Future Reflections Winter 2010
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by Mary Taylor
From the Editor: Mary Taylor is emerging as an energetic NOPBC leader in Washington, DC. Last summer in Detroit she experienced her first national convention.
I am the primary caregiver for my seventeen-year-old granddaughter, who is blind. Last summer we had the pleasure of attending the National Federation of the Blind Convention in Detroit, Michigan. For me the chief highlight of the convention was "The Future Is Ours - and Theirs," the day-long seminar for parents, guardians, and professionals. The annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind affords youth and their support networks many opportunities for personal and professional growth. This year's agenda clearly was designed to support the interests of our children by encouraging independence and building self-confidence.
People of diverse cultural backgrounds from all over the United States attended the convention. Attendees learned about a variety of resources that can strengthen their advocacy skills. Most importantly, blind children and teens were introduced to many options that can widen their opportunities and improve their quality of life. They learned about service dogs, Braille, and many types of assistive technology.
Families began the seminar day together with a series of talks in the morning. In the afternoon children, teens, parents, and professionals participated in activities and workshops according to their track and interests. The workshops for parents provided tools to help them advocate with and on behalf of their children throughout the life span. Parents learned about developing timelines and requesting appropriate training and assistive technology. The discussions were specific, practical, and relevant to actual situations. As participants we were provided with resources to help us set realistic, achievable goals in the IEP process. I learned that the term "SMART IEP" describes a plan that is specific, measurable, uses action words, is realistic and relevant, and is time-limited.
Opportunities such as this convention expose our youth to concrete examples of success. Teens are empowered to live the least restrictive life possible through access to education and information.
For my granddaughter and me, the convention was an outstanding experience. It has given us momentum to move forward in exciting new ways. I encourage you to go to Dallas for the NFB convention in 2010!
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