NC ELSSP-VI Newsletter

January 2017

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

January's Quote

In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND.



Student Pictures Submitted by NC ELSSP-VI Staff

Professional Development Submitted by Lin Causey

Save the Date

Teacher Talk 101/The Story of Louis Braille Submitted by Kim Sawyer

Low Vision Information Submitted by Nancy Kirby-Sauls

Where are They Now Submitted by Becky Lowrey

Staff Birthdays for January

Photo/Video Credits

Professional Development Opportunities

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Shared by Krystal Davis, Public Health Consultant with the NC EI Branch

Possibilities & Obligations: Our Role in Supporting Young Children with Disabilities Who Have Experienced Abuse

Tuesday, January 17th, 2:00 - 3:00 PM EST

Facilitators: Catherine Corr, PhD, Carlomagno Panlilio, PhD

Early Childhood (EC) and Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) professionals support young children with disabilities who have experienced maltreatment every day. However, many EC/ECSE professionals have reported feelings of uncertainty and confusion regarding supporting children who have been maltreated. Participants in this Learning Deck will explore:

(1) the connection between disability and maltreatment in the early childhood years;

(2) how early maltreatment can impact engagement, readiness, achievement;

(3) DEC's position statement on Child Maltreatment.

Register Here

Feeding Challenges in Young Children: An Overview

Wednesday, February 15th, 1:00 to 2:00 PM EST

Facilitator: Deborah A. Bruns, PhD

Many young children with disabilities and developmental delays experience feeding challenges. While their cause and treatment vary, there are a number of common approaches to assessment and intervention. This session will provide ways to collect information about feeding development and an overview of effective strategies and specialized interventions to facilitate feeding development. An emphasis on collaboration across professions will be shared. Resources will also be offered.

Register Here


CONNECT Course: Foundations of Inclusion



This course is intended to introduce the basics of inclusion and the rights and supports for children and teachers in early childhood education, and to help you understand the topics covered in the Project CONNECT Course series and the 5-step learning process.

Course objectives:

At the end of this course, you will be able to:

Define inclusion and describe four recent research findings related to inclusion;

Understand the legislation related to inclusion;

Identify 3 actions teachers can take; and

Describe the 5-step learning process used in the Project CONNECT courses

This course also aligns with the following 2014 DEC Recommended Practices:

F9. Practitioners help families know and understand their rights

L10. Leaders ensure practitioners know and follow professional standards and all

applicable laws and regulations governing service provision

This is a FREE course worth 1 clock hour of training. No CEUs are provided.


North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness (NCCVIB)

Looking Forward to New Opportunities

March 9 - 10, 2017

Embassy Suites Winston Salem

NC-AER - North Carolina Association for Education and ...

NCAER is the North Carolina Chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired



We are delighted to share some exciting news about our annual VI conference. Mindy Ely, a national presenter who specializes in early intervention and visual impairments, will be presenting at our North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness (NCCVIB). The conference will be held on March 9th and 10th, 2017 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Winston-Salem, NC. Mindy will be presenting on a variety of topics throughout the conference including CVI, social skills and students with multiple needs, etc. Her training style is one of collaborative conversation which will offer fun, interactive sessions. This is a wonderful opportunity to receive CEUs and Infant Toddler credits in addition to learning new strategies for working with your students. I hope you will save the date and plan to attend our awesome conference.

***Registration for the North Carolina Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness (NCCVIB) is now open. I have registered and it is quite easy to register and pay online. There are very clear prompts to lead you through the process. I know everyone is busy with the holidays, but I hope you will take time to register soon to get the reduced rate for our conference. You can also go ahead and make your hotel reservation while the group rate is available. You can share a room with your ELSSP/VI friends to reduce your hotel fee.


Please register by January 23rd, 2017 to get the reduced rate of $110.00. To register for the conference click on the following link:

This will take you to the home page for the conference where you will find lots of good information about the conference schedule, hotel, etc. Click on “Register Here!” to complete your registration form online. This year we are paying for the conference online through PayPal. Once you have submitted the registration form, you will be automatically be redirected to PayPal. Once you are on the PayPal site, you can either login to an existing account or fill in your credit/debit information. You will need to fill in the $110 for the dollar amount if you register by January 23rd, 2017. On the PayPal site your payment will show up as a donation to NCAER. You will get an email confirming your payment and will need to print this receipt for reimbursement. As a reminder, Bethany will be reimbursing us for the conference registration fee, hotel and meals.


The conference will be held on March 9th and 10th, 2017 at Embassy Suites hotel in Winston-Salem. If you decide you want to stay at the hotel, you will want to make your reservations for Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 and/or Thursday, March 9th, 2017. A block of rooms has been reserved for the conference. Be sure to ask for the Conference on Visual Impairment and Blindness group rate of $145.00. You will need to reserve the room before February 8th, 2017 or while there is availability. Please call 1-336-724-2300 to reserve your room.

If you have any questions, please contact me or Paula Roten. We hope everyone will attend our fantastic conference this year! It will be great to hear from Mindy Ely as our Preschool Strand presenter. Pam Bye and Paula Roten***

Teacher Talk 101

By: Kim Sawyer

Outrageous Things Students Say- from, We Are Teachers

“Oh I can’t wear my new glasses in your class because it’s math. The doctor said they are just for reading.”

–Debra D.

The Story of Louis Braille

There was a time, not long ago, when most people thought that blind people could never learn to read. People thought that the only way to read was to look at words with your eyes.

A young French boy named Louis Braille thought otherwise. Blind from the age of three, young Louis desperately wanted to read. He realized the vast world of thought and ideas that was locked out to him because of his disability. He was determined to find the key to this door for himself, and for all other blind persons.

This story begins in the early part of the nineteenth century. Louis Braille was born in 1809, in a small village near Paris. His father made harnesses and other leather goods to sell to the other villagers. Louis' father often used sharp tools to cut and punch holes in the leather. One of the tools he used to makes holes was a sharp awl. An awl is a tool that looks like a short pointed stick, with a round, wooden handle. While playing with one of his father's awls, Louis' hand slipped and he accidentally poked one of his eyes. At first the injury didn't seem serious, but then the wound became infected. A few days later young Louis lost sight in both his eyes. The first few days after becoming blind were very hard. But as the days went by Louis learned to adapt and learned to lead an otherwise normal life. He went to school with all his friends and did well at his studies. He was both intelligent and creative. He wasn't going to let his disability slow him down one bit.

As he grew older, he realized that the small school he attended did not have the money and resources he needed. He heard of a school in Paris that was especially for blind students. Louis didn't have to think twice about going. He packed his bags and went off to find himself a solid education.

When he arrived at the special school for the blind, he asked his teacher if the school had books for blind persons to read. Louis found that the school did have books for the blind to read.

These books had large letters that were raised up off the page. Since the letters were so big, the books themselves were large and bulky. More importantly, the books were expensive to buy. The school had exactly fourteen of them. Louis set about reading all fourteen books in the school library. He could feel each letter, but it took him a long time to read a sentence. It took a few seconds to reach each word and by the time he reached the end of a sentence, he almost forgot what the beginning of the sentence was about. Louis knew there must be a better way. There must be a way for a blind person to quickly feel the words on a page. There must be a way for a blind person to read as quickly and as easily as a sighted person. That day he set himself the goal of thinking up a system for blind people to read. He would try to think of some alphabet code to make his 'finger reading' as quick and easy as sighted reading.

Now Louis was a tremendously creative person. He learned to play the cello and organ at a young age. He was so talented an organist that he played at churches all over Paris. Music was really his first love. It also happened to be a steady source of income. Louis had great confidence in his own creative abilities.

He knew that he was as intelligent and creative as any other person his own age. And his musical talent showed how much he could accomplish when given a chance.

One day chance walked in the door. Somebody at the school heard about an alphabet code that was being used by the French army. This code was used to deliver messages at night from officers to soldiers. The messages could not be written on paper because the soldier would have to strike a match to read it. The light from the match would give the enemy a target at which to shoot. The alphabet code was made up of small dots and dashes. These symbols were raised up off the paper so that soldiers could read them by running their fingers over them. Once the soldiers understood the code, everything worked fine.

Louis got hold of some of this code and tried it out. It was much better than reading the gigantic books with gigantic raised letters.

But the army code was still slow and cumbersome. The dashes took up a lot of space on a page. Each page could only hold one or two sentences. Louis knew that he could improve this alphabet in some way.

On his next vacation home, he would spend all his time working on finding a way to make this improvement. When he arrived home for school vacation, he was greeted warmly by his parents.

His mother and father always encouraged him on his music and other school projects. Louis sat down to think about how he could improve the system of dots and dashes. He liked the idea of the raised dots, but could do without the raised dashes. As he sat there in his father's leather shop, he picked up one of his father's blunt awls. The idea came to him in a flash. The very tool which had caused him to go blind could be used to make a raised dot alphabet that would enable him to read. The next few days he spent working on an alphabet made up entirely of six dots. The position of the different dots would represent the different letters of the alphabet. Louis used the blunt awl to punch out a sentence. He read it quickly from left to right. Everything made sense. It worked...

(Louis Braille's invention continues to inspire new and innovative products that help build a world that is more inclusive for people with disabilities, such as ADA ramps, also known as "braille for the feet.")

Phil Shapiro Copyright 1995 All Rights Reserved [This story may be freely copied and distributed for noncommercial purposes. Commercial distribution of the story can be arranged by contacting the author at:]

Low Vision Information

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Where are They Now???

The Huge Successes of Hartley

By: Becky Lowrey

This past week I had lunch with my friend Lucy Plyler and her daughter Hartley. Lucy has been a great deal of help to me over the years, as she is the extremely resourceful DSB social worker for Cleveland County. But my connection with this family goes a little deeper, as the young, mature woman who sat across from me during lunch was a former student of mine. I still see her as the bubbly, blue-eyed, blond toddler whom I visited at the now closed developmental day “Beginnings” in Shelby. I followed Hartley to preschool and saw her on to Kindergarten. Hartley was a perky girl, full of fun, who loved books and apparently, according to her mother Lucy, liked to play “Ms. Becky” in her off hours from school with her stuffed animals.

When I first met Hartley, she had already been through a great deal and had overcome several hurdles. Besides a diagnosis of cortical visual impairment, she was diagnosed with hydrocephalus after birth and received a shunt. She was also diagnosed with agenesis of the corpus callosum (ACC). ACC occurs when the band of white matter between the two hemispheres of the brain fail to form. Her parents had been warned by doctors about delays Hartley would have. However, when I worked as a part of Hartley’s team, she steadfastly met milestones and not much slowed her down. Luckily, because of my connection with her mother, I’ve been able to keep up with Hartley over the years. Unfortunately, at age 9, Hartley was diagnosed with Gorlin’s Syndrome (Basal Cell Carcinoma Nevus Syndrome), which is caused by a mutation of Chromosome 9. Basically, the syndrome does not allow her skin to protect her against sun or other forms of radiation. She has had far too many surgeries to remove the basal cells that have grown on her body. This syndrome has also caused tumors to grow in her jaw, and she has had several surgeries to remove these tumors. Unfortunately, there is no cure and only treatment for this cancer. But Hartley has persevered. She found strength and fun in attending Victory Junction, a summer camp designed for children with special needs and/or health concerns. Indeed, Hartley’s story can be seen here in a special You Tube video done by Victory Junction. A couple of years ago, Lucy and Hartley participated in the Victory Junction 5K run, something doctors would have probably thought Hartley would never be able to do. Her story has traveled, and she became one of “Molly’s Kids”, Molly Grantham from WBTV news in Charlotte. Blue Cross Blue Shield did a feature on Hartley for one of their “Live Fearless” videos.

For Hartley, life has also meant graduating from High School and looking into finding a college experience which will prepare her for what all kids want - to be independent. Hartley fell in love with the Clemson Life Program at Clemson University and applied. Clemson Life is designed for students with intellectual disabilities who want a college experience. A basic two-year program offers functional academics, independent living, employment, social skill/leisure skills, and health/wellness skills. A more advanced third and fourth year program is offered to students who have demonstrated they can live safely and independently, maintain employment, and socially integrate during the basic two-year program. Hartley was accepted into this year’s freshman class of 12 students from all over the country. But the offer came with a hefty price tag, and her parents quickly learned that because this is not a degree program, financial aid given to most students was not available to them. So over the past several months they have managed to raise tuition through fund raising projects supported by friends and their community. Then in August, Hartley was one of 10 winners of a $20,000 scholarship from the NC Lottery. She had entered the lottery’s “NC Proud Moments” scholarship contest, and her mother, Lucy, sent in a video of Hartley’s reaction to her acceptance to Clemson Life.

Hartley loves being at Clemson Life. When I saw her this past week, she was missing her friends, the staff (and the food) in the program. She lives in an apartment with two roommates and an ILA (independent living assistant). Students are responsible for maintaining a budget, buying food, preparing it, and keeping the apartment and their room clean. Hartley’s mother stated that one of the things they love as parents is that the Clemson community is so supportive of the Clemson Life students. Hartley and her fellow students meet with sports teams and other groups from all over the campus as part of their social and leisure skills classes. Hartley stated that this was one of her favorite parts of the program, as well. She has become a die-hard Clemson Tiger fan! Hartley also felt that this was the first place besides home, where she feels truly supported by friends and is totally bully-free.

For those of us who teach, especially those who are very young, our students always stay locked into certain ages within our memory. I’ve been lucky to watch Hartley grow up if only vicariously. But I still see the blue-eyed little girl who sat in my lap and loved reading books like Goodnight Moon. Seeing Hartley as the lovely and independent young lady she has become only adds to my conviction of her. As always - she is full of life; she lives it to the fullest; and I know that she always will.

January Staff Birthdays

January 6th Starla Wilson

January 10th Sandy Bryant

January 20th Kim Sawyer

January 24th Lin Causey

Photo/Video Credits