American Association of Blind Teachers

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Even more than with sighted peers, the education of the blind or visually impaired child needs to be expanded and reinforced by family and friends. The sites below will serve as resources to help in this process.

Assisting Visually Impaired Children

The American Foundation for the Blind, one of the leaders in the field of blindness and vision loss, has a number of links on its site of value to parents of visually impaired children:

American Council of the Blind
The ACB provides excellent lists of catalogues of products; computer publications; venues for computer training; computer products; educational scholarships and financial aid; low vision resources; medical resources; resources for seniors.

Resources for Parents of Blind Children
This is an excellent introductory site with lots of information for parents of children who have been recently diagnosed with significant vision loss. Browsable.

Council of Citizens with Low Vision International
CCLVI is devoted to improving life for people with low vision. The site provides links to some excellent resources not frequently found elsewhere.

Hadley School for the Blind
Hadley has a long-established and well-deserved reputation for providing free high-quality distance learning courses for qualified students and adults. The classes range from traditional academic subjects to courses that impart skills to help with adjusting to vision loss. Its course catalog is available in Braille, cassette, large print, or computer disk. You may be especially interested in
The Hadley School for Professional Studies
which provides programs in 24 distance learning courses, 20 of which offer continuing education credit. Tuition is charged for most courses, and enrollment must be done online. Three classes are likely to be of particular interest to parents of blind or visually impaired children:

Medical Resources, for parents and teachers of blind and visually impaired children
This site features a searchable database of abstracts from articles in current and past issues of The American Journal of Ophthalmology, including topics about the latest advances in ophthalmic surgical techniques or recent research findings. A one-time registration is required, but access is free. Browseable and accessible.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
This is an excellent site providing a storehouse of information on Access technology, technology manufacturers, summer programs, instructional resources, downloadable Braille books, teaching math to blind students, and much more. Although TSBVI is a residential school, the site has much to offer the mainstreamed student and his/her family. The site is searchable and browsable.

Blind Skills
Blind Skills publishes Dialogue, an outstanding quarterly magazine, containing resources, including student issues in Braille, large print and cassette. Are you or someone you know just beginning to lose vision? Do you need help locating services and information you can use? If so, Blindskills also distributes "Where do I go from here?" a cassette designed for people who are just beginning to lose sight. A print companion pamphlet is included for family or acquaintances. These materials are free to individuals who are losing vision.

V. I. Guide Home Page, for Parents and Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Children
This site was developed by Betsy Walker, the parent of a blind child. It is intended as a resource for teachers and parents of blind and visually impaired children. Topics include: vision related services; special education services; assistive technology; assistive products; as well as information on medical, legal, entertainment, and research related to blindness and vision loss. This is an excellent, well-organized site.

National Association for Visually Handicapped
Most people who have vision loss retain residual vision throughout their lives. Often the remaining sight is significant and substantial, although altered or diminished. NAVH's purpose is to work with the visually impaired so that those affected can live with as little disruption as possible. NAVH stresses the importance of using eyesight despite a visual impairment. This membership organization has links to its store of low vision products, information on the psychological effects of vision loss, a free newsletter, and information on the most common types of vision loss.

Lighthouse International
This is an "interactive global Internet portal for people who are partially sighted or blind," their families, friends, and related professionals. It features "the latest information on vision impairment, its prevention, and vision rehabilitation" including articles, statistics, a bibliography of "low vision" literature, links to related sites, downloads, and a glossary. It also includes information about legible fonts and a guide to accessible Web sites. Searchable.

The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
NAPVI is a non-profit organization of, by and for parents committed to providing support to the parents of children who have visual impairments. In addition to the support services and programs of the organization, the site offers a speech friendly index and links to other sites of interest to parents of visually impaired children.

American Printing House PE
This resource, which is intended to promote physical education and recreation, was created for use in a three-year study on parent-child physical activity intervention among families of children with visual impairments.

The American Foundation for the Blind
offers a number of outstanding resources on its site. Of particular value to the parent of a visually impaired child are the links to the page on
Technology
which explains how assistive or adaptive technology has exploded many barriers to education and employment for visually impaired individuals. Students with visual impairments can complete homework, do research, take tests, and read books along with their sighted classmates thanks to advances in technology. A variety of information on technology can be found in this web site section, which features descriptions of adaptive equipment, offers tips on using technology effectively, and gives technology specialists advice on making web sites and computer applications accessible to people who are visually impaired. You may also want to visit the page on
What Families Need to Know
Currently, nearly 94,000 children in the United States who are blind or visually impaired are being helped by some form of special education. These students are an extremely diverse group ranging from infants to young adults through age 21. This portion of the site is an excellent resource for both parents and teachers.

FamilyConnect
This site, for parents of children with visual impairments, is sponsored jointly by The American Foundation for the Blind and The National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments. You will find videos, personal stories, and an online community. Information is structured by age (infants and toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, and teenagers). There are major divisions on eye conditions, after the diagnosis, education, technology, and multiple disabilities. This excellent site may be either browsed or searched.

Everything Blind
If you or someone you love is facing vision problems, you want all the information available. Topics include health and fitness, independent living, computers and education, vocational rehabilitation and more. The strength of the site is that it provides information on topics seldom found elsewhere on the Web.

ACCESSING EDUCATION SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS: A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
The information in this document is intended to assist parents and other care givers in locating and accessing appropriate special education services. It may also assist them with establishing and maintaining a viable partnership with school district personnel who have responsibility for assuring a free and appropriate education for children whose vision is impaired.

Parents as Advocates: A Guide to Special Education in Maine
Russ Stryker, a special ed attorney, has written this advocacy handbook to assist parents of children with disabilities in Maine. Most of the information and advice is relevant to other states as well.

18 Tips for Getting Quality Special Education for Your Child
While this document provides much information that is aimed at disabilities other than blindness and low vision, it is, nonetheless, an excellent source for the parent of the visually impaired child.

Braille Institute
A highly-respected organization, providing information on services for young children, child literacy, services for youth and teens, career services, adult services, library services, Braille production, public education resources, and recorded media. You will also find links to sections on identifying sight loss, medical articles on vision loss, understanding visual impairment, and coping with vision loss. The site is quite user friendly, with the ability to adjust color contrast as well as font size.

Louis Braille
Hosted by the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom, this site presents the biography of Louis Braille as well as an explanation of the system for writing he developed. Includes additional resources on Braille.

Helping Your Preschool Child
"This booklet is for families and caregivers who want to help their preschool children to learn and to develop the skills necessary for success in school -- and in life." It includes sections on the education and development of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers; tips for preparing a child for kindergarten, selecting TV programming, and choosing child care; and related material. Also available in Spanish. While not specifically designed for the visually impaired child, it still contains much of value. From the U.S. Department of Education.

Getting Ready for Kindergarten
This fact sheet covers topics related to kindergarten preparation, such as expectations of teachers, group skills, and immunizations. Includes a list of books to share with children who are starting kindergarten and annotated links to other kindergarten readiness resources. In English and Spanish. From the Illinois Early Learning Project.

Special Education Software, Hardware and Assistive Technology Products
This company makes "special software and hardware products for persons with special needs." While there are products of use for someone whose only disability is related to vision, the strength of the site is the number and uniqueness of products for people with multiple disabilities.

Insider Tips for Getting the Most from Vocational Rehabilitation
It's not uncommon for vocational rehabilitation services to adopt an adversarial stance toward students from kindergarten to college trying to get required services. This excellent article from The American Foundation for the Blind's publication, Access World, gives practical advice on getting the most from VR.

The following additional articles fromAccess World are of special value to students and their parents. They are concise, well-written, and noteworthy for their candid advice.

Online Learning: What Works, What Doesn't
While this article is now dated, it presents some important issues and suggestions for someone who is blind or has low vision in taking online degree courses.

Book Review: Assistive Technology for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
". . . Often, in the field of assistive technology, things change so rapidly that publications become outdated almost as quickly as they are published. ". . . [The authors of this publication] have found a way to give significant information on assistive technology that is not likely to become obsolete as rapidly as other titles on the subject."

Back to School
This issue of Access World is especially valuable since it focuses on technology and education. Of special interest to parents are articles on the following:

Lab Resources for Visually Impaired Students
This is an excellent video prepared by the University of Washington showing real-life examples of how blind and vvisually impaired students can do lab experiments. Provides practical examples of the technology and techniques employed.

Teaching The Blind And Visually Impaired Is Not A One-Size-Fits-All Endeavor
This article, from Chemical and Engineering News underscores the different learning styles and needs of blind and visually impaired students as well as the need for students to learn to properly advocate for themselves. Although targeted for the science student, the message is equally applicable to any student from the elementary grades to college.

Service Animals

While usuallly only appropriate for very mature high school students with good mobility skills and a significant need, dog guides may, nonetheless, be an option that some parents and their visually impaired children would like to explore. The following resources provide a very general discussion of the topic. Those who are seriously interested, however, are encouraged to directly speak with several different schools that train dogs and handlers.
Guide Dog Users Inc.
provides an excellent list of
United States Guide Dog Schools.

Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business
This FAQ covers topics related to customers bringing service animals into businesses. Service animals are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability." Discusses the distinctions between service animals and pets and addresses related topics of concern to business owners. From the U.S. Department of Justice.

Delta Society: National Service Animal Resource Center
Information about acquiring a service animal, which is "any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability." Includes a FAQ, definitions, tasks performed by service dogs, and details about applying for and training a service dog. From the Delta Society, an organization whose mission is to "[improve] human health through service and therapy animals."

Legal Rights and Responsibilities
This excellent summary of the rights and responsibilities of dog guide owners is must reading for anyone who is a dog handler as well as anyone considering getting a dog. Although prepared by the Seeing Eye, the material is equally applicable regardless of the school from which the dog was trained. Of special interest are the pages on
Helpful Tips on Dog Guides in the Work Place
and
Work Place Accommodation
and
Job Applicants and the Americans with Disabilities Act
as well as
Enforceable Regulations and Procedures for Filing a Charge of Discrimination.

Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business
This FAQ covers topics related to customers bringing service animals into businesses. Service animals are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as "any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability." Discusses the distinctions between service animals and pets and addresses related topics of concern to business owners. From the U.S. Department of Justice.

Deaf-Blind Resources

Helen Keller Services for the Blind
A national organization which advocates for persons who are deaf-blind, supports national policy to benefit people who are deaf-blind, and encourages the founding and strengthening of family organizations in each state dedicated to assisting families of persons who are deaf-blind.

Deaf-Blindness Resources, Technical Assistance, Training : NCDB
The purpose of this site is to provide information to nurture, empower, and instruct children who are deaf-blind. You will find Information on deaf-blindness including full text publications, articles, internet resources and the DB-LINK collection, up-dates on research, as well as information for new parents.

Auditory Disabilities and Deaf Culture
Background about the strong sense of community (known as "deaf culture") among those "for whom sign language is their primary language" and how this sense of community differs from that of deaf people who have been "raised in the oral tradition, meaning that they were taught to speak vocally, and to 'read the lips' of others." From WebAIM, an initiative for web accessibility of the Center for Persons With Disabilities at Utah State University.

Perkins eLearning
"This site brings together the range of web-based content available through Perkins School for the Blind for teachers, families, and others interested in the education of children who are blind or visually impaired, including those with deafblindness or additional disabilities. [It offers] continuing education credit for professional development through a number of these online vehicles, and many of the sites are interactive."

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