Meet Erin Storhoff
Monday, January 24, 2022 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Instruction, Spotlight, Student Programming
Regional Coordinator, Region 5
TVI, Gardener, Mom, Voice for Her Families
It’s easy to see the passion that all NDVS/SB employees have for their job, for their clients and students, and for the families they serve. But for Erin Storhoff, who serves as a Regional Coordinator in Region 5 and assists with in-house short-term programs (STP) in Grand Forks, it’s personal. Her grandma, who was a third-grade teacher, was a real inspiration to her while she was growing up, and so were her own TVIs. Erin, who has a visual impairment, remembers that “the TVIs that I had in school really showed their love for their students.” And after her first child was born with a visual impairment, and the family began receiving services from NDVS/SB, she knew she needed to return to school so that she too could help other children and families. “I have always been grateful for my son’s TVI and wanted to follow in her footsteps,” she says.
Over the years, there have been many employees at NDVS/SB who have a visual impairment, and students and clients benefit from that first-hand knowledge of the special skills of blindness, as do their sighted colleagues. Superintendent Paul Olson says that “it’s helpful to hear directly from professionals who are visually impaired because they will share their frustrations and even failures.” For people who are new to sight loss or who are still adjusting to their child’s visual impairment, knowing that their teacher has been through the same thing “is powerful,” says Paul.
It was so powerful for Erin, in fact, that it changed her career path and goals. And now her own challenges have a meaning and purpose. “Advocating for my families and students is a priority of mine due to personal experiences,” she says. “Sometimes we are the voices of our families when others aren’t listening.” Read on to learn more about Erin’s path to NDVS/SB.
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First comes hardship, then comes confidence
Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Instruction, News Event, Spotlight, Student Programming
Periodically, we share a transition student’s story of success. In this profile, meet Paxton Franke from Fargo. He attended NDVS/SB’s short-term programs as an elementary and high school student and graduated from Fargo’s Davies High School in 2016. Read his story and find out what advice he has for students and TVIs.
Paxton Franke has some advice for teachers of the visually impaired. “As students mature, I think TVIs should do as little as possible to help their students,” he says. This statement, he admits, is a bit controversial, but “learning to be independent is crucial for success. A student must learn to advocate, navigate, and acclimate for and within their new position in life. This lesson is a difficult one, and, in real life, can have substantial consequences, so it is best learned early and within a forgiving environment such as school. Increasing the amount of these tasks until the student is fully independent is excellent practice and will prepare them well for life.”
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Sunday, January 9, 2022 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction, Student Programming
by Shanna Hanson, NDVS/SB Transition Specialist
North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind provides transition services to students who are blind or visually impaired across North Dakota. Transition Specialist Shanna Hanson collaborates with local school districts to improve the transition process. She is available to attend IEPs and any other meetings so that a student’s entire team is aware of the services NDVS/SB provides before and after graduation. Shanna will make referrals and connections with other agencies so that the student can succeed in whatever path they follow. Transition matters!
Technology 2022 - Where are the flying cars?
Thursday, January 6, 2022 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Assistive Technology, Golden Guides
by Dave Olson, NDVS/SB IT Director
When we think back on movies from the 1980s or 1990s that referenced the future, it seems like we should all be in flying cars like the Jetsons right now. Sadly, I think we can all agree the years of flying personal cars is a long way out! Things may not have progressed that far, but the technology still has increased rapidly in various areas. Let's take a journey through some of the assistive technology that we highlighted in 2021.
Meet Erika Moulton
Tuesday, December 28, 2021 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Instruction, News Event, Spotlight, Student Programming
Regional Coordinator, Regions 1 & 2
Daughter, Teacher, Mom, Ed Sheeran fan
“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher,” Erika Moulton, the NDVS/SB Regional Coordinator for regions 1 & 2 in northwest North Dakota, says. “When I was younger, I wanted to be an elementary education teacher because I had some great teachers that made a lasting impression on me. When I was in high school, my mom, who was a special education teacher at a small, rural school, began working with a student who was visually impaired. Seeing her work with this student and how rewarding it was for her was inspiring to me. I attended a Family Weekend with her while I was in high school, and the experience that I had there was really special.”
Not only did Erika follow her mom’s footsteps into education, she also followed them to NDVS/SB. “My mom held this position [in regions 1 & 2] before I did, and when she decided that she was moving out of state, I decided that I would go for it and see what happens.” Six years later, Erika is still excited to come to work each day. “There is always so much to learn!” she says. “Each child that I work with is so different so that keeps things exciting as you try to determine what works best for each child.” Read on to learn more about Erika.
Adult Program Update
Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction
by Ken Dockter, Adult Program Coordinator
In early December, we had three adults join us for a week of Adult Programming. It was great to have adults back within the walls of the school. We had to start a day late as Mother Nature made her presence known on Sunday and delayed travel to Grand Forks. The adults were able to make it to the school on Monday afternoon and start classes on Tuesday. The adults had classes in Orientation & Mobility, Technology, Daily Living Skills, a group session to talk about adjusting to their vision loss, and braille. The Skills of Blindness for adults are very important as they learn to complete skills in a non-visual technique.
New equipment in the Tech Center at NDVS/SB – OrCam MyEye
Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Assistive Technology, Instruction
by Tracy Wicken, NDVS/SB Assistive Technology Specialist
A very recent addition to the Technology Center’s equipment for demonstration is the OrCam MyEye. OrCam MyEye is a lightweight smart camera that attaches magnetically to any glasses frame. OrCam MyEye allows you to access visual information audibly.
Using artificial intelligence technology, it instantly and discreetly reads printed and digital text aloud from any surface. It recognizes faces, products, money notes and more, all in real-time. The device is operated by using simple hand gestures or through its more than 20 voice-activated commands. It can be used with any level of vision loss and does not require an internet connection. It has Bluetooth connectivity and also has a mobile app where one can customize its settings, control reading navigation and also find the device if you should misplace it.
Reading for all seasons
Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Library News
by Emily Stenberg Brown
Director of Vision Resource Center
If you like to read, I hope you have been participating in our monthly Book Club during the We Care Wednesday Coffee Chat Zoom calls. NDAB President Trampes Brown and I have been leading a book discussion on the first Wednesday of every month for a year now. Our group has read a variety of genres, and I hope we have read something for everyone. We have discovered it’s impossible to pick a book everyone will like, but there’s nothing wrong with reading a book that pushes you a bit out of your comfort zone. There is something to be learned from every book, even if it’s simply “I don’t like that author/style/book.”
Student Programs Update
Thursday, December 9, 2021 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Instruction, Student Programming
by Cindy Williams, Student Program Coordinator
It has been such a joy to have our students back in our building and partaking in our short-term programs in person! While students attend our programs, we instruct in the areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). The ECC goes beyond academic skill areas and was designed for students with visual impairments to support the development of skills that a student might not be able to learn by visually observing others. This semester we’ve had a full house for our numerous student programs.
Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 11:00 pmCategories: All News Items, Superintendent
by Paul Olson, NDVS/SB Superintendent
Those of us who have the pleasure of working in a field that is so important and impactful are blessed. We get to observe people of all ages overcome challenges and take on life in amazing ways. Sometimes, however, we are frustrated and disappointed by roadblocks and attitudes that continue to get in the way of success for students with visual impairment in school. Our North Dakota schools generally do a good job in supporting our students, but there are always situations where the appropriate resources, effort, and positive attitude are lacking. A couple of years ago I wrote the Bill of Rights for All Children and Their Families with Emily Coleman, the Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind.
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