A quarterly newsletter about visual impairments and deafblindness for families and professionals a collaborative effort of the Texas School for the Blind and




НазваниеA quarterly newsletter about visual impairments and deafblindness for families and professionals a collaborative effort of the Texas School for the Blind and
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SEE/HEAR

A QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER ABOUT VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS AND DEAFBLINDNESS FOR FAMILIES AND PROFESSIONALS A collaborative effort of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Texas Commission for the Blind

Spring 2001

Volume 6, No. 2

Table of Contents

FAMILY

Absorbing the Sights..........................................................................................................................................2 Special Education Serves Diverse Students.........................................................................................................3 Baby Talk.........................................................................................................................................................5 Blindness Isn’t an Obstacle................................................................................................................................6 Just a Typical Teenager.......................................................................................................................................9

PROGRAMMING

A Celebration of Communities and Connections: The 2001 Texas Symposium on Deafblindness ..........................9 Trends in the Use of Braille Contractions in the United States - Implications for UBC Decisions............................12 A Time to Embrace - Parents of Special-Needs Children Find Respite in Night-Out Programs.............................17 I’m an Outreach Consultant - Do I Really Want to Do Raised-Lined Drawings?..................................................19

SYNDROMES/CONDITIONS

Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis.........................................................................................................................22 Meningitis .......................................................................................................................................................23 Attention: Individuals and Families with Usher Syndrome..................................................................................25 Interesting Facts from the Year 2001 Annual Registration of Students with Visual Impairments.............................26 The 2001 Texas Deafblind Census ...................................................................................................................27

NEWS & VIEWS

Look the World Straight in the Eye................................................................................................................... 30

A Vision for Texas - Our Profession Determines Its Own Destiny........................................................................31 Book Review: What’s Stopping You? Living Successfully with Disability......................................................34 Spanish-Language Low Vision Booklet Now Available!................................................................................... 35 Are You Still Looking for Summer Activities for Your Kids?? It MAY Not Be Too Late!.....................................35 Short Classes at TSBVI...................................................................................................................................36 Finding Wheels Listserv...................................................................................................................................37 Survey Regarding Proposed Changes to the APH Tactile Graphics Kit.............................................................37 Classified.............................................................................................................................................................38

Kate’s Corner

One of the best things about working in the field of visual impairments and deafblindness is the wonderful people who become your friends through the years. At the Texas Symposium on Deafblindness which took place in February in Dallas, many of my friends, new and old, came together to learn and to honor some special people we know. Beginning on page 9 you can learn more about this celebration and some special awards that were presented there.

Another event, the Texas AER Conference, took place in April, and a number of our friends were honored there. Join us in congratulating all these deserving folks and celebrating their achievements.

Kate’s Corner - continued on page 25




Absorbing the Sights

By Amanda Rogers, Staff Writer, Arlington Star-Telegram

Reprinted courtesy of the Arlington Star-Telegram

Daynon Welch, 10, plows through the barns at the Stock Show, dodging poop and people with skill and trying to see everything at once. Not so easy when your sight extends only six feet.

“What’s in there?” Daynon asks as he darts ahead of vision teacher Joanne Kennedy’s group. Daynon heads inside a barn he can barely see.

“That would hurt if it fell on you,” he says as he leans closer to a Brown Swiss cow lying in the straw. “Can I touch it?” The Granbury fourth-grader sits down next to the cow to rub her side. Soon he has petted every cow in the area.

Daynon and 53 other youngsters got their chance Friday to “see” the Stock Show and Rodeo courtesy of the Telephone Pioneers, a service organization at Southwestern Bell of Ft. Worth for decades. The Pioneers picked up the $1,200 tab for 75 rodeo tickets for the students, teachers and chaperones.

The Pioneers take the children to the Stock Show and the circus every year, said Delane Archer, one of the organizers.

None of the children focuses on what they can’t do, only what they can, Archer said. They visit the FFA Children’s Barnyard, cruise through the barn, then head to the rodeo.

To help the children “see” the rodeo, Southwestern Bell supplies 37 headphones connected to a microphone that Paula Reed-Tollet uses to describe what’s going on in the arena.

Rodeos are nothing new for 10-year-old Brittney Holland, who has been legally blind since birth. Brittney, a fifth- grader from Aledo, started riding horses when she was 4 and won her first belt buckle for barrel racing from Profes- sional Youth Rodeo Association at age 9.

What’s so nice about this is they have headphones,” said her mom, Susan Holland. “Even though we go to rodeos twice a month, this helps Brittney know what’s going on.”

Brittney has no vision in one eye and has 20/400 sight in the other. To help her navigate the course, her barrel- racing sister, Hayley, 12, and her mom talk to her on walkie-talkies to tell her when to turn and when to slow her horse, Red. There are also people at each barrel telling Brittney when to turn.

After checking out the animals in the barns, Daynon and Brittney are eager to pull on the headphones to hear Reed- Tollet describe the opening ceremonies at the rodeo in the Will Rogers Coliseum. Both use hand-held telescopes.

“They’re riding a fabulous array of horses and some of them are going to do scary tricks,” Reed-Tollet says excitedly into the microphone. When a bucking horse bursts out of the chute, she tries to explain why the horse is trying so hard to toss its rider.

Editor’s note: In this edition of SEE/HEAR we wanted to feature a number of individuals with visual impairments and deafblindness who are doing a variety of interesting things with their lives. As you read about each of them, we think you will be reminded that life is about more than a disability.

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FAMILY

“We wear a belt to hold up our pants,” she says. “The horses wear a belt, but they don’t care much for it. These are wild horses and they buck.”

Reed-Tollet started doing the running commentary for Southwestern Bell 25 years ago when she worked on a children’s TV show, Kid’s Korner, on Channel 11.

“I just try to describe all the colors and what people are doing,” she says as fireworks explode inside the arena. “Ohh, fireworks! That sound you heard was fireworks going off. Don’t be afraid. They’re going off inside the building.”

Special Education Serves Diverse Students

By Tommy Young, Staff Writer with the Plainview Daily Herald Reprint courtesy of the Plainview Daily Herald

Many people think of mentally disabled children when they think about special education programs. But director John Hightower says the Plainview ISD Special Education program has evolved into an all-encompassing project.

“We serve students with all manner of both physical and mental special needs. We strive to give all of our students, disabled or not, a fair shot at having equal access to a free public education.”

The district serves 855 students with special needs and a number of the students have physical disabilities. The district has a wide array of programs to help students who need more than traditional instruction.

“We rely on a lot of technology to help our students compete on a level playing field,” said Hightower. “We also employ several individuals with specific training who incorporate the technology to assist our students.”

The district has one physical therapist, two occupational therapists, a school psychologist, a speech therapist, and several teaching assistants who give the students individual attention.

One Plainview student who receives a great deal of assistance from the various technologies and individuals in- volved in the ISD Special Education Program is Jeffrey Pruett.

He is a 16-year-old freshman at Plainview High. He has been diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia, one of the 40- plus types of Muscular Dystrophy.

“It is a neurological disease that attacks the muscles, but Jeffrey has been hit pretty hard,” explains his mother, Jeanie Pruett. “It doesn’t normally attack as early in life as it did Jeffrey. It also has affected his vision - he is legally blind - and his hearing. He is deaf, and it doesn’t normally do that.”

Jeffrey is confined to a wheelchair and has lost the ability to swallow, necessitating his use of a feeding tube. But Jeffrey’s mind is sharp and vibrant.

As his father Brian put it: “His body is confined to that wheelchair but his mind is free, and he makes the most of that freedom.”

“Jeffrey has the same hopes and dreams as any other 16-year-old. He wants to have a girl friend and go to college and be a productive part of society,” says his mother.

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Jeffrey also has the Special Education program at Plainview High helping him be as free as possible and attaining his goals.

“I think the school district and Mr. Hightower absolutely do the best they can to provide Jeffrey and all of their disabled students the best education they can,” said Mrs. Pruett. “They try and get him the kind of equipment he needs, and they’ve even gone as far as to rearrange the bus schedule where he is the last one on the route so he doesn’t become fatigued due to his bus ride. They’ve even customized his class schedule where they allow him to take two blocks of art class.”

Jeffrey displays an extraordinary talent as an artist that belies his physical limitations - enough talent that he is entering an art contest for disabled students sponsored by the Helen Keller Foundation.

Art teacher Sandy Smith feels Jeffrey’s talent inspires able-bodied students around him.

“Seeing the amount of talent he has and what he can achieve amazes them. He has a remarkable ability to transfer what he sees to paper or canvas. He is full of life and he brings that quality to his art work. I believe it inspires other students to go beyond what they expect of themselves,” said Mrs. Smith.

“He wants to be part of what’s going on and in art class he is able to do just that,” added Mrs. Pruett.

Classmate Bryson Davis, who is a football and basketball player for the Bulldogs, agrees with the assessment of both women: “It’s not every day you see a person with his disabilities do the type of work that he can do. He’s better than most of us in here.”

“He’s 10 times better than I am,” chimed in another classmate.

Other than his limitations, Jeffrey is much like any other 16-year-old boy.

When asked what his favorite kind of art project was, Jeffrey responded through teaching assistant Herminia Zuniga: “Painting.”

When pushed further Jeffrey admits, “I like painting pretty girls the most,” his response inviting a chuckle from his classmates seated near by.

Mrs. Zuniga has been with Jeffrey since his fifth grade year. The two have developed a special bond.

“Jeffrey is unable to communicate with his peers because they don’t know sign language, so the only people he is able to communicate with besides us are Mrs. (Jane) Holt, Deaf Education teacher for Plainview schools, and his teaching assistants Glenn Truett and Herminia Zuniga,” said Mr. Pruett. “At an age when you have a lot of questions to ask and no one to give the answers but those who can communicate with you, they have a special relationship that is deeper than what most students and their teachers have.”

Mrs. Holt indicates that, hopefully, the communication barrier between Jeff and his peers will lessen thanks to technology provided by the district.

“We are in the process of having a laptop computer mounted on Jeffrey’s wheelchair. It has Internet access and is loaded with AOL Instant Messenger, so his friends can tell when he is on line and they can write messages to him.”

“In an indirect way, having the computer will help Jeffrey with his fine motor skills, and strengthen his hands and

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FAMILY

shoulder muscles, but it is mostly for social interaction and communication,” said Occupational Therapist Gretchen Foster, who holds therapy sessions with Jeffrey every other week.

The Pruetts are well aware of the fact that their son is in a very precarious situation, but they have a “life is ter- minal” attitude and focus on the fact of living life to its fullest.

They feel that the special education program of the Plainview school district helps their son live the same way.

“Everyone from Mr. Hightower to Mrs. Holt and Mrs. Zuniga and the therapists do an excellent job at letting Jeffrey experience school as normally as possible and by doing so enhance the quality of his life,” Brian Pruett said.

Jeff Pruett works on an art project. He is legally blind and has to be extremely close to the subject he is drawing. Jeffrey is entering a drawing in a national art contest for disabled students sponsored by Helen Keller Foundation.

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