NC ELSSP-VI Newsletter

December 2015

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

December Quote

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

-Benjamin Franklin


Student Pictures Submitted by NC ELSSP-VI Staff

Professional Development Submitted by Lin Causey

Vacancy Announcement

Resources/Ideas You May Find Useful Submitted by Elizabeth Wilde & Lin Causey

O & M Information Submitted by Nancy Kirby-Sauls

Take A Look...Or A Second Look Submitted by Dee Martin

VI Institute and Make It/Take It Submitted by Heather Lister

Staff Birthdays

Director's Spotlight Submitted by Bethany Mayo

Professional Development Opportunities

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Staff Meeting for December 18th is CANCELLED...

Register Now

NC Conference on Visual Impairments and Blindness (NCCVIB) scheduled for March 3rd and 4th, 2016 in Chapel Hill, NC.

Millie Smith, a nationally known presenter, will be speaking at the conference. Millie is a consultant with Texas School for the Blind (TSVBI) and with American Printing House for the Blind (APH). She developed the APH Intervention Continuum, which is a program for teaching children with visual and multiple impairments. At the conference, Millie will be describing effective strategies for working with children with visual and multiple impairments. You will not want to miss this conference!

Sheraton Chapel Hill - 1 Europa Drive - Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Theme: Bridging All of Life’s Stages

Hotel Reservations: Hotel rate of $119 valid through January 31, 2016 only. Limited block of rooms available. Reserve your room online at:

Ongoing Professional Development Opportunities

The NC Infant-Toddler Program (ITP) encourages staff and providers to stay abreast of evidence based practices in early childhood intervention. To that end, the ITP maintains a list of credible organizations and businesses that provide evidence based trainings that are relevant to infants and toddlers with or without disabilities, and their families. The Continuing Professional Development List is in the process of being updated. The deadline for recommending a professional development organization/business has been extended to December 15, 2015. Recommendations are to be submitted to . The form is available.

Free National Board Teaching Certification workshop to prepare for or Renew Your National Board Certification

The Division for Early Childhood (DEC) promotes policies and advances evidence-based practices that support families and enhance the optimal development of young children (0-8) who have or are at risk for developmental delays and disabilities. DEC is an international membership organization for those who work with or on behalf of young children (0-8) with disabilities and other special needs and their families.

Learning Decks are professional development webinars for those who work with, or on behalf of, young children with special needs.

General Information: All webinars are hosted on GotoWebinar. A week prior to each Learning Deck, registrants will receive a link for the webinar and handouts from presenters. Each webinar is $25. Participants can register online. If your institution does not permit online registration, please send a purchase order to or fax it to 855-678-1989. To review a full description of each webinar and bios of the presenters, please click on the title of each Learning Deck session. All Learning Deck sessions will be archived and available for download in case participants miss a session or want to sign up for a session in which they cannot attend on the date offered.

CEU Information: DEC is an approved BCBA continuing education provider. ACE #: OP-10-2037. If you participate in a Learning Deck that is eligible for BCBA continuing education units, you will receive a credit certificate via e-mail within five days of the session attended and a hard copy of the certificate in the mail within 10 days of the session attended.

Group Training: Does your institution or organization want to utilize DEC's Learning Decks for professional development for your employees? Please contact to discuss group discount rates or specific topics of interest.

DEC member price per Learning Deck: $25 (please e-mail for member code)
Nonmember price per Learning Deck: $35

Successfully Facilitating Development Through Daily Routines
Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST

Systematic Monitoring of Young Children's Social-Emotional Competence and Challenging Behaviors

Date: Wednesday, January 27, 2016, at 1:00pm - 2:00pm EST

Home Visiting in Early Childhood Special Education: Effective Strategies and Practices

Date: February 10, 2016, at 1:00pm - 2:00pm EST

News & Resources from UNC's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

FPG's Autism Experts Post New Free Online Learning Module on "Social Narratives"

Social narratives describe situations for learners with autism by providing relevant social cues, explanations of the feelings and thoughts of others, and descriptions of appropriate behavior expectations.

Teacher of the Visually Impaired Vacancy

The counties served include but are not limited to Harnett, Lee, Moore, Montgomery, Richmond, Scotland, Hoke, Cumberland, Robeson, Bladen, Columbus.

Closes 12/7/15.

Resources/Ideas You May Find Useful

Christmas Craft Idea

You need:

Christmas tree stencil

Puffy paint (available at Wal Mart in craft section)

Magic marker

Garage sale stickers for Christmas lights

Use the marker to dot the tree stencil for places to put the lights.

For your Braille readers, place dots of puffy paint on tree (let dry for a day before using!)

For children with visual crowding, you may want to space dots more apart from one another

Have children find the dots and peel the stickers off and place on the dots!

The stickers are raised slightly over the puff paint so your Braille children will be able to feel them.

Resources/Ideas You May Find Useful Contd.

Reindeer Snack

You need:

1/2 toasted English muffin

Cream cheese or peanut butter for fur

Raisins, dates or chocolate chips for eyes

Pretzel twists for antlers

Maraschino cherries for a nose

Assemble and enjoy!

Santa Reads Braille - Braille Works

Letters from Santa Claus in Braille Because sometimes, "it takes more than seeing to believe." Reach Out To Santa It's what every visually impaired child already


O & M Information

Did you know that it's never too early to begin teaching your blind baby orientation and mobility skills?

Even if your blind infant is only a few months old and certainly isn't moving anywhere on her own, orientation and mobility is still a key factor to future independence and many of the basic teachings can begin as early as infancy.

You may now be asking...

What is Orientation and Mobility, anyway?

Orientation and mobility training (usually abbreviated O&M) is really just another way of saying that blind people need to be taught how to get around independently. Orientation skills help people figure out where they are and mobility skills help them move about.

If your baby isn't walking (and it's perfectly normal for crawling and walking to be delayed in visually impaired children), you can still help your baby learn about the environment and pick up on clues and cues that will tell them where they are and what's coming up next. You may not be ready to teach your baby how to walk with a cane, but you can lay the foundation for basic orientation skills now while your baby is still very young.

Directions and Body Awareness

A very basic place to begin is with directions and body awareness. Whenever you have the opportunity, point out directions like left, right, in front, and behind. Get used to saying things like, "Your ball is next to your right knee," rather than, "Your ball is next to you." Teaching your baby orientation skills means that you too will have to learn how to talk about orientation properly.

Learning about the self and how the body is connected is a very important beginning skill for blind babies. Play games where you name body parts, sing "Head & Shoulders," and name body parts while in the bath. Most orientation begins with the person and then moves out to the environment. In other words, when directing a blind child across the room you would refer to their position first (move forward, turn left, etc.) then tell them where things are located in relation to their own body (the door is on your right). It wouldn't make sense to say something like, "The door is over there." Understanding directions and body parts is very important.

If your child has light perception, use this to your advantage when talking about directions. Point out that the open window is on their right or play with flashlights and have them grab the light or point to it. Being able to decipher open windows or doors, find light sources, or see lighted pathways will help your child tremendously when they begin moving around on their own.

Environmental Sounds

Besides light and directions, sounds play a very important role in orientation. Teach your baby to listen to the cars going by on the street, to the refrigerator humming in the kitchen, or to the sounds of the television downstairs in the living room. Point out that far away sounds are quiet or muffled and pick out important sounds in your house or neighborhood (each room in your house may have a particular sound like a clock ticking or a sink dripping).

Pay close attention to sounds that will help your child get around when they are older, such as cross walk signals or car horns beeping. Also teach them about dangerous sounds they will want to avoid, like a growling dog or a truck backing up.

Games You Can Play Now

Of course, your baby is still just a baby and probably responds best to fun and games, so why not make up orientation games? Here a few that we like to play with our son, Ivan:

Listening Play: One of Ivan's favorite games is to throw his blocks and listen to what they hit. We set him up in the living room with a box of blocks and surrounded by different targets (a cookie sheet, a toy drum, the carpet, the tile floor behind him, etc). He throws blocks in different directions then waits to hear what he hit. This helps him learn to listen and to identify objects in different locations around him.

Cane Play: See if you can get a hold of a cane for your baby now, even though they aren't walking yet. We think it's a great idea to familiarize your child with the object that will be so important to their independence when they get older. You can begin teaching them now that canes make different sounds and feel different in your hand when you touch different objects. Sit your baby in your lap and hold on to the cane with him while you tap carpet, tile, wood, plastic, and other surfaces. Describe the difference in sound and feel.

Texture Play: Touching different textures with your hands is also very helpful in understanding what's around you. Take your baby for a walk down the street and have her touch everything while you describe it for her. Some blind babies will react negatively to certain textures, such as sticky or gooey things. If you encounter this problem, put together a "sticky box" where you fill a box with all sorts of sticky things your child just hates to touch. Try to play with the box a few times a week in order to desensitize them. And feeling doesn't stop at the hands! Be sure to get their feet in that box, too!

Pointing Play: Another fun orientation game can be to point to things as they go by, like cars going by on the street outside your home. You can close your eyes and join in, too!

Have fun with your baby while you teach them how to pay attention to their environment. These simple games can motivate your child to move independently when they get older and will make their future orientation and mobility training seem easy and natural.

*Article from

Spot Light on Resources

Bryce Martin Foundation

Who they are:

Bryce Martin was born with a rare disorder that limits his vision. His friends and family started the Bryce Martin Foundation to support children & families with visual impairments.

What they do:

The Bryce Martin Foundation supports and assist children with visual impairments by helping fund items such as:

· sensory kits

· service & guide dogs

· mobility classes

· therapy equipment

· braille machines

· glasses and sunglasses

· Exploration Learning Center and so much more...

Upcoming event:

2016 Kids Helping Kids Walk & Festival

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lake Lynn Community Center

7921 Ray Road Raleigh, NC 27613

Activities include

Full lakeside loop

Bouncy slide

Sensory stations

Face painting

Silent auctions

Braille learning tools and more

Find out more!

VI Institute

On November 18th, twelve members of ELSSP/VI attended the VI Institute sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The presenter was Dr. Cindy Bachofer, "a low vision consumer who brings years of personal and professional experience on the subject" as well as experience on "how to create enthusiasm with low vision students to use low vision optical devices". ELSSP/VI staff were "given the opportunity to learn how low vision optical devices are used and how to apply that experience towards instructing their low vision students (hands on)".

Make It/Take It

On November 23rd the Eastern Region ELSSP/VI staff members hosted a Make It/Take It workshop in Greenville. Andrea Blackwood from East Carolina University Teacher Support Program presented on adapting books. The Teacher Support Program provided books and the materials needed to adapt the books. Each participant was able to go home with at least one adapted book to use with their students.

December Staff Birthdays

December 14th Pam Bye

December 24th Heather Lister

December 29th Nancy Kirby-Sauls

Director's Spotlight

By: Bethany Mayo, Director ELSSP-VI

Lori Blaney

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Lori Blaney is one of our newest employees and has recently relocated from Craven County to Wake County to join our team. Lori has a 22-year old son who graduated from Appalachian State University and is currently working as a Graphic Designer at Epic Games in Cary, NC. Lori is very happy to be living closer to her son now that she is living in the Raleigh area.

Lori loves to travel and her passport has seen many places. For four years (2010-2013) she took high school student ambassadors abroad each summer. Her travels included France, Italy, and Greece. Japan, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Italy, France, and Greece. She has also traveled to British Columbia, Germany and the Bahamas as well as many places in the United States.

Lori has 25 years of teaching experience and has served in many roles during that time. She has taught in a classroom setting as well as an itinerant teacher. She is a certified Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (SEFEL) Coach and has participated and provided many preschool staff development trainings. Most of Lori’s career has been with the Craven County Preschool Exceptional Children’s Program. She is also an adjunct instructor for Craven Community College where she has taught Early Childhood EDU courses for the past 20 years.

Lori has expressed great excitement and appreciation to be a part of the Early Learning Sensory Support Program (ELSSP). She will begin taking courses with North Carolina Central University in January 2016 to pursue her add on Visually Impaired Teaching License. Lori has jumped right into her position with great enthusiasm and has already shown great leadership skills. Lori has shared her experience and knowledge as a SEFEL Coach and Trainer with our leadership team and has participated in the planning of SEFEL training modules to be presented to staff over the next few months. Thanks Lori for being the Director’s Spotlight!

Photo Credits