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Fall 2012

Message from the President,
Leah Gerlach

Dear IAER Newsletter Readers,

It is with a great deal of pride in our Chapter and personal humility that I begin my term as Chapter President.
We have a tremendous diverse group of Bo
ard members and are extremely excited at the possibilities for our
chapter during the coming year. You will find some outstanding new opportunities for members as we strive to
be creative, cutting edge in our programs and one of the leading chapters in the


Check out this issue of our newsletter to learn more. Features to watch for include our conference for 2013. It
will be much different than in past years as we partner with the American Foundation for the Blind’s
outstanding Leadership confere
nce. Our expanded awards recognition opportunities, which will give us the
chance to recognize leaders in our field as well as community service organizations. Articles from those who
have attended conferences, workshops and special events. Our chapter is
fortunate to be able to offer financial
assistance to its members and we are hopeful that this will allow members to be creative, pursue their
continuing development, and provide the highest quality service to people with vision impairments. Whether
you ar
e a teacher involved with Early Intervention for our youngest clients, an orientation and mobility
specialist, a teacher of children with vision loss, a rehabilitation professional working with adults and seniors
with vision loss, or an educator training t
hose entering our professions we welcome you to our Chapter and
hope that you will find our Association a wonderful part of your career.

Our chapter’s success is greatly determined by you, the members and your input and participation in the
chapter. If y
ou have ideas, concerns, or questions I would love to talk with you. We hope that you will
encourage your peers to join us and that you will be an active part of our success.


Leah Gerlach, M.S.




Board Briefs

Susan M. Dalton, Secretary

The IAER Board recently welcomed the new members and officers for the 2012
2014 year.


Leah Gerlach

Past President:

George Abbott


Amy Lund


Susan Dalton


Pam Duda

Board Members:

Andreas Heim, Cindy Miller, Doug Anzlovar,

Molly Clesen, Scott Smith, Stacy Kelly

2012 International Conference: Over thirty Illinois vision professionals attended the AER International
erence in Bellevue, Washington. We were very pleased to see such a strong representation from our state
at this event.

Membership continues to be an issue for the past few years. Overall, AER numbers have been decreasing, but
Membership Chair, Scott Smi
th reports that our membership increased to 227 members this past month.

Workshops are being planned for the upcoming year. IAER members are highly encouraged to submit
suggestions for workshops or apply for funding assistance to host workshops and train
ings in your area.

There was much concern regarding the lack of Award Nominations last year, so we are making a concerted
effort to get the word out and encourage our members to recognize individuals and community partners for the
various award categories

Our biggest upcoming project will be preparing for the 2013 IAER Conference that will be held in conjunction
with the AFB Leadership Conference in Chicago, April 18
20. Calls for papers have been sent out and the
Program Committee will be reviewing pro
posals and working to ensure that the conference has sessions to
cover all areas of interest for a variety of professions in the field. We are looking forward to working with AFB
to make the 2013 Conference the best possible for our members.


Space Camp

Lashelle Lewis
Smith and Alexander Gamino were awarded the IAER Scholarship for

Space Camp. SCIVIS
(Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students) was held at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville,
AL the week of September 22nd. Both were str
ong candidates with a desire to learn more about space. We

forward to hearing about their journey in the next newsletter.

Please begin thinking about those students who might be interested in Space Camp 2013. It is a wonderful

opportunity for studen
ts to create lifelong friends,

further their independence and learn more about space.

Scholarship applications

will be included in future newsletters.

News from the IIMC

From Melanie Hennessy


There have been many changes occurring
this summer at the IIMC. First and foremost, Nina Shosan, the
Associate Director of the IIMC and principal purchasing agent for all equipment, instructional materials, and
devices, announced her retirement in July. After interviewing multiple candidates
for her purchasing agent role,
Sue Honda was promoted to Manager, Instructional Resources, and James Forrest was promoted to
Coordinator, Instructional Resources, effective August 1, 2012. Sue will continue her role with respect to the
purchase and prod
uction of textbooks, while Jim will be responsible for all equipment, aid, and material
purchasing. Kim Pettit was hired on September 17

as the Database Coordinator for the IIMC, filling the
vacancy created by Jim’s promotion.


This is a reminder that books that will not be used by your students in fall 2012 are to be sent back to the IIMC.
We estimate


that were sent out on loan in years 2004 to 2011 are significantly
. With the
IIMC’s reduced budget i
t is imperative that books not in use be returned as soon as possible. The IIMC can
assist by providing mailing labels or if your school(s) is in the Chicago metro area we can come and pick up the
books. You are also always welcome to drop off books at the

IIMC during business hours (Monday
Friday 8:00

4:00 PM).

To assist with the timely return of books on loan, the IIMC will be placing the following label on all volumes
that are being sent out for the 2012/2013 school year.


Return to Il
linois Instructional

Materials Center by:

June 15, 2013



To date, equipment orders filled for the 2012
2013 school year exceed $260,000. This means we have only
$40,000 left in our equipment budget until July 1, 2013. Th
erefore, we will only fill “emergent or urgent”
equipment orders until then. Please continue to submit all your equipment orders for tracking/wait list
purposes, but if you need the item(s) immediately due to an emergent or urgent situation, please submit

written explanation and justification along with your order. These will be reviewed individually and a
determination made and communicated to the ordering teacher as to whether this order can be filled out of the
remaining funds.

As with book orders,
equipment (and instructional material) orders must be COMPLETE and LEGIBLE in
order to be processed. In particular, each piece of equipment requested must be assigned to a student for use.
Also, the equipment is loaned to the student and must be returned

to the IIMC when the student no longer uses
it or qualifies for state funding. Please refer to the BOOK ORDER section for further details.


Shelle Hamer and Naomi Hershman, as representatives of the IVLC, presented the

IIMC with a list of issues
and concerns regarding materials at a meeting held at The Chicago Lighthouse on Wednesday, September 19
In summary, here were the issues presented and the IIMC’s responses to their concerns.

Customer Service (inclusive of C

The concerns presented involved means of communication, responsiveness, and demeanor. To address these
concerns the IIMC will perform the following:


All telephone calls will be initially answered by the Chicago Lighthouse Call Center and f
orwarded to
the appropriate staff member in the IIMC. If the TVI reaches the staff member’s voicemail, he/she will
leave a message to be returned within one business day.


Customer Service training for the IIMC staff occurred the week of September 24

promote and
improve communication with the TVIs.


Email etiquette will involve no capital letters and detailed explanations of the issue at hand.


All email communications are to include a copy to Melanie Hennessy for triage and follow up.

Equipment ordering
, funding, and approval processes were discussed. To improve the overall ordering process
for equipment, a series of working meetings with Shelle Hamer, Naomi Hershman, and Melanie Hennessy will
be held, beginning October 10

to produce the following:


vised ordering form(s) inclusive of space for narrative explanation of need for item(s).


Prioritization process/scale to identify which equipment orders to place first vs. put on hold.


Timetable for equipment orders in light of funding availability from th

A future meeting (December timeframe) will be held to discuss the APH census process for 2013 to be able to
meet APH’s requirements as well as improve the ease of census completion for the Vision Coordinators and
TVIs. Also to be reviewed at a fut
ure date is the approval process by Vision Coordinators in light of TVIs not
having a Vision Coordinator or reporting to a Director of Special Education.


If you are not receiving IIMC information or literature electronically or know of

someone who is not, please
contact us at (312) 997
3699 or at
. We need your email address to give you the
latest information from the IIMC in a cost effective manner, and we hop
e to send ALL correspondence in the
future electronically.


News from ISVI

ISVI has started the 2012
2013 school year off with an increase in enrollment. Currently, there are 88 students
receiving educational services from ISVI.

Important events so
far include:

Team Illinois traveled to Ohio for the NCASB Championships September 29
30, 2012. They enjoyed
great competition. Team ILLINOIS Goal
ball had their first practice on October 1 and their first
competition was at ISVI on October 10.

This year IS
VI has six students who are at
tending Lincoln Land Community College. These students
are participating in the ISVI Transitional Living Program and their Lincoln Land experience is a
positive one. They are independently setting up their own transportation
to attend classes.

A Patriot Day Remembrance Assembly was held on Monday, September 10, 2012, in the Joshua Rhodes
Auditorium. The assembly was to recognize the heroes of 9
11 and to show unity."We Remember"
ribbons that were made in the ISVI Braille Dots

Print Shop were passed out for staff and students to
wear on Tuesday, September 11. The ribbons had Braille on them that read "We Remember".

The bi
annual Lion’s Low Clinic was recently held at ISVI. This clinic is the longest, continuous Low
Vision Cli
nic in the state of Illinos.

The ISVI Girl Scout Troup was involved in getting manual available in Braille. This article was
published in newspapers and it was carried on news programs around the state:

It takes courage to ask for what is needed, which i
s exactly what a Girl Scout troop based out of the
Illinois School for the Visually Impaired displayed. Girl Scout manuals were not available to them in

"They offered us audio books, which for some girls, and some girls across the nation, I'm sur
e is a great
alternative. Our girls can read Braille so we kept pushing for Braille, pushing for Braille," Troop Leader
Amanda Rodda
Tyler explained. Breanna Carpentier agreed, "I want to be like the other people and be
able to read and be normal and read

what everybody else does."

These young women have come across the problem before. When they need a book transcribed in
Braille they must make a request and wait until it is completed. It often happens with text books. When
they contacted the Girl Scouts
of the U.S.A., the organization was in favor of a Braille version of the
manual, but the decision is up to the publisher. These scouts confidently made their case to the

The girls made it a project for their gold award. They made calls, wrote le
tters, and waited for a
response. Braille manuals are now available for any visually impaired Girl Scout.

"Jueliette Gordon Low, the starter of Girl Scouts, pushed for girls with disabilities being included in Girl
Scouting. Her first troop had young ladi
es with different disabilities in it. She said everybody should be
welcome. We were meeting this obstacle of welcoming everybody," Rodda
Tyler explained.


News from
Spectrios Institute for Low Vision

As many of you know Spectrios Institute (formerly

the Deicke Center for Visual Rehabilitation) is a
comprehensive low vision service. Our mission is to empower children and adults with vision loss, regardless of
income, to optimize their visual capabilities and independence through the use of prescriptiv
e tools, technology,
rehabilitative training and inspiration.

We strive to educate the world to see the potential in every person with
vision loss. Here are a few things you may not know about our agency.

We conduct a technology day camp every summer for

children with vision loss. This year our campers
decided to do a service project to help others understand about how people with vision loss do things.
Watch for our posters in your eye doctors office or school

We will, along with the Department of Rehab
ilitation, be conducting workshops for High School juniors
and seniors, as well as adults with vision loss, on self advocacy, disability sensitivity, and technology to
help them become prepared for college and work.

On December 1, 2012 between 9:30 and 2:0
0 pm. we will be holding a very special technology Open
House, demonstrating the latest in new technology and providing I Pad workshops. We will be having a
drawing for a door prize of a Pebble Mini video magnifier. Please feel free to stop in and learn mo

Check out our Website for further information

for further information. E
mail us at

if you have any questions.

News from Hadley

minars@Hadley = Guest Speaker in Your Classroom!

Did you miss these seminars of interest to high school students and young adults? The recordings are available
for download on the Past Seminars page of the Hadley Web site.

Listen to the seminar recording individually or as a group. It is like having guest speakers in your classroom!

ge Bound: Are you Ready?

Discusses taking the leap from high school to college or university life.
(Perfect for anyone going off to college.)

MasterChef Winner Christine Ha: My Delic
ious Experience

’ s Christine Ha shares her
experiences. (Am inspiration “can do” presentation.)

Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Survival

Overview of emergency prepared
ness strategies and a
framework for developing your own comprehensive safety plan. (An important topic for all!)

The Story of Thunder Dog

Michael Hingson and his dog guide Roselle we
re in an office on the 78th floor of
Tower One of the World Trade Center. (Covers employment issues, as well.)

Ted Hull & The Wonder Years

Ted Hull was an integral part of Motown, and
a shaping force in Stevie
Wonder’s life. (Stevie’s teacher for 6 years.)

Cookies, Cookies and More Cookies!

Cookies are fun to make and come in what seems like an endless variety
shapes and flavors. (Perfect for this time of year!)


Mini Grant
s & Stipends


Greetings IAER Members!

First I would like to thank all of you who have applied for a stipend or mini
grant for the 2012
2013 fiscal year.
We have awarded approximately

$260 in mini
grants and $1800 in stipends. Since the demand has increased
greatly for financial assistance, the IAER board decided to supplement
this year’s

stipend budget to a
maximum total of
! Please keep in mind when planning for travel to confe
rences pertaining to the field of
visual impairments that you can apply for an IAER Stipend to attend said conference (

AER, NFB Teacher Leader Conferences).

Here is one of the programs that has used mini
grants to support his project

“Adaptive GPS Devices and Apps for O&M” Session at International AER:

As stated by Scott Smith from
Hines VA, “The presentation included a comparison of the Trekker GPS device with new Apple IOS
applications. The presenters evaluated applications inclu
ding: Ariadne, My Way Lite, My Way Classic,
Around Me, Waze, Skobbler (Nav 2), Life Fitness, MotionX Drive, Navigon and Tom Tom. The advantages
and disadvantages for each application were discussed in detail.” They were able to use AER funds to purchase

various applications for the devices.

As you can see, these members utilized the funds as a supplement to their conference session. Provided your
project falls within the definition of what can be considered for a mini
grant (see application), you can

apply for
funds! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and put our money where your students are!

Molly Clesen

Grant/Stipend Chair

News from Hines VA Center

During the last fiscal year Hines served 340 patients from 15 states. Veteran
s ranged in age from 23
Approximately 15 returning soldiers received Rehabilitation services at Hines during the past year. The
university internship program continues to expand with 21 student interns completing an internship at Hines
during the past

The staff at center have been evaluating and learning the latest in technology. Much emphasis has been placed
on instructing Veterans in the use of Apple IOS devices including the iPhone and iPads. For many Veterans, the
use of the IOS devices often
meet the needs for many goals and as a result fewer devices are issued saving
costs. Adaptive GPS devices also are popular and many Veterans have completed training with Trekker Breeze
and Apple GPS applications during the last year.


News from ICRE

Illinois Center for Rehabilitation & Education


Submitted by Tracey Loggins, ICRE
W Administrative Assistant

Wood continues to serve individuals with visual impairments from throughout the state of Illinois by
offering concentrated, sho
term residential programming for adults. During the 14
week courses, participants
receive intensive training in orientation and mobility, technology, and activities of daily living. Following are
some of the most recent updates:

Currently, members of

Wood’s teaching staff are preparing for a Braille Literacy Workshop which will
be held October 23
25, 2012.

This workshop is an annual event attended by all Rehabilitation Teachers from
the State of Illinois for the purpose of enhancing, motivating
and encouraging Braille instruction. The
instructors are excited to attend and participate in this innovative program.

A new Psychologist, Mr. Julian Williams, has been recently hired to join the staff at ICRE

Williams has over 13 years of ex
perience working with people who are disabled.

He has already made an
impact on the program.

Superintendent Derrick Phillips will be the Keynote Speaker at the State of Illinois Disability Awareness event
on October 23, 2012.

Wood has announced th
e dates of the 2013 TransVision Program activities that will be hosted at their
facility. A Taste of College will be held March 15
17, 2013 and Summer in the City will take place in two one
week sessions: June 23
28 and July 7
13, 2013.


51 S. Wood St.

Chicago, IL 60612 312

News from
Illinois State University

The ISU Low Vision and Blindness (LVB) Program continues to

this academic year to fill the ISU LVB
Program vacancy left behind by Chris Clark
Bischke. This pos
ition has been posted in variou
s sites.
For more
information, please contact Stacy Kelly

or Pam Duda

Senior Seminar week is almost here! In October, our field base students will participate in Senior Seminar
Week. Senior Seminar week was initiated in 20
02. ISU appreciates the many institutions and professionals
that donate their time and resources to instruct, enlighten, and begin networking with our students. The students
have an excit
ing week planned in the Chicago
land area. They will tour and rece
ive instruction from
leading organizations and agencies in the field of blindness and visual impairment.


newly revised LVB program is currently underway
at ISU. The updated LVB program
features an
emphasis in AT and specialized training in al
l other areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).

In addition
to the updated curriculum, w
e are piloting the Teacher Performance Assessment (TPA)
for the first time
semester in our LVB field base program. The Teacher Performance Assessment is being

developed as a
nationally available assessment of readiness to teach for novices. This will be a statewide requirement for initial
teacher certification and graduation starting in 2015


News from NIU

We can begin with our usual statement that we have v
ery generous financial support available for students who
wish to work toward a master’s degree in TVI, O&M and/or VRT. We are accepting applications for the fall of
2013; the course sequence for all 3 emphases begins in the fall semester. For those who wi
sh to learn more
about our program, we suggest contacting any one of us using the information found at the end of this section of
the newsletter. Also, we invite visitors to our page on the NIU site at
. To learn more about
Northern Illinois University, visit

We will have 3 O&Ms and 1 VRT who will graduate in December 2012. There will be 10 dual O&M/TVIs and
7 dual VRT/O&Ms who will graduate in May

2013, and 1 dual O&M/TVI who will graduate in December
2013. There will be 2 undergraduate TVIs also graduating in May 2013. We have welcomed 14 new graduate
students this fall semester, and have 16 undergraduate students in various phases of the TVI prog
ram. So…the
NIU vision program is alive and thriving!

A major turn of events in our program is that Kapperman retired on June 30, 2012 and Sticken has tendered her
resignation as of December 31, 2012. Both will remain active in the program. As retired sta
ff members, they are
allowed to continue to work at NIU under special circumstances. They plan to continue their efforts to obtain
student financial assistance. In addition, they are planning to mount some ground
breaking efforts. With some
luck, these mig
ht actually see the light of day.

The NIU administration has committed to replacing them. The searches for replacements for Kapperman and
Sticken will begin in January, 2013. As a consequence, because of their retirements, the NIU Visual Disabilities
gram will have two more staff members. Thus, the number of individuals involved in the program will have,
in reality, increased in number.

We have several accomplishments to report. First of all, Jodi and Kapp were awarded another research and
t grant. The purpose of this project is to produce an online Nemeth Code tutorial in collaboration
with our colleagues at the American Printing House for the Blind.

Recently, the three full
time faculty in the Visual Disabilities Program have submitted s
everal manuscripts for
publication. Bill Penrod’s article, “
A Seamless Approach to Transitioning Cane Skills from Diagonal to Touch
Technique”, has been accepted for publication by

Journal for Visual Impairment and Blindness.
Sticken and Gaylen Ka
pperman submitted a manuscript which describes the results of the second evaluation of
the effectiveness of the Nemeth Code tutorial for the BrailleNote. That appeared in
. Kapperman and
Stacy Kelly of Illinois State University collaborated on a man
uscript which describes the sexual activity of
visually disabled teenagers. That manuscript was published in the September, 2012 issue of the Journal of
Visual Impairment and Blindness. Kapperman and Kelly also submitted a manuscript entitled
ns for Effective Sex Education Instruction for Students Who are Visually Disabled which they
fervently hopes will appear in an upcoming issue of JVIB if the reviewers do not ban it!

Susan Dalton, one of the adjunct instructors in the program, has produce
d a national webcast focusing on
albinism through the auspices of the Perkins School for the Blind. That is available currently.

The special congressionally
funded program for training specialists to provide vision rehabilitation services for
blinded sol
diers from Iraq and Afghanistan is in is last year. Five graduate students are enrolled in this 22
month program. The program combines VRT and O&M training. All of the expenses of the program

participants are paid. They will graduate in May, 2013 with the
possibility of being employed by the
Department of Veterans Affairs in one or another blind center.

Sean Tikkun is a doctoral candidate as well as an instructor in the program. Sean is working toward a Ph.D. in
educational psychology with an emphasis in
visual disabilities. One of Sean’s several areas of expertise is all
things Macintosh and Apple. As a consequence, he has assumed the role of our in
house Mac, iPod, and iPad
expert. Because of his work in our program, we will increase the amount of traini
ng in i
gismos including
Macintosh computers!

We have invested heavily in upgrading the equipment and software in our lab. We now have “dual boot”
computers which have a Mac side and a Windows side. In addition, we have invested several thousands of
ars in the purchas of new apps for the various iPods and iPads which we have on hand.

For information about the program, contact:

Our mailing address is

Department of Special and Early Education

Northern Illinois University

DeKalb, IL 60115

Gaylen Kap


Jodi Sticken


Bill Penrod





Established as an official student organization once again!

by Susan M. Dalton

Under the leadership of newly elected president, Stacy Jena, the NIU students have gathered to form an
organization to address the needs and i
nterests of those in NIU’s Programs for Visual Disabilities. At the first
meeting in September, several students expressed a desire to pursue the organization once again. Key players
stepped up to serve as officers and in other leadership roles, and they

were off!

To start the ball rolling, they are designing t
shirts to identify the group and the spirit of the NIU Vision
Program. Early in October, a first
year TVI & O&M Specialist was invited to speak with current students to
talk about her experiences

in the field as a new teacher. Meghan Fredel, who was also a past NIU
President, shared her adventures and offered tips and other advice to the students to help better prepare them for
life in the trenches as they plan for their careers as a vision e
ducator or specialist.

The group met with success on their very first fundraising effort selling white cane pretzels on Monday,
October 15

in honor of White Cane Day. A long term goal is to partner up with other organizations on campus
and possibly w
ork on a 5K walk/run in the future.

Welcome to the new officers for the 2012
2013 Year!

From left to right: Christina Pitts

(secretary), Maureen Allison (vice president), Tara Brown
Ogilvie (co
historian), Anna Peskin (co
historian), Deanna Marciszew
ski (treasurer), and Stacy Jena (president).


AER International Conference 2012

By: Stacy Kelly

The AER International Conference that took place in Bellevue, Washington was a conference that I learned
from and that I will remember for a lo
ng time. The beautiful Pacific Northwest provided a wonderful gathering
place for this important event. With its more than 180 concurrent sessions, four general sessions and 45
exhibitors there were more than enough activities to keep everyone engaged

and busy!

It was impressive how many Illinois Chapter members were in attendance. We took an official Illinois Chapter
photo during conference that included well over 20 individuals!

The opening session presented by the renowned Tom Sullivan was amazi
ng and set the bar high for the rest of
the events that followed. Jim Fruchterman, CEO of Benetech and founder of Bookshare, spoke about his own
experiences. The concurrent sessions were equally as enlightening. The topics of the concurrent sessions ranged

from early intervention to rehabilitation work with the elderly and from O&M to the amazing advancements in
technology for individuals who are visually impaired. There was something for everyone!

By: Lisa Tabaka

International AER Conference in Seattle
was such a great learning experience. I appreciate your willingness to
provide financial support so that opportunities to attend conference are available. The most beneficial session
that I attended, focused on an app that allows students to write succes
sfully on the iPad using voiceover. This
app, iA Writer, is available from the app store for $0.99. iA Writer allows students to use a keyboard or Braille
display to input information. The editing features allow the student to be independent in making c
and allows for increased independence in the classroom. I was able to apply this knowledge and have students
using this app on a daily basis. I would recommend to all students who are using the iPad as their method of
writing in the classroom.

By: Amy Lund

As always, conference is a great way to connect with professionals. It was great seeing so many familiar faces
from Illinois. The dedication in our field was truly evident.

Arriving at my third International AER conference was an e
xhilarating experience. Knowing that I was going to
see colleagues from other regions, experience high quality breakout sessions, and see the latest and greatest
from the vendors, I was ready to hit the ground running.

The showcase and demonstration of
new technology devices from several companies was the first thing that
kept me occupied. Having hands on experience with new devices and literature on upcoming device releases
provided a great resource for future students that may benefit from the devices

With numerous choices of sessions to attend, I was continually torn between attending more technology
sessions (heavy in iOS accessibility and assistive technology integration) and sessions exhibiting research
conclusions. Even being my third internati
onal conference, it still amazed me to see the authors of my college
textbooks, lead researchers in the field and very familiar faces. Seeing how small of a world our profession is
makes the conference feel like a family reunion.


As President
Elect, I was

fortunate to participate in a President’s Council with other people in leadership
positions throughout AER’s territory. In the meeting, great ideas were shared about membership recruitment
and retention as well as member benefits. I was so proud to boast
about the GREAT member benefits that IAER
provides to those that apply. As a result, Leah Gerlach and I were invited to speak to even more of AER’s
leadership members to share our successes.

The most impressive part of the conference was the overwhelming

abundance of Illinois AER members in
attendance. At best count, there were approximately 30 Illinois AER members in attendance in Washington.
With pride, the state delegation joined up for a picture on the last afternoon.


Guild for the


s of July
1, 2012 Guild for the Blind

its name to
“Second Sense: Beyond vision loss”?

website is

Vision Exchange 2012: Focused on Action

There are many vision loss sup
port groups in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Perhaps surprisingly, the
majority of groups serving seniors are not run by people with vision loss but by librarians, social workers,
nurses, activity directors, and other community professionals.

r the past ten years, the Guild for the Blind has been presenting workshops to educate adults and seniors with
vision loss on how to keep living independently. The majority of these are offered in partnership with
community organizations, including many o
f the low vision support groups.

In her role as the Guild's Director of Rehabilitation Services, Polly Abbott, CVRT and orientation and mobility
specialist, has led these workshops for the past seven years. She met many group leaders, both experienced a
new, who were looking for anything that that could improve their group. Most were unaware of and
unconnected to other vision loss support groups, just struggling along with whatever information they could
find on their own.

Polly saw a great opportuni
ty to bring these group leaders together for mutual support, sharing of resources, and
exchange of ideas. Vision Exchange, a network of professionals and leaders of vision loss support groups, was
born in 2008 as a listserv. Polly, as leader of Vision Ex
change, quickly saw the positive impact the group was
having on its members. She decided to would be of great benefit for everyone to meet face
face to have a
day of training on topics that would help them develop as group leaders and increase their kn
owledge of vision

In an effort to keep the collegial atmosphere of Vision Exchange, the annual training session moves to a
different location each year to showcase the locations of the different support groups. The first meeting in 2009

was at the Hadley School for the Blind. In 2011, we met at the Park Ridge Public Library

home of a very
successful monthly support group. This year the event was held at Covenant Village, a senior residence and
support group location in Northbrook, IL
. The host site partners with the Guild to create the event. Covenant
Village was extremely generous in subsidizing the cost of morning refreshments and a delicious buffet lunch as
well as offering their bus to transport anyone in need of a ride from the


Vision Exchange’s 2012 agenda was created based on feedback from the previous year. The group leaders
wanted a program to teach them skills that would enable them to more fully help their group members. Twenty
people signed up to learn more abou
t teaching some basic ADL tasks and human guide technique. Polly shared
tips on how to assess and respond to a request for help with an ADL task by a non
vision rehab professional.
The room was set up in small stations and participants working in pairs w
ith one person as the instructor and
their partner under vision simulators as a person with vision loss. Tasks included:

explaining how to orient a person to a device with buttons such as an NLS talking book player,

ncouraging a person to use their sens
e of touch to change batteries in a magnifier, and

improving handwriting by encouraging a switch to a 20/20 pen with a writing guide.


The focus was not so much on the activities as it was on the process of assessing what sort of help was needed,
g if help could be given or if a referral to a vision professional was needed, giving clear directions, and
getting in the practice of checking in different ways

after providing help

that the goal was accomplished.

Participants couldn’t stop exclaiming a
bout their experience under the vision simulators. It was the very first
time most of them had looked through goggles that simulated Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, and Diabetic
Retinopathy. The vision simulators, unexpectedly, had a huge impact that sen
sitized the participants to the
everyday experiences of their low vision group members. The other point that came out during the feedback
was how challenging and time consuming it was to describe how something works rather than to simply

he Human Guide training, based on post
workshop surveys, was overwhelmingly the favorite part of the day.
Thanks to the AER workshop mini
grant, the Guild was able to hire a COMS to assist Polly (also a mobility
instructor) with instruction and to provide

everyone with a reference. The extra instructor provided more
opportunity for individual instruction and monitoring and correcting of technique. The participants learned the
correct way to navigate narrow spaces and doorways. They practiced changing di
rections and changing sides
and showing each other where to sit down (after much walking around!). It was obvious that the participants
wanted to be sure they were doing things correctly. There were also lots of questions about situations that have
n during support group outings. Questions ranged from how to guide someone with a walker to what to do
about unsafe but stubbornly independent group members. Much of the feedback for the this session stated that
they would be using the techniques they le
arned from now on with their group members, and they were happy
to know how to do it correctly.

The afternoon workshop sessions discussed effective group processes and were led by Lauri Dishman, LCPC
and Manager of the Guild's counseling program. Partici
pants shared ideas for attracting new members,
encouraging relationships within the group, and dealing with group members who have a negative impact on the
group process. The day concluded with some general brainstorming and sharing of ideas for things to

do or
discuss in support group meeting.

Once of the highlights of the day for Polly was hearing from a new support group leader that last year she had
one person in her group and now, thanks to what she learned through Vision Exchange and the support she

received from Guild for the Blind, her group is up to 25 people!

The date for next year’s meeting is set for June 7, 2013


IAER Scholarships


The 2012 scholarship winners were Samantha Voll and Shannon Sweezy.

Congratulations, Samantha and Shannon!


The IAER awards yearly scholarships, up to $750, to student(s) holding junior or senior, graduate student, or
post graduate status who is enrolled in class(es) leading to certification areas in the fie
ld of education/
rehabilitation for persons who are blind or visually impaired. The applicant should reside or attend school in the
state of Illinois.


The application deadline for the 2012 scholarship has passed, but those interested are encouraged to app
ly for
the 2013 scholarship that will be awarded in April 2013.

How to Apply

Scholarship applications can be obtained through any of the IAER board members, at Northern Illinois
University, at Illinois State University, and at Western Michigan University.

You may also download it here:


The deadline for scholarship applications is January 14, 2013.

ations can be mailed to:

Stacy Kelly, IAER Scholarship Chairman

Illinois State University

Department of Special Education

Low Vision and Blindness Program

Campus Box 5910

Normal, IL 61790

or email to:




Getting to Know More about an IAER Member

Mindy Ely

By Susan M. Dalton, M.S.Ed., CVRT

At the 2012 IAER Conference, the Distinguished Service Award was presented to Mindy
Ely. She has served i
n many leadership capacities in Illinois AER over the years, and is
currently our District Representative for AER International. Mindy is well known in the
Illinois vision community for her work in Early Intervention as well as her commitment to
her profe

A bit of background: At the age of fifteen, Mindy’s mother was in an accident and lost her
vision. Shortly after that, when Mindy was trying to decide on a career, her mother encouraged her to go into
special education. She balked at first, b
ut after volunteering in a vision resource room under Rosalyn Hatton,
she was sold!

When Mindy was asked to share
some of the best things about
her career, she reported, “
I love that the field is
small enough that I have been able to make a difference
in peoples

lives and in our profession.

I am very
proud of the work that we did during the 10 years I was at Hearing and Vision Connections.

Early Intervention
has become a viable career option for TVIs.

Any family in the state now has access to vision

services for their

There are only a couple of other states can say that.

Mindy enjoys life at home with her husband, Lance, and two sons. She says,
husband leads our pack with an easy laugh and an incredibly generous nature.”
oldest so
n is a runner and got her interested in it several years ago. Having run
marathons and several half marathons, she states, “
I like to set a high goal and
then go
after it and long distance running fits that personality trait well.
” Her hobbies
reading, with historical fiction being her favorite, and spending time outdoors

We’ll finish up this feature with Mindy’s response to a few funky questions:

What would you title your autobiography?


"Love What You Do"

because wh
en I was given the
Distinguished Service Award

that was about all that came out of my mouth.

I was speechless and I am NEVER

My kids really gave me a hard time about it.

We had a good laugh.

But it is true...I find what I
love and put ever
y ounce of my effort into it.

If I don't love it...I probably won't do it for long!

Room, desk and car

which do you clean first?


DESK. I can't work at a messy desk...but I can drive in

If you could be a superhero, what power would you po


I would be
like Dash from The
Super Speed. Unless I am in my garden, I am probably going as fast as I possibly can!

If you can catch up with Mindy (and that won’t be easy!), be sure to let her know how much her hard work and
s personality are appreciated.


Know anyone outstanding in their field?

It’s time to toot your horn and let the IAER membership know about those
among us who have gone beyond the call of duty to make a significant impact
on the lives of others.

present awards in the following categories
at our
upcoming conference in Chicago in April, 2013

Distinguished Service


Excellence in




Excellence in Education


Please review the criteria for each and
ly consider
nominating a deserving colleague.

We are very fortunate to have


in Illinois
who demonstrate

dedication, leadership and service

in the work that they do on a
daily basis

Help us acknowledge
these person
s for
heir special

We will also present the
Community Partner Award

to businesses, agencies or other venues who
have shown services Above and Beyond that have created opportunities for individuals who are blind
or visually impaired. Read below for
criteria for these nominations and make an effort to submit your
nominees soon!


Selection Criteria and Procedure

The Illinois Distinguished Service Award has been designed to give recognition to an individual who has
positively affected the lives of persons with visual impairments in Illinois.

Nominees for the Distinguished
Service Award should:

Be a current member of the Illinois Chapter of AER and have

een a member for at least the tw
o years
prior to the nomination

Have been involved in the field of blindness at least ten years.

Have significantly affected the lives of persons with visual impairments either by direct service,
supervision, leadership or volunteer service.

Be nominated by a current member of IAER.

nsideration will be given, but not limited to the number or years of service, impact on the
profession, impact on legislation, number of people who have benefited from service and letters of

Each nominee should have one letter of nomination an
d at least one letter of support.



Selection Criteria and Procedure

The Illinois Excellence in Education Award has been designed to acknowledge the work and
dedication of an

who has positively impacted t
he lives of persons with visual impairments
as well as the profession in Illinois.

Nominees for the award should:

Be a current member of the Illinois Chapter of AER, having been a member of AER for at least
two consecutive years.

Have worked in the field

of blindness with the birth


population for at least five years.

Have actively served as an officer, board member, committee member or chair, within a
related professional organization (i

AER, IAER, IAOMS, CEC, TASH, Low Vision, Lions,
I and NAPVI).

Have significantly impacted the lives of persons with visual impairments through one or more
of the following:

direct service, supervision, leadership or volunteer service.


Selection Criteria and

The Illinois Excellence in Rehabilitation Award has been designed to acknowledge the work and
dedication of an
individual who works in the vision rehabilitation field

who has positively
impacted the lives of persons with visual impairments as w
ell as the profession in Illinois.

for the award should:

Be a current member of the Illinois Chapter of AER, having been a member of AER for two
consecutive years.

Have worked in the field of blindness with the 18

old and up population for
at least five

Have actively served as an officer, board member, committee member or chair, within a
related professional organization (i.e.,

AER, IAER, IAOMS, CEC, TASH, Low Vision, Lions,

Have significantly impacted on the li
ves of persons with visual impairments through one or
more of the following:

direct service, supervision, leadership, or volunteer service.


IAER Community Partner

“Above & Beyond” Award

Selection Criteria and Procedure:

The IAER Community Pa

Above and Beyond Award is designed to
honor and individual, business or organization

not necessarily in the blindness field

who through
their efforts has provided unique opportunities for children or adults who are blind or visually impaired.
Nominees for the Above & Beyond Award should be individuals or agencies who have demonstrated
any of the following:

Shown exceptional and innovative efforts that have enhanced access to the community for
children or adults who are blind or visually impair

Offered specialized programming or experiences for students or adults over a period of time,
that isn’t typical of their usual services.

Provided opportunities for internships, job shadowing, and/or employment for persons with
visual impairments.

ificantly affected the lives of persons with visual impairments through their services.

This award may be presented to up to three individuals/agencies each year.

Nomination Forms

are available on our website:

Please send
Nomination Form and
letters of nomination and support by

February 1, 2013 to:

Susan Dalton


P. O. Box 676



Marengo, IL


Phone: 815


To IAER members and past members,

Please spread the word to your friends and co
workers who may have let their membership's lapse. AER is
reaching out to any who has let their membership expire.

Each f
all, AER uses an outside telemarketing firm to contact lapsed members and invite them to rejoin. Those
calls will begin shortly, so we wanted to share with you the details of the special offers we have to entice people
to rejoin.

For people whose membersh
ips expired between February 2011 and June 2012, we are offering one free
division membership if they renew and a chance to win a free membership.

For those whose memberships expired before January 2011, we are offering a one
year membership for $125
er than $162 in addition to one free division and the drawing for the free, one
year membership. This special
incentive is available only until November 30 for those who held Regular Memberships prior to January 2011.

If your chapter wishes to follow up
with lapsed members after the AER campaign is completed later this month,
we will be happy to supply you with lapsed member lists for your chapter. General information about AER
membership benefits is attached.

The telemarketing firm is taking payment in
formation, but you are welcome to direct anyone to call the AER
office at 703
4500 and request the same offers. The discount and free division membership is not available
in the AER Store on our Web site since these offers vary and are targeted to a sp
ecific group of lapsed

Scott Smith

IAER Membership Chair



We all have Value!

Hope you enjoy these follow
up responses to “I Have Value” from the 2012

Conference. If you want to share any of your personal moments of value, send
them to me at:

I Have Value Because...

Lou Tutt, AER Exec. Director

I interact with so many providers of se
rvices to persons who are blind, low vision, visually impaired like

Maggie Elgersma, Vision Rehab, Hines VA

I get to teach visually impaired veterans & active duty service members accessible technology. It is an honor to
teach those who fought & st
ill fight for our freedom.

Carla Beck, Deaf
blind Specialist, Project Reach IL DB Services

I try to give families peace of mind when their children transition to school for the first time.

Beckie Baptist, TVI

I encourage my students to think past the bas
ic answer & to go deeper into the "why". When one of my students
was asked "who challenges you?" he said that

did because I ask him for more; why he believes what he
believes? What is important to him? What matters to him & why?

Serena Preston, Acting S
uperintendent, ISVI

I provide continuous staff development and encouragement so our staff has the tools to assist students in
developing meaningful transition plans and engaging in learning activities to keep them realize their goals for
future employment,

education, and independent living.

Kathe Selby, TVI, DTV

I help kids & families transition to school and then I help transition them OUT of school!

Alice Post, Retired manager

I continue to try to make a difference.

Jen "BK" Bornekomosa, VI

I put toge
ther a keyboarding & JAWS binder for my student. I used "Windows without a Mouse", which we are
slowly working through. I put the chapters in print and Braille so he can work at home with his assistant. I put
Braille stickers on the tabs so he could find t
hings easily. In the keyboarding section, I put in work and
directions in Braille so he can work semi
independently. When I went through the folder with him, he was so
excited! "This is my best Wednesday ever!"

Katie Hansen, TVI

Because of the people in m
y life!

Rose Halpin, TVI, consultant, COMS

I consult, collaborate & make connections between parents, educators, administrators, and outside agencies.


Rebecca Lambert, EI

I give families of babies hope for their future and tools to help them le
arn and grow.

Joyce Strother, TVI/O&M/Service coordinator (mom, daughter, wife, friend)

I have the honor of watching a kindergartener named Austin soak up Braille contractions as he reads because I
challenged him to be a Braille detective.

Pam Duda, Visi
on Coordinator, ISU adjunct Prof.

1. I work on preparing future TVI's into the field.

2. Provide ongoing professional development to existing TVI's so they can use best practice and ultimately
increase student achievement.

Sue Dalton, Transition Specialis
t, TransVision

I can make a room full of teenagers laugh. (At me or with me…I’m really not quite sure

but I love the sound

Why do

have value? Send your responses to me at:



Conferences & Workshops

You’re Invited

Conferences for Illinois Parents of Children with Vision Loss

Parents of children ages birth through twenty
one are encouraged to join us for in
depth discussions of useful

earn from experts in the field as well as from fellow parents.

The Conference Program

Kids Under Construction

Learn strategies to build up your child’s independence by encouraging age

appropriate responsibilities
and continuing school learning at home

Got Friends?

Learn how to support your child’s friendships and social growth by understanding the social challenges
of vision impairment.

Camp: More than S’Mores!

There’s more to camp than s’mores and campfire songs.

Parents of children with vision
loss share their
children’s camp experiences.

iPads for Eye Students

Learn how iPads can be used to benefit students with vision loss and test drive a few apps in this hands
on session.

Resource Swap Shop

Who’s the expert on resources available for fam
ilies and children with vision loss? You are!

In this
small group discussion, we’ll share experiences and information about helpful national, state and local

What resources have been most helpful to your family?

Southern IL:

March 17th
, at Mt. Vernon Primary Center, 401 N. 30th, Mt. Vernon IL

Northern IL:

April 21st, at Center for Sight and Hearing, 8038 MacIntosh Lane, Rockford IL


8:45 Check


3:45 Conference Program


Center for Sight & Hearing
Delta Gamma Center for Children with Visual Impairments
earing and Vision Early Intervention Outreach
Jefferson Special Education
Illinois School for the
ly Impaired
Northwestern Illinois Association
Rockford Public Schools
Illinois Machi
ne Sublending

(Illinois Heartland Library System);
StarNET Region I & III
; Sheila Walker, EI D
Voices of Vision Talking Book Center

(Reaching Across Illinois Library System)


Online at


Fax to 217


Phone Amber at 1
8184 (V/TTY)


Mail to Amber Gaddis, 125 S. Webster, Jacksonville IL





Service providers are

welcome to attend.

This is a great opportunity to gain a new perspective and earn your
professional credits in a fun, family
friendly atmosphere!

EI and CPDU credits are available.


is not provided.

Assistance with hotel or childcare costs re
lated to attending the conferences is
possible (see family funding section below).

Some reimbursement for mileage may also be possible.


Families of children attending the conferences may be eligible for funding to help pay for
lodging, mil
eage and childcare expenses.

The ARC of Illinois and the Illinois Council on Developmental
Disabilities offers Consumer Involvement Program
Consumer Stipend funds.

A parent/guardian can apply for
up to $400/family each year.

To request a copy of the app
lication form, please contact the ARC of Illinois at 1
1832 or find one online at


Each region of StarNET has fellowships available to eligible families. Families with children with spec
ial needs
below the age of six may be eligible for funding to help pay for lodging, mileage, and childcare expenses
related to attending a conference. To inquire about this fellowship and the eligibility criteria, or to download the
application form, pleas
e contact StarNET. The application can be found in the financial section of the
appropriate website:

Southern IL Families

Sheri Kraus


Central and Nor
thwest IL Families

Letha Clark

7537 ext. 251


Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation packet that will
include program agenda, area hotel information, a m
ap, and driving directions. All registration confirmations
will be sent through Email unless US mail delivery is requested.


Your child’s providers/teachers are welcome to attend with you as a team.

EI and
CPDU credits are available.


Feel free to make copies of the poster and registration forms.

forms to friends.

Hang posters in prominent places in your community.


ADA accommodations are available. Spanish translation
services may be available as well. Please make requests on the registration form and submit at least 3 weeks
prior to the conference date.

For more information, please contact

Michele Westmaas

125 S. Webster

Jacksonville, IL 62650