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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Connections Fall/Winter 2008

Seasons Greetings from the American Foundation for the Blind Professional Development and CareerConnect® Department! In this issue of Connections, we describe our activities and share a couple of articles from friends and colleagues, Drs. Susan J. Spungin and L. Penny Rosenblum.


In This Issue:

JLTLI Opportunity

A plenary session at the 2009 JLTLI will showcase five original presentations by JLTLI attendees. To ensure the broadest possible appeal to JLTLI attendees, presentations will be selected by a committee of AFB staff with responsibility for JLTLI program content planning, and will be chosen on the basis of their persuasiveness and complementary content in relation to the other presentations showcased.

AFB's Latest Training Initiative Includes Webinars

AFB began offering webinars in 2008 to better meet service providers' needs for innovative and affordable training resources. The first two webinars focused on National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS) implementation strategies. In spring of 2009, a Career Education webinar will be offered, and planning is under way to offer additional webinars focusing on NIMAS and the Expanded Core Curriculum.

Looking to the Future from the Past

Dr. Spungin looks back over her career at AFB and notes the magnitude of changes in the field since 1972, as well as her own professional milestones and the welcome opportunities for making a real difference.

AER Division Day: Ideas and Inspiration

AFB staff and consultants teamed up with colleagues to lead a joint AER Division Day session that focused on the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). Topics included an overview of IDEA and the rationale for teaching the ECC, effective instruction strategies for students with multiple disabilities, and how to help families understand the importance of the ECC.

Vision 2008 Participation

AFB was well-represented at the 9th triennial international low vision conference, Vision 2008, held in Montreal. Ike Presley and Mary Ann Siller presented posters and workshops; as did Karen Wolffe, who also participated as a panelist on research panels dealing with literacy and employment. The subjects they presented on included assistive technology assessment, descriptive media guidelines, worldwide educational initiatives, literacy, career preparation, and building social networks online for parents and consumers.

The Power of Books

Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, who has substantially added to new content available on the Braille Bug site, discusses the importance of developing reading skills for young children with vision loss. She offers suggestions for young readers in conjunction with the Braille Bug Reading Club, which features two books each quarter for elementary students. The suggested books are available in various formats so they can be shared with classmates and family members.

Diversity at Its Best

CareerConnect® mentors work in a wide range of fields, including operating room secretary and personal fitness trainer, and live in smalls towns like Metairie, Louisiana, as well as big cities from Los Angeles to London. When not at work, one mentor is a dedicated fisherman, and another skydives for fun. What all mentors share is their desire to help and awareness of the difficulties that young people and adults with vision loss encounter when seeking employment.

Guidelines for the Description of Educational Media

Since 2006, AFB has been working with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and its federally funded Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) to define and validate guidelines for video description of K-12 programming.

A Day in the Life

CareerConnect® mentor and intern, Tara Annis, shares her experience as the person behind the CareerConnect toll-free number. Calls come in nonstop, from people with vision loss who need to change careers, seek advice on how to find a job, or need to know how to deal with challenging work environments; as well as from professionals and family members.

Encouraging Low Vision Rehabilitation in Ophthalmology

When an eye doctor tells an individual experiencing vision loss that "nothing can be done," it is typically devastating but also not entirely true. Medical options may have been exhausted to improve visual functioning, but there are many practical steps that can help an individual retain independence and dignity. In this article, Ike Presley describes his work at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary (MEEI) training MEEI staff in the range and use of assistive technology for people with low vision.

Moving Forward: AFB's Commitment to Professional Development

During the past year, AFB has conducted a comprehensive evaluation of its current workshops, conference presentations, and online offerings to determine our effectiveness in meeting the goal of strengthening the capacity of service providers assisting people with vision loss. Here, we present an overview of the findings and describe future plans to expand offerings online.

Additional Links of Interest:

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