November 2016

As the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, we all think about what we are grateful for.  I am so fortunate to have much to be grateful for…my children, my family, the ability to share a meal with them and enjoy their company. 

There are those that are less fortunate - and I don’t mean financially, I mean that they are not able to do the things that most of us can do.  Fortunately, there are so many organizations that help with so many different challenges.  I attended the Assistive Technology Conference at Rachel Carson Middle School on November 12 and learned about some of these organizations. 

First, did you know that George Mason University hosts the Helen A. Keller Institute for Human Disabilities? Moreover, this institute sponsors, a free program sponsored by the Virginia Department of Education.  They create free accessible instructional material for qualified students in Virginia to promote meaningful and equal access to the general curriculum.  A mouthful, I know.  So, what does that mean?  Say your child is unable to flip the pages of a book that he or she must read.  That book can be made available on line and it can be read out loud to your child.  From their website:

  • Learning Ally books are read by content matter specialists and are designed to be clear and understandable, with students who have disabilities in mind.
  • Speed controls allow students can speed up or slow down the rate at which the book is read.
  • Students can easily click to navigate by pages, chapters or sections as well as add their own digital bookmarks.
  • Can be read on Daisy players or PC, Mac, IOS, and Android devices using the free downloadable software or apps provided by Learning Ally.
  • Content is "Reflowable", meaning the text is optimized to fit the page regardless of font size.
  • For audio recordings in the “VOICEtext” format, the text will be highlighted as it is read which reinforces word recognition, improves fluency, builds vocabulary and develops decoding skills.

Helpful – yes? I also learned about another resource.  The Virginia Family Special Education Connection contains a host of useful information on education resources available to Virginia families.  From their website:

This website provides a one-stop-shop for parents, families and caregivers of children with special needs to:

  • Access local school system contacts and disability services in your community
  • Explore an abundance of resources to help your child succeed.
  • Learn about and plan your child's educational program
  • Understand your legal rights and responsibilities

I will be adding this site to my list of resources.  I wish somebody had told me about this website when I first found out that my daughter has CP.  It’s sort of a one-stop shop for a whole lot of information that I had to gather from various places, making it more difficult for me to wrap my head around what happens after my child was diagnosed. 

Lastly, I heard about a young lady in Fairfax County Public Schools who is an AT (Assistive Technology) Ambassador.  Read more about Hope here.  Apparently, Hope gave a highly inspirational speech at the Assistive Technology Conference.  I was hoping to share that speech with you but as of this writing, it has not been posted yet.  However, I was able to find this video that I think is super as well.  If your child is old enough to benefit from a few inspirational words, please share this video with them.  More about Hope later.

So much to be grateful for…there are tons of institutions and organizations whose mission is to help, guide and promote our special kids.  If you know of such a resource, please post it on my forum and share your information with other parents who could use the information to benefit their journey.