Reaching Out Newsletter #76
The Anne Sullivan Macy Act of 2013
By Paul OlsonóDirector of Education
The American Foundation of the Blind is spearheading a national movement to improve educational outcomes for students with visual impairment. This movement is built around a bill which has been written for consideration by the United States Congress. It is hoped that this bill will either be considered independently or as part of the reauthorization of special education law known as IDEA. This proposed legislation is very worthwhile. Parents of these children and those of us in the field of education for students with visual impairment should support this proposed legislation.
In spite of great progress in technology, there continue to be significant deficits in performance for our students. These students deserve adequate resources and access to qualified teachers of the visually impaired on a daily basis. As in other states, schools and special education agencies in North Dakota must increase their efforts to truly meet the unique needs of visually impaired students. There are a number of qualified teachers of the visually impaired in the public schools who work with NDVS/SB on behalf of students. We are at a critical juncture, however. Many of these qualified teachers are nearing retirement and North Dakota is at risk of falling behind. Recruitment of qualified teachers who can teach Braille literacy and work with very specialized assistive technology is of primary concern for the future. With this is mind, it is critical that we monitor progress on the Anne Sullivan Macy Act as well as continue to work within North Dakota to maintain and improve standards.
The purposes of this Act are:
- To better ensure delivery of high quality special education and related services to students with visual disabilities through specialized instructional services and methodologies meeting their unique learning needs.
- To enhance accountability for the provision of such services.
- To establish a national collaborative resource on visual disabilities and educational excellence to supplement the current national availability of such services.
- To support the ongoing professional development of teachers of students with visual impairments and related services personnel specifically trained to work with such students.
- To foster the proliferation of research supporting the development and evaluation of effective and innovative assessments and instructional methodologies consonant with the unique learning needs of students with visual disabilities.
(The following excerpt is from a list of 10 findings included in the act)
When renowned American author, Mark Twain, immortalized Helen Keller's beloved teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, with the moniker "the miracle worker," his words, though meant as welldeserved praise, reflect the misconception persisting even today that educating individuals with disabilities is a nearly insurmountable task requiring extraordinary feats performed by exceptionally gifted and saintly persons. To be sure, the work of teaching children with disabilities can and does occur when committed and qualified but everyday special educators are properly prepared and supported to practice their professions. However, the educational systems within which they act must also be held accountable for results.
2. Research demonstrates that students with visual disabilities are among the highest performing students with disabilities in terms of academic achievement, and yet they are among the least employed, even after successful accomplishment of postsecondary academic objectives. Many factors contribute to this unacceptable inequity, including employer discrimination, low expectations of people with disabilities generally, and a lack of student preparation for the work world and full participation in society. It is clear that America's special education system needs to be improved if the most successful academic achievers are to leave school prepared to be independent and productive citizens who can participate fully in the American dream. Such improvements must better account for the distinct academic and related learning needs of students with visual disabilities who can only succeed both when visualdisabilities- specific skills are taught and when generally-needed skills are taught in a manner that addresses, rather than ignores, the unique ways in which students with visual disabilities learn.
10. While these clarifications and enhancements must be made, it is vital that existing high quality resources be preserved and leveraged so that students with visual disabilities do not fall farther behind. Specialized schools for children who are blind must be expected to perform but must not fall victim to mere State budget expediency. Both special schools and center-based programs serving children with visual disabilities should be tapped for the expert personnel and services such resources can offer, and IDEA's worthy policy objective to ensure the full integration of children with disabilities ought not be allowed to frustrate the delivery of all appropriate services to children with unique needs.
For more information about the Anne Sullivan Macy Act visit the American Foundation for the Blind website and sign the petition to support this important movement. www.afb.org
Clippings from Carmen
by Carmen Grove Suminski, Superintendent, NDVS/SB & NDSD/RCDHH
Happy New Year
2012 was a great year implementing the vision and ongoing teamwork at NDVS/SB! Highlights were the following:
- Ongoing development of short term center based programming
- Achieving maximum accreditation via the National Accreditation Council for the Blind and Low Vision Services through 2017
- Holding the first Braille Music Institute from July 9-13 with Bill McMann and Natasha Thomas as instructors
- Completing the Facility Master Plan
The 63rd Legislative Assembly has begun its work. Testimony was given on Bill #1013 on January 18 before the House Education and Environment Division Appropriations Committee. Thank you, Allan Peterson, ND Association of the Blind Legislative Liaison! Included as appendixes were a letter of support from Allan Peterson, the Resolution 2010-03 adopted at the NDAB state convention in June, 2012, and a letter written to Governor Dalrymple from Allan Peterson on June 25; all in support of NDVS/SB services. Vince Ulstad, Fargo, also shared testimony. We look forward to several major upcoming events including the Family Weekend in Fargo on April 5-6; Dakota AER in Grand Forks on May 8-10; and the ND Association of the Blind State Convention in Grand Forks May 31, June 1-2. In December NDVS/SB was able to honor and to extend our appreciation to Dr. Wayne Sanstead, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He retired effective December 31, 2012. NDVS/SB has been a division of the Department of Public Instruction for 21 years. We welcome Kirsten Baesler as our new leader and state superintendent and look forward to working with her.
My thanks to the entities that provide support and partner with NDVS/SB (i.e., Advisory Team, Foundation, State Legislature, Department of Public Instruction, Office of Management and Budget, Vocational Rehabilitation, Infant Development, School for the Deaf/Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Dual Sensory Project, IPAT).
Please feel free to contact me at NDVS/ SB at 701-795-2708 or 1-800-421-1181 or at NDSD/RCDHH at 701-665-4410 or 1- 800-887-2980, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome Kirsten Baesler! North Dakota State Superintendent, Department of Public Instruction
Kirsten was born and raised in Flasher, ND, the youngest of John and Ardys (Zempel) Schaferís seven children. She graduated from Flasher High School, earned two associates degrees from Bismarck State College, her bachelorís degree in Education from Minot State University and her masterís degree in Education and Library Information Technology from Valley City State University. Kirsten spent 22 years as a classroom teacher, library media specialist and vice principal for the Bismarck Public Schools; was elected to the Mandan Public Schools Board in 2004 and has served as its president from 2006-2012. She previously served on the North Dakota School Boards Associationís Board of Directors and worked as their Assistant Executive Director and Government Affairs. She has over a decade of experience working with lawmakers both in the State Legislature and in Congress on public education policy. Kirsten has three sons: Lee, who graduated from University of Northern Colorado this May, and twins Mitch and Chance, who are attending Bismarck State College. She makes her home in Mandan, where she served on the Morton Mandan Public Library board of trustees, the Mandan Progress Organization Executive Board and as chairman of the Mandan Tomorrow strategic planning committee. Kirsten is a member of Spirit of Life Church and a 43-year member of the American Legion Auxiliary. Kirsten has dedicated her entire adult life to helping children grow emotionally, physically and academically. As a teacher, vice principal, school board president, and parent, she has been a state and federal advocate for students.
North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation Procedure for Requesting Funding
The North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation (NDSBF) was established in 1990 to assist the visually impaired population of North Dakota. The foundationís mission is to help provide services to students and adults who are visually impaired. All services and equipment provided by the Foundation are over and above basic education services appropriated by the state legislature to the School for the Blind, which services students of our state who are blind or visually impaired.
The NDSBF Board meets the second Monday of every other month during the regular school year (Aug., Oct., Dec., Feb., and April). In order for the board to review your request we ask that you submit your proposal to the President of the Board, via email or regular mail, who will distribute it to the board for their review before each meeting. Therefore, the proposal should be received by the President no later than one week before their next meeting. Requests should include who is requesting the funding, what it will be used toward, when it is needed and the total amount of money requested.
The funds for the Foundation come from private donations and interest earned on the Foundationís endowment funds. Therefore, the approval of the request will be determined by the Foundationís budget and the overall perceived need of the request.
Also, the Foundation offers grants to students and adults each year and would encourage people to apply. The Grant Application can be found on our website: www.ndvisionfoundation.org.
Other requests for funding throughout the year should be directed to Kari Torkelson, President of the Foundation Board, at:
Address: Dr. Kari Torkelson
Lifetime Vision Center
2900 S. Columbia Rd.
Sunny Ski Slopes
By Michelle Zentz
While most North Dakota residents were experiencing extreme cold the third week in January, twenty-three adults escaped to the sunny ski slopes near Deadwood, SD, excited to be attending the 34th Annual Black Hills Regional Ski for Light event. No doubt everyone was motivated to do their very best with the motto: "If I can do this, I can do anything." There were 85 participants with vision or physical disabilities who signed up to experience one or more runs of downhill skiing at the Terry Peak Ski Resort, cross country skiing or snowshoeing at the Wharf Resources Area and snowmobiling at Recreational Springs Resort. None of these activities could have been possible without the more than 160 fabulous volunteers, guides, and generous donors from the region.
Bright and early each morning at 9:00 AM busses left for the selected areas for the dayís activities and returned to the hotel around 4:00 PM. The Temperatures were between 26į and 40į all week which made for excellent skiing conditions. Monday night at Saloon #10, we enjoyed beef brisket and ribs with all the fixings followed by a band and dancing after the meal. Tuesday night was spent at the Mineral Palace for a Slot Machine Tournament with cash prizes, followed by karaoke in the basement of the Bullock Hotel, and ending with more dancing. On Wednesday afternoon there was a bonfire and deep fried munchies at the Warf resources area for all guides, participants and volunteers. Many individuals even found the energy to go dancing again! Thursday brought race day for all skiers and snowshoers with the banquet and awards ceremonies held at the new Deadwood Mountain Grand convention center. From the smiles on peopleís faces, it was apparent all were enjoying the activities, meals and entertainment arranged by our hosts throughout the week.
North Dakota participants and guides brought home many trophies this year! If you are interested visit www.bhsfl.org to find out race results and trophy winners which will be posted soon. Dave Sundeen and Greg Gunderson presented the Third annual Dave Sundeen Golden Hose Award to Bonita "Bonnie" Streitz. She has served as a guide, encouraged new participants, and encouraged individuals to become involved with the Ski for Light program for many years.
Unfortunately, on Friday morning January 28th, the time to go back to North Dakota came. All participants, guides and volunteers were tired but ready to share their colds and memories with friends and family. "thank-you" to the North Dakota Association of the Blind, Judy Iten of Judyís Leisure Tours, Dorman Bus Company, the North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation, North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind, and Lions groups for helping to fund the trip from North Dakota to Deadwood, South Dakota and a special "Thank You" to Jesse Shirek for his efforts in planning and organizing the event.
Make sure to mark your calendars for the 35th Black Hills Regional Ski for Light event scheduled for January 13th-17th, 2014. Hope to see you there!
By Leslie Pederson, NDVS/SB Braillist
When I was hired as the new Braillist in August, I began the process of learning braille.. To do this, I started the National Federation of the Blindís Literary Transcribing Course. It is a free course that one can sign up for on the NFB website and complete through correspondence. The course teaches the braille alphabet, braille contractions, and rules for writing braille through a number of lessons which are submitted electronically to your instructor. The final exercise is a transcription of thirty-five braille pages of material, chosen by the student. I am thinking of choosing a Harry Potter book!
Having only a basic understanding of the system before starting, learning braille has been a very interesting undertaking. While memorizing the letters was fairly easy, it was much more difficult memorizing the contractions. Formatting braille has also been an eye-opening experience. Going from print to braille means getting rid of so many visual clues that readers would use to scan a page. Things such as lists and headers all need to be formatted with certain styles.
After learning literary braille, I am hoping to study other areas such as braille music and Nemeth. There is so much to learn but I am enthusiastic to continue progressing in my studies! If you would like to learn more about signing up for a braille course take a look at the following websites for more information: https://nfb.org/ and http://www.hadley.edu/
NORTH DAKOTA SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND FOUNDATION
The North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation (NDSBF) board would like to wish you a Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time and it is no different for our foundation board.
NDSBF is currently reviewing grant applications from adults and students who are visually impaired and in need of adaptive aids. A committee meets to examine the grant requests and brings their report back to the board for approval. Last year, over $10,000.00 was granted to students and adults with visual impairments!
The NDSBF board would like to thank everyone who has made a contribution to the foundation. The money received from donations and investments is used to support many projects throughout the year, including a Greeting Card design contest that will take place during Family Weekend in Fargo in April. It is a great opportunity to showcase the artistic abilities of the students by printing their work onto greeting cards. Packages of cards are then sold to raise money for the foundation, and all proceeds are used to continue to support the NDSBF mission, which is to provide services to individuals who are visually impaired.
Have you heard about The Store?
Located inside NDVS/SB, we carry a wide variety of products to help you with the challenges of daily living. From talking clocks to tactile marking options, magnifiers and easy threading needles, itís all only a phone call away!
For more information, or to receive a catalog with the complete list of prices and products available, please call Pamela at 795-2714 or 800-421-1181, or email her at email@example.com.
Apps for the Visually Impaired
For the blind or those with poor vision, iDevices are opening up a whole new world. . Here are some of the most innovative apps available to the vision impaired.
Yellow Pages - Free
Yellow Pages is a free app that allows you to search via voice for a business or person nearby. Once located, the number and information can be added to your contacts or called directly.
Urbanspoon - Free
Use the GPS on your iPhone to find a great restaurant nearby. Urbanspoon allows searching by type of food, ratings or distance, or you can simply shake your iDevice to find a random eatery. Urbanspoon has full VoiceOver support.
Awareness! The Headphone App - $6.99
This app allows you to listen to your headphones while also hearing the sounds around you. It uses the microphone to feed in noises as you listen to music or use another app so you will not miss those vital audio clues that keep your day on track.
Alarmed ~ Reminders, Timers, Alarm Clock - Free
This is a very user friendly app and is fully accessible with VoiceOver. It has a "nag me" mode that will repeat an alarm until you shut it off, a multifeature timer, alarm clock with snooze option and a sleep alarm. All give a choice of a lot of sounds- many of which are fun and off-beat. It also has a flashlight, if you triple tap on the open clock control panel VoiceOver will say, "the flashlight is on." The app is offered for free because the developer feels that people should be able to try out an app before you buy it. Through an in-app purchase you can unlock advanced features. For $1.99 you will get the ability to set interval timers for doing repetitive chores, switching laundry or to just get up and exercise. This app has a very well deserved 5 star rating.
Glucose Buddy - Diabetes Helper 3.5.5 w/BP + WT Tracking - Free
This award-winning app allows users to manually enter their numbers, exercise and food consumption into a log that is uploaded to a private account at GlucoseBuddy.com. The web site also has other features such as an A1C estimator. If you are diabetic, this app is waiting to help you stay healthy.
ANNUAL NOTIFICATION TO PARENTS, STUDENTS AND EMPLOYEES OF NORTH DAKOTA VISION SERVICES/SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND
In 1986 Congress enacted the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) to require all private and public schools to identify Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACBM) in their school building and take appropriate actions to control the release of asbestos fibers. In 1987, the US Environmental Protection Agency finalized a regulatory program which enforces the AHERA mandate. These regulations are incorporated within the AHERA Rule (40 C.F.R. Part 763, Subpart E).
In compliance with the AHERA Rule, North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind has its school buildings inspected by an asbestos inspector accredited by the State of North Dakota. During that inspection, areas of suspect ACBM were identified and the type, condition and locations of these ADBM were noted. Samples were taken of some or all of the suspect ACBM. Laboratory analysis of these samples confirmed the presence of absence of ACBM. Suspect ACBM not sampled and analyzed were assumed to contain asbestos. Confirmed and/or assumed ACBM currently remain in certain locations in our school buildings. These materials and their location are identified in the schoolís Management Plan located in the District Office.
Upon confirmation of the presence of ACBM, an Asbestos Management Plan was developed for each of the school buildings in the School District by an asbestos management planner, accredited by the State of North Dakota. The Asbestos Management plan includes a description of the measures currently being taken to ensure that the ACBM remaining in our school buildings are maintained in a condition that will not pose a threat to the health of our students and employees. The plan describes past response actions taken to abate ACBM, as well as response actions planned for the future. Information is provided on the periodical monitoring of the condition of ACBM remaining in our school buildings through semiannual and triennial re-inspections. In addition, asbestos awareness training is provided for all maintenance and custodial staff to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
A copy of the Asbestos Management plan is available for review in the School Districtís administrative office during regular office hours. Mr. Greg Roufs is the assigned designated Asbestos Program Coordinator for the School District. Please direct all inquiries regarding the Asbestos Management Plan to our Asbestos Program Coordinator at 701-795-2726.
2013 Programming Schedule
Mar. 3-8 - STP Middle School Group 2
April 5-6 - Family Weekend in Fargo
Apr. 7-12 - Adults
Apr. 14-19 - STP-Literacy Group 1
Apr. 28-May 3 - Kids Spring STP Group 5
May 8-9-10 - Dakotas Chapter AER in GF
May 16-17 - Preschool/Parent STP Group
May 24 - Last School Day
June 2-7 - Teen Camp
June 16-28 - Adults
Aug. 5-9 - Kids Camp
Find us on Facebook
If you are a parent or guardian of a child with a visual impairment, there is a new resource available for you! Family InSights North Dakota is a Facebook group created with you in mind. This informal group was designed to help you make connections, share stories and stay in-touch. If you are already on Facebook, simply search for the group by name and request to join. If you are not on Facebook yet, you will have to sign up and create your own profile. Its really not difficultógive it a try!
We're Going GREEN
REACHING OUT is published by the ND Vision Services/School for the Blind, an agency funded by the state of North Dakota for the benefit of people with visual impairments. ND Vision Services/School for the Blind is a division of the ND Department of Public Instruction.
NDVS/SB does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in employment or provision of services
REACHING OUT is available in alternative formats upon request. Please send comments to:
ND Vision Services/
School for the Blind
500 Stanford Road
Grand Forks, ND 58203-2799
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Kirsten Baesler
Superintendent, ND Vision Services/School for the Blind: Carmen Grove Suminski - firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor, REACHING OUT: Pamela Hesse ó email@example.com
© Copyright 2007. North Dakota Vision Services. All rights reserved