Monday, March 7, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Assistive Technology

by Laurie Westling, Assistive Technology Specialist

an assortment of WayAround tags and buttons lie scattered on a dark backgroundNorth Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind is a pilot site for WayAround Public Tags. We are working with WayAround to add WayTags throughout our building. We started with the main restrooms and the Coca-Cola vending machine. We are currently working on the other public restrooms in the building, and then we will work on the elevator and the exits.

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Monday, February 28, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, News Event, Spotlight, Student Programming

professional image of Neva Fairchild, a woman of middle age with gray hair, wearing a blue shirt and a necklaceNeva Fairchild will be presenting at NDVS/SB Family Weekend April 22 – 23 in Fargo. Neva is the National Aging and Vision Loss Specialist at the American Foundation for the Blind and has lived with a visual impairment her entire life. As a child, she dealt with worsening vision, bullies, little support from teachers, and, fortunately, parents with high expectations. “I did all the things my siblings were expected to do. My parents didn’t know much about dealing with my vision loss, but they knew they wanted me to be able to do everything that every other kid on the block was doing,” Neva says. It’s those possibilities that she hopes to encourage when she speaks to families in Fargo in April. “Families need to find solutions to problems they encounter and encourage others to support them and their child all along the way toward adulthood. It’s coming… gotta get ready,” she says. Read on to learn more about Neva, the possibilities she made for herself, and how a future of no limits is possible for your child.

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Friday, February 25, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction, Spotlight, Student Programming

Sky smiles standing in a corn field.NDVS/SB Psych Extern
Doctoral Student, Roller Derby Girl, Soon-to-be-missed 
(and soon-to-be-married)

One of the hidden secrets of NDVS/SB is our partnership with UND’s psychology department. For 20 years, NDVS/SB’s clients, students, and staff have benefitted from the placement of an extern from UND’s doctoral psychology program. Working under the supervision of UND professor Dr. Joseph Miller and NDVS/SB’s student program coordinator, the psychology extern has provided counseling services to clients of all ages, as well as social skills curriculum and psychoeducational testing to students. This spring, Sky Gabel will become the final psychology extern to serve NDVS/SB. As she prepares to leave NDVS/SB and UND, Sky reflected on her time in Grand Forks and shared her plans for the future. 

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Thursday, February 17, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, Spotlight, Student Programming

Faith stands in a field wearing a white floral top and blue jeans.One of the biggest decisions in a high schooler’s life is deciding where to attend college. Location, cost, degree programs, and so many other factors affect college choice. And for high schoolers who are low vision or blind, there are additional questions to consider. Will I be able to easily get around campus or around the community? Will the disability support services office accommodate me? Will I even know what accommodations to ask for? High school senior Faith Norby of Killdeer, ND, recently made her decision; she’ll be attending the University of Mary in Bismarck in the fall. “When I went on a tour with my mom of UMary, I knew for certain that it was the college for me,” Faith explains. 

Now that that big decision is out of the way, there are other questions to consider, some of which revolve around her visual impairment. Faith has cone dystrophy, a genetic disease that renders her colorblind and very light sensitive. But her low vision didn’t stop her from having a “wonderful high school experience,” she says. “I participated in numerous activities throughout high school including four years of cross country, two years of basketball, FFA, speech, science Olympiad, choir, one-act play, and our high school musical. I enjoyed high school because I was able to participate in activities that I was passionate about.” By participating in these activities, Faith was able to gain self-confidence and begin to know her own strengths. “By participating in FFA I learned that some of my strengths are public speaking and organization. I also gained many leadership skills in FFA and cross country,” she explains. 

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Sunday, February 6, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Assistive Technology

by Reva Kautz, Marketing Director, ND Assistive

This article is from our partner agency, ND Assistive, whose goal is to bridge the gap between ability and disability using assistive technology. Their technicians serve the entire state with demonstration centers in Fargo and Bismarck.

Assistive technology (AT) changes lives, but not just any assistive technology will do. Every user has unique needs and matching those needs to the available assistive technology is key. And making use of the technology devices a person already owns and uses well can produce an even better result.

Is there anything more frustrating than purchasing an item that does not do what you thought it would? Sadly, AT device purchases often end up in that frustrating category, and as a result are not valued or used. In an effort to help you select the right AT device, and save you time, money and patience, ND Assistive’s consultants will discover the best fit between person, environment and device.

ND Assistive has a long history with ND Vision Services/School for the Blind. We share the goal of assisting people with low vision to live as independently as they can. We also both share information on high-tech devices as well as free applications that can be found on a person’s own smartphone to improve people’s lives.

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Thursday, February 3, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, News Event

by Mary Verlinde

Eight individuals who are members of the North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB) from around the state of North Dakota attended the 42nd Annual Black Hills Regional Ski for Light, which is held each year in Deadwood, South Dakota. This year it took place from January 23 – 28. Many others who are visually impaired or have other limitations from across the country and internationally also took part in this annual event. 

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Adult Programming News, Instruction, News Event

by Shanna Hanson, NDVS/SB Transition Specialist

Come join us at our first Young Adult Pop-up Training in Minot on Saturday, March 5 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Young adults who are seniors in high school to age 26 are invited to attend.

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Monday, January 24, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: All News Items, Instruction, Spotlight, Student Programming

Regional Coordinator, Region 5 
TVI, Gardener, Mom, Voice for Her Families

A picture of Erin with her husband and three children in church together with a wood cross behind them.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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Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 11:00 pm

Categories: 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 pm

Categories: 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!

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