Category Archives: Visual Impairments

Students with Visual Impairments Push Through Barriers

This article chronicles the activities of two Bismark High School Students who have visual impairments. The use of technology and the support of their teams at school enable them to successfully attend classes, get employment and plan for the future.

Bismarck High School seniors Amber Kraft and Cole Roberts are just like any other teenagers going off on their own, but with a characteristic they have proven does not define them — they are blind.

….Bismarck Public Schools teacher of the blind and visually impaired Brandi Trom-Anderson has helped teach Roberts and Kraft the skills they need inside and outside of the classroom since they were in preschool.

“Most of my students are scheduled in my room for one class period,” Anderson said. “During this time, I might preteach a tactile drawing they need for class; students may be introduced to a new Braille symbol for math; they may learn how to navigate a website using a screen reader called JAWS or we may even go to the kitchen and prepare a snack or meal. Students also practice independent mobility skills. One to two times a week they meet with the orientation and mobility specialist to learn how to be independent travelers whether they use their cane or the city bus. They learn to listen to traffic and safely cross streets.”

Roberts and Kraft can participate in class by using a BrailleNote that is like a computer with just a keyboard, and a laptop with a screen reader on it called JAWS. Teachers email or use Dropbox to send assignments or PowerPoints of the learning material.

Read the article here.

Utah Project for Visually Impaired Focuses on Transition for Youth

Project STRIVE (Successful Transition Requires Independence, Vocation & Education) is an organization that focuses on the development of transition skills for youth who are blind and visually impaired.

NFB Project STRIVE is dedicated in providing quality programs to help meet the unique needs of blind and visually impaired youth throughout Utah. Project STRIVE instructors are positive, educated, blind adults who are fully dedicated to model, mentor, encourage and teach life, education, and employment readiness skills. These skills, along with a positive attitude towards blindness is absolutely critical for blind and visually impaired youth to transitionsuccessfully as adults.

Most of the updated information about the activities of Project STRIVE can be found on its facebook page.

This promotional video was created two years ago and describes more about the project.

The website is located here.

Ron McCallum: How technology allowed me to read

This is an inspirational TED Talk by Ron McCallum on the impact of technology that allowed him to be a successful member of society.

Months after he was born, in 1948, Ron McCallum became blind. In this charming, moving talk, he shows how he is able to read — and celebrates the progression of clever tools and adaptive computer technologies that make it possible. With their help, and that of generous volunteers, he’s become a lawyer, an academic, and, most of all, a voracious reader. Welcome to the blind reading revolution. (Filmed at TEDxSydney.)

Ron McCallum is one of Australia’s most respected legal scholars, and an activist on behalf of disabled people around the globe.

Read Ron’s full bio here.

Anne Sullivan: An Early Transition Teacher

Transition may be something that has come to the forefront of the Special Education world, but it’s not something new.

Every June, the world celebrates the anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller, acclaimed blind/deaf/mute woman who captured the world with her successes despite her disabilities.

Anne Sullivan

While Keller developed the fortitude and self-determination to pursue her dreams and goals, much of the credit goes to her lifelong teacher, Anne Sullivan, who also struggled with a vision impairment. What she did to prepare Keller to be a productive citizen may not have been called “transition”, but that’s exactly what it was.

At only 21 years of age, Sullivan showed great maturity and ingenuity in teaching Keller. She wanted to help Keller make associations between words and physical objects, and worked hard with her rather stubborn and spoiled pupil. After isolating Keller from her family in order to better educate her, Sullivan began working to teach Keller how to communicate with the outside world. During one lesson, she finger-spelled the word “water” on one of Keller’s hands as she ran water over her student’s other hand. Keller finally made her first major breakthrough, connecting the concept of sign language with the objects around her.

Helen Keller

Thanks to Sullivan’s instruction, Keller learned nearly 600 words, most of her multiplication tables, and how to read Braille within a matter of months. News of Sullivan’s success with Keller spread, and the Perkins school wrote a report about their progress as a team. Keller became a celebrity because of the report, meeting the likes ofThomas EdisonAlexander Graham Bell, and Mark Twain.

Preparing students for life after high school: Florida School for the Deaf and Blind

This high school program is doing some amazing things to prepare students with visual and hearing impairments to life after high school.

Blumberg Center receives multi-year grant to provide services, support for deaf-blind Indiana youth

Indiana State University website post

An Indiana State University resource center has received a five-year grant to continue providing services to caregivers of young Hoosiers who have both vision and hearing impairments.

The new grant, which is for about $210,000 per year, calls for additional focus on improving the transition outcomes for deaf-blind youth, Poff said. In Indiana, students over 14 years old are considered “transition-age” and their educational program should address their needs for being successful as they move from high school to postsecondary education or a career, Poff said. Nationally, fewer than 20 percent of adults who are deaf-blind are employed and only 5 percent live independently.

“Part of the new grant is to make sure we have identified what those needs are for them … and try to provide resources and training that will help improve their outcomes,” Poff said. “The outcomes for kids who are deaf and blind are pretty dismal in terms of what happens after they graduate.”

During the next five years, Poff hopes to increase services to family members of deaf-blind youth so they can more actively participate in educational and life planning for their children. She also wants to expand the use of technology (including the project’s website, Facebook and distance learning) so that more people can access resources online, including the resources that are located in the project’s resource library at Indiana State.

Read more here.