Supplemental Grant to District of Columbia
The Connections Project has been awarded another supplemental grant to work with the District of Columbia Public Schools to address the needs of families and children who are deaf-blind and receiving services through DCPS. Educational professionals, paraeducators, and family members in DC will be invited to participate in established Connections activities including the Special Topics Workshops, Family Leadership Training Project, Summer Institute, and Project SPARKLE. A Deaf-blind Support Team may be established, and will receive training and support as they build their capacity to provide consultation and direction for the delivery of deaf-blind services in DC. Technical Assistance will be delivered on-site by a national consultant with expertise in deaf-blindness. A census of students who are deaf-blind is being completed for schools in the District of Columbia. This will provide essential information in the assessment of needs and the development of programs and services to address the needs.
Over the years, Connections has provided technical assistance around the state and at The Maryland School for the Blind. Some professionals and educational teams request help when they are working with a child who is deaf-blind. As the numbers of students with deaf-blindness in Local School Systems is small, teachers have limited opportunity to develop the necessary skill in deaf-blindness, and need immediate support, training, modeling and mentoring. Often, teachers, parents and other team members ask to "see" demonstrations of instructional strategies being used with students who are deaf-blind. A Demonstration Classroom has been developed at The Maryland School for the Blind to showcase effective strategies for these students. Visitors will see individualized communication systems, academic content instruction, use of assistive technology, integration of related services, orientation and mobility instruction, accomodations for sensory impairments, and much, much more! The classroom is open weekly on Mondays and Thursdays. Observations can be scheduled by completing an Intake/Needs Assessment form, enabling us to provide a visit which best meets the visitor's needs. Follow-up consultation is available to help visitors to implement appropriate strategies in their school and classroom. For more information contact Donna Riccobono
Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Community of Practice
Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) has recently been recognized as the leading cause of visual impairment in children in the United States. As a result, the professional world is inadequately prepared to respond to the fast growing need for effective identification of CVI and interventions for this population.
In the previous grant cycle, a regional collaboration among Maryland, Delaware, Vermont and West Virginia enabled each state to implement a comprehensive mentorship program. The “CVI Multistate Mentorship Project” from the 2003-2008 grant is being extended through the creation of a CVI Community of Practice in which each mentor receivesl further training, while developing the skills of a newly identified set of partners under their mentorship. An annual two-day Mentor/Partner Training Workshop with Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy will be conducted. Mentors and their partners participate in data collection and intervention activities in their respective states. Project staff from each state facilitate ongoing communication and oversight of the training initiative, coordinating the participation of their mentors and CVI partners in state and multistate videoconferences, teleconferences and webinars. The curriculum includes evaluation components built on the CVI Outcomes and Performance Indicators, and these will be used to measure project effectiveness.
Workshop topics include causes and characteristics of CVI, coexisting conditions, assessment, monitoring techniques, appropriate goal development, program interventions and adaptations. Webinars are conducted with Dr. Roman and the CVI Mentor teams throughout the process. The training builds the partners’ knowledge and skills through acquisition of current research information, guided practice, application in the field, and evaluation of effectiveness.
As in the previous grant cycle, the CVI Mentor Team is available to provide training to educators working with children who have a diagnosis of Cortical Visual Impairment, or those whose visual behaviors are consistent with CVI. In addition, you may request assessment and intervention planning support for target students. These requests should be coordinated through the Teacher of the Blind/Visually Impaired, whenever possible. Parent permission is required for child-specific consultation. For more information, contact Donna Riccobono
Usher Syndrome Screening Project
Statistically, 3-5 % of all individuals who are deaf or Hard-of-Hearing have Usher Syndrome, characterized by a stable or progressive hearing loss with retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive visual impairment (Indiana Deafblind Services Project, 2000). In Maryland, there were 1251 individuals, 3 -21 years of age, on the 2007 child count who are identified as deaf/Hard-of-Hearing, yet there are only nine students identified on the 2007 deaf-blind census with Usher Syndrome (1% of the individuals who are deaf/Hard-of-Hearing in the state). A team of screeners has been trained and is available to conduct screening in Local School Systems by request. Ongoing support and training is provided to teachers and to families of the children identified with Usher Syndrome. If you are interested in US Screening, contact Donna Riccobono.
Deaf-blind Support Teams
In an effort to build the capacity of Local School Systems to meet technical assistance needs related to students who are deaf-blind, Connections hopes to establish an expert team in each LSS to serve as the front-line provider of TA, with support and training provided by the project to the expert team as needed. A pilot program is being conducted, focusing on one LSS during each of the five years. The development and training of DB Support Teams addresses local needs, making TA more immediately and continually available. Further, these teams will serve as a vehicle to disseminate information and resources in LSS, and to assist in the identification of students who are deaf-blind. DB Support Teams participate in several established training activities including the Summer Institute, Special Topics Workshops and Project SPARKLE. Teams also participate in one additional learning experience which may include a self-study program, a series of guided observations at model sites, a workshop on a selected topic, or participation in a web-based course or program. The DB Support Team will select the learning experience which is specific to their needs, and Connections staff will facilitate the final development and delivery of the activity.
A DB Support Team currently exists in Harford County. Please contact the Connections Project if you are interested in establishing a DB Support team in your LSS.
of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education
Special Education Program
Donna J. Riccobono
Donna J. Riccobono
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