Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Transitional Services

June 10, 2021 American Printing House Episode 31
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Transitional Services
Chapters
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Transitional Services
Jun 10, 2021 Episode 31
American Printing House

EDITORS NOTE: College Success @ Perkins is now available to students in grades 9-12.

On this episode of Change Makers, we highlight the numerous services available with a discussion lead by members from APH, AERBVI, College Success @ Perkins and VisionServe Alliance.

On this Podcast (In Order of Appearance)

  • Sara Brown, APH Public Relations Manager
  • Kathryn Botsford, Digital Content Strategist and Lead Researcher, APH ConnectCenter
  • Olaya Landa-Vialard, Director, APH ConnectCenter
  • Lee Nasehi, President & CEO, VisionServe Alliance
  • Mark Richert, Interim Executive Director at Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Leslie Thatcher, Director, College Success @ Perkins
  • Paul Ferrara, Communications Accessibility Editor, Dot6
  • Mandy Lau, Reach and Match
  • Emily T., This I Believe speaker

Additional Links

Webinar Links

Show Notes Transcript

EDITORS NOTE: College Success @ Perkins is now available to students in grades 9-12.

On this episode of Change Makers, we highlight the numerous services available with a discussion lead by members from APH, AERBVI, College Success @ Perkins and VisionServe Alliance.

On this Podcast (In Order of Appearance)

  • Sara Brown, APH Public Relations Manager
  • Kathryn Botsford, Digital Content Strategist and Lead Researcher, APH ConnectCenter
  • Olaya Landa-Vialard, Director, APH ConnectCenter
  • Lee Nasehi, President & CEO, VisionServe Alliance
  • Mark Richert, Interim Executive Director at Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Leslie Thatcher, Director, College Success @ Perkins
  • Paul Ferrara, Communications Accessibility Editor, Dot6
  • Mandy Lau, Reach and Match
  • Emily T., This I Believe speaker

Additional Links

Webinar Links

Speaker 1:

Welcome to Change Makers, a podcast from APH. We're talking to people from around the world who are creating positive change in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Here's your host.

Sara:

Hello, and welcome to Change Makers. I'm APH is Public Relations Manager, Sara, and today we're talking to the flagship partners for the APH Transition Hub. That includes AERBVI, Compass Success @ Perkins program, and VisionServe Alliance. We'll learn what's being done to help transition age students, how these organizations support, transition in what they want to see in the future. Then we'll check in with Partners with Paul and later hear a special essay from an Ohio State School for the Blind senior. Now I'm going to turn it over to APH's Digital Content Strategist and Senior Researcher for the ConnectCenter, Dr. Kathryn Botsford. She's going to talk to the panel of transition partners about what they're doing to support the transition process and the brand new transition hub that's coming soon to the APH ConnectCenter and CareerConnect.

Kathryn :

Hi everybody. Thank you for joining us. I am Kathryn Botsford . I am a guest here today and I work in the APH ConnectCenter and I have some friends here , um, who are going to enlighten us about the , the wonders and power of transition and transition services. So , um, just a quick introduction, we have , uh, Leslie Thatcher from Perkins and she's actually from Perkins Compass, but she's gonna represent , uh, Perkins for us today. Thank you, Leslie. We have Lee Nasehi, who's the CEO at VisionServe Alliance, and she's going to join us as well. And we have Mark Richert, who's the executive director, the Interim Executive Director, for AERBVI or the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of People who are Blind and Visually Impaired. We also have Olaya Landa-Vialard who's the Director of the ConnectCenter. So thank you all for joining us today to share your insights and wisdom about transition. So I guess my first question is going to go to Olaya. O laya can you tell us about the APH Transition Hub and what users can expect when that gets launched?

Olaya:

Hi, Kathryn. Yeah. Thanks. I'm sure I'd be happy to tell you about that. Um, well, the APH ConnectCenter Transition Hub. Um, it, it's going to be a place where , um, college counselors, transition counselors can visit to get , um, an updated listing of transition services and entities from around the country , um, that may not be available. And not that we know of are not , is not available anywhere else out on the, on the internet. Um, where, when people come to the transition hub, they're not only going to see , um, a list of entities around the country that provide transition services. Um, but they're going to be able to interact with the pages that are set up for each of those separate entities, where they can see videos of the , um, individuals who are heading off those transition services. Um, they'll get to see videos of students who have gone through those transition programs and hear how those programs have helped them make that transition from high school to college or vocational program or high school to work. Um, and so we're really excited about that and that's where it's going to be a little different in that people will be able to actually hear the stories of individuals who have actually gone through those programs and , um, be able to actually see the individuals who are helping run those programs. And so it's kind of putting the face to the name and , um, you know, and getting that firsthand experience from, from someone like themselves who will be going through some of these programs. So , um, they'll that that's gonna make it a little different from other areas that people might go to search for transition programs, where it's just , uh , a stagnant list of, of different programs that are available out there. This is going to be a little more interactive and a little more , um , personalized for each of those transition programs.

Kathryn :

That sounds exciting. I can't wait to see it. I follow up question to that. So why create a transition hub? I mean, when was it that you realize that something like this was , was needed? How did, how did this come about?

Olaya:

Well, I think, you know, we, with, with our CareerConnect site, which the Transition Hub has been to kind of live there , um, as part of the APH ConnectCenter , um, you know, and putting together or restarting this National Transition Conversation , um, which involves , um, leaders from the different transitions and agencies from around the country. Um, you know, we just noticed that there's not a really good comprehensive , uh , location where we can find a list of all of these , um , transition programs where we could reach out to say, "Hey, we're starting this national transition conversation. We want you to be involved in the discussions." Um, so because of course transition agencies are different for different parts of the, there are different needs and, you know , different populations. Um, now, however we do have at the APH connect center, we do have the directory of services. So people can find information about a transition service that may be available in their area, but it's not a comprehensive list in one place. Like you have to search for it , uh, either by your state or by location. So it's a little different. And in that sense, there , again, it's more like a stagnant list, where the Transition Hub will really give a bigger picture of what is available through those, through those particular transition programs that people can, you know, it's almost like shopping for the Transition Program, right? It's like a catalog where you're going and you're able to see what, you know, what one transition program is doing versus another transition program. So I think it it's going to help , um, our students , um, and our counselors who are helping these students find a better fit than what they could find by just going to a directory and saying, okay, this, this place offers a transition service because you're gonna actually be able to see the people who are involved in that transition program. You're going to actually get to hear from the students who have participated in that transition program and how that helped them , during their transition period. So , I mean, that's kind of what we, we noticed , um , when we were putting together, we're all basically restarting the national transition conversation . So , um, I just think it was just a big piece of that, that we felt was missing , because there's nothing like hearing from the actual people who are actually doing the program , you know, putting the programs on and nothing like hearing the experiences of individuals who have gone through those programs and how it has , um , affected their lives.

Kathryn :

We're Going on with question number three. So we have our partners here , um, VisionServe Alliance, AERBVI and Perkins Compass , um, Mark, Leslie , and Lee, if each of you maybe could take a moment and tell us a little bit about your organizations. Um, do you want to start with Mark?

Mark:

Sure. No Problem. Mark Richert, here. Uh , Interim Exec for AER. I hope everyone within the sound of my voice knows about, AER, if you don't , uh, you'll get a little glimpse here in the next 20 seconds or so. Um, we are the professional membership organization in our blindness community, which means if you are a teacher of students with vision impairments and orientation, mobility experts, a vision rehab therapy person, a related services type, and the administrator working in the blindness biz. Uh, you are, or you should be one of our members. And that mostly means for, for this conversation, that a lot of the folks who are our members, do you spend a fair amount of their time working with transition age, young people, and I hope bringing a great deal to that table and helping that young person translate from the high school years on into college career.

Kathryn :

Thanks Mark. That's great. As a proud AER member, myself and a teacher who has worked with transition age youth , um, I certainly recognize , uh, the tremendous resource that AER has been to me , uh, in supporting those kids. Um, speaking of, of resources. How about Lee ? And can you tell us a little bit about , um, how VSA or VisionServe Alliance supports transition?

Lee:

Yeah , sure . Thanks Kathryn. So VisionServe Alliance is actually a North American Association , uh , primarily of private nonprofit organizations, providing services to people of all ages who are blind, visually impaired. So, you know, we have dog guide schools and schools for the blind. Um, and a lot of our members are community-based organizations providing a comprehensive menu of vision rehabilitation services. Most of whom include transition services. Our organization is dedicated to training and providing resources to the leadership teams of those organizations so they can fulfill their missions. And so some of our conferences and our webinars are focused on the subject, but I'd say at least 60% of the 130 or so organizations that belong to visions or provide some type of transition service in different states across the country. And , um, we were very involved with the beginnings of , of this program and it's wonderful to see it flourish. You know, I personally know students that they're grown- ups now , um, but they were students going through transition and have blossomed into just really wonderful professionals. And I think many of them would credit the experiences. They were afforded through a transition program at one of these community-based organizations.

Kathryn :

Thanks for sharing that. Um, our final, our final guest, our final partner is Perkins. And , uh , Leslie, we have you here representing Perkins and I know Perkins is big and, and you are representing many hats today, but if you could maybe just tell us how Perkins is supporting transition, that would be awesome.

Leslie:

So , um, thank you so much for having me today. Um , like Lee , we've been part of different conversations with APH for a while . The value, the importance of transition and Perkins as an institution , um, has integrated it into its campus-based experiences. We have a whole Office of Transition, like most schools for the blind working with our students, age 14 to 22 to identify their next best steps , um, as they head into the future and graduate from high school. Um, but Perkins is also embracing transition as a more complex task for some of the students outside of Perkins who are in their homeschool environment and they , um , need additional support to have successful transitions into whatever their next step is. And so I represent, not just the Perkins program for students age 13, or age three all the way up to age 22, but our transition programs , um, under the Perkins umbrella also include programs such as Compass that Kathryn referred to, which is a virtual transition program for students aged , um, basically grade nine through grade 11 nationally, and it's virtual using a coaching model to help students articulate goals and identify steps to move forward. Um , and then Perkins has also launched a career launch program, which is typically for older students, but it catches that transition age for , um , it works with students age 18 to 30. And so we are , um, innovating and taking the learning that we all have from the field and trying to integrate it to meet the needs. And I'm, I love that APH has identified the need to have a coherent resource for families and , um, practitioners out there in the field , um, so that we can go to a trusted source and look up information to find the best match for services for our different students. So I'm thrilled to be a part of this, and I know Perkins is thrilled to support it, and it's going to make transitions better for all of our students across the country. So , um, we're happy to be here today.

Kathryn :

We're excited that you're part of this program too. Thanks a lot. Um, back to back to you guys, the next question is what does trans , what does transition look like and how do you support it? Um, so you, you may have touched on that a little bit, but , uh, if not, this is your time to kind of , uh, to broaden your discussion. So , uh, Leslie, since we have you right here, let's do it in the opposite, the opposite direction. Um, what does transition look like and how does your organization support it?

Leslie:

Boy, that's a, that's a chunky question. Um, I will , um, so transition looks very different for each student. Our students are very diverse. They bring different strengths and they bring different challenges to , to their transition age, right? When we think of the growth of a individual between the ages of 14 and 22, we know enormous growth happens. And so , um, from the Perkins perspective, we bring that individual and individualized attention to each individual student. Where at large, we know that transition is sometimes coordinated and sometimes would benefit from additional coordination. When we think of the services of a TVI of related service providers, orientation and mobility specialists, parents, teachers, maybe a college counselor, if a student's lucky or, u m, some other vocational rehab counselor, u m, through a student's state or other guidance that a student might have. U m, there's a lot of different things to consider as students engage in the act of transition and, and it's a big world out there. And, u m, I certainly know it can be confusing. So, u m, we work at Perkins and we work with folks like, u m, APH, AER VisionServe to help ease that transition, make it make more sense. U m, so the parents and students understand there's a range of options and there's a range of timelines that might improve the success of transition. U m, so we, we w ant t o empower people with knowledge so they can make better informed decisions over the l ongterm for greater success. I h ope that answers your question.

Kathryn :

That's a great answer. That's a great answer. Thank you, Lee . Same, same question to you. What does transition look like and how does your organization support it?

Lee:

Sure. So I'm gonna answer from the perspective , um , of, of having been a provider in a Florida agency, because I'm most familiar with their programs and , uh, Florida has a pretty robust network of private providers. I believe there are 18 organizations throughout the state of Florida that cover every County and all of them provide transition services. And so they're community-based organizations and , uh, start working with children , um, as young as 14 and would offer afterschool on the weekends. Um, and the summertime , uh, over school breaks a variety of programming to fit that student's schedule. Um, that it could be tutoring where they need in specific classes that they're struggling with in school, always included work experience and paid work experience. By the way, I believe that's required year round now. Um, field trips, overnights , in the summer times they would organize camps where the students would spend at least two weeks in the dorms on at colleges around the state of Florida. So they could start to experience what that would be like when they went to college , um, uh, learning , uh , how to create a resume, mock interviews. Uh, it was arranged with community employers , uh , and oftentimes that the Light Houses to have the HR directors themselves interview students in preparation for them pursuing jobs themselves. So , uh , a whole host of things just as Leslie said, to meet the individual needs of those students, but a pretty broad menu. And , and this is all working around them, going to school and many times, you know , participate , of course this is pre pandemic, that I'm thinking, but, you know, being involved in sports and band, how do you work around that? But that was the job of the community-based organizations to work around that and meet the needs of the student and that family.

Kathryn :

Great. Thanks . Thank you. That's that's that's great information. Um, Mark, bring us home. What does transition look like and how does AER support it?

Mark:

Well, I guess I'll do the second one first , uh , you know, AER is being a professional membership association. Our focus day-to-day, isn't supporting the professionals , uh, who are our frontline advocates, conquerors , uh , go-getters to help , uh , particularly , uh, you know, young people on the education side, young people , uh , through the whole transition process of the extent to which AER can lay claim to helping with the transition process and helping kiddos directly. It's really through supporting the professionals, making sure that they're equipped with the most robust array of continuing education, professional development opportunities , uh , et cetera. And , uh , one can not , uh, oversell the need for , uh, networking and to have teachers who can support each other in creativity ideas for what to do so many of those teachers out there are , uh, you know, spending more time , uh , in , in cars, traveling from one site to another when we were allowed to travel. So you know, there's a certain amount of isolation among professionals out there. So hopefully if AER is doing our job. We're helping our blindness field , uh, with connecting individual professionals with each other. So I believe that contributes. So the mix, but I want to go back to fundamentals for a second. So transition often people hear this word and they assume that this is some other set of stuff that maybe you have to apply for, or that you have to beg for in terms of services for kids, but on a very fundamental level , uh, if you're a special ed kid, then you have a right to transition services and the services that should be provided to you or to your child , we as a special ed child, if your child has an IEP, Lord knows that's your ticket in to talking about what does my kiddo need? And as Leslie, so rightly points out that there is no, there is no such thing as you know, this transition package. There , there is an array of stuff in that toolbox and , uh, parents and educators and administrators sitting around those IEP tables, helping to decide the future of a child's educational , uh, you know , specialized instruction, need to help map that out. And so every student is going to be a little different. The classic example I like to bring up here is I don't , I can't tell you how many times that I know the professionals on this call. I've heard this, or probably even have firsthand stories of your own to share of how many students who are blind or visually impaired may be in fact, pretty , uh, you know, rigorous academic performers who managed to accomplish great things in high school, and then go off to college. And six weeks later are just, you know, on a wreck because there are precious or little to no independent living skills , uh , travel skills, et cetera. So, you know, when, when, when you, whoever you are, when you're thinking about transition , uh, think about that, it's really that whole set of life skills. And I think we mean this, when we say this, it can be just about any set of skills training that your individual child may need. Yes, there are these programs out there. Some of our colleagues here on the call are sort of incarnations of the different structures that are available to help support, you know, nationally or regionally the delivery of specific kinds of transition services. Uh, but if you are parent of kiddo who says, in my particular case, you know , uh, my child may not necessarily be going off to college, or even if they are here are the things that are really needed. I think we need to explore X, Y, and Z options. All options are really on the table. And it's important that you talk about them, document them so that kiddo gets those services that my concluding comment will be this. The, there is an expectation, u h, in the law and across the country, t hat that schools work cooperatively with your state vocational rehabilitation system. U h, this works better in some states than others. That's the story of America, but, you know, there is an expectation that schools and state agencies work together. What does that mean as a practical matter for you? It means number one, no one can give you an excuse that there's no money for it. B ut number two, it means that there are an array of professionals. If the educators are not necessarily equipped to provide a certain type of thing for your students, vocational rehabbers certainly should be. U h, a nd number three, there should be a, hopefully the goal is a seamless handoff from school to adulthood. If the services that your child growing up, you know, becoming an adult needs, u h, the system is supposed to work that way. If it doesn't reach out to the rest of us on this podcast and other places in your network, and we'd love to help you make that happen or fix it.

Kathryn :

Thanks Mark. Olaya, we're going to go back to you for a second. So can you tell us , um, how the Transition Hub works together with the supporting agencies to make all this happen?

Olaya:

Okay , sure . Um, so the, the way the Transition Hub is going to work with the supporting agencies, one is by maintaining communication with each of them. So it's not like we're gonna contact them this year and then forget about them for the next five years. So where it's going to be this constant, not constant every day , but you know , more consistent communication , um , with these agencies to make sure one that their information is updated. Um, meaning they're if leadership changes , um, different programs that are offered , um , because they don't always stay the same. I mean, sometimes they change from year to year. Sometimes they changed from every six months to six months. Uh, it all depends on grant funding and, you know, state funding, different, different , um, things can affect what type of programs are offered. Um, so we want to be sure that we are keeping that up to date and so that communication is going to be there. Um, so that's how one way that we would be working , um , with the agencies. And in addition to that, trying to keep the videos updated those interactive pieces, where , um, you know, we don't want a video from this year of a student who went through a transition program and then leave it up there for five years, you know , uh , and we want to make sure that we are getting current experiences of students , uh , or individuals who are going through these programs to make sure that they're on those websites. So that those who are going to these websites are , are seeing that this is new information. These are, these are new programs. These are kids who are actually going through this , um, at the same time that maybe my student or my child is going through this, so that working together, trying to make sure that we keep those things going , um, and current, right. Um, and then of course the other big piece of this, as we'd like to keep working with programs, to organize like webinars and panel discussions and round tables regularly, we already have the National Transition Conversation. So that's one thing that we're doing. But with the Transition Hub, we'd like to gather the , our partners who are part of the Transition Hub to plan for these webinars, these round table discussions, these panels , um, you know, regularly throughout the year and throughout the years , um, to give students and parents and teachers , um, field professionals and employers, the opportunity to not only visit the Hub and get this information, visit the Hub landing pages for all the different organizations, but to also be able to interact with those organizations in real time. So, because I think that that's important too because people don't know what questions to ask because, they don't know what they don't know. And so even looking at the web pages , the landing pages of each of these organizations, they get the information, but there's something about being able to actually interact with the people who are talked about on those pages and questions come up and other people might have questions that they didn't think about. And so having that ability to actually interact with our partners , um, and the transition hub, I think is another big way that we're going to keep , uh, working together with the supporting agencies. This is not just like a one-off and we're going to leave it alone. So that's one of the biggest ways that I see that we're going to continue this , um, this partnership and working together.

Kathryn :

That's awesome. Very dynamic. And I'm definitely not going to just become a stagnant list on the website.

Olaya:

No, Nope. That's not what we want. And we're trying to fix that.

Kathryn :

So, an open question to all of you , um, as the transition hub evolves, where would you like to see it go?

Olaya:

Well, I can start real quick and then I'll let , uh , then I'll let our, our inaugural partners take over. Um, and I, I'm a very big pie in the sky person. So, you know, I just I'm, this is what I really, really, really would like. And this comes from my experience that I had with , uh, when I worked for the , um, uh, Illinois Deaf Blind Program, where we had regional transition , um, summits. And I would love to be able to see as this Transition Hub grows and more pages grow. And we start looking at the different transition programs and agencies and like certain regions of the country to come together and pull resources together. And of course, a sponsorship by APH, to then have these transition summits for kids in those regions. Um, I think that was, I grew so much as a professional in my life, going to these summits and seeing how these kids interacted with , um, the , the different agencies and the different resources that they brought together. Um , it was the most fun I've ever had and I'm an adult I wasn't even in the transition program, but it was, it was, it was the most fun I've ever had because it was amazing how much you could see the change in the students and the families over a span of three days. It was amazing to see that. And so I would love to see this hub lend itself to eventually some regional partnerships where kids can take advantage of the fact that we have all the hub agencies cooperating together and getting to learn about each other, because right now everybody's kind of out there, doing their own thing. But once we get together, people will start saying, Oh, I can help you with this. Or, Oh, we do that. And we can pull that together. And , and I think that's going to make it so much better. And , uh, for the students who we are trying to help , um, through that transition process. So , um, that would be my, where I would like to see this go. Um, so , uh, and now I'll hand it over to the others who, who are the ones who are out there doing the legwork. So don't kill me. That's what I love to be able to see, hopefully it's not impossible. But , um, that , that's where I would love to see this go. Just the opportunity where everybody's here, we're all going to be together. There's no reason that we can't pull together and help our kids even more.

Leslie:

This is Leslie. I, I love that idea Olaya we've, we've kind of batted that around from time to time. I, you know, and I'd love to see as a part of that. Some, whether it's national standards or a more consistent sort of national approach that integrates current developmental psychology, current educational, psychology, current understanding of all of the elements of transition helping happening nationally. Anyhow, there's, there's so many layers occurring right now that are supporting students , um, taking different paths , um, think college and their approach , um, to creating college options for students with intellectual disabilities. I just read a fantastic article about , um, Florida's community colleges offering a bachelor's with very practical hands-on career directive training that really opens up the possibility , um , for students to take their time, not go broke and set themselves up for success. Um, but we, we need a national conversation about that. So I love that idea , Olaya, honestly .

Lee:

This is Lee and I guess my , my greatest hope is that , uh , students across the country , um, and families with students with visual impairment , uh , learn more about the services available and , and connect if they're not already. Um, and so how we get this word out to families and students, and, and they, they see it as valuable and participate in it. Um, I just think it made such a difference in the lives of the kids I saw go through it. I, you know, and I would say, I am the parent of , um , four children and one of my children is blind and has multiple disabilities. And the rest are what's known as typically developing. And I wished all of my kids could have gone through transition because I felt like my son who was blind, got a big leg up with the services that went through it. And I don't know if families and students appreciate that, you know, with, until they experienced it. They, they may not understand just how valuable it can be. So if we got that word out, lots more would participate in this ,

Mark:

Uh, great. And I think , um, the only thing I can really contribute to here is to encourage all concerned, to always remember to , uh, you know, be big and bold and grow and all those good things while somehow keeping it simple and straightforward. Sometimes I know because I am, I've been blind all my life. So I am the son of a mom , uh , who has reported this many times. And I've heard this from other parents as well. Sometimes you can almost provide people too much information, or they'll, they'll find a resource and say, Oh my gosh, in other words, in order to really understand how to do what's right by my kid, I have to master this mass of information. I have to be able to map out this whole network of stuff and people and organizations. It's wonderful to have those resources to turn to, and if there's a way to organize them, et cetera, et cetera. That's wonderful. I do think that there is a crying need, not just in this area, but frankly just about everywhere in the , in the blindness system. Uh, those of us who are nerds and love to talk about all the little details about things and how big and vast and sometimes complicated it can be, can actually be a disservice. So whatever we do moving , moving forward, I hope that built into the plans is that constant sort of voice in the back of our heads saying, "keep it simple, keep it straightforward." Let's make sure that we have a robust set of resources, but that it is streamlined so that people are not overwhelmed when they encounter it. Thanks.

Kathryn :

"Keep it simple." That is very wise Mark. Very wise. All right. Well, we're, we're getting we're , we're wrapping this up and we do have a couple more questions. Um, Olaya, if you have not already done. So how would you explain the Transition Hub to someone who's curious about it?

Olaya:

Yeah. Um, well , um, I think the way I would explain it kind of like an elevator speech, you know, you're just supposed to give it really quick. Um, I would just say the transition hub is , is the one-stop shop or curated up-to-date information about the different kinds of transition programs that are out there around the country. Um, and this can help students, families, teachers , uh , find that right fit for their particular student and their particular situation. That's how I would explain it. Cause just like Mark mentioned before, not all kids are going to go to college, even though I know we push that college, college, college, it may not be the right fit for that particular student. The right fit might be a vocational training program or the right fit might be going straight to a job. And , and there's , those are, those are all appropriate choices for our students. Um, but we can't make those choices for them. They need to make that choice for themselves. But in order for them to be able to make that choice, they have to be able to go somewhere where they can get the information about all the different programs that are available so that they can make educated decisions, educated choices. So that's how I would explain it.

Kathryn :

I like it. I like it. Our final question. Um, Olaya, Mark, Leslie, Lee. Is there anything that I missed or that you want to mention about , um, Transition Hub, transition your organizations? Um, just, this is, this is it. You can, you can share that last nugget.

Mark:

Well, I , I I'll jump in only because thank you Olaya for stimulating a thought in my mind. So as I've mentioned, I've been blind all my life. I'm a lawyer I was very privileged growing up, thank God for amazing families and all of that. Uh, there are plenty of kiddos who don't have any of those advantages. And on top of the privilege that I have, some of those students may actually have been dealing with lifelong blindness. And as someone might say, maybe blindness is the least of their issues and there may be other disability issues kicking around. So I guess one thing that's on my mind is that as we all talk about transition, of course, we want to, you know , push high expectations and having high expectations is also a pretty relative concept because there may be students for whom that array of stuff that happens after school doesn't include any of the options that Olaya mentioned. It may very well be that transition equals equipping a person to the extent that they can to have basic life skills. To potentially live maybe on their own. And the range of opportunities may be limited for that person because of other disabilities they may be living with. My only point is, I can tell you that what some years ago, when I spoke as the commencement speaker at one of the schools for the blind, the person who introduced me, introduced me to some kind of a role model for these students. And I learned after the fact to my embarrassment, that all of the students coming out of that particular school that year, all 13 graduates , uh , really were not students who were even sort of academic at all because of other disabling issues. But even those children, and I might even argue, especially those children deserved. I hope they got it , some kind of transition services to meet their needs. I don't want anybody within the sound of our voice to think that we're not caring about your kid , if that's what your story is all about. So you may see a lot of stuff that looks highfalutin and job and career and college degrees. That's all part of the spectrum. And we dare not forget folks on any part of that spectrum.

Kathryn :

I completely agree. Thank you. Thank you for bringing that out. Um, Lee or, or , uh, Leslie jump in, Leslie . I just want to add ,

Leslie:

I know I appreciate Mark's comments and I , I, you know, I have a motto when I work with any student or a family, which is assume nothing. And , um , in my 30 plus years, working with students in transition in different types of educational environments, I think that that helps us to best hear where that student is coming from to assume that they want to grow and , and reach, and , um , that there may be other things outside their control, what be it , um , multiple disabilities or a home environment where there may be , um, a range of support available. We need to listen carefully and not assume , when we envision what our plan might be for that student , um, or why a student may or may not be working or leaning in on a particular project or task or enrichment activity that we think would be wicked awesome for them. Um, it's complicated. And , um, and that, that's, that's the thing I think I would, I has been the greatest gift of my career understanding that, but , um, it's also sometimes the hardest to listen to when we're busy and moving fast through a lot of different things. And this Hub will help us create a broader range of options for students more quickly , um, rather than having families and practitioners have to Wade through a whole lot of different resources to find the best enrichment opportunity for an individual student.

Lee:

Amen. And just last word as a , as a parent of a child , um, and an administrator that we all want the same things for our kids, regardless of, of their circumstances or disabilities. We want them to be happy and to belong and transition services is just one way that can help you find that for your child.

Olaya:

Hi , um , I'd like to say thank you to the Gibney Family Foundation for their generous support of the APH ConnectCenter. Transition Hub. We couldn't do it without them.

Kathryn :

Thank you all. Thank you all for taking time to , to share your perspectives and for your partnership with the , um, APH ConnectCenter Transition Hub, I'm super excited about this coming out. Olaya when can we expect to see a lunch ?

Olaya:

Um, the APH ConnectCenter Transition Hub is , um , planned for for launching , um, in the summer , um , July of 2021. So, you know, keep , uh, keep a lookout for that. And for some social media, letting everybody know when it's going to be launched and ready to go.

Sara:

Thank you so much Kathryn. The Transition hub is going to make a big difference for so many people. We've put links to the APH ConnectCenter, CareerConnect, the Transition Hub and all the other wonderful partners that were in this podcast. Just check in the show notes for additional information. Now we're going to check in with Partners with Paul.

Paul:

Thanks, Sara. And welcome back to partners with Paul I'm delighted state to have Mandy Lau with me. She's the creator and inventor of Reach and Match.

Mandy:

Thanks Paul.

Paul:

Mandy, welcome to the podcast. Can you tell us what Reach and Match is?

Mandy:

Sure. Um, the Reach and Match is an award winning, play-based, learning system with a research based program for children of all abilities. It enables children with vision impairment or other disabilities to play and learn brraille alongside with their peers. Um , and they can build their physical, cognitive, language and social emotional skills through all the play-based activities.

Paul:

Oh , that's really great. Can you tell us what comes in the kit?

Mandy:

Yes. Um , the learning kits includes full large playmates . Each has a different color and pattern. It also includes 26 sprout and print the tiles , including rep circles, blue triangles , green squares, and yellow pentagons, and each shape has a different pattern as well. And the key , it also includes a round cushion, a portable bag and activity manual.

Paul:

Thank you for that. Can you tell us how reach and match works? Sure.

Mandy:

Um, Reach and Match is a double-sized sensory play. One side of each mat features a texture with a tactile pattern that matches the corresponding tiles. Therefore children can play with matching and shopping patterns, colors, shapes and sounds of the tiles and the other side of the mats with, Oh, we recessive white path and they are shakes that correspond to the same tiles. Therefore children can put the tiles into the alphabetical order and at the same time, they can learn about that Russian spatial concepts and develop motor skills and also the puzzle mats they can make into different horizontal and vertical configurations and that are expandable as well and allow many children to play together. And there are unlimited ways to play.

Paul:

Thank you. I appreciate that. Now I hear there's another product that's coming out in the fall that we're going to be putting out that's part of Reach and Match. It's the, the Replacement Alphabet Tile Set. Can you tell us more about that?

Mandy:

Yes. Uh , this is very exciting because our customers have been requesting it. So it's wonderful that we can offer it at APH now. Um , multiple tile sets would be very beneficial for both individual and classroom activities, for example, the spelling games and many other games that list inside our activity menu.

Paul:

And finally, can you tell us what makes this kit so unique and special?

Mandy:

Absolutely. Um, it is because , uh, Reach and Match is very accessible, fun and friendly to that. It's able to support a range range of children with different ages and many needs. For example, is very tactile and sensory that help young blind children to support pre- braille and body skills. But the program also provides some challenging activities for older children to develop cognitive language and teamwork skills too . Therefore, I believe this creative application can support the children to reach their educational and five-year goals effectively.

Paul:

And Mandy, where can we learn more about Reach and Match?

Mandy:

Um, the activity manual has already included all the activities and games. Um, we recently also developed a series of program videos. So if you are interested, you can contact us directly. The email is [email protected] Also we did two training webinars with APH that you can find from the Access Academy, which include many useful application share by the peers and educators. So if you are interested, I highly recommend you to check them out.

Paul:

It's been really great talking to you, Mandy . Thank you very much for joining us today.

Mandy:

Thanks Paul .

Paul:

We've included in the show notes, a link to Mandy's website, as well as her email address. The product page on aph.org and the links to the two Access Academy webinars on Reach and Match. Thank you for listening and let's turn it back to Sara.

Sara:

Thanks so much, Paul. And before we let you go, we have one more special segment in this podcast. This essay titled "This I Believe" was recorded by Emily W., a graduating senior of the Ohio State School for the Blind.

Emily:

I believe that creativity and being creative can be a great coping skill. In today's ever changing world. People feel that they have lost all fun in their lives or that they've lost all control of what happens next. Today's busy world leaves little time for fun and relaxation. However, there is a way to relieve the stress of a busy day. The world of creativity. I believe that creativity is a great coping skill for anyone to have for a few reasons. First and foremost, it is an activity you can do almost anywhere, any time and any way. Creativity is such a broad term with many varieties grouped into it. The sky is truly the limit with what you can do. How does this tie into creativity, being a coping skill? Well with how open and limitless it is. You can be creative wherever you feel the need. And now with drawing , writing, and editing apps and desktop applications on the rise, you can take it with you. There really is no limit to when and where you can be creative. The second reason is that it's a great tool for refocusing energy. Nervous energy can be hard to refocus and even harder to deal with a constant feeling of nervousness for an upcoming exam or worrying that maybe that presentation didn't go quite like you'd hoped. It can be an awful feeling to deal with at times. And in times like these, I pull up a few videos to edit. It's a repetitive process that once you start is easy to follow. A task like this is incredibly calming. If not because of the process then because of the fact that you're focusing on something else. In some situations, focusing on a project that requires your full attention can help ease the nervousness you might have felt. And lastly, creativity is a world you can control. Everyone has felt helpless. And like they're just being pulled around by fate. At least once in this fast paced world, it isn't uncommon to want to do something. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Once again, the world of creativity provides a solution. If you enjoy writing, there is an entire world at your fingertips where you decide what happens next. Or if you're drawing or editing. You make the decisions on what to make. No one is telling you how to create. No one is giving you any set deadline or criteria to follow and best of all, no one is telling you to be creative at a certain time or in a certain way. It's all up to what you want to make. And when you want to make it, creativity is a skill. I believe everyone should learn as it can help in many ways. Some may think it's exhausting, frustrating, or overall not worth the effort, but in the end, the struggle is what makes it worth it. Once a piece is done, you'll know that it was you who made it. It was you who worked hard and that feeling is worth everything.

Sara:

We hope you enjoyed Emily's essay, and we hope you enjoyed this podcast. Any links mentioned can be found in the show notes, take care and be sure to find ways you can be a change maker this week.