Articles

A young girl who is deafblind plays with an accordion.
A young girl who is deafblind plays with an accordion.

The following articles were written by members of the Texas Deafblind Project or individuals and family members of individuals who are deafblind. You may download any of these articles and make copies. If you use any of the article contents in original writing, please be sure to site them as content developed by Texas Deafblind Outreach, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX. 

Note: Many of these articles were written a number of years ago and first published in various newsletters published by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Outreach Programs such as P.S. News, SeeHear, and Texas SenseAbilities by TSBVI Outreach Programs. Even though they are older, the content is still relevant. Some of the language used may be different than the language currently being used in Special Education; over time we hope to revise the language to match todays standards. In the meantime, we hope that the content will be helpful.

Currently only the PDF versions of these files are available for download. 

Some of these articles have been translated into Spanish and some have not. Please be patient as we add the Spanish versions of these articles to our website.

Active Learning

The Active Learning Approach: Using the Resonance Board and the Little Room with Young Blind and Multiply Disabled Children

By Gigi Newton, Future Reflections, 2012.
This article, as its title suggests discusses the use of a Little Room and Resonance Board with children.
 

Active Learning and the Exploration of Real Objects

By Stacy Shafer and Ann Adkins, See/Hear Newsletter, TSBVI
This article describes some of the techniques of Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning Theory. 
 

Developing my Classroom for Secondary-Aged Students Who Aren’t Actively Engaging with People or Objects

By Suzanne Becker, TSBVI
A TVI and classroom teacher describes how she serves her secondary-level students who are visually and multiply impaired using Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning approach along with other strategies. 

Five Phases of Educational Treatment Used in Active Learning

By Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI
This article focuses on five phases of educational approaches that teachers are to use in working with children if they are using an Active Learning theory approach. It summarizes the information first published as part of Dr. Nielsen’s book, Are You Blind?.

Incorporating Active Learning Theory into Activity Routines

By Stacy Shafer and Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI
This article focuses on Phase IV and V of Lilli Nielsen’s five educational phases of educational treatment outlined in her book, Are You Blind?, and how the Active Learning principles can be incorporated into activity routines.

An Introduction to Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning

By Stacy Shafer, TSBVI
This article by Stacy Shafer discusses some of the basic strategies of Dr. Lilli Nielsen’s Active Learning Theory. 

Job One for Educators: Becoming a Good Playmate

By Stacy Shafer and Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI
If children learn through play, then we must become better playmates in order to facilitate better learning for the child.
 

Taking a Look at the FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments by Dr. Lilli Nielsen  

By Kate Moss Hurst
This article is based on a book by Dr. Lilli Nielsen titled The FIELA Curriculum: 730 Learning Environments and lists the developmental behaviors in three-month increments as described in this book.

Assessment

Tools to Address Assessment and Instruction for Students with the Most Significant Challenges

This document is a compilation of a variety of articles, handouts, and forms that have been collected and used by staff with TSBVI Outreach Programs for a number of years and which are frequently requested. Recently this information was compiled, reformatted, and updated to include information that was only available previously in a paper format.

Auditory Topics

Are You Listening? Auditory Issues for Children with Visual Impairments

By Kate Moss Hurst

This article is based on presentations and handouts by Jim Durkel, former audiologist and long-time colleague from Texas Deafblind Outreach. It provides basic information about how hearing works and strategies for developing listening skills so important to all children who have visual impairments including deafblindness.

Language Rich Environments for Children who are Deaf or Deafblind

By Kaycee Bennett

This article discusses the importance of providing language rich environments that are accessible to children who are Deaf or deafblind.  

Minimal Losses…Major Implications

By Jenny Lace

A minimal hearing loss in combination with a mild hearing loss can have major impact on a student’s ability to learn and function readily in the school and community. This article points out that we need to fully assess a student’s functioning in multiple settings with various auditory and visual conditions to determine their educational needs and supports.

The Importance of Auditory Training for Children Who Are Deafblind

La Importancia de la Capacitación Auditiva para Niños Sordociegos

By Jim Durkel

This article discusses the importance of including auditory training in curriculum for students who are deafblind. It also offers some suggestions for activities and resources related to providing auditory training.

Behavioral Challenges

Looking at Self-Stimulation in Pursuit of Leisure “I’m Okay You Have Mannerism

Observar la autoestimulación en la búsqueda del ocio o “Yo estoy bien, ¡tú tienes manías!”

By Kate Hurst and Robbie Blaha, TSBVI Outreach Programs

During the long period of quarantine during COVID-19, many families have reported an increase in self-stimulatory behaviors in their children with sensory impairments, including those who are visually impaired and have additional disabilities or are deafblind. This article was first published in the Spring 1993 issue of P.S. NEWS!!! (Volume V. No. 3) by the TSBVI Outreach Programs. Kate Moss Hurst and co-author Robbie Blaha explore the root causes of activities and behaviors that may be considered to be socially inappropriate and encourage readers to revise their thinking about and reactions to self-stimulatory behaviors. Changing perceptions about these behaviors can help parents and professionals respond more effectively and help guide them in addressing students’ sensory needs.

Biobehavioral States

Assessment of Biobehavioral States and Analysis of Related Influences

by Millie Smith and Stacy Shafer, Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired Outreach

This article was originally published in 1997 in See Hear Newsletter and  updated in 2022. It grew out of work done by Robbie Blaha and Stacy Shafer based on Every Move Counts by Jane Korsten and Dixie Dunn. 

Tools to Address Assessment and Instruction for Students with the Most Significant Challenges

This document compiled in 2022,  includes the article, Thoughts on the Assessment of the Student with the Most Profound Disabilities, Assessment of Individuals who are Deafblind and Have Multiple Disabilities, Appetite / Aversion Form,  Assessment of Biobehavioral States and Analysis of Related Influences,  including a sample of a completed and blank form.

Thoughts On Assessment of Students With the Most Profound Disabilities

By Robbie Blaha and Stacy Shafer

This article presents basic user friendly assessment questions and background information which relates to this particular population, and acknowledges the individuality of each of these children by building a personal picture of how they learn. It provides useful information with which to develop programming. This is not intended to be a comprehensive assessment process, but rather some questions and background information to consider when planning for this particular population.

Calendars

Let Me Check My Calendar

By Robbie Blaha, and Kate Moss 

This articles provides a basic overview of the calendars utilized by student who are deafblind.

Communication and Language

Conversations Without Language

By Linda Hagood

An article written about conversational interactions with children who are deafblind and have yet to develop formal communication. 

Language Rich Environments for Children who are Deaf or Deafblind

By Kaycee Bennett, Deafblind Consultant

This article discuss the impact of hearing loss on language development and the importance of early intervention to address this impact.

Understanding Concept Development and Related Challenges for Academic Students who are Deafblind

Comprender el desarrollo de conceptos y los desafíos relacionados para los estudiantes académicos con sordoceguera

By Matt Schultz

This article is a research-based examination of ways to understand the development of concepts by students with deafblindness. It also provides practical suggestions on how to teach and reinforce those concepts for academic students with deafblindness. 

Daily Living Skills

Toilet Training Children with Deafblindness: Issues and Strategies

By Craig Axelrod

Article discussing issues and strategies to help parents and caregivers with children who are deafblind when trying to toilet train. 

Deafblind Eligibility

Let’s Talk Eligibility- FAQs and Their Answers

Hablemos de elegibilidad para sordociegos

Overview and discussion of eligibility criteria for coding a child as deafblind in special education.

Individual Education Plan (IEP) 

IEP Checklist Proficient Communicators Who Are Deafblind

Important considerations when developing an IEP for a student who is deafblind and a proficient communicator.

IEP Quality Indicators for Students Who Are Deafblind

A document to help IEP teams develop an IEP that fully addresses the needs of a student who is deafblind and develop a quality program of instruction.

Issues In Deafblindess When the IEP Is Aligned With General Curriculum

By Robbie Blaha

Students with deafblindness who participate in the general education curriculum face some unique challenges. This article discusses these issues and proposes some strategies for addressing these concerns.

Minimal Losses…Major Implications

By Jenny Lace, Deafblind Consultant

This article discusses a group of students who are often not recognized as being eligible to be included on the National Deafblind Child Count. It is so important to address the impact of losses that may not qualify the child as visually impaired or deaf, but when present in combination does have great impact on learning. These students should be included and addressed as a student who is deafblind.

Role of the Teacher of Deafblind (TDB) in the FIE Process

The Commissioner’s/SBOE Rule §89.1040 addresses eligibility criteria for deafblind. At the local level, applying these criteria can be an unfamiliar and confusing process for staff and families. As a result, some students may not be identified. This puts them at risk for receiving inappropriate services and making limited progress. In addition, there are important guidelines for ranking disabilities that should be considered as part of the FIE process. Also, failing to properly identify a child who is deafblind may mean that families fail to receive important information regarding services from state agencies and as well as other state and community resources.

Teaching Strategies and Content Modifications for Students who are Deafblind

By Kate Moss Hurst and Linda Hagood

This article contrasts the modifications typically made in instruction with children who are deaf and hard of hearing or visually impaired and those who are deafblind.

Early Childhood

Early Concept Development

By Holly Cooper, Ed.D.
This article discusses basic strategies for helping a child who is deafblind develop concepts right from the beginning.  
 
Impact of Visual Impairment On Development
by Chris Strickling, OTR, Private Consultant
 
This article was adapted from a larger publication by Chris Strickling and outlines the impact of vision loss on the overall development of children.

Individual and Family Perspective

2017 TSBVI Commencement Speech: Living Life Expansively as a Blind Person in America

By George Stern

The author, who is deafblind, shares from his personal experience how it is the best of times and the worst of times to be a blind person living in America. He shares guiding principles for living a life that is not constricted by other people’s expectations and how to be a change agent.

After Graduation Happenings

By Becky Harmon

Becky Harmon shares her experiences of building a good life for her daughter who is a young adult.

A Mom On the Road to COMS

By Heather Withrow

In this article, a parent describes her life journey, her experience being the mother of a child who is Deafblind, and her studies in the field of education and orientation and mobility.

Coming Home to Disability: One Sibling’s Story

By Elizabeth Lewis

Elizabeth shares her experience as a sibling growing up with her sister, Katie, who has CHARGE. Through the lens of anthropology, the author shares her journey toward embracing being part of the disability community as both sibling and professional.

DeafBlind Camp of Texas Has a Successful Second Year

By Kim Huston

The author shares about the 2017 DeafBlind Camp of Texas (DBCTX), a barrier free camp for DeafBlind adults, as well as plans for DBCTX Jr to be held in 2018.

Dear Parents of a Child Who Is Deaf and Blind

By Amita Srivanasan

The author shares her personal story in order to explore the impact of labels for DeafBlind individuals.

Discovering How to Connect With My Granddaughter

By LeAnn Pressler
This article discusses connection and communication between a grandparent and her grandchild with CHARGE syndrome. The author discusses the benefit of attending conferences and how implementing the “Triple C Concept” has improved her communication and relationship with her granddaughter.

Fast Friends

By Molly Roberts

The author shares her son’s experience in making a friend while attending the 13th Annual International Charge Syndrome Conference, held in Orlando July 2017.

From Home To School and Into the Community

By Denitra Rideaux
 
Following is a presentation Denitra and Trey gave at the 10th Annual Texas Chargers Family Retreat. Trey was honored as the 2015 Star Charger. On behalf of the Texas SenseAbilities editorial committee, we celebrate along with the Texas Chargers community all that Trey has accomplished through the years.

Futures Planning Led Us to Touch Base Center for the DeafBlind

By  Vivecca Hartman

The author shares her family’s experience in establishing a non-profit organization to provide adult services specifically geared for people with “ness”.

I Want You to Know: Reflections on Publishing a Book

By Amita Srinivansa

Amita Srinivasan’s book, I Want You to Know, was published in May 2015. Amita, who is 16 years old and has CHARGE Syndrome, wrote the book with the aim of giving voice to what she teachers and parents should know and understand about a child with special needs.

My Success Story

Garland Goodwin,

Garland, a student with CHARGE Syndrome, describes his public school experiences and the supports that allowed him to participate completely and successfully.

Texas Chargers:  Our Family’s Journey Finding a Community of Support

By Jill Bradshaw

The author shares her family’s experience finding resources and connections through the Texas Chargers family organization.

Touch That Cake!

By Heather Withrow

The author shares how she partnered with a cake artist to make her son’s birthday cake a meaningful and accessible experience.

What Is ProTactile and What Are Its Benefits?

By Sarah Morrison & Rhonda Voight-Campbell

ProTactile is a socio-cultural philosophy with its own sets of philosophy, attitude, culture, and language. This emerging concept has become a way of life for the DeafBlind community. ProTactile plays an significant role in DeafBlind world. Members explore the world through touch, and most importantly communicate through touch. ProTactile is a language that the DeafBlind community embraces and benefits from as a way of life.

Interaction

Conversations Without Language
By Linda Hagood
An article written about conversational interactions with children who are deafblind and have yet to develop formal communication. 

Supporting High Quality Interactions with Student Who Are Deafblind

By Craig Axelrod

Educators can have more positive, responsive and reciprocal interactions with their students who are deafblind by learning how to modify their own interactive behaviors and adapt the interactive context. High quality interactions contribute to improved educational outcomes for students with deafblindness. This article explores this issue and describes how it the process was used with students who are deafblind at TSBVI.

Intervention and Interveners

Intervener Job Description

A suggested job description that was developed by administrators, parents, paraprofessionals, and VI professionals. 

Interpreter, Intervener, Co-Navigator/Support Service Provider…What’s the Difference?

Description of these roles and a list of resources to learn more about each.

Interveners: Myths, Legends, and Reality

By David Wiley

There are some misconceptions associated with using interveners to provide support to students with deafblindness in educational settings. The author attempts to clarify intervener myths with the realities of the intervener model.

Ten Issues Consider When Intervening for Students with Deafblindness

By David Wiley

This article provides a framework for analyzing ten common issues a teacher, intervener, or caregiver must address when effectively supporting a student who is deafblind. Questions are provided to help guide a team in planning the best sensory access for the student in all environments.

Orientation and Mobility

Sound Travels

Sound Travels is a guidance document designed to help a team address the needs of a student who is deafblind in the area of orientation and mobility. It came about through the collaboration of several members of the Texas Deafblind Project and an audiologist as they tried to develop assessment guidelines to assist the team in fitting a hearing aid for a student who is deafblind. Their discussion and collaboration identified some specific challenges that must be met by the team to insure appropriate amplification and instruction is in place for a student who is deafblind.

Download Sound Travels Word version.

Download Sound Travels PDF version.

Routines

Incorporating Active Learning Theory into Activity Routines

By Stacy Shafer and Kate Moss Hurst, TSBVI

This article focuses on Phase IV and V of Lilli Nielsen’s five educational phases of educational treatment outlined in her book, Are You Blind?, and how the Active Learning principles can be incorporated into activity routines.

Make It Routine

By Robbie Blaha and Kate Moss Hurst

A discussion of the benefits of using routines with children who are deafblind. The article includes guidance on developing routines for use at home and at school.

Sexuality

Becoming a Woman

By Kate Moss Hurst

This article discusses strategies for helping a young woman prepare for her menstrual period.

Masturbation

By Robbie Blaha and Kate Moss Hurst

This article is an except of the larger publication by these authors, Introduction to Sexuality Education for Individuals Who Are Deaf-Blind and Significantly Developmentally Delayed. It address this topic from the perspective of the individual who is deafblind and offers strategies to help parents and professionals appropriately address this issue.

Transition to Adulthood

Brief Guide to Person-Centered Planning Workbook

By Kate Moss Hurst and David Wiley

This workbook is used to help families and others supporting the adult transition of an individual who is deafblind. It is a tool for creating a person-centered plan.

Transition from School to Adult Life in the Community: A Three-Part Planning Sheet

By David Wiley

This planning sheet provides guidance in developing a vision for the future of an individual who is deafblind through the use of questions and the creation of a vision for various aspects of adult life.