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Educational Product Showcase in Washington, DC: "Teaching Tools for Students Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired"

Introduction

On June 16, 2010, the APH Board of Trustees hosted a showcase of our educational products on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth and Arkansas Congressman John Boozman served as honorary hosts for the event, which was held in the Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room.

The showcase was an historic event for the American Printing House for the Blind in several ways. It was our first time presenting a visual and tactile report to the U.S. Congress on how appropriation funds are used, and it was the first time we’ve displayed products in the U.S. House of Representatives. It might also have been the most products we’ve ever displayed—84—in one place, at one time.

APH Board of Trustee members, executive staff, and their special guests served as hosts for the product showcase. The group is pictured here in the rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building, just prior to the showcase program and reception.

A view of the U.S. Capitol from the Cannon House Office Building rotunda.

The main entrance to the Longworth House Office Building on Independence Avenue, as seen from the Cannon House Office Building rotunda.

The entrance to the Cannon Caucus Room, just off the Cannon House Office Building rotunda.

Becky Snider (left), APH Public Affairs Coordinator, and Julie Crocker (seated), intern in Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s Washington, DC office, greet showcase visitors and give them name tags.

APH was honored to display products throughout the historic Cannon Caucus Room, the site of many congressional ceremonies and functions.

Gifts for showcase visitors included APH coasters and bags, Chinese food boxes containing braille fortune cookies and a braille alphabet card, and DVDs of events held during APH’s 150th anniversary in 2008. The fortune cookies are produced and sold by Lucky Touch Fortune Cookie company in Fremont, CA. Blind and visually impaired students at the California School for the Blind operate the business and market braille fortune cookies nationwide.

Nancy Lacewell (left), APH Director of Government and Community Affairs, and Gary Mudd, APH Vice President of Public Affairs, encourage members of Congress to support the APH appropriation. They, along with colleague Becky Snider, APH Public Affairs Coordinator, organized and produced the educational product showcase in Washington, DC.

Bob Brasher (left), APH Vice President of Research and Advisory Services, explains APH’s Federal Quota Program to a showcase visitor. Approximately 80% of the appropriation funds APH receives each year are distributed to U.S. states and outlying areas on a "per capita" basis, determined by the number of blind and visually impaired students that are eligible to receive APH products in each state and outlying area.

This display illustrates the process and timeline for turning a print textbook into braille. From receiving an order, to transcription, to production, to shipping, the process takes many months and can cost several thousand dollars. When the one-volume print textbook pictured here, America: History of Our Nation, was transcribed, it became 20 volumes of braille.

Jane Thompson (right), APH Director of Accessible Textbooks, explained the process of transcribing a print textbook into braille for showcase visitors.

Janie Blome (left), APH Director of Field Services, talked with a showcase visitor about the complexities of producing braille textbooks.

The People

There were many representatives of the organizations that partner with APH to promote the education of people who are blind and visually impaired. Staff members from legislative offices across Capitol Hill took advantage of this unique opportunity to learn more about the American Printing House for the Blind from APH staff and to hear a distinguished group of speakers. APH Board members were pleased to greet APH Ex Officio Trustees and other professionals in the field of blindness who traveled to Capitol Hill from around the region. APH consumers and vendors, alike, remarked about the amazing display of educational products.

APH Board member Dr. Virginia Keeney (right) was happy to meet with Representative John Yarmuth (KY-3rd District).

Before addressing the audience from the podium, APH Board Chairman Dr. Charles Barr (center) and his wife Lisa spoke with U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth (left).

U.S. President Obama’s Special Assistant on Disability Policy, Kareem Dale (left), had a chance to catch up with one of his former teachers from the Tennessee School for the Blind and APH representative Mary Nelle McLennan (right), while her husband Rick Welsh looks on.

Karen Cator (center) addressed the group on behalf of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. As Director of the Office of Educational Technology, she spoke of the ways APH meets the needs of blind and visually impaired students in this age of technological advances. In this photo, Tristan Pierce (right) (APH Research), demonstrates a health and recreational product to Karen and APH Board Member Dr. Julie Lee (left).

Representing Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Will Coffman spoke to the group about the relationship he has developed with the American Printing House for the Blind, beginning with his early days as the Director of the Governor’s Washington, D.C. Office.

One of APH’s newest Board members, Judge David Holton, greeted Will Coffman, Director of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s Washington, DC Office. Holton became Kentucky’s first judge who is blind when he took office as Jefferson County District Court Judge in 2008.

U.S. Congressman John Boozman (AR-3rd District) and APH Vice President of Advisory Services and Research Bob Brasher had a chance to renew their friendship. Representative Boozman, the only optometrist in the U.S. House of Representatives, established the low vision clinic at the Arkansas School for the Blind where Bob worked before coming to APH.

Thirteen-year-old Chase Crispin, a student from Nebraska who has been blind from birth, explained how APH products provide access to his school work and daily life, while an American Sign Language interpreter from the U.S. Department of Education relayed the information.

Executive Vice President of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind Kim Alfonso remarked about the impact the American Printing House for the Blind has made on her life, as well as that of her daughter who is blind.

Kim Alfonso gladly spoke to the group from the perspective of the parent of a child who is visually impaired.

APH Board members, their families, APH staff, and invited guests gathered in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building to hear dignitaries from the Executive Branch, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Department of Education speak about the working partnership they have had with the American Printing House for the Blind since 1879.

Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth (center), honorary host of the event, was surrounded by APH Board members and others (left to right): Phoebe Wood, Judge David Holton, Phoebe’s husband Mark, Congressman Yarmuth, Jim Lintner, Bart Perkins, Dr. Julie Lee, and Dr. Charles Barr, Board Chairman.

Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3rd District, right), posed for a photo with Chase Crispin of Nebraska after learning about the middle school student’s numerous and impressive accomplishments.

APH President Tuck Tinsley (right) thanked U.S. Representative Brett Guthrie (KY-2nd District, left) for co-hosting the "Teaching Tools for Students Who are Blind and Visually Impaired" event.

Dr. Julie Lee (left), Dr. Charles Barr, Board Chairman (center), along with Dr. Barr’s wife, Lisa Barr (right).

Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3rd District, left) welcomed APH Board member Jim Lintner (center) and family to Capitol Hill. Jim and wife Kathy (right) brought two of their grandchildren, Emmalee Lintner and Brett Metzmeier, to visit the nation’s capital.

Jim Lintner (left) and his wife Kathy (right). Mr. Lintner was serving as the chair of the APH Board when the APH museum’s traveling exhibit was displayed on Capitol Hill in honor of APH’s 150th Anniversary in 2008.

Dr. Virginia Keeney (left) and Dr. Julie Lee (right) currently serve on the APH Board of Trustees.

One of APH’s newest Board members Phoebe Wood (left) and husband Mark (center) had a chance to get to know others in the APH family while in Washington, DC, including Sharon Perkins (right), wife of Board member Bart Perkins.

Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) representatives reconnected with APH at the event. From left to right, Mary Nelle McLennan (APH), Mike Bina (MSB), Rick Welsh, retired vision professional, and Martin Monson (MSB).

APH Board member Bart Perkins welcomed the opportunity to meet with Senator Mitch McConnell (KY) in the Capitol Building. Senator McConnell is Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate.

Jasmine Weatherby (left), Legislative Assistant for Congressman John Yarmuth, talked with Senate legislative staff member Aaron Bishop during the evening’s event.

Will Coffman (left) listened to other guest speakers while waiting to address the group on behalf of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. Beside him (left to right) are Will’s guest Katie Kaufman, Julie Crocker — an intern in Will’s office — and Scott Blome (APH).

APH Vice President of Public Affairs Gary Mudd (left), Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3rd District), and Rick Ricks (right), Executive Director of the Kentucky School for the Blind Charitable Foundation.

A few APH staff members gathered near the transition and daily living products were (left to right): Bill Beavin, Chief Financial Officer; Burt Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader; Mike Hudson, APH Museum Director; Jack Decker, Vice President of Production; and Marty Herbert of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Marty Herbert of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a native of Kentucky connected with APH staff members Janie Blome, Monica Turner, and Scott Blome.

APH staffer Sandi Baker (left), APH Vice President of Development Paul Zurkuhlen (center), and former NIMAC employee Anne Ledford (right) who now works in the Washington, DC area.

Bernadette Kappen, Ph.D. and Joe Catavero traveled from the New York Institute of Special Education (NYISE) in New York City to support APH. Bernadette is the Executive Director of NYISE and Joe currently serves as an APH Ex Officio Trustee.

Congressman Benjamin Gilman (NY-retired) talked with Bernadette Kappen (center) from the New York Institute of Special Education and APH President Tuck Tinsley (right).

APH Field Services Representative Sandi Baker (left) exhibited visual efficiency and low vision products, while Stephanie Lancaster (right), Graphic Designer in the APH Communications Department, photographed the event.

Products on Display

Educational products were displayed in two categories: core curriculum and expanded core curriculum. In brief, the core curriculum consists of basic academic subjects that all students are expected to master. The expanded core curriculum consists of specific skills that blind and visually impaired students must learn to achieve academically and live independently.

Core Curriculum: Mathematics, Science, and Health. Some products shown here are MathBuilders, Wheatley Picture Maker, and Sense of Science on an APH light box.

APH Field Services Representative Monica Turner (left) shows a visitor Azer’s Interactive Periodic Table Study Set in braille and large print.

Core Curriculum: Science. Sense of Science is shown on an APH light box.

Core Curriculum: Social Studies, Fine Arts, Business and Vocational Education. Ginger Backer (right), a teacher at the Kentucky School for the Blind, helped young visitors put together a tactile map of the United States.

Core Curriculum: Mathematics. APH Field Services Representative Monica Turner (right) shows guests how APH products are used to teach math to students who are blind and visually impaired.

Core Curriculum: Mathematics.

Core Curriculum: English, Language Arts. Jeanie Brasher (left), teacher at the Kentucky School for the Blind, showed visitors APH products supporting the study of English.

APH Research Project Leader Tristan Pierce (right) talks with a visitor about APH physical education, recreation, and leisure products. PE is a core curriculum subject. Recreation and leisure are expanded core subjects.

Janice Corbett (left) came from the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services to explore the APH Showcase of Products. Karen Poppe (right), Tactile Graphics Project Leader, explained how foil is used to create tactile graphics.

David Hauck (left) and Janice Corbett (center), of the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services learn about recreational products used in school and home settings from Tristan Pierce (right), Physical Education Project Leader at APH.

Expanded Core Curriculum: Transition, Daily Living, and Self-Determination

Burt Boyer (left), Early Childhood Project Leader at APH, talked at length about the importance of expanded core curriculum concepts, such as transition from high school to adult life, with Mousouda Mortazavimi (right), legislative staff member from Congressman Jim Matheson’s office (UT-2nd District).

Expanded Core Curriculum: Transition, Daily Living, and Self-Determination. APH Vice President of Production Jack Decker (left) and Burt Boyer (center), APH Project Leader for Research, explain to Darnise Nelson of Congressman G. K. Butterfield’s office (NC-1st District) how a blind or visually impaired person uses APH products to learn to live independently.

Expanded Core Curriculum: Tactile Graphics

Expanded Core Curriculum: Tactile Graphics. Karen Poppe (left) demonstrates the All in One Board, a tool for communication and development of literacy, for a visitor.

Expanded Core Curriculum: Recreation and Leisure

Expanded Core Curriculum: Recreation and Leisure. The Web Chase game, children’s print/braille books from Chrissy’s Collection, and the Rib-It Ball were just a few of the recreational products displayed in the Cannon Caucus Room.

Throughout the day, visitors traveled from table to table experiencing firsthand the collection of APH products chosen for the "Teaching Tools" showcase.

Expanded Core Curriculum: Orientation and Mobility/Assistive Technology and Electronics. The highlight of the showcase for many visitors, including Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth (center), was talking with Chase Crispin (left), a 13-year-old student from Nebraska, who demonstrated several assistive technology products.

After talking with Chase Crispin (right) and Maria Delgado (rear), APH Field Services Representative, visitors had a better understanding of the state-of-the-art equipment and tools available to people who are blind and visually impaired.

One of the guest speakers, Chase Crispin (left), traveled to Washington, DC with his mother, Dana Crispin (right), from Omaha, Nebraska. Chase and his vision teacher, LeAnna MacDonald, have developed training videos about assistive technology products from APH and posted them on YouTube.

Museum Display

In addition to products, the APH traveling exhibit In Touch With Knowledge: Geography was on display at the showcase.

Mike Hudson (left, background), Director of the APH Museum of the History of the Education of the Blind, looked on as guests explored a tactile globe on the Geography exhibit display.

Daniel Ward, Legislative Assistant for Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe, learned how people who are blind read maps with their fingers.

Anne Rich (right), APH Museum Collections Manager, talked with Jasmine Weatherby, Legislative Assistant for Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, about the APH museum exhibit. Jasmine advised APH staff throughout the planning process for this event.

The APH tactile puzzle of the United States, a component of the museum exhibit, attracts the attention of this showcase guest.

American Printing House for the Blind (APH) staff and Board of Trustee members met with Senator Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Capitol Building in June. APH representatives were on Capitol Hill to host a showcase of educational products for students who are blind and visually impaired. A long-time supporter of educational opportunities for students with vision loss, Senator McConnell discussed with APH staff and board members the changing needs of blind and visually impaired students, focusing on the development of accessible technology products at APH.

Pictured from left are: Gary Mudd, APH Vice President of Public Affairs; Dr. Tuck Tinsley, APH President; Dr. Julie Lee, Board of Trustees; Bob Brasher, APH Vice President of Research and Advisory Services; Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell; Jack Decker, APH Vice President of Production; Dr. Virginia Keeney, Board of Trustees; Herbert "Bart" Perkins, Board of Trustees; and Judge David Holton, Board of Trustees.