Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why we love the iPhone

Hello parents,
Has your teenager asked you for the iPhone yet? Have you gasped when you saw the price tag for the 4S? Take a deep breath and keep reading. I have to support my students' requests for the iPhone even the 4S version. IT'S AWESOME! It's so accessible for our students. I've watched my students use Siri and they can do just about anything.  How great is it that our kids can be part of the main group! 
I decided to ask my students why they love the iPhone. Here's a couple of useful (and funny) answers. Plus a good app that another of my students swears by.

Me asking on Facebook: I want to blog about how awesome the iPhone is for you guys. What 

can you tell me about it? Why do you love it? What do you think is most helpful for you guys with 

vision impairments? Thanks for the help!!

Leah Bourassa well For one thing i am getting one because i couldn't see the text on my old 

phone without putting it up to y face.. and the iPhone has a magnification up to 56pt font with is 

wicked big but anywhere from 24 to that I can see perfectly fine and siri can do just about any 

thing for you just by telling her to
Another of my students recommends this app, Voxer. He says it's easy to use and swears by it. You can also get it in the Android market. 

If you end up getting the iPhone request, let me tell you to go for it! Almost everyone of my students has one and they can text, face chat and do almost anything else. That's a pretty nice feeling for our kids :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

My new favorite quote

"Blindness is not a disability but rather the ability to see 
the world without eyes."
-Cody Laplante,
high school senior, legally visually impaired

Can I get an AMEN to this?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This week I am sharing from students. I love asking them to contribute to my blog. They have such great insight and remain my favorite teachers for children with vision impairments. This week we are delighted to read from my student Cody. As most of you know, he is amazing and is a senior in high school. He's going to be a TVI and volunteers at a number of camps including Camp Abilities CT and Alaska (feel free to donate to his Alaska fundraising effort right here on The Bee...). This is his perspective on going away to camp. I want all my parents to read this!!

Hey Everyone,
I’m going to tell you a little story.  When I was 9, my parents arranged for me to go to a summer camp for children with vision impairments.  As much as I hated the thought of being away from “Mommy and Daddy” for a whole week, I was having fun the minute I got there.  I went back to the same camp year after year and this will be my 9th year (this time as a counselor).  Camp I think is an experience that is helpful for every child.  It helps the child be more independent, more social and to become familiar with an unfamiliar environment.  It’s like a little real world mockup.  
There are many summer Camp Programs around the country (such as the one I went to when I was 9) that cater especially to children with vision impairments.  These programs focus on independent living skills, orientation and mobility skills and there are too many types to count.  There are sports camps, music camps, outdoor education camps, wrestling camps and there is even a space camp and all are designed for children with vision impairments.  
There are so many benefits to these types of programs that there is no way I can name all of them but one big one that stands out is that they allow legally blind children meet other kids who are just like them.  In my school I am the only person I know with a vision impairment but at camp everyone has a vision impairment.  IT’S AWESOME!  The leadership opportunities, the skills being taught and the family component, it’s all there.  To parents who have visually impaired children I would say “There is no better experience than CAMP”!  


My editor note: This is Cody and Justin (APE teacher, has posts right here on The Bee) at Camp Abilities CT 2010. We are actually having one of my favorite moments of camp when this picture was taken. Cody was the Senior CIT. He has progressed in his leadership and was the Student Supervisor (responsible for all the CITs at Camp CT 2011). FUN TIMES!!
Some great examples are:
Camp Abilities A sports camp with locations around the world.
Camp Inter-Actions A music and arts camp in Georges Mills New Hampshire
Adirondack Experience VI Teens An outdoor education camp in upstate NY
SCI-VIS A Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama
All of these camps are designed for children with vision impairments.

For more information---
Camp Inter-Actions, http://inter-actions.org/
Camp Abilities Brockport (New York State & info on other Camp Abilities programs): http://www.campabilitiesbrockport.org/
Camp Abilities CT (for CT students only): http://www.campabilitiesct.org/

Camp Abilities CT is currently recruiting for 2012! See our site for the application!!http://www.campabilitiesct.org/

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

15 Interesting Facts about Braille

Hi blog friends,
I love when I receive emails about other resources, articles, tips, etc. Today I received an email about 15 interesting facts about Braille (for Braille literacy month). I have to admit, #14 made me laugh. As vision professionals, we are constantly asked if we know sign language because we know Braille. It always confuses people because I do, in fact, know sign language (deafblind teacher here). They always follow up and ask if my mother (who has no vision, totally blind) taught me....it always makes me smile.
Anyways, check out this article: http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2012/01/17/15-facts-share-braille-literacy-month/. There are some interesting facts. I also was struck by how many legally blind students have teachers that do not know Braille. More importantly the fact states that countless classrooms are ill-equipped for children with a vision impairment. There are some real simple, low tech modifications classroom teachers can make for our kiddos. Need some ideas? Email me :)

Thanks again for the article suggestion, Jasmine!

Happy reading

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dessert for Breakfast: Oatmeal Sundaes (so many kitchen skills...)

I was doing my usual magazine reading, scouting out good articles, recipes, websites--the usual when I stumbled upon this recipe (from Redbook magazine, via Hungry Girl, Feb 2012 issue). I instantly loved this recipe because A) it's a nice & healthy and B) there are so many kitchen skills involved in preparing this that it is a kitchen skills dream of an ECC teacher. Oh wait...C) it is a great addition to Recipe Renovations because it is not your typical boring recipe.

Begin with cooked oatmeal.
 For an extra step in the health direction, add a big dollop of cottage cheese 
(you seriously cannot taste it but it adds so much protein!!)
The oatmeal is a great cooking step (especially for students with multiple impairments) as it is a 3-step-sequence. First, open oatmeal. Next, add water (with pre-measured or DIY depending on the students' ability level). Last, prepare in the microwave.

Next, add your fruit. This is the part where you can build-your-own-oatmeal-sundae bar. Students can select fruit, wash it, slice it and organize it. 

Plus add something with a little crunch. If your student has a nut allergy, think outside the box. Cereal, granola, I don't know...not good with my nut allergy alternatives (sorry!)

Last, add just a pinch of chocolate chips for fun!
Are you thinking that there is one step that could also be added to the mix? Yes! Prepare a recipe and ingredient list and head to the grocery store and allow students to select items! Now you have O&M and community lessons! Let them pay, too!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Parent Project: Little Room

Hi blogland! This week I am sharing an article that was printed in our agency newsletter for families. As with every time I reprint something, here's the credit: This was written by Gail Johnson (a super talented preschool teacher). This was too good of a find to pass up. Happy reading and happy constructing! 

Lou’s Parents Create a Play Space for Their Child
 Gail A. Johnson, Preschool Consultant

Remember what it was like to “hide” under a table with a blanket over it and play in your own secret place?  Several parents/teams have created play spaces or a “little room” for their children. The “little room” is a stimulating environment originally developed by Dr. Lilli Nielsen, a Danish psychologist, to promote active learning. Children lie inside these box-like structures with favorite toys, familiar household objects and items that have interesting sensory properties hanging from the ceiling and walls. Lou’s parents created a “little room” for him when he was just a year old and wanted to share the following story with other parents:

After hearing our TVI speak of the idea of a “little room” it made so much sense to me that I wanted to give it a shot for Lou.  The materials were easy to gather and so off I went to my garage one Saturday morning.  My wife and I were so proud of what I had made that we could not wait to have the TVI visit again and share it with her.  On the day she came we had a great unveiling and were elated to see Lou so alert and happy in his “little room”. 

Green had always been Lou’s favorite color so we used it on the light box that BESB had provided.  I designed the top opening to support the light box so that Lou could be relaxed on his back and be free to enjoy his chosen color. Often, if upset, the only thing that will calm Lou is to spend time in his “little room”.  He makes more pleasure sounds there than anywhere else and appears to truly enjoy using his vision as he lies on his back and looks up.  My wife and I laugh and think he looks like the Incredible Hulk in the glow of the green light.  It has been a great experience being able to construct something Lou enjoys.

Below you will find more information on how you can create a  “little room” for your child, including  photos, a list of materials, and a schematic drawing. Special thanks to Lou’s parents for sharing this information and showing us what real teamwork is all about!

   Lou’s “little room” with APH Lightbox:

 Even the family cat enjoys Lou’s “little room”:

 Schematic Drawing of a “Little Room”

 How to Create a Little Room

1- 4’x 8’x 3/8” AC Plywood
1- 1”x 6”x 8’ Pine Board
1- Pair of Hinges
1- 1lb. 1” screws
Approx. 1 ½ yards black material (felt or carpet)

Cut List
Front (1)- 6” x  23 ¼”
Back (1)- 18”x 23 ¼”
Sides(2)- 18”x 24”
Top   (1)- 24”x 24”
Adjustable Panel- 24”x 16 ½” (notch)
Corner Blocks
        Back Vertical (2)- ¾” x ¾” x 17 ¼”
        Front Vertical (2)- ¾”x ¾” x 5 ¼”
        Back Vertical (1)- ¾” x ¾”x 21 ¾”
        Front Horizontal (1)- ¾” x ¾” x 21 ¾”
        Side Horizontal (1)- ¾” x ¾” x 21 ¾”
Adjustable Panel Guides (2)- ¾” x 2 ½” x 17 ¼”
                                           (1)- ¾” x 1 ¾” x 17 ¼”
Door Stops (2)- ¾” x 2 ½” x 21 ¾”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recipe Renovation in Action

This was one of my most fun lessons! I did a cooking lesson with the super talented student,  Frankie Ann. We made homemade macaroni & cheese. I'm adding it my recommended recipes. We used the recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. I'm posting the one from allrecipes.com. It's a super easy recipe that any high school student (maybe even middle school...) can make! It works kitchen and cooking skills with using the stovetop, measuring, shredding cheese, following a recipe, scooping and using the oven. 

 Here's the recipe (and the link): http://allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-mac-and-cheese/. It's not exactly the most low fat recipe but students love a little comfort food like mac 'n cheese. You can replace some of the ingredients with low fat subs. I'm an advocate of healthy eating but even I couldn't resist homemade mac 'n cheese. Super yummy lunch with Frankie Ann after!
Prep Time:
20 Min
Cook Time:
30 Min
Ready In:
50 Min

Servings  (Help)


Original Recipe Yield 4 servings


  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 pinch paprika


  1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make a roux. Add milk to roux slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick. Put macaroni in large casserole dish, and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well.
  3. Melt butter or margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and brown. Spread over the macaroni and cheese to cover. Sprinkle with a little paprika.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 minutes. Serve.

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 858 | Total Fat: 48.7g | Cholesterol: 142mg