Braille Monitor                                                                                                        April 2004

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As the Twig Is Bent

by Barbara Cheadle

NFB Camp kids on their way touring.
NFB Camp kids on their way touring.

From the Editor: Barbara Cheadle is the president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children. Each year she and her board plan and organize activities and programs for families and educators of blind children and of course the youth themselves. Here pulled together in one place are the plans for the 2004 NOPBC programs taking place at the NFB convention in Atlanta:

This year's NOPBC seminar theme is taken from the title of one of the early Kernel Books: As The Twig Is Bent. In the preface of that book, Dr. Jernigan begins by saying, "There is a well-known saying that, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. What is true of plants is also true of people." He goes on to say, "Every day all of us are, at least to some degree, bending the twig that will determine the final shape of their [blind children's] lives." We hope that parents who attend the NOPBC activities and participate in the many other 2004 NFB convention programs will leave with greater confidence in their ability to shape their children's lives so that they will grow into active, productive, independent, and valued members of their communities. Social skills will be the primary focus of the seminar and workshops on Tuesday, June 29. Barbara Pierce, who over the years has become one of NOPBC's most sought-after workshop leaders, will give a major presentation on that topic during the morning general session. Also on the morning agenda will be guest speaker Joel Snyder from National Captioning Institute, Described Media Department. Joel, a trained actor with many years of experience in audio-description, will talk about the value of accessing the popular media for knowledge about social skills critical to functioning in our culture.

Leonida Besson in her stroller and Michael Besson at the craft table in the Braille Carnival room
Leonida Besson in her stroller and her parents Nalida and Michael Besson at the craft table in the Braille Carnival room

As in recent years the first part of the program will be kid friendly with a kid talk between Dr. Maurer and the children in the audience, and a youth panel. We will take a brief break before 10:00 a.m. to allow parents time to take the kids to the annual Kenneth Jernigan Braille Carnival, coordinated this year by the three M's: Melody Lindsey, director of a rehabilitation program in Michigan; Maria Morias, a blind mother and educator; and school counselor Melissa Riccobono. The carnival will end at 12:30 p.m., giving parents just enough time to pick kids up from the Carnival or NFB Camp and get lunch before hitting the afternoon workshops.

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

Tuesday, June 29

• 8:00 a.m. Registration.

Note: preregistration materials and information about NOPBC seminar and activity fees are available through June 10 from the NOPBC Web page at <> or by contacting Barbara Cheadle at (410) 737-2224. If you leave a voice mail message requesting a packet, please spell your name and give your mailing address and phone number.

• 9:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m. As the Twig Is Bent--NOPBC Parents Seminar

• General Session

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

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

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

1. Beginning Braille for Parents
Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00

2. Movement, Music, and Play: The Connection to Early Socialization Skills, 0-7
Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00

3. Body Language, Gestures, and Facial Expressions: How Much Do Blind Kids Really Need to Know? How Much Do Visually Impaired Kids Miss?
Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00

4. Friendships In and Beyond the Classroom
Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00

5. Socialization, Blindness, and Additional Disabilities: There Is Hope
Two sessions: 1:30-3:00 and 3:30-5:00

• Lunch

Order a box lunch when you preregister, or pick up your lunch at the nearby fast food restaurants in the attached mall, and join other parents in hotel rooms or other informal small family-group settings to talk about mutual interests and expand your networks. A list of locations, rooms, and group leaders' names will be available at NOPBC seminar registration before and after the morning session.

• 1:30–5:00 p.m. Youth Programs Audio Description: The Visual Made Verbal

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

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

Imagine that you could squeeze the solar system into the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Travel to the moon, pick up artifacts from Mars, explore the rings of Saturn-–all within the confines of the hotel. Young people, blind and sighted, ages eight and up, will learn about the earth's solar system as they explore the Marriott Marquis through a scavenger hunt. Sighted youth will also have the opportunity to travel this universe-in-a-hotel with a white cane under blindfold as part of this educational and fun afternoon. Federation volunteers and astronomers Noreen Grice of the Hayden Planetarium in Boston, and Dr. Dennis Dawson, chairman of the Astronomy Department at Western Connecticut University, will conduct this lively, educational program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 30

• 8:30-1:00 p.m. Cane Walk

Session 1: 8:30–10:30 a.m.

Session 2: 11:00–1:00 p.m.

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

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

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

Thursday, July 1

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

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

• 3:30–5:00 p.m. Braille: It's More Than Dots

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

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

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

Come and help celebrate Braille and the accomplishments of the Braille Readers Are Leaders Contest and Literacy Program. You will find lots of free food, great fellowship, Braille mentors for the kids, and, best of all, a chance to browse and pick up some great Braille books at the flea market. Donations from the Braille book flea market will go into the newly established Braille Readers Are Leaders Reunion and Mentorship Fund. Bring the whole family. Stay for the NAPUB meeting at 7:00 p.m. All Braille enthusiasts are invited, but former contestants and winners are extended a special invitation.

Friday, July 2

• 7:00 a.m. NOPBC Board Meeting

Evening--NOPBC Parent and Youth Workshops

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

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

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

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

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

An update on the status of significant education legislation and trends in education policy and practice with an emphasis on their impact on the education of blind students. Moderated by NOPBC second vice president Marty Grieser. Legislative update from NFB Director of Governmental Affairs James McCarthy and other informative guest speakers.

Childcare for the above NOPBC workshops will be available for a reasonable donation, courtesy of NOPBC.

Saturday, July 3

• Tour Afternoon

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

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

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

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