Thursday, July 6, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Spotlight, Student Programming

Cylee sits in a field of grass wearing a red dress. She has long wavy blond hair and is smiling at the camera.In 1995, Heather Whitestone McCallum of Alabama, who is deaf, became the first Miss America with a disability. Since then, other women who have a disability have competed, but we’ve never seen a woman with a visual impairment compete for the crown. We will someday, and she may be representing North Dakota. That is, if Cylee Walton from Cavalier has her way. Cylee, who graduated from Cavalier Public School in May, recently competed for the Miss North Dakota crown in Williston. Cylee’s platform was “Embrace, Inspire, Normalize all,” which was inspired by her experience with a learning disability and her visual impairment. Cylee has nystagmus, which causes uncontrolled repetitive movements of the eyes. She was diagnosed with this condition at two months old, and while it greatly impacts her daily life, such as not being able to see the board at school or not being able to read a menu in a restaurant, she has begun to see how the struggles she has faced in life have enriched her life.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Employee Spotlight, Spotlight

Jody, who has gray hair and is wearing a black sweatshirt, stands in front of a orange and brown abstract painting smiling.NDVS/SB Maintenance
Husband & Father, Vintage Minibike Restorer, Newly Minted World Traveler 

For 37 ½ years, Jody Lembke drove to work at Simplot, just off Gateway Drive in Grand Forks. For the past 1 ½ years, his commute has been about 3 blocks longer, since he started working in the maintenance department at NDVS/SB. Three blocks but a world of difference lay between his past job and his current one. Jody, who grew up in Grand Forks and graduated from Grand Forks Central High School, appreciates that he gets to do important work here – and have his weekends and evenings free. And this time of year, he even gets to spend his days in the great outdoors. “I love that I get to be outside,” Jody says. “And I like working with a great group of people here.”

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Monday, June 5, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Employee Spotlight, Spotlight

NDVS/SB Braillist
Artist, New Homeowner, World Traveler

Leslie leans on a wooden fence in front of a desert scene. Her title is Braillist, but Leslie Pederson doesn’t just work with braille. She produces large print materials, including textbooks and workbooks that are needed by students for their classes. She also prints 3-D models of objects and tools that students and clients need to learn or perform a task. These plastic models allow people to tactually learn about things that they’d otherwise not be able to touch, such as the Empire State Building, parts of a cell, or a rocket ship. You could say she is a master of accessible materials, opening the world to those who are visually impaired by providing them with the materials they need to learn, do their job, or engage in hobbies or activities.

Leslie’s work is done behind the scenes, so it is often taken for granted. Superintendent Paul Olson, however, knows just how lucky NDVS/SB is to have her. “She is one of our greatest assets at NDVS/SB,” he says. “It takes a very dedicated and detail-oriented individual to become an expert braille transcriber. Not only does one need to be a master of the code itself, it requires a deep understanding of how people who are blind can best use braille materials. Leslie has been all of these things and more. She takes great pride in the materials she produces for individuals and organizations and is just such a pleasant person all around.” Find out more about Leslie by reading on.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Spotlight

by Lanna Slaby
Region 6 Outreach Coordinator

When you go to Louisville, Kentucky, good luck saying it correctly. LoooVul, LooeyVille, LuhVul, LooaVille, and being from NorthMarje and Lanna stand next to each other outside in front of a statue of a red and yellow horse. Dakota, I’m sure I said it wrong. I had the privilege to go to Louisville in April to visit the American Printing House for the Blind as a 2022 APH Scholar. Over 150 years old, the American Printing House for the Blind began publishing raised letter books in 1858 and continues today by making accessible products for the blind. I was asked to attend their annual Trustee Advisory Committee Meetings along with 10 committee members, two co-chairs, and two other APH Scholars. 

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Friday, May 5, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Superintendent

by Paul Olson
NDVS/SB Superintendent


Every time we create our newsletter to share information, describe past events or give you a preview of what is to come, our hope is that you will find it all useful. We hope that you will have a better understanding of the needs of the children and adults that make use of our services. We hope that you will find what we share inspiring in some way as well. 

We are proud of the work that we do and the partnerships we have with individuals and other organizations. Really, though, the newsletter is about promoting hope and enthusiasm and awareness of what people can do. North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind is all about creating opportunity. We do that through the efforts of our staff and through many partnerships.

Let me take this opportunity to share a few of the great things that have been happening and some great new opportunities coming up. 

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Friday, May 5, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Student Programming

Elementary students and staff members hold onto a large rainbow parachute in the gym at NDVS/SB.by Cindy Williams
NDVS/SB Coordinator of Student Programming


As summer draws near (we know it will get here eventually) and the school year draws to a close, I reflect on how the past semester has brought growth and educational experiences incorporating the Expanded Core Curriculum to those who attend our programs. Throughout our usual student programs occurring on-site and additional learning and social events occurring off-site, we have connected, learned, grown, and had some fun!

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Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Assistive Technology, Instruction, Library News

There are some exciting new tech devices on the horizon from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Read on to discover how APH is changing the way students who are blind or low vision read text, decipher graphics, and learn – today and into the future.

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Friday, April 28, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Spotlight, Student Programming

NDVS/SB Houseparent
Future TSVI, O&M Specialist, and Northern Illinois Husky


Gretchen, who has short red hair and is wearing a blue t-shirt with a black cardigan sits next to a middle school aged girl in the Commons. They are smiling at the camera.In her own words, Lead Houseparent Gretchen Ivers explains how she learned about NDVS/SB and how it set her on her future path.

Hi! My name is Gretchen Ivers and I'm originally from a small hobby farm west of Thompson, ND. I just graduated from UND with a Bachelor's in Elementary Education and a minor in Special Education. The teachers at North Dakota Vision Services encouraged me to look into a career in education, and I am so glad they did! 

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Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Spotlight

Candace stands behind a podium speaking.We periodically profile a young adult living with vision loss in North Dakota. Candace Rivinius has been blind since she was two years old due to Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, one of the most common causes of childhood blindness. Blindness has not stopped Candace from reaching her goals, and today she is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor at Corner Post Counseling PLLC. Find out how those goals took shape and her dreams for the future by reading on.

Candace Rivinius is used to making people turn their heads – though she can’t see them do that. By doing unexpected things – shooting a gun, waterskiing, paddleboarding, jumping at a trampoline park, running a 5K – she is turning blindness on its head while turning heads. And at her day job as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, Candace is helping people clear their heads and find hope and wellness after experiencing trauma or while suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other life stressors. “I like working with people to help them reach their goals,” she says. “It is fun to see people make the changes to improve their mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.” 

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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Categories: All News Items, Employee Spotlight, Spotlight

NDVS/SB Administrative Assistant
Caretaker of animals, the earth, her family, and her work family

Nedra sits at her desk behind a computer. File cabinets are behind her.When you call NDVS/SB, chances are Nedra Hoberg will answer. Nedra spent much of her career working in a variety of educational settings that fed her love of nature. In her current position at NDVS/SB, she shares her passions with students, clients, and coworkers whenever she can, making their days a little brighter and reminding them of what’s important. Here, Nedra shares the story of how she ended up at NDVS/SB and the lessons she learned (and taught) along the way.

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