The latest news from the National Center on Deaf-Blindness
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January, 2018

NCDB eNews

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NCDB’s work occurs in six initiative areas essential to improving outcomes for children who are deaf-blind. This issue of eNews contains highlights from each. Please visit the initiative homepages to learn about our other activities.

 Network News

Early Identification, Referral, and Intervention Discussion Groups

Twelve state deaf-blind projects are engaged in ongoing monthly peer-to-peer discussion groups regarding the use of two essential NCDB tools:

Group members share successes, discuss challenges, and collectively identify strategies that promote finding infants and toddlers, getting them referred to their state deaf-blind projects, and providing effective intervention.

Family Engagement Coordinators: Connecting and Sharing

Since February 2015, the State Deaf-Blind Project Family Engagement Coordinators have been meeting once a month via web conferencing to create opportunities for collaboration. Their goals are to:

  • Build the network of Family Engagement Coordinators
  • Collaborate on grant activities
  • Share experiences and resources, and expand their knowledge of effective strategies for serving families
  • Celebrate accomplishments, problem solve, and identify solutions for common needs

The array of activities they do to connect families to support is endless. Read about their roles and many activities.

Intervener Training Pilot Project

NCDB is conducting a one-time only Intervener Training Pilot Project as an alternative option for state deaf-blind projects that do not use a university-based program or believe their states’ training needs are best met through project-supported training. The project uses the Open Hands, Open Access (OHOA) Deaf-Blind Intervener Learning Modules and the National Intervener Certification E-portfolio (NICE) in conjunction with consultation and coaching offered by state deaf-blind projects.

The pilot is well underway with a total of 21 participants from the following states: AR, CA, DE, IL, LA, NC, NH, TX, and VA). A vital part of the project involves monthly meetings with participating state deaf-blind projects. This is one way NCDB is providing technical assistance to help state projects determine ways to train interveners.

NICE Update

Using the National Intervener Certification E-Portfolio (NICE) system, three interveners have successfully completed e-portfolios and received their certificates.  Read interviews with the first two, Kira Robinson and Lisa Kurtz.

Summer Transition Institutes

This was a busy summer for collaboration within the community of individuals focused on transition issues for young adults with deaf-blindness. There were two very successful transition institutes, one hosted by the Alabama Initiative for Children and Youth who are Deaf-Blind and the other by the Indiana Deaf-Blind Services Project. This article, 2017 Transition Institutes: Planning for the Future, provides a great overview as well as photos and videos. NCDB and state deaf-blind projects are already planning for institutes in Tennessee and Wisconsin next summer. If you are thinking about sponsoring a young adult preparing for college, a career, and independent living, please join our Transition Initiative Group to receive notifications.

National Task Force on Young Adults with Additional Disabilities

NCDB's Transition Initiative has established a task force that is developing recommendations to improve transition and adult services for youth who are deaf-blind and have additional disabilities. The primary focus in recent months has been to conduct interviews with families, administrators, and service providers from across the country. These interviews have been instrumental in identifying effective strategies for serving youth.

 Tools for TA

2016 Annual Child Count Report

In October, NCDB published the 2016 National Child Count of Children and Youth Who Are Deaf-Blind Report. The report is compiled from information gathered from each state and multi-state deaf-blind project throughout the country, as well as projects funded in the Pacific Trust territories, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. It provides a wealth of information about the population of children with deaf-blindness including etiology, race/ethnicity, characteristics of vision and hearing loss, educational supports, and living setting.

Literacy Website

Looking for strategies, tips, and resources on early literacy skills? Visit the Literacy for Children with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss website. A great place to start is the Literacy Skills Checklist (also available in Spanish). This informal tool will guide you to the sections of the website that are most relevant to your learner. Strategies include use of multiple communication modes such as tactile objects, symbols, pictures, hands, and electronic devices.

New Youth Voices Story

There is a new "Youth Voices" story in the Transition Initiative space. It is called "Jacob's Journey" and describes the participation of a young adult from North Carolina and his team in HKNC’s Deaf-Blind Immersion Seminar (DBIS), an assessment and training program for individuals who are deaf-blind and have intellectual disabilities.

 Mark Your Calendars

Upcoming Webinars

January 27, 2018 - Estrategias Para Salir Adelante y Mantener Este Balance (Strategies for Coping and Maintaining Balance) - Will help family members of children with deaf-blindness identify potential stressors and provide strategies for coping and maintaining balance. Audience: families. Presenter: Myrna Media, California Deafblind Services. Spanish only.

February 28, 2018 - Laying the Foundation for Communication Exchange: Part 1 - How to Start - Will provide essential information about communication for children who are deaf-blind. Audience: families and professionals. Presenter: Susan Bashinski,  Missouri Western State University.

March 21, 2018 - Laying the Foundation for Communication Exchange: Part 2 - Strategies - Will provide strategies to promote the development of conventional, intentional communication. Audience: families and professionals. Presenter: Susan Bashinski,  Missouri Western State University.

Past Webinar Recordings

Educational Considerations for Students with Usher Syndrome
A two-part webinar that provides an overview of Usher syndrome and how to create an educational program. Presenters: Carly Fredericks and Patti McGowan, both parents of children with Usher syndrome, and Nancy O’Donnell, Director of the USH Trust Registry.

A Parent's Story
Myrna Medina, Family Engagement Specialist at California Deaf-Blind Services, shares her family’s story of the life of her son Norman. Also available in Spanish.

View a list of all NCDB webinar recordings.

 Website Tip


Bookmarks is a handy feature that allows you to save library items, events, forum posts, materials from groups, and wiki pages to your NCDB profile for quick reference and easy use. If an item in the site can be bookmarked, you will see a gray bookmark icon next to it. To bookmark an item, simply click on the icon. It will then turn red, indicating that the item is now a saved bookmark. If you bookmark an item by mistake, just click the icon again, and the item will be removed from your bookmarks.

Viewing Your Bookmarks

To view all the items you've bookmarked...

  1. Go to your profile by clicking on your name in the upper right corner of any page on the site and then select My Profile in the drop-down menu.
  2. Select My Bookmarks in the menu on the left side of your profile. The menu will expand to show all the categories you have set up. If you haven’t yet created any categories, your choices will be All Bookmarks and Default. Selecting either one will take you to a list of all your bookmarks. Learn how to organize and share your bookmarks in our website help section.

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The contents of this communication were developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education #H326T130013. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the The Research Institute, nor the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Jo Ann McCann.