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Meet APH Scholar Lanna Slaby
APH is proud to recognize Lanna Slaby, nominated by Ex Officio Trustee (EOT), Emily Stenberg Brown, as a 2022-2023 APH Scholar.
Lanna received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Physical Education from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Afterward, she worked as an elementary classroom teacher for 15 years before becoming a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI). “It’s funny how one event or phone call can change the course for the rest of your life,” said Lanna. “A former colleague of mine who had become a TVI contacted me one day and said, ‘Lanna, I think you’d like being a vision teacher,’ and the rest is history as they say!” Today, Lanna has served in the blindness field for 20 years and works as a TVI and Regional Coordinator for North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind.
Utilizing APH Products
Lanna said, “I serve individuals ages 0-21, and sometimes adults. The main part of my job is conducting Functional Vision Evaluations including Cortical Visual Assessments. In the 0-3 age group, it’s about providing support and resources to families as well as finding the adaptations for their child to support their growth and development. For the school-age children, it’s making sure they have access to their curriculum and learning opportunities in the areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).” Lanna provides consultations for 30+ students and infants across the state of North Dakota, many of whom have CVI. She also does some direct instruction on a limited basis.
One of Lanna’s favorite APH products is the Picture Maker Storage Panel from the Picture Maker Wheatley Tactile Diagramming Kit. “I like attaching picture choice cards, braille cards, schedule cards, and individual calendars to this panel,” said Lanna. “It creates a nice clean black background for assessing students with CVI, and it provides a nice contrasting background if doing a low vision evaluation.” Lanna’s students benefit from the new LED Mini-Lite Box and accompanying overlays. She uses this product during assessments, when students need light to encourage looking, and with a switch so students who are motivated by light can turn the device on and off. For students with CVI, Lanna said, “I’ve started creating transparencies of the child’s toys and presenting them on the light box for those who need light. It’s a way to work on visual discrimination using the needed CVI support of backlit devices.” The Joy Player provides a perfect way to teach choice-making as educators can tactually mark the cartridges to distinguish the different genres of music. The ReadWrite Stand is lightweight, portable, and easy to set up, ideal for students who are moving from class to class. Additionally, Lanna utilizes the Sensory Learning Kit. She said, “I work with a number of students who have additional disabilities, and the kit provides a number of sensory items that these students enjoy.”
Lanna also adapted the Barraga Visual Efficiency Program (BVEP) to use during a CVI assessment with students in late Phase II and III. She said, “I’ve mounted the pictures onto the blackboard from the CVI Book Builder Kit. I’ll show a student the actual object from the kit and place two picture choices onto the All-in-One Board. Then I’ll ask the student to find one like this object. Or I’ve used the pictures with the internal detail and had the student match the picture I am showing them. I’ve used the complex background page and had the student find the objects and the symbols. This kit can provide you with a lot of information on how the student is using their vision.”
When asked about her favorite part of her job, Lanna said, “I’ve been a teacher for over 35 years now and I never grow tired of working with the students. They are the best part of my job. Secondly, I love the variety this job brings as no two days are alike. And I love learning and sharing the learning with others.” From her students, Lanna discovered that it’s all about the attitude you have toward others and the world. “I have seen my students, verbal and nonverbal, display the attitude needed to overcome challenges and circumstances,” said Lanna.
Praise for Lanna
EOT, Emily Stenberg Brown, said, “Lanna is truly a leader at our agency and is known throughout the state for her work as a vision professional. She is the epitome of all that a TVI can be: She makes a difference in not only her students’ lives but in the lives of their families and their other support service workers.”
Looking Toward the Future
Lanna’s hope for the future is to see the Alice Cogswell & Anne Sullivan Macy Act passed. This Act was named after the first deaf student to be formally educated in the U.S., Alice Cogswell, and after Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy. According to its website, this Act “will strengthen the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to improve results for deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind children, including those with additional disabilities.” To learn how you can advocate for the Act to be passed, check out this article from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) website.
More about the Program
Each year, EOTs are asked to nominate someone they feel provides outstanding service in their region. Through a scholarship, awardees attend the APH Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY as a guest of APH. APH pays for all expenses in attending the conference, including transportation to the meeting, conference registration, and hotel accommodations.
Beginning in 2020, APH has worked with each scholar to provide a webinar for professional development or contribute to the APH Hive learning management system. These trainings highlight the APH products used in the scholar’s professional life, how they used them, or include ‘out of the box’ creativity. During Annual Meeting, the Scholars participate in a panel discussion about their service to individuals who are blind or have low vision. Scholars also participate in the building of the EPAC and ESAC committee reports, with commendations and recommendations provided for APH during their Spring meeting.
We look forward to meeting the 2022-2023 APH Scholars at our 154th Annual Meeting in October. Register for Annual Meeting, and stay tuned for an announcement about the 2023-2024 APH Scholars next year.