by Laura Bostick
From the Editor: For many years now one of the most lively and creative elements of our national conventions has been the group of activities planned by the NOPBC for parents and teachers of blind children and the youth activities that go with them. Here is NOPBC President Laura Bostick’s intriguing glimpse of the 2012 parent conference during our national convention:
Every student can learn, just not on the same day or the same way.
My daughter Lindsay began receiving early intervention services from a teacher of blind students, an orientation and mobility specialist, an occupational therapist, and an early childhood specialist when she was four months old. When she turned three, she entered the public school system and attended preschool programs for children with disabilities, where she continued to receive services. By the time she entered kindergarten, she was receiving an hour per day of Braille instruction. She’s a bright, curious child who loves to learn; she was in an excellent school district; and she had caring teachers who truly wanted her to succeed. Things weren’t perfect, but I really wasn’t too concerned. She was keeping up and making good grades, and she seemed to be on track.
Imagine my surprise when she started falling behind. At the end of second grade she was no longer reading on grade level. She lost confidence. She didn’t want to read aloud in class because her reading was so much slower than that of the other kids. She began to say that she hated reading and she hated school, and, when I asked her why, she told me that she didn’t think she was very smart. It broke my heart.
Lindsay’s story is not unique. Many of our blind kids start out on track and then fall behind. Countless others begin school with delays and are told that being behind is normal for a visually impaired child. Why is this slow progress accepted? If a child with normal eyesight began falling behind, would a different set of questions be asked? Would a different set of interventions be put in place?
At this year’s conference, Life in the Mainstream, we’ll examine the strategies that are known to assist struggling sighted readers and explore how these interventions can be applied to children with visual impairments. For our younger children and those with multiple disabilities, we’ll examine movement and exploration, active learning, and items and ideas that can facilitate learning at home and in school. We’ll also take a look at access to the newest technology, independent mobility, the skills of daily life, tactile graphics, and other topics that can enable our children, whatever their level, to be full participants in school and in the community. In addition to activities for children and youth, we’ll feature our annual IEP workshops, recognition of our Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest participants, and presentations by NASA, eminent leaders of the National Federation of the Blind, and the winner of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award.
The 2012 NOPBC Conference, Life in the Mainstream, will take place at the NFB national convention in Dallas, Texas, from June 30 to July 5. All families and teachers of blind and visually impaired children are welcome, and we have planned activities for everyone. Highlights for parents and teachers include:
Hope to see you there!