Change Makers: A Podcast from APH

Celebrating TVI's

May 27, 2021 American Printing House Episode 30
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Celebrating TVI's
Chapters
Change Makers: A Podcast from APH
Celebrating TVI's
May 27, 2021 Episode 30
American Printing House

On this episode of Change Makers, we are celebrating TVI's. We'll learn more about the field and the important work they do and the need for more TVI’s.  After that, we’ll check in with Partners with Paul.

Podcast Participants (In Order of Appearance)

  • Sara Brown: APH Public Relations Manager, [email protected]
  • Emily Coleman: Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind, [email protected]
  • Kristin Oien: Specialist for the Blind / Visually Impaired, Minnesota Department of Education  [email protected]
  • Rachel Bigham: M.Ed., TVI, COMS, Visual Impairments Specialist, Zanesville City Schools, [email protected]
  • Leanne Grillott: APH National Director of Outreach Services, [email protected]
  • Paul Ferrara: Partners with Paul Host, CPACC, ADS, Certified Braille Transcriber Communications Accessibility Editor, [email protected]
  • Joyce Lopez: Product Developer, PlayAbility Toys
  • Dr. Marty Fox: President, PlayAbility Toys


PlayAbility Toys Additional Links
Company Page

Nurture Smart

PlayAbility Toys at APH

Rib-It Balls 14 inch
Rib-It Balls 18 inch
Rib-It Balls 30 inch

Paint-Pot Palette

Paint by Number Safari Tropical Rainforest
Paint by Number Safari Under the Sea
Paint by Number Safari Backyard Creatures
Paint by Number Safari Desert Creatures

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of Change Makers, we are celebrating TVI's. We'll learn more about the field and the important work they do and the need for more TVI’s.  After that, we’ll check in with Partners with Paul.

Podcast Participants (In Order of Appearance)

  • Sara Brown: APH Public Relations Manager, [email protected]
  • Emily Coleman: Superintendent of the Texas School for the Blind, [email protected]
  • Kristin Oien: Specialist for the Blind / Visually Impaired, Minnesota Department of Education  [email protected]
  • Rachel Bigham: M.Ed., TVI, COMS, Visual Impairments Specialist, Zanesville City Schools, [email protected]
  • Leanne Grillott: APH National Director of Outreach Services, [email protected]
  • Paul Ferrara: Partners with Paul Host, CPACC, ADS, Certified Braille Transcriber Communications Accessibility Editor, [email protected]
  • Joyce Lopez: Product Developer, PlayAbility Toys
  • Dr. Marty Fox: President, PlayAbility Toys


PlayAbility Toys Additional Links
Company Page

Nurture Smart

PlayAbility Toys at APH

Rib-It Balls 14 inch
Rib-It Balls 18 inch
Rib-It Balls 30 inch

Paint-Pot Palette

Paint by Number Safari Tropical Rainforest
Paint by Number Safari Under the Sea
Paint by Number Safari Backyard Creatures
Paint by Number Safari Desert Creatures

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.

Speaker 2:

Hello, and welcome to change makers. My name is Sarah Brown and I'm APH is public relations manager. And this week we are celebrating teacher appreciation week and we're talking to TV eyes to learn more about the field and the important work they do. And the need for more. We'll also have a check-in with partners with Paul and this podcast is going to be moderated by the superintendent of the Texas school for the blind in Lee Coleman. Emily, I'm going to hand it over to you to do the introductions and get this podcast rolling.

Speaker 3:

Hi, I'm Emily Coleman. I am the superintendent at the Texas school for the blind and visually impaired, and I am coming up on my 10th anniversary in the field as a professional. Um, I'm also a certified teacher of the visually impaired , um, but I'm also the parent of a child who is blind with multiple disabilities and he's 16 years old. So that's how long I've really been in the field. Um, well, my name is Rachel Begum and I am a teacher of the visually impaired Anni certified orientation and mobility specialist in Zanesville city schools in Zanesville, Ohio. And I am also the program manager for the Ohio state university program in visual or an orientation and mobility , um, as well. Hello, my name is Kristin Owen. I have been a licensed teacher of the blind and visually impaired and certified orientation and mobility specialist. Uh , for over 30 years, I am currently the specialist for the blind and visually impaired within Minnesota department of education.

Speaker 4:

I I'm the national director of outreach services with the American protect house for the blind, but I also am a adjunct professor at Florida state university teaching a variety of courses in the visual impairments program, as well as a doctoral student in the same program.

Speaker 3:

All right. So the first question as , um , a TBI or a teacher of students with visual impairments provides direct or special education services related to vision loss, can any of you describe a typical day in the life of a TVI who wants to take that one? Well, I guess since that's my, my full-time gig , um, I will be glad to address that, but , um, I don't have typical days. Um, every day is different , um, in the life of a TBI , some days I , um , am running to seven different buildings to see, you know, seven different students. Some days I am transcribing braille. Um, some days I'm teaching orientation mobility. Um, since I also have that certification , um, some days I am talking with teachers , um, to help adapt , um , materials for the classroom, help figure out maybe what devices or other , um, accommodative equipment might be helpful for that student. Um, some days I'm just helping my kids through a rough day. Um, it's , it's this full encompassing? Um, no, no two days the same type of environment and I absolutely love it. And , um, I, I love the variety in how , um, it constantly makes you be flexible and thinking. And so it's really hard to get stagnant because you're always having to be more creative and coming up with new ideas and new ways to , um, to better serve the students that you're working with. So in a short version of this, that's a typical day for me. It's a pretty good summary. Kristin , is there anything else you'd like to add? I , I agree , uh, being really flexible, lots of driving and dealing with all the nuances of , uh , individual schools , uh , procedures and staff and yeah, but there's so much involved with being an itinerant teacher. Okay. So in our, oh, Leanne , did you want to add something about that?

Speaker 4:

I was just going to say I worked in three large states as a teacher of students with visual impairments and orientation mobility specialist. And I was often the lone Wolf. I was the only one who knew what I was talking about. And so what's great about technology today is that we get to lean on each other remotely much easier, but that typical day doesn't exist. That's the fun part. That's the out about out of the box, thinking that we get to do

Speaker 3:

All right now, a TVI is only one acronym in our field where special education is buried in acronym . So there's a few more here that I'm wondering if any of you want to try to explain, which include T BVI O and M and coms . So what are those acronyms and what do they do?

Speaker 4:

I'll jump in. I'm a teacher of students with visual impairments, a teacher of the visually impaired, a teacher of the blind and the visually impaired. Those are some of the ways that someone might take T V I T S VI or a variety. It really depends on where you are. And if you go to a different country, you're going to hear something even more unique depending on where you are. We don't typically enjoy blind teacher. Um, that's that's while it is a connection, it's the reverse. Some of us might be blind, but not all of us. And then orientation and mobility that O and M it often when you just hear O and M , that is the work that's learning how to travel , uh, with or without a cane , uh, orientation and mobility can involve both. And the comms is the certification saying that you are a certified orientation and mobility specialist. So you can be an orientation and mobility specialist without the comms . And every state is different. Some require this SI getting certified by a specific body and some don't, it really depends on where you are in the United States.

Speaker 3:

How Rachel or Kristen , do you want to add what a coms might do or an O and M provider? Well, I know, oh, sorry. Go ahead, Kristen . Uh , mobility instructors, they provide specialized instruction , uh, and specialized techniques , uh, to teach , uh, students who are blind and visually impaired to know where they are in space and then , um, how to travel safely to places that they want to go. And I would add that , um, you know, a lot of times instruction in orientation, mobility is not just , um, travel and movement, but also social appropriateness in public , um, that also gets addressed largely. Um, and that's kind of a crossover area for teachers of the visually impaired and orientation mobility specialists, because it's important to know, you know, when you're out traveling, how can I seek assistance from a stranger , um , or for somebody in the public if I need to. Um, and so those things are also, you know, kind of part of the umbrella there. All right. What peaked your interest to become a TVI or what did you study in college and Rachel, since you were , you were just talking, you want to go first? Sure. So I have a very , um, interesting journey to becoming a TBI. This is actually my second career in life. Um, and I started out , um, in psychology. That's what my undergraduate degree was in. I wanted to do , um, marriage and family counseling. Um, and that kind of led once I got out of undergrad, I worked , um , at help me grow, which is a early intervention program for birth to three year olds. And , um, through that program, I actually met a mom who was losing her sight. Um, and it was a progressive condition. And part of help me grow is that , um, the service coordinators will help connect parents to services that they need so that they can be the best parent they can be. And so this mom had asked me, you know, what services are out there for people who have lost their vision and what , what can I seek and who can I ask? And I didn't know the answers to those questions. So I , um, I did some research and I asked some people that I knew that were kind of in the educational field, you know, what they, what they had , um , you know , to offer and found out that Ohio state university had a program in orientation and mobility. Um, because there , there weren't a lot of providers in Ohio, like that was a huge , um , a huge issue. It was like, okay, I know what to look for, but now where do I find it? Um, and so once I learned about the program at OSU, I kind of decided like I'm going to help be a solution to this problem. Um, so I applied for the program and ended up getting my , um, orientation, mobility license first , um, and then worked as an ONM for about four years before going back to , um, the Ohio state university to get my master's degree in visual impairments education. Um, so they could also have the TBI portion. Um, so, you know, for me, it all started with a parent who was losing her vision and wanting to find solutions for her and deciding that, you know, I can, I can help be one of the solutions and obviously you can't solve the world's problems, but if I can help this little Southeast corner of Ohio, I'm sure it's going to do it. So that's, that's my story, Kristen , what about you? I would like to just back up and kind of review what a teacher of the blind and visually impaired does. Um , just because I think it's important for folks to understand , um , that students who are blind and visually impaired are , um , general education students first and , uh , general educators are responsible for teaching that general core curriculum and the TBI . Um, uh , one of our main goal, our main roles is to ensure that the gen ed curriculum is accessible to our students. And so much is missed due to sensory loss that we provide those things through the expanded core curriculum or the ECC. And so our instruction , um, supports our students to be able to access the general, the general core curriculum and those , uh , nine expanded core curriculum areas are , um, assistive technology, career education, independent living skills, orientation, mobility, recreation, leisure, self-determination sensory efficiency and , uh , social interaction skills. And that's , uh , that's the amazing and fun part about being a teacher of the blind and visually impaired. We get to work on all those things. So anyway, what peaked my interest , um, I have a very unique story too. I , uh , graduated with a psychology and elementary , uh , degree and I , um, was going in. I wanted to teach , uh , second and third graders. That was my, my whole focus. Um, I could not get my foot in the door as a general education teacher. And I was hired as an emergency hire for a teacher of the blind who was on maternity leave. And I absolutely fell in love with the kids. So I learned braille on the fly. Um, I grew up in Hawaii, they didn't have a program. They held my teaching position and I went back to San Francisco state. Um, and I got my master's degree in VI. Um, and then about eight years later, I went back and got my orientation mobility degree. But , um, yeah, I just, I fell in love with , with these kiddos.

Speaker 4:

Mine is kind of a reverse of both of you. I read a book in the fourth grade, it was called follow my leader about a boy who's 12 who loses his eyesight and very unrealistic. He goes and gets a guide dog at 12 . I want it to be the teacher that came to his house when he had first lost a sight and taught him that secret code and learned how to travel to his friend's house. And I wanted to be that teacher. That's the teacher I wanted . Now I grew up with educators by parents or educators. So that was not an unusual choice to be a teacher, but the teacher of the blind was very unique. So in fourth grade from then on, all you saw were my papers. And anything I wrote for school was digging into the field and learning about it at whatever age level I was at. And when I graduated high school, I had looked specifically for a college that had the program. I lived in Florida, Florida state university had the program. And I can tell you, I was a very young college student at 17. I started and I was knocking on purpose Ponder's door at 17 and saying, when can I get in the program? When can I get in the program? And he said, you've got to wait your two years. And, and so I did , uh, so I was out teaching it 21 , uh, students sometimes almost my age when I was teaching. And when I started in upstate New York to , I want, you have to continue your education and upstate New York, you have to get your master's . And there wasn't a program that didn't make me leave my students. And there's rarely something called a substitute teacher for your students. And so therefore what I did was get an elementary ed masters because that made the most sense for what I was working on and it was available and I didn't have to leave my students, which was , uh , near and dear to my heart. And then when I moved around the United States and then came back to Florida, I was able to , uh , relocate and teach at FSU, but then pursue my doctorate. So it's, it is a love area.

Speaker 3:

I think you're the first person I've ever talked to that has wanted to be one since they were a little kid that wasn't, you know, our students often want to be grow up to be teachers like us, because we're so great of course, but you know, to not have that personal connection with somebody and just want to go into the field. That's great land . So speaking of knocking on college doors , um, Leanne , can you tell us more about college prep programs and what colleges provide the programs needed for somebody looking to become a TVI ?

Speaker 4:

Well, of course I would always say my program is the best, but no there's wonderful programs out there across the United States. Definitely not the, oh, you can find it at every corner you turn or in every state. So you do have to go searching for them. You can always reach out to the American printing house for the blind. You can reach out to me if you want to find different programs and know if there's one in your area, I can help connect you because there are programs, hopefully near enough, there are programs also that are offered it with a virtual , uh , ability so that you can take courses, some require summers or weekends to come in, because this is a sort of hands-on field. So there is some experience that you really do benefit from being face-to-face in person to learn from. So the, there are, it's usually a two year program. There are some that are three year at , if you're looking for a bachelor's and it allows you to go all the way through to your master's , but do look, there are master's programs. And of course there's doctorate programs. The colleges often are looking for people who are just interested in doing something a little different. If you get this degree, you can get a job just about anywhere. You can go anywhere. If, if you are, if your spouse needs to move, don't worry. There's probably a job in that area too. So the flexibility is there and the flexibility is also there to either work independently, independent contractor, you like that feel , go for it, work for a school district, work for a cooperative work for an agency, work for a not-for-profit. So the flexibility is there. And so colleges are looking for people that are kind of out of the box. Now, Rachel and Kristen , both shared that they fell into the field and that's not uncommon in the college environment. I check FSU has, has utilized to encourage people, to look into our field and get into our program is the college of nursing is right across the road. Literally you can walk right across the road. And the college of nursing has 100 slots for students, but they usually have about 300 applicants. It's a helping field helping field. This allows you to really think about what you're doing. Nursing is a helping field as well. We have this wonderful course called anatomy of the eye. So those nursing students might be bought in. When we tell you, you actually get to dissect the cows. So, Hey, it's a beginning. So that's, that's just one of the things that you are often looking for. You're looking for people who might not know about the field, but want to fall into it. And once you fall in , you're staying, this is, this is a career that it's really hard to let go. You love it.

Speaker 3:

Now , uh, you already mentioned anatomy of the eye. What are some other classes that , um, individuals might take , uh , as they're learning to become a teacher

Speaker 4:

Rail, of course is always one that you're going to see it. Every college you're going to learn braille. Now it's not a majority of your students that are reading braille most of the time, but you need to have it in your back pocket to be able to pull out. As soon as you get that student who needs that code to access their education. So that's one of those courses. And then Kristen mentioned that we help make sure the students can access that general curriculum. So you take courses about building making and teaching those accommodations for those students, whether it be using an assistive technology device to make print really large, or maybe it's a device that hooks up to your computer that allows braille to come and a refreshable braille display under your fingertips, or maybe it's learning how to tie your shoes or make your bed in a way that works for you, because you can't see if those corners were tucked in just right. So you're going to have courses that are surrounding those accommodations, but as also as mentioned, that expanded core curriculum, how do you teach social skills for someone who can see those are in those courses? How do you teach, asserting yourself and stating you need something? That's what we help you learn. You're going to learn how to do assessments. We do these , we need to know what our students need. And so we learn to evaluate those students' needs before we start teaching them. That's kind of it in a nutshell, and just like most teaching programs, there's some type of internship where you are providing instructor instruction under the guidance of a certified teacher.

Speaker 3:

Now , Rachel needs , no , you said you were a university instructor. Did you have anything you wanted to add? Um, well I, so much of the program I teach in is actually orientation and mobility, but it is very much the same kind of setup. Um, in our particular area, we do have one year certification programs for , um , individuals who already have their teaching license. Um, and at times actually , um, in recent years, those programs have been grant funded, meaning that tuition is available , um , for students to be able to go. Um, there's just some minor costs. So , um, we're really trying to limit the number of reasons why people can't do it. Um , because you know, a lot of times, especially since a lot of programs are at a graduate level , um, you know, those are people who are working adults. And so that can be really challenging. Sometimes you have a family, sometimes you have, you know , um , your full-time job that might be, you know, kind of competing for your time. And so , um , we've really been trying to work on ways that we can make this an accessible licensure , um, for people who are interested in her passionate. Um, I can't tell you how many times there have been , um , teachers who've had in their class with a visual impairment and that's what piques their interests . That's what makes them want to, you know, know what they, what they can do, what they could do better, what they could do more of , um , to be able to assist those students and maybe any future students that they might have. So that's where our , our really valuable , um, you know, students come from and , and it's just , um , fantastic to see that transition happen. And in my personal life, to working with teachers , um , where my students have been in their class, I've had several teachers who have said, I want to do this and have actually gone in and done the program themselves. So, you know, there's a little bit of pride in that. Um , being able to share your love and passion for the field and being able to see that carried out , um, through some of your friends and other fellow teachers now , uh , grant funding is huge. I'm glad you mentioned that. Um, Leanne , do you know of other special scholarships available for those studying to become a TVA ? Sure.

Speaker 4:

First and foremost, similar to Rachel, reach out to those university programs. Many of them have applied for grants to assist students in those programs, both orientation, mobility, and teachers of students with visual impairments. So definitely reach out to the program you're interested in, and don't be afraid to look in a program that isn't as close to your house. Sometimes those universities actually have one, so don't, don't stop at your own front door. Go, go and check it out. If you're looking for funding to assist you other places, our , um , professional group, the , uh , AER, oh gosh, anyone else could association of the education and the rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired. It's really long. We shortened it to AER that ha often has scholarships. Many local chapters will have scholarships as well. Uh, you can sometimes find scholarships through the council for exceptional students , uh, there a program as well. So look around lions clubs sometimes have scholarships. So there are scholarships around you want to poke the places that, that tend to support the visually impaired. Uh, I've even seen , uh , some sororities like Delta gamma will have , uh , scholarships. They're not necessarily huge scholarships, but boy, $500 will cover your books. So look around. They are there.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. Uh , Kristen, you haven't been up for awhile , so I'm going to throw the next question your way first. So during your time in the field, what challenges have you faced and how did you get through them? Uh, I think one of, as a beginning teacher, I think one of the most difficult situations where the high case loads and , um, just having , um, multiple , um, learners , uh, that were learning braille , um, and just not having enough time in the day to , uh , you know, to do what you needed to do. Um, and the way we worked around that is , uh, created a workload analysis, which included a time spent for , um, the preparation and railing and interlining of material. And also , um, it incorporated travel time and time spent in , um, IEP meetings or , uh , going to the eye doctors with a family. Um, so we really try to address , um, all of the responsibilities that they can better assist the students. And that helped a lot. We were able to , um, you know, show on paper. This is what we spend our time doing. And so, and that helped. Yeah . Uh , another, another big issue. Um, when I first started was not having accessible educational materials in a timely manner. Um, and , uh, the issue is when gen ed teachers had material that needed to be brailled , we need, you know, we'd need at least three days sometimes to braille all this material. Um, and the way we got around that was , um, we developed some , uh, persons centered, one pagers for students to, to show , uh, what their needs were and how teachers could best meet those needs. And we also created some empathy labs for , uh , school staff to experience what it was like , uh, to have a sensory loss , um, with the hopes that they would , um, be much more willing to accommodate and support the student , um, in the, in the ways that we were asking. I like that empathy labs. I haven't heard that term before. Rachel, what about you? Um, I would just say for me personally , um, there , there have been a lot of challenges in my career. Um, but I would, I would agree with Kristin , um, caseload has been huge , um, and in trying to manage that, and especially I , um, we are kind of at the tip of a very rural area , um, in, in Appalachia. Um, and the number of service providers available is very limited. Um, and also the number of schools that , um , recognize the need for service professionals. And , um, I think that it's just, it's challenging to try to , um, allow people to understand just everything that a TBI does. Um, cause it's not just braille and it's not just large print, there's just so many pieces and parts to the puzzle that , um, that factor in that, that take time and they take dedication effort. And so , um, you know, I think that for me is one of the biggest challenges. And then, you know, another challenge is really like, you know, I often am the one consistent through my student's entire school career because I'm with them from the minute they start preschool until they graduate. Um, and in some of my students, because of my ONM license, I actually work with in an , into adulthood through another program. Um, simply because, you know, when you, when you build that rapport and that relationship , um, you wanna watch them succeed. You want to see them , um, just flourish in life and have good quality of life and to see all the successes and celebrate with them. Um, and so, you know, being that close, you really become part of people's family. And , um, I think, you know, sometimes that can be a blessing and a challenge all in one. Um, simply because, you know, you walk through the hard days with your families. Um, it can be an emotionally kind of a difficult journey sometimes, but it's also like one of the greatest blessings. So it's a twofold for sure. We end . Did you want to share any other challenges?

Speaker 4:

What both of them said definitely resonates. I can think of the overloaded case loads and wishing I had a friend to help teach as well as those emotional bonds that you make with, with students and you walk through their life with them. So, you know, I can, I can, that resonates really, truly, I think my largest challenge was that a student who had a progressive , um, health issue and losing a student. So that was probably my most challenging as I, I watched that progression in health. And so was at the funeral and, and I'm still connected with the family. Uh , he that's, the thing is I was a connection to their child. And so therefore I have stayed a connection to them, even though the child is no longer with us.

Speaker 3:

Well, I think you point to an important thing to mention that a lot of people don't know about our field, which is that most of our students have , um, additional diagnoses, complicated medical histories , um, which is what adds so much, very bit variability to our work as well. But what are some other things that you wish people knew about our field? I , I wish people just knew. Um, first of all, who we are that were here that were, that were actual career, we were actual people. I wish that , um, you know, our eye doctors were , um, better educated to be able to share the knowledge of what's available for students. You know, so when they get those initial diagnoses, that those conversations can start happening because a lot of times , um, that information, you know, parents don't know to ask the school. Um, so, you know, students might fall between the cracks , um, simply because they don't know. Um, so I w I wish that more people knew about that, and I wish that more people , um, just knew that the joy of working with students with visual impairments , um, it , it just truly is something that like, it, it has just become lifeblood. Um, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life. So I , if you're somebody who loves helping and serving others, and if that's what you want to do with your life, like, I would definitely encourage you to look more into becoming a teacher for the visually impaired or, or if you're not like a teacher, teacher person even becoming an orientation mobility specialist , um, and , and having a little bit more freedom, you know, of working even with adults. Um, if that's something that you're interested in. So , um, I would encourage you if that's an area that you are passionate about and serving others, look into being a TVI , oh, go ahead, Kristen. I think , uh , Stu students, people who have visual impairments, there is such a low incidence population. Um , many times you can go through your whole life without meeting , uh , someone who's blind or visually impaired. Um, and so I think , uh , a great way to bring awareness, which this is sort of out of the box, but if we had like a national spot, a national ad on TV, very brief , uh, showing , um, people who are blind or visually impaired doing everyday tasks , um, and, and showing that they're capable and , um, you know, just like the rest of us. Um, and then , um, you know, something like, you know, sharing with the general public and you could be the one to teach them how to do all these , uh, how to do and how to function , um, and how to teach them how to succeed. Um, I just think that might bring in awareness. You know, that's not, that's not around enough. Um, and also visiting , um, having students or adults who are blind , uh, visit high schools , um, to share stories and peak interest of students who are in high school. Um, if they're , uh , unaware or not sure about a career focus , um, just having that exposure may help them desire to become a teacher of the blind and visually impaired. Thanks.

Speaker 4:

I wish people knew more about being a teacher of the visually impaired. You don't have to be stuck in a classroom, and you can guess what as a TVI, if you want to be in the classroom, you can, there are schools for the blind where you can be in the classroom. So there , there are options for it, but you don't have to be stuck in a classroom. So if people told you, you know, you're really good at teaching, but you couldn't even fathom the thought of being in a classroom. A teacher of the visually impaired might be what you are meant to be. If you liked the idea of helping similar to my nursing story, but can't stand the sight of blood. This is a helping profession, not a lot of blood in our gate . So again, it's thinking about some of those other careers that it might've put a damper on it, because there was a piece of that career. You couldn't do. This is one that you might actually fit really well with. And again, you have that flexibility to travel and to move. You are not locked into one place. I will tell you, the students might lock you in. You do fall in love with your students, but you have that flexibility to move and grow where you want to. It does that a career that locks you down to, well, if you could only fix airplanes, then you need to be a place where there are airplanes. There's, there's a difference there. So just keep that in mind, there are teachers that fly in planes in Alaska to go see their students think that's cool. Great. The TBI,

Speaker 3:

I was just thinking, as you were talking to Leanne , um, another thing that I do wish people knew more about is that visual impairments are more prevalent than we realize. Um, and the lack of proper identification is a big, big issue. Um, because a lot of times students might have other needs that kind of preemptively seem to Trump , um, their visual access, where if we, if we took the time to make sure they're accessing things appropriately, visually speaking, we might see better gains in some of those areas, other areas that we're working on. And so , um, I kind of want to advocate for, for that too , to our school districts specifically, to make sure that we are doing proper assessment and evaluation and following through with making sure we have that I report , um, before we start the IEP process , um, just so that we're not letting kids slip and fall in between the cracks, because , uh , from, from personal experience , um, you know, when I started at Zanesville, I had a caseload of 16 , um, and in the course of one year of being a full-time person here , um, that case load jumped to 30. So , um, and we're not a big district, we're about a little bit over 3,500 students here. So , um, you know, and that just comes, it comes with education and knowledge and understanding of what to look for. And so I would just encourage school districts to really seek this out as a priority for their students. Um , and for parents to advocate for your kids. Um, you know, if , if you're concerned that they're not able to visually access things in the classroom, ask the questions , um, because it's just so important that they be successful. And in that we're, that does , do you all think there is a need for more TV eyes ? And what do you think can be done to bring more awareness to our field?

Speaker 4:

Well, I'll jump in really fast. I can tell you what I am working on with APH is actual training modules built for guidance counselors to learn more about the field, to be able to share with , uh , high school students looking to go into college. So working on that aspect of letting the people know before they even get to that college door about the field. So that's something that I can tell you right away that we're working on. And then the other thing that we're working on is a, a webinar built for administrators to teach them what the expanded core curriculum is and what a teacher does a basic course in the hopes that those administrators might also encourage others, whether it's already a teacher that's teaching, that's interested in going into it as a, as a continuing ed or some of those high school students that go wandering around

Speaker 3:

Their room. Yeah. There is a national shortage of, of teachers and we definitely need teachers. Um, so yeah, I agree a thousand percent , um, we, we need , um, the people who we need teachers, but we need teachers who really care. We need teachers who are really dedicated and who want to do their best for, for students. And , um, and so I , I definitely think that there is a need and , um, Leanne , that's awesome that you guys are doing those fantastic things. Like I'm sitting over here, like so excited. Um, and I know that here locally in Ohio O'Kelly , um, which is the Ohio center for autism and low incidence disabilities , um, has also started working on , um, some educational videos to be able to address some of those questions about, you know, just like you guys are doing, what does a TBI do? What does an ONM do? And also within , um , the hearing impaired , um, uh , demographic as well. And also just like, how do I approach somebody? Um, in those, those situations, you know, as a teacher who might have a visually impaired student in their classroom for the first time, how do I approach them every day ? Do I wait for them to figure out that I'm standing next to them? Or do I say something? And , um, and I think these are all great things because introducing the topic and those small snippets and easy to handle amounts might show somebody, okay, this isn't nearly as scary as I thought it was. And then my intern, you know, encourage somebody to look more into it and see like, okay, this, this really is a great thing and something I can do. So , um, as a new TVI , I had no idea how , um, exciting it could be when we empowered our students to be independent and , um, take control of their lives. So as new TBIs yourselves , um, you know, what is something you wish you knew in the beginning, or what advice do you have for somebody pursuing a career in our field? Rachel mentioned , um, good assessment. And I would, I would focus on that first is really determining some really good strengths and needs. And then , um, focus on a student's immediate needs. And once the student is comfortable in the environment they're at, then you can focus on, on, on future needs. But I think , um, it's important for new TBIs to be super flexible. Um, you know , don't sweat, don't sweat the small stuff , um , and also really communicate well , um, with the people that they're, that they're interacting with. Um, uh, when you're a new TBI, you're learning how to create a schedule that's most efficient. Um, so I , I would encourage new teachers to find mentors who have experienced and gone through what they've gone through , um, to really be able to connect with someone and just ask those quick questions, quick texts, you know, you know, for certain situations, I, I really think that support is necessary. So a new teachers don't get too frustrated and burned out too quickly and also to take care of yourself , um, yeah , stay healthy and well rested. Um, so you can best support your , your students. Um, my advice to a new TBI would , would simply be to don't don't think that you're going to know all the answers , um, right out the gate. Um, in fact, most of the time you're not going to know the right answer. Um, and it's going to be a process of trial and error or seeking , um , advice and help from other TBIs and other teachers and other team members even , um, to just find what's what's the right answer. So you have to be a person who , um, you gotta, you gotta let go of not always knowing the right answer, but be always being willing to keep seeking, to find it. Um, and so I joke that, you know, people in the visual impairments field of , for education we're lifelong learners, right? Cause we always have to, to be updated. There's always changes in technology and there's changes in the way that we approach instruction and there's new information available. I know like just this year we have, we finally have a health manual to talk about the uncomfortable stuff , um, and for health class. And so it's, we always have to be reaching out and learning and trying new things. Um, but always remembering that it's okay if you don't know, just as long as you keep trying to find out why

Speaker 4:

My advice is the advice that Purvis ponder. My professor gave me buy a car. You love, you will live in your car. If you're an itinerary teacher and a majority of teachers of the visually impaired are itinerant, which means they travel from school to school, student to student, and you do spend a majority of time in your car, take care of your car. It is your lifeline. So that's just really, truly, I have always bought a car. I loved yes, most of the time it had to have some sized trunk, so I could pit large rail books in it. But that was one of the things that , uh, has stuck with me throughout. So it does matter. I one you love

Speaker 2:

So much for participating in this conversation about the need for more TBIs and the important work that they do, we will include additional information in the show notes for anyone interested in pursuing a career as a TVI , or just wanting to learn a little bit more.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me. Thanks for having me . It's been fun. Thank you. Yes . Thanks Sarah .

Speaker 2:

Now we're going to check in with partners with Paul.

Speaker 5:

Thanks, Sarah. And welcome to this edition of partners with Paul. I'm excited to have two guests with me today. I have Joyce Lopez, product developer and Dr. Marty Fox, president of playability toys. Welcome into the podcast today. Thank you. Thank you. So Marty, can you tell us a little bit about playability toys?

Speaker 6:

Sure. Be happy to, so we make pliability toys makes highly specialized choice toys and games and other products for children with special needs and children while they're in the hospital. Um, the company has been in existence for approximately 20 years and is currently based here in Tucson, Arizona. Uh, we've had a wonderful partnership with the American printing house for the blind for a number of years, and sell a number of products that we've developed specifically for children with visual impairment.

Speaker 5:

Excellent. Joyce, I know one of the products that we sell that you make is the rivet ball . Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Speaker 3:

Yes, bud phrase, who was one of the founders of the company, met a woman who had a child born without eyes, and she gave him a wishlist. The ball had to be lightweight, easy to grab with , not roll away from the child was easy to , um, catch and grab and pass and had noise, but absolutely no batteries. So, but being an engineer, he was a rocket scientist, took this challenge to heart and he came up with the rivet ball, which is a simple , um, ball with , uh, an insert that you blow up. It's a PVC type insert, almost like a beach ball. And it has six ribs around the ball. And inside the ribs is a simple pre-cal material. So when the ball is someone who does not have full vision can trap the ball, but was invited to the Helen Keller Institute with this ball. And the teacher threw the ball into a room with children who were blind or visually impaired and Bud's heart melted because all the kids were able to track this ball. And we teamed up with American printing house for the 14 inch size, which is a red and yellow red ball with yellow ribs, the 18 inch ball, which is blue with yellow ribs and a 30 inch ball, which does come with a foot pump to aid in the, in inflation. And it is , um , black and yellow. And these balls are fun for kids who are visually impaired and for kids who are not. So all kids can play together with this fall. Also, it's great for kids with, for example, CP, who do not have full strength of their, their hands.

Speaker 5:

Fantastic. And another one of our products that we have collaborated on also is the paint pot pallet . Marty, tell us about that. If you would,

Speaker 6:

The pink pop palette was born really after playability toys moved to Tucson, Arizona in 2009. One of the first things that Bob and I did when the company moved here was partner with some of the existing, special needs organizations here in Tucson, Arizona. And one of those was this Arizona school for the deaf and blind , uh, button . I visited the school and observed one of the art classes and the teacher , uh , a wonderful art teacher by the name of Don Smitty , um, was using a paint kit or a paint organizing kit for students that included pots that included braille labeling brushing. She had everything organized. So the children could know exactly where everything was. And we were just fascinated by the process and her ability to convey and teach painting principles to our kids. Uh, so badass her , um, is this a product that we could commercialize and basically take your design? We put it on a commercial basis. Some more children could enjoy this. And that was the creation of the paint bought palette , um, started the paint pot palette , and it also led us down a whole series of additional products that we've created primarily with Joyce , uh, developing them , uh, with input from the printing house staff , um, but a whole line of painting products that follow the paint pot palette .

Speaker 5:

Excellent. And finally, there's another brand that you all make called nurture smart. Can you tell folks about that brand and also how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions and want to know more

Speaker 6:

Sure. So our nurture smart brand actually is focused on children in the hospital. Um, but we've found that a number of homes want the same level of safety in developmental features that we put into our nurture smart products. We were in hospital staff saying, we need toys. We need them specialize . And we need them to be able to be disinfected. We need them to have the superior level of safety features, superior level of developing features, and that was the birth of our nurture smart line. So you can find those products that nurture smart app , or you can find playability products through the APH website or playability.com and you can contact me or Joel . I said [email protected] .

Speaker 5:

Okay. Thank you very much for joining me today.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. Thank you for having us

Speaker 5:

Check the show notes. We've included there links to the products you heard about the ribbit ball and also the paint pot palette , and one more the paint by numbers, safari series. So we've included those in the show notes, check those out and feel free to get in touch with playability toys. If you have any questions for them. Thanks for listening and back to you, Sarah .

Speaker 2:

Thanks so much, Paul. We hope you have enjoyed today's podcast and we encourage you to look for ways you can be a change maker this week.