.

 Cortney has been blind since birth, but being blind has not kept this New Jersey girl from doing things that other girls her age do. She’s just developed different ways to do them. We spent a day with Cortney to learn how she uses other senses and skills to find her way through her world.

 After dressing, Cortney heads downstairs to the kitchen. She can see blurry, light- and dark-colored shapes as she walks, but she can’t tell what those shapes are. So Cortney has memorized the layout of every room in her house. She knows where the furniture, windows, and doors are. Things like floor coverings and the beads hanging in her bedroom doorway are clues.

 Downstairs, Cortney chooses her breakfast by reading the bumpy Braille labels that she makes for the cereal boxes. Braille is a code of small, raised dots that can be read by touch. Each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a different arrangement of up to six dots. Here is how Cortney spells her name in Braille:

 ,cortney

,osolinski

 After giving her mom and dog goodbye hugs, Cortney grabs her backpack and white cane and heads for the bus stop at the end of her street. Some blind people use special guide dogs to help them get around, but Cortney’s dog, Kelly, is just a pet.  Guide dogs are professionally trained and require lots of discipline, so Cortney must be sixteen before she can get one. “I think having a guide dog would be great because then I could have a friend with me all the time,” says Cortney.  Most blind people use canes instead of dogs to help
them find their way, since canes are more
convenient and require no care.

 To get to the bus stop, Cortney taps the ground with her cane to find where the grass meets the road. She uses the street’s edge as her guide to the corner. “Hi, Cortney!” her friends call out. She knows the bus stop is just ahead.

 When Cortney’s teacher asks the class to write sentences using their spelling words, Cortney turns to her Braillewriter. It’s like a typewriter, but it has only six keys—one for each dot in the Braille system. Cortney presses different keys to make the correct combination of dots for each letter. The machine creates a Braille page for Cortney and a printed copy for her teacher. 

 Cortney weaves through the busy hallways at her school. As she walks, she swings her cane back and forth in front of her to detect objects in her path.  Cortney has taught the kids at school that her cane is her eyes and that it’s supposed to bump into things—even people—so that she doesn’t!

 The first few days of every year, friends help Cortney find her new classrooms.  She memorizes the route, using doors, trash cans, and drinking fountains as landmarks. But the first time Cortney came to this school, she got lost. “It was a little scary,” she says. “Now I just ask for help if I need it.”

 At her locker Cortney stores her many books.  Because Braille type takes up much more space than printed type, Cortney often has several Braille books for every textbook her classmates have. Her social studies book takes up fifteen Braille volumes! Cortney has a special lock on her locker. To open it, she counts the lock’s clicks and lines up her secret combination by feeling the tabs.

 At lunchtime kids in Cortney’s class tell her what foods are on the menu as they go through the line. “I can always tell when it’s pizza day by the smell. That’s my favorite lunch!” Cortney says.

 She’s also learning some tricks for keeping track of paper money: Cortney keeps $1 bills flat, folds $5 bills in half lengthwise, folds $10 bills in half widthwise, and folds $20 bills in quarters. If a coin is dropped, she can identify whether it’s a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter just by the sound.

 Some people think Cortney’s skills are extraordinary. But to her, life isn’t difficult and her skills aren’t unusual. “I just pay more attention to details like sound than most people do,” she says.

 Cortney’s friend Christina Gountas often visits after school. Christina is also blind. Sometimes they draw together using thin sticky wax.  They can feel the shapes they make on paper. The girls also like to play descriptive videos in the VCR. As the movie plays, a voice describes scenery and action that blind people can’t see. When the movie Titanic wasn’t available as descriptive video for Cortney’s slumber party, her sighted friends described the action for her and Christina.

 Cortney has been taking Tae Kwon Do classes for three years. Instead of watching her teacher demonstrate moves, she learned to kick, punch, and flip people by feeling her teacher’s arm or body position, then copying it herself. Cortney participates in most of the activities in her gym class at school—even running on the track.She just takes a classmate’s hand and joins in the race. At the summer camp she attends, Cortney and other blind kids play kickball with a ball and bases that beep.

 Cortney climbs into bed, taking along a Braille version of the novel Jurassic Park. She says that books help her see the world. “They have such in-depth descriptions, like how a raptor moves its head, or the scenery, or even the temperature,” she says. “They really make you feel like you’re there.”

 Cortney’s dream is to become a paleontologist, a scientist who studies dinosaurs. She knows she’ll have to study hard, but Cortney also knows her blindness won’t stand in her way. “I don’t think being blind is hard,” she says “I think of it as being unique.”

Cortney’s Tips for Kids:

Cortney helped write a list of courtesy rules to tell sighted people how they can treat blind kids with more respect. Here are some of her tips:

 Ö  Please don’t say “Guess who I am” or expect me to know you by your voice. This will embarrass me if I don’t know.

 Ö  When greeting me, say your name, like “Hi Cort, it’s A.J., what’s up?”

 Ö  In group situations, say my name first when addressing me. Then I’ll know you’re talking to me.

 Ö  Please don’t move my body—for example, turn me for directions or place my hands on something. Spoken directions are much more helpful and considerate.

 Ö  My cane is used for what I can’t see with my eyes. I keep it with me all the time. Please don’t move it without me knowing.

 Ö  Don’t think that I’m amazing because I read Braille or can find my way using a cane. I’m just an ordinary person who is blind. You or anyone could do it if you were taught the skills.

 

Birth Announcement

Editor’s Note: The birth of a baby is a joyous occasion, and everyone looks eagerly forward to the birth announcement—will it be a boy or a girl? What will they name him/her? How much does he/she weigh? But what do parents do when their child is born blind? It’s hard enough to deal with the shock yourself, so how do you tell others? One family in Texas, mother and grandmother, were able to put aside the shock and grief and focus on the joy. Here is, with their permission, the announcement they sent to family and friends:

 Gianna Brooke was born Jan. 19, 1999
weighing 7lb 15oz and was 19” long.
She was born blind with a condition known as
extreme microphthalmia, meaning absence
of the globe and ocular tissue from the orbit.
Gianna is a very beautiful, healthy, and happy baby.
Our family is very grateful  to have her in our lives
 and thankful that all other tests  were normal.
Because of Gianna we are learning new words such
as Ocularist, the doctor we know as “Randy”
who will  be  preparing her for
 prosthetic eyes—her choice of colors.


Nicole & Gianna

New Toy

Editor’s Note: Reader Lori Moroz-White of Nevada e-mailed this information to us:

 There is a new toy on the market by V-tech. It is called “A-Z phonics” and it introduces Braille! It has both raised print and Braille. It costs only $25 and is available at Walmart and Toys r’ Us. It is geared for preschool-kindergarten age children, but it also worked nicely to introduce print to my blind daughter.

Large Print Classics

We have been asked to print the following announcement:

 LRS has been providing large print editions of books to schools and libraries across the U.S. and Canada for over 35 years. LRS produces many large print textbooks with a variety of special bindings and formats to meet the needs of visually and multi-disabled students. We also produce on-demand for the visually impaired a full-color large print reproduction of Hammond’s Basic Map Skills.

 Through our contacts with educators and readers, we have recognized the demand for a series of classic books in sharp, bold, easy-to-read extra large print. The books from our Classics series have extra large 18 point type size with extra spacing between lines of text and paragraphs. The books come with full-color hard covers laminated with durable mylar. (It’s even washable!) Some of the titles in the series include: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson; The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett; and Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. Prices range from $19.95 to $35.95, plus shipping and handling fees. For a order form, large print catalog, or for more information about our products, contact:

 LRS,  14214 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90061
(800) 255-5002; fax: 310-354-2601;
website: <www.lrs-largeprint.com>

Audio Tapes

We have been asked to print the following:

 The Growler Tapes Audio Adventures is the first series to make extensive use of new technologies (controlling hundreds of sound elements, plus music, voices, etc.) to support the drama in a high-end children’s program. Targeted at children between the ages of 4 and 10 years old, this series sets new standards for riveting audio. $6.00 per cassette. For information on Growler Tapes and Growler Radio contact:

 The Growler Tapes Audio Adventures
 TNG/Earthling, Inc.
110 West 86th Street, New York, NY 10024
Toll free number (800) GROWLER

Math Braille

We have been asked to announce the following:

 Computers to Help People, Inc.,
825 East Johnson Street,
Madison, WI 53703

Contact us to learn more about scientific and mathematical materials in Braille! We also have a list of children’s books in Braille. In our Technical Braille Center we can Braille scientific and mathematical material. In addition, CHPI will Braille books upon request. For information call Voice/TDD (608) 257-5917.

Bestseller in Braille

From Diane Croft of National Braille Press comes the following:

  We have a new book that I wanted to tell you about for Future Reflections: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling. Even though the book was written for intermediate readers, it has struck a chord with both children and adults (15 weeks, so far, on The New York Times bestseller list). What I like about the book is that it’s great fun, but clean, well-written literature. We are selling it for the same price as the print book: $16.95 plus $1.00 for handling ($5 processing fee on purchase orders; no charge if prepaid). It’s in four Braille volumes. To order, or to request more information about other Braille books, contact:

 National Braille Press
88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115
(800) 548-7323; web site <www.nbp.org>

World Series Baseball Game

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

Version 13 of the award-winning World Series Baseball Game and Information System comes with 124 additional teams, including the 1998 pennant winners and Mark McGwire’s 1998 St. Louis Cardinals. This makes a total of 262 teams, including every pennant winner since 1901, many all-star teams, Negro teams, Japanese teams, etc. Every major-league franchise is represented. The game is being played by sight-impaired baseball fans of all ages in forty-eight states on IBM-compatible computers with screen readers and synthesizers. There are also nine updated information programs and a 1,000-question quiz. There are many improvements, most suggested by users of the game. Baseball action during the game is described in the words of many of the famous radio and TV announcers. The price is still the same as when the game was first introduced in 1986, only $15 to new users, $5 for upgrades. Send check to:

 Harry Hollingsworth
692 Sheraton Drive, Akron, Ohio 44319
(330) 644-2421, e-mail <hhhollingsworth@IBM.net>

Braille/LP Fortune Cookies

We have been asked to carry the following announcement:

 Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie Company is a student-operated business at the California School for the Blind that sells fortune cookies with Braille or combined Braille and large print fortunes. Standard size cookies with a Braille only message are 3 for $1; the giant sizes (about six inches by five inches by four inches) with Braille and large print fortune are  $6 each. Cookies can also be ordered with customized fortunes, and/or chocolate-dipped. For more information please contact:

 Judith Lesner, Advisor
(510) 794-3800, extension 300
e-mail:  <Jlesner@supreme.cde.ca.gov>

Braille Internet Course

 Three courses in Braille are available over the Internet from the Shodor Foundation, Governor Moorhead School for the Blind, and North Carolina Central University. Students can choose from Introduction to Braille, Braille Transcriber’s Course, and Specialized Codes in Braille. Courses can be taken for academic credit. For further information contact Robert Gotwallsat (919)286-1911,
e-mail: <gotwals@shodor.org>.

Grade I Braille Storybooks

The following announcement comes from long-time NFB leader Dr. Norman Gardner:

 The Braille Resource and Literacy Center (The BRL Center) has over 50 children’s storybooks available in double-spaced, non-interpoint, Grade 1 (or alphabetic) Braille. The Braille appears on the right side of the page and the print equivalent of each line appears on the left side. These books are bound with a spiral wire binding. Titles include many children’s classic fairy tales and other stories, such as The Little Mermaid, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Mother Goose Rhymes, The Three Little Pigs, and so forth. Other titles are books written for beginning readers, such as the series of Frog and Toad books. Teachers and parents may purchase the books at a price of 2 books for $6.00. One free book will be given to any child upon request. For more information contact:

 The BRL Center
1094 South 350 West, Orem, UT 84058
(801) 224-3334
 

Multiple Impairments

The following announcement comes from the Penrickton Center for Blind Children:

 The Penrickton Center for Blind Children presents Dr. Lilli Nielsen, A Conference For “Active Learning” on November 1, 2, 3, 1999, at the Holiday Inn-Southgate, Southgate, Michigan. Motivating any child can be challenging, especially a blind, multi-disabled child. Join Dr. Lilli Nielsen, the innovator of “Active Learning” as she provides you with a fresh, innovative approach for creating an Active Learning environment. Develop and sharpen your skills as an observer, teacher, and role model. Learn how to promote skill attainment and independence in children of all developmental ages. This conference will also feature “hands on” work with visually impaired, multi-disabled children. For more information about how to register for this conference, contact the Penrickton Center for Blind Children at (734) 946-7500, fax: (734) 946-6707.

 Adoption

We have been asked to announce the following:

 The National Adoption Center is a non-profit organization that expands adoption opportunities for children throughout the United States. We do not have children in our care; we work closely with adoption agencies that use our telecommunications system to make matches between families and children listed on the Center’s national registry. The children we deal with are not babies. They are older and have special needs. Waiting children include: those with physical or emotional disabilities; those with mental retardation; school-age children, many of whom are teen-agers; and brothers and sisters who need homes together. One such child is Raheed. A quiet, reserved child, he has been thriving in his most recent foster care placement. His vision problems were not diagnosed for a long time, and he fell behind in school. Since receiving corrective lenses and services for the blind, he is doing well. For more information contact:

  NAIC
330 C Street SW, Washington D.C. 20447
(703) 352-3488 or (888) 251-0075
fax: (703) 385-3206; e-mail: <naic@calib.com>
website: <www.calib.com/naic/>

 Modular Instruction for Independent Travel for Students Who Are
Blind or Visually Impaired:
Preschool Through High School

By Doris M. Willoughby
and
Sharon L. Monthei

 NFB, ©1998, 398 pages, illustrated, b&w photos,
 bibliographical references, index.
ISBN 1-885218-09-5
371.91’1-dc21 HV 1596.5.W55
@$20.00 + $3.00 s&h per print copy

 For the mobility teacher,
classroom teacher,
or parent—

 Willoughby and Monthei’s newest practical guide offers over a thousand creative suggestions for teaching cane travel to preschool-12 students in every possible setting. Together, the authors have over 50 years of teaching experience. One is sighted, the other is blind. Their modules cover the standard topics of home, school, community, and the usual inclement weather problems (wind, fog, ice, rain, etc.), but then they go beyond these into additional places and skills—the top of the fridge, under the porch, storm gratings, the cafeteria lunch tray, carrying loads on the stairs, crossings with school patrol guards, techniques for shopping—with many tips for safety and notes on “increasing independence as appropriate for age.”

n  “an extremely teacher-friendly
book.”

—Dr. Phil Hatlen, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind

 n  “a clear, reliable, practical guide.”

—Joe Cutter, Early Childhood Orientation &
Mobility Specialist, New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 n  “This text not only provides assistance to Orientation and Mobility Specialists, but also is a useful tool for families, students, special education teachers, and regular education teachers.”

—Ralph E. Bartley, Ph.D., Superintendent, Kentucky School for the Blind.

 Modular Instruction for Independent Travel for Students Who Are
 Blind or Visually Impaired:
Preschool Through High School

 Module 17

 Example 4. Attic with unfinished floor...Poke your head in there: Even when it is unwise to actually enter an unfinished attic...he can climb up the ladder...poke his head and upper body into the attic area and get the smell and “feel” of the attic. He can touch the flooring and understand why it is unsafe to walk on.

 Follow-up: Exploring unfinished areas in regular buildings helps build flexibility for exploring caves, ancient ruins, etc., as in the Module, “The Great Outdoors.”

 For more information or to order by phone with a Visa, Discover, or MasterCard, call the NFB Materials Center at (410) 659-9314 between 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time. To order by mail send check made payable to National Federation of the Blind or NFB to:

 NFB Materials Center
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Name:

Address:                                                                                                         

City:                                                         State :                      Zip:

Daytime phone:

I’ve enclosed $_______for _____copies of Modular Instruction...@$20 + $3 s&h/copy

 

I wish to pay by: [  ]Visa [  ]Discover [  ]MasterCard

 

Card number: ____________________________Expiration date:______________________

 

 

 

The new girl next door is your age—and she’s blind!

The Seeing Summer

by Jeannette Eyerly
Illustrations by Maki Ishiwata

The new NFB Edition ©1999
Suitable for grades 3 & up
153 pages, paperback
@$10.00 + $3.00 s&h per copy

The new girl next door is your age—and she’s blind! How will you climb trees, make cookies, play “Old Maid” with cards, walk to the store, write notes to each other and enjoy the summer together? Carey and Jenny Lee, the girl next door do enjoy their summer fun UNTIL Jenny is kidnapped! Soon Carey is searching for clues...

 For more information or to order by phone with a Visa, Discover, or MasterCard call the NFB Materials Center at (410) 659-9314 between 12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Eastern Time. To order by mail send check made payable to National Federation of the Blind or NFB to:

NFB Materials Center
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

 

Name

Address                                                                                                         

City                                                         State                       Zip

Daytime phone

 

I’ve enclosed $_________for _____copies of The Seeing Summer @$10 + $3 s&h/copy

 

I wish to pay by: [  ]Visa [  ]Discover [  ]MasterCard  

Card number _____________________________Expiration date__________________

Future Reflections

The National Federation of the Blind Magazine for Parents of Blind Children

1800 Johnson Street * Baltimore, Maryland 21230 * (410) 659-9314

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[  ] Parent  [  ]Teacher  [  ]Other_____________________________________

 

[  ]$8.00 Subscription and family membership in the National Organization of
           Parents of Blind Children

[    ]$15.00 Non-member subscription

 

This is a: [   ]New Subscription   [   ]Renewal   [   ]Address or other change

 

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Changes: Please print old or duplicate name and/or address as it appears on your magazine label in the space provided below. Please let us know if this is an old name/address to be changed to the one given above, or if it is a duplicate that you wish deleted.

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