NC ELSSP-VI Newsletter

August 2018

Each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

North Carolina Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments

NC Department of Public Instruction

Office of Early Learning

Touching Lives Through ELSSP

The Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments and Hearing Impairments is a division of the Office of Early Learning through the Department of Public Instruction. Our team is unique to The Department of Public Instruction because it includes over 70 staff members that provide direct instruction to children and families. We have licensed teachers of the visually impaired and hearing impaired/deaf, occupational therapists, interpreters and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists all with one goal; to make sure each child will be honored, respected, and empowered to achieve success in school and life.

If you would like more information about our program, please visit our website at


Amazing Kids Submitted by Staff

Where Are They Now? Submitted by Pam Bye

APH Writing National Writing Contest Winner

Professional Development Submitted by Lin Causey

Looking Back and Looking Ahead Submitted by Hitty Chiott

Staff Birthdays for August

Photo/Video Credits

Where Are They Now?

I had the privilege of attending a High School graduation party for one of my former students, Jessica. I had not seen Jessica and her family in 15 years, since I stopped serving her with ELSSP/VI, and was thrilled to be invited to her graduation cook out in June 2018.

Jessica was born very premature and was diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity. Jessica’s mother said the doctors told her that Jessica would never walk or talk. Jessica now walks independently using a long white cane and enjoys talking to everyone. Jessica graduated from Governor Morehead School with a 3.0 GPA and will attend college this fall at Central Carolina Community College. She will be taking classes in broadcasting production.

Jessica’s mother said, “The services we received from you helped her so much. You gave her a great start before school and got her moving! I hope your group continues providing great services for other families! Thanks for everything!”

I enjoyed the opportunity to serve Jessica during her first 3 years of life. We began working early on tactile skills, auditory skills, pre-braille, orientation and mobility, etc. Jessica worked hard back then and continues to work hard now to achieve her goals. It was a pleasure to work with Jessica and her family. This family reminded me how ELSSP/VI has a positive impact on families and makes such a difference in children’s lives.

*Picture Jessica on left and Pam Bye (ESLLP/VI Teacher)

APH National Writing Contest Winner...Paula Roten!!!

Paula Roten with the NC Early Learning Sensory Support Program for Children with Visual Impairments recently won 3rd Place for her entry into the APH (American Printing House for the Blind) National Writing Contest. Paula’s entry was one of eight entries in the Professional Division. In 1000 words or less Paula had to "Write an essay about the most creative, unique way you have used an APH product (or products). What is the product and what did it help you (or a student or adult you worked with) accomplish?" In her essay, Paula described how she used the APH Mini-Lite Box with one of her students who has CVI (Cortical Visual Impairment) and how he benefitted from it.

Excerpt from article... “David’s family, service providers, and I collaborate to incorporate the APH Mini-Lite box into David’s natural environment and daily routines. We gained many ideas from the article 50 Ways to Use a Light Box by Michelle Clyne. The article gave the suggestion that when Jell-O in clear containers is placed on the lite box, it will glow. Another example of how we incorporated the lite box into routines is during meal times, the family used translucent color bowls and utensils on the lite box."

If you would like to read Paula’s winning essay, you can download the full pdf here.

Professional Development Opportunities

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The Parent Participation in Early Intervention by the Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR) is a great informational resource for parents and staff. Parent involvement is key for making the necessary decisions about early intervention services for children. This list of resources for parents and early intervention providers recently compiled by CIPR (December 2017) offers information and strategies for supporting parent participation in developmental screening, identifying appropriate services to best meet the child's needs, and staying informed about your (parents') rights. Please take a look!


Opening Convocation

August 14-15, 2018

Raleigh, NC

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Recently I was looking through a bin we’ve kept for my daughter with a variety of mementos from her childhood. In the bin was a little paper she wrote in first grade about what she might want to do when she grows up. Using her best inventive spelling (which I love!) she wrote about how she loved art and thought she would like to be an art teacher. She then added that she would like to let kids draw and paint and she might even make “$500 a year!” My daughter is headed off to college in just a few short weeks, and while she doesn’t want to be an art teacher now, she does want to be a high school math teacher. This little trip down memory lane made me realize just how quickly these years have flown by, and brought up some other thoughts I’d like to share.

When our children are young, their futures as teens and adults can seem like a completely abstract idea that we are really too busy to even fathom. I’m sure that was the case for me, but as I think back on it now, I think some of the short term goals and values we tried to instill in the early years are part of what helped to prepare her for this big transition. For example, we let her know that we wanted her to always try her best and to find satisfaction in knowing that she did. We helped provide a variety of experiences, encouraging her to try new things, while giving her time to do so in her own way. We tried to always be available for support, but also gave her space to try and do things independently- even if that meant some failures from which to learn. Finally, we encouraged her that it is not only ok, but it is good to ask for help when needed. I don’t know anyone who does everything without some help from others.

So, while I can reflect nicely on my role as a mother, I am also thankful for so many people who were also there along the way to teach and encourage my daughter as she continues to explore her interests, sense of purpose, and develops the skills she needs to be successful. Some of the families I work with now are getting ready for the big transition into preschool. We are so grateful for the guidance of CDSA Service Coordinators and Preschool Intake Coordinators and teams of people working together as our students and children make this transition. At the heart of all of it is the idea that by understanding a child’s strengths and needs, we can work toward short term and long term goals so that the child can learn and grow and be her or his best self. We know that for children with visual impairments, we must also intentionally address all areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum to maximize self-realization, independence, participation, and quality of life. (See article for more information about the ECC). Sometimes it is daunting to think about all of the areas to address, but we do it little by little in big ways and small ways. For example encouraging your child to indicate a choice in which toy is one step in the areas of self-determination and communication. Bringing your child into the kitchen with you while you cook or wash dishes, is one small step in area of independent living skills. Letting your child use an app such as Infant Zoo, or use a switch to activate a toy, is one step in the area of assistive technology. And of course, exploring tactile and braille books and reading together is a step in building compensatory skills.

So, we take all these little steps day by day to help our children grow. Along the way, there are teams of people working to provide support in addressing your child’s goals. Your child’s TVI is a key member of the team throughout the early education and K-12 years. But what happens next?

Having recently attended a family orientation session at my daughter’s university, I felt greater relief and empowerment just in knowing what resources are out there to support her (and me!) in this next phase of her life. So in the interest of sharing information about what resources are out there that you can call upon in the future for help when it is needed, I want to spread some information about the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Blind (DSB). The DSB has Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors who may begin working with students and their families when a child is 14 years old and then they continue to provide services until the student is employed. Their mission is to help students with visual impairments transition from high school to employment or to post-secondary school and then employment. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work closely with TVIs, guidance counselors, parents, and students to help identify career interests, learn about skills and education needed, or find mentors who are also visually impaired and working in a field of interest. In addition to transition planning services, the DSB offers a variety of summer programs to high school aged students that include work experiences, courses in braille, safe travel, career exploration, daily living skills, and assistive technology, and specific college or vocational preparation programs. The DSB counselors also help families identify financial assistance options, and in some cases, offer scholarships to students, along with assistive technology options. The DSB counselor takes time to meet with the students and parents to discuss strengths, needs, interests, and goals and then serves as an ongoing resource to help your child achieve these goals.

To bring this full circle, it’s true that time flies by so quickly, and even if we don’t have all the specific plans of the future ironed out, take little steps along the way to encourage your child to participate in your family activities in whatever way that looks, and just keep the love and support going. And remember that the same advice holds true for children and adults-- you can always ask for help and support because not one of us can do it all on our own.

August Staff Birthdays

Kathy Russell August 14th

Marigail Matthias August 16th

Rhonda Coley August 17th

Andi Finney-Ratliff August 19th

Photo/Video Credits