Friday, February 28, 2014

What's it like to be a blind mom?

Thanks to one of my fave moms who emailed me about this article in the March issue of Real Simple magazine. The article is titled "The Intrepid" and it is about a group of blind moms who are living the life as a blind mom.

I liked the article. It is great to hear positive stories from the blindness community. I found the article interesting and a real life glimpse of these women's lives.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Boy Inventor Makes a Braille Embosser Out of Legos

This 12 year old inventor made a Braille embosser (printer) out of Legos! Cool, huh? 

He decided to offer up the directions via YouTube. Check parts one and two out:
Part One: 

Part Two: 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Goalball Tutorial

I am excited to unveil my newest endeavor: tutorial videos!! Thanks to Lauren Andersen, Craig Boucher and Alex Specht (all fabulous and super talented PE teachers), I have been able to make the goalball tutorial. This tutorial is not the super competitive, Paralympic style goalball. Rather, this is a great tutorial for teaching goalball at camp, general education PE classes (for inclusion) and family activities. The rules, equipment, etc. are still the traditional goalball but the instruction is a bit more friendly to the non-competitive level goalball. I've included a link to the London Paralympic games for goalball so you can see both levels of play.

Goalball is played all over the world! It can be played in the general education PE class (this was a great idea that I started last year to help our kids bring a new sport to their peers), sports & recreation camps and at an elite level. You will find goalball played all over the United States. Several schools  or programs for the blind play goalball (and usually at a nice competitive level). Our tutorial has all that you need to know for some nice recreation & leisure competition goalball. 
Thanks to our stars--my students that participated in making the tutorial.  Be on the look for two more tutorials that are in production: beep kickball and modified team handball. 

For more information about organizing, competing in or establishing a goalball team, check out USABA, They are a great resource for all sports related to our community. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New TV Show: Growing Up Fisher

Have you heard of the new TV show that will be debuting right after the Olympics? It's called Growing Up Fisher and it debuts on February 23. It's the real life story of a family who has a father with a vision impairment. Of course I am interested for several reasons. One, will this reflect any of my own personal experiences? Two, how will this portray blindness? I hope the humor brings light to our community. The thing that I really do like is that is based on someone's actual life. Hopefully that aspect will bring some realness. I read a press release about it and a couple of things stuck out to me that I felt were worth sharing.
I liked this quote (from the article): "Some viewers may "see the first thing about Mel is that he's blind. My dad being blind is like the 17th thing wrong with him. He's stubborn. He hugs too much. He's a lawyer. There's a lot of craziness going on over there," he said. "I don't want this to be every visually impaired person's story. ... We're trying to tell Henry's perspective of what that was like and how it informs who he is as a father today."  I love the part where he is says "my dad being blind is like the 17th thing wrong with him....". I love it because it shows that blindness doesn't have to be the number one defining identity trait. He's obviously much more than his blindness.
It also states how his dad "hid his blindness to pretty much everyone". That's a sad fact. I am curious to see if there are any 'blindness stigmas' playing in the show. I personally love the humor that I have seen so far. The other disclaimer of the show is that it doesn't aim to represent every person with a vision impairment. This is about this guy's real life. Interesting.

Here's the article that I read:

You can also see the trailer to Growing Up Fisher:

Let me know your thoughts. I'll be watching too!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Prepare to LOVE it this V-Day!

     Can you believe that it is already February?! I was thinking about what I wanted to blog about and decided to take time to remind everyone about the importance of pre-teaching for big events such as Valentine's Day. Pre-teaching? What? Why?
Yes, pre-teaching for all of you teachers, parents, mobility instructors and paras. Pre-teaching for V-Day is super important because there are a lot of non-verbal cues going on, potential mobility issues and possible visual overstimulation and our kids need the hook up.
Pre-teaching allows our students of all abilities to anticipate what's going on, what will happen and what they need to do. Pre-teaching also helps with understanding of concept development. Pre-teaching can be as concrete as a symbol or picture or it can be as covert as letting our academic students know what's about to happen during the ever-exciting valentine exchange.  Be mindful of this. There's a lot going on with valentine's day. It's exciting and fast paced. Our academic kids certainly won't want their paras following them around as the chocolate roses are about to be handed out. However, that doesn't mean they are not needed. Paras, sped teachers and parents need to be able to give meaningful information about what's about to happen and what should the student do in the situations (like making sure the student's know how to make sure a valentine is coming for them and not their friend standing next to them…).
Mobility instructors also help out in the pre-teaching department by helping our kids anticipate what the layout of activities and dances will be. A few other things to consider are the potential visual clutter for our MIVI kids. V-Day is fun to celebrate but it usually packs a visual punch (a LOT of red, sparkles, pink, etc) all cluttered together. Remember to help isolate visual targets with some black background (maybe an APH mini Invisiboard?). 
There are a ton of great Valentine's Day crafts, recipes and activities especially on Pinterest. The thing to remember is anticipation of both the actual tasks and the concept. Anticipation (pre-teaching) is for all of our students, MIVI to academic students. Valentine's Day is also a great way to work in some more social skill development. It's a unique opportunity to discuss dating, social cues and expressing non-verbal skills.