Technology for Persons Who are Deafblind
Sept. 14, 2012
Anindya “Bapin” Bhattacharyya from the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) presented a workshop on Technology solutions for persons who are deafblind. Being a consumer who is himself deafblind, Bapin shared information on a wide variety of equipment and software that he uses or knows about. This included electronic Braille equipment/Braille note-takers, Voice over (including voice over via Braille), mobile access via iPad and iPhone, GPS, computer access and screen modification programs, several communication gadgets, and a number of “cool” gadgets (alarm clocks and watches, money identifiers, battery tester light detector).
Over 50 persons attended the one-day technology workshop. The audience was from a wide range of professions and included parents, teachers, therapists, university professors, transition and adult services personnel, and persons from technology organizations.
Bapin’s personal story was both heartwarming and compelling and endeared him to the audience. He is a Technology Development and Training Specialist at the Helen Keller National Center in a branch office in CA, and instructor to the deafblind interpreting classes at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. Prior to that he was a technology supervisor at HKNC’s main campus at Sands Point, NY. Bapin is very active in promoting access and use of technology by persons with disabilities, including deafblind. He is a member of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), and in 2010 he lobbied Congress to push the passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act where 10 million dollars was designated for deafblind persons to receive telecommunications equipment and services. He is also on the 2010-2014 Equipment Program Advisory Committee (for CA), to ensure that deafblind Californians receive adequate telecommunications equipment and services.
Parent Learning Weekend
July 27-28, 2012
The Oregon Deafblind Project hosted its third annual Parent Learning Weekend at the beautiful Oregon Garden Resort and Conference Center. Eighteen parents attended. The event was planned by the Parent Leader group, and hosted by the project with fiscal support from the Oregon Department of Education. The agenda focused on technology (both high and low), with informative sessions, as well as displays and informational briefs from Access Technologies Inc. In addition, parents also requested sessions on IEP related topics, and on how to strengthen home-school relationships.
The two speakers that parents requested were Anne Olson-Murphy and Terry Cadigan (Regional Services Programs). Amy Parker from the National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB) also talked briefly to the group, summarizing events and news from the National Family Association for Deaf-Blind's conference earlier this year. As always, the networking and sharing was possibly the most valuable aspect of the whole weekend. Parents summarized the weekend as ’wonderful’ and ’informative’ and a large majority indicated that they would have loved to have more time!
Watch an Animoto presentation of the event.
May 2012 Workshops
The Oregon Deafblind Project sponsored three workshops in May for students and professionals working in the field. Topics included assessment and program development presented by Robbie Blaha from the Deafblind Outreach Project at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Other workshops included Movement and Sound presented by Kathy Arquette and Lin Bauer; and an overview of deafblindness presented by Lyn Ayer, the director of the Oregon Deafblind Project. All three workshops focused on active participation and "hands on" experiences.
Assessment and Program Development for Children who are Deafblind, Profoundly Disabled
May 4, 2012
Robbie Blaha from the Deafblind Outreach Project at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired conducted a one-day workshop titled "Assessment and Program Development for Children who are Deafblind, Profoundly Disabled". The 55 participants were riveted for the entire time with the presenter's practical information and anecdotes about real children. Parents who attended Robbie's workshop voted to ask her to be their presenter at their next Parent Retreat.
Participants noted that "Robbie was a dynamic and engaging speaker" who "did a great job telling stories to illustrate points." Audience members appreciated that this was not just another Power Point presentation, but a truly participatory forum with constructive feedback.
Movement and Sound
May 18, 2012
Kathy Arquette and Lin Bauer had 20 participants moving and listening at their one-day workshop, "Movement and Sound", in Lincoln City. Participant comments included: "One of the most useful and interesting workshops in a long time", "the BEST work day I have ever had.I learned so much I can use right away". Another person said she was going to spend a few days in summer incorporating the ideas into her schedule. Others said that they "loved the pace; the energy was amazing", "We were active all day" - attributing this to "brain breaks, and a high level of participation". Every participant rated the two presenters with the highest rating (5.0) stating that the ideas and activities were relevant, useful, professional and of high quality. !
Overview of Deafblindness
May 19, 2012
Lyn Ayer presented a one-day workshop, "Overview of Deafblindness", to 20 Willamette University Special Education students. The class enjoyed "the active participation parts", "practicing deafblind and instructional activities" and loved the "hands on examples" and "functionality" of it all. Students also expressed appreciation for the "awesome packet of information". As a concluding activity, each participant was made more aware of all their senses by writing a multi-sensory story and then reading it back to the others, or enacting it. All in all, it was a full, but enjoyable day for Lyn and the participants - and everyone stayed awake and alert all day!