Learning What you Need

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Changing an Administrators Mind about Services

It is easier to change the mind of an administrator if they have no past experience working with teachers of the blind or blind students. However, even if they had and did not have a good experience, this is a way to change their minds to get more services and tools for the blind students in the district.

I have hundreds of videos and pictures from the last 20 years of children working on all sorts of equipment, reading braille, flying on a slate n stylus and using dozens and dozens of different types of technology that has enabled them to find their independence and succeed in school. I have walked into meetings with as many as 50 special education directors of all types of experiences and turned on a light bulb of understanding that burned through the room by showing these videos of blind and deaf/blind students on the technology that helped them.

After the general meetings, I go independently to the directors and talk to them about their students and what they need. They have me make a list of the equipment, where to get it and the cost. Because the videos have come from me and they know I can teach the tool, they are not concerned it will sit in a closet and collect dust--this is one reason why administrators can be hesitant about ordering expensive technology-it gets ordered and no one knows how to use it. Orders are placed, equipment comes in, and it gets setup and the students start learning...exponentially.

Because there is only one of me, I have both the Para educator and student there learning the lesson, so they can help each other when I am not there. As typical, the blind students learn the commands very quickly and it is them that are helping the Para educators learn their skills.

The directors will come around and observe us working, but I have changed the observation into lessons. The director sits at the computer and I have one of my students give them a lesson on the computer using talking software. I love it when the student begins the lesson by placing their hand on the mouse and saying: "We will just be getting rid of the mouse"...and they move it behind the computer. I have had students take the director through scanning, embossing, brailling, and all types of computer lessons. With this knowledge, the directors will help you as the teacher of the blind get the necessary equipment that is needed.

Start collecting those videos and pictures. BUT FIRST make sure you have a signed statement from the parents saying this is ok.

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