Halloween Costume Parade
Check out our Halloween Costume Parade, CUTE!
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Students in Grant Kraus' School for the Blind class explored the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, recently. The students gained background knowledge through touching skin textures, shapes and sizes of animals and experiencing zoo smells. Thanks to Grant for the photos!
Music Therapy Strategies at CSDB
Written by Julie Harrison, CSDB Music Therapist
A young woman holding a guitar meets a student at her school bus. The student finds it difficult to transition into the school day, and music is one of the supports she needs. The woman plays songs the student has come to associate with easing into the day. Erin smiles and begins to pat her legs. She rolls into the school building in her wheelchair.
Music therapy is a research-based health profession in which a board-certified music therapist uses music interventions to reach non-musical goals in a non-threatening environment with people of all ages and abilities. Music therapy can benefit in any setting, such as academic settings and medical settings. Music therapists work towards academic, communication, cognitive, behavioral, social and motor goals.
Music therapists, such as the one in the above story, are trained to utilize the captivating elements of music to help students with non-musical tasks such as transitions, learning the braille code, utilizing their assistive communication devices, and reinforcing Orientation and Mobility, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy goals.
CSDB has one certified music therapist who serves as our music educator, and a music therapy intern serving students until January. The educator/therapist often co-treats with other professionals at the school and supports academic teachers with their IEP goals. She serves the School for the Blind and the School for the Deaf. This month, she will serve the Outreach department by supporting their family programs. While we do not currently provide one-to-one music therapy services, we incorporate music therapy strategies in all music education settings. Music is a powerful tool for many of our students and can help our students thrive and achieve at CSDB.
Recently, the School for the Blind students and staff visited the North Pole in Cascade, Colorado. Many giggles were had while students enjoyed a variety of rides and it felt like we were really hiking to Santa’s House. Our students loved the magical experience and whimsy. They even got to meet Santa! This activity is an example of a recreation and leisure skill, one of nine life skills kids with visual impairments and multiple disabilities learn through the Expanded Core Curriculum.
Liz Arnquist, School for the Blind TVI
White Cane Day!
Coming October 14th! Join us in Colorado Springs at Acacia Park to celebrate White Cane Day.
International Dot Day
CSDB students recently celebrated International Dot Day. International Dot Day is named for the Peter H. Reynolds storybook “The Dot.” The book shares the story of a girl who begins a journey of self-discovery after a caring teacher challenges her to “make her mark.”
White Cane Day Apparel
To celebrate White Cane Day, we are selling shirts and sweatshirts so you can show your White Cane Day pride! I have included some information about White Cane Day, and below that are some pictures of the shirt/sweatshirt and a link to order. You can find all the information through each link. The shirts are the same design we sold from 2019-2021 but the sweatshirt is a brand new design! Usually, during White Cane Day it is a little cooler outside so we thought the sweatshirt might be a nice addition. The order will close on September 20. Everyone will pay individually though each link. Unfortunately, I couldn’t combine the links so if you want both you must order them separately. If you have them shipped here, shipping is free. If you choose to have it shipped elsewhere you will have to pay for shipping.
This year we will be celebrating White Cane Day at Acacia Park downtown on October 14 (weather permitting). The ceremony, which will include a performance by the Bulldog Band, will take place from 10-11:30 and is open to the public so if you want to join us, come on down!
When President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed in 1964 that every October 15th will be celebrated as White Cane Safety Day, he stated, “The white cane in our society has become one of the symbols of a blind person’s ability to come and go on his own. Its use has promoted courtesy and special consideration to the blind on our streets and highways.”
Every year on this day we celebrate the white cane as a symbol of blindness and a tool for independence as well as the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired. This is also a day when we emphasize White Cane Law which varies by state. In Colorado, it states “Drivers and pedestrians, other than persons in wheelchairs, to yield to persons with disabilities.” White Cane Law has been central to the safety of people who are blind or visually impaired as they travel and go about their daily activities.
Literacy Skills at the Tip of Your Fingers
For blind students, their biggest barrier to reading isn’t only conquering the laborious task of learning braille. They struggle with the prerequisite skills and overall comprehension as well. However, because of the lack of incidental learning that they are able to gain understanding through, the use of real objects greatly increases their chances of understanding.
I created a Real Object Library that is housed in my classroom. This library is a collection of real objects, known and unknown to students, that I will use to help build background knowledge, hands-on experiences, and make abstract concepts concrete. The use of these objects not only keep students engaged, but helps build their overall understanding of a story. It helps them connect meaning to real objects and tools related to stories. I’ve found it to be a great tool for my blind students and also my students who are more successful with visual cues to trigger their memory of a story.
When introducing a new story, pre-teaching is key for my students. This concept refers to hitting those big concepts or topics before reading the story and expecting students to gain understanding immediately. During this phase of teaching, I heavily rely on real objects to begin priming my students and setting the intention for reading.
In this library, I will also house previous materials I’ve made for lessons in case they would be beneficial in a later lesson. Last year, my youngest group of kiddos learned all about prairies and the concept of underground tunnels. Pictured is a model I created to solidify their understanding of the concept.
Of course, some stories and concepts are more abstract than others, which may limit the amount of real objects I can incorporate. I try to think outside the box when I can. However, most of the time, I am able to really immerse my students in hands-on experiences to aid their overall understanding of a story and hopefully make reading less laborious in the process!
Written by Grace Gundel, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, CSDB Elementary
Welcome to the 2022-2023 School Year-1st Day of School
The Life of a Braille Book...From a Request to Student's Hands
It takes a lot of skilled people to get a braille textbook under the fingertips of a student on the first day of school. A certified braille transcriber uses braille translation software to manipulate an electronic file of a book, applying strict formatting guidelines established by the Braille Authority of North America. A variety of textured paper, string, and objects are used to turn pictures, tables, and graphs into tactile graphics to be felt by the reader. A certified braille proofreader checks for braille accuracy before the file is sent to a braille embosser which pushes and presses braille dots onto both sides of thick perforated paper which is separated and bound into volumes about 2 inches thick.
With significant funding from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), the Colorado Instructional Materials Center (CIMC), part of the CSDB Outreach Department, assists all Colorado school districts fulfill their requests for approximately 500 braille textbooks and novels each school year. The full transcription of a braille textbook populated with mathematic equations, maps, or scientific illustrations can take up to two years to complete and be comprised of up to 100 volumes.
CSDB Bulldogs 5k
Water Day! in the School for the Blind Elementary. Perfect sunny day to play.
Elementary Camp Out
The School for the Blind elementary team hosted a camp out afternoon. This afternoon included campfire songs, smores, yard games, movement activities, and campfire stories. Students also learned about backpacking tools such as bear spray, bear barrels, jet boils, water filters, headlamps, lanterns, and camping stoves.
A group of students, in the School for the Blind, learned how to play hockey at an event sponsored by the Avalanche and Delta Dental. Students learned about equipment, safety gear, how to skate, and even played with a puck that was adapted with sound! At the end of the event students had a chance to meet a few former Avalanche players for photos and autographs!
Big thanks to the Avs, Delta Dental, South Suburban Sports Complex, and TPH Center of Excellence for a great event! Let’s Go AVS!!! COLORADO AVALANCHE FANS Colorado Avalanche @DeltaDental @SouthSuburbanSportsComplex TPH Center of Excellence
Graduation-Class of 2022!
Congratulations Class of 2022!
Nothing Bundt Cakes? You bet!
Marie, student in the School for the Deaf, is enjoying her high school work study with Nothing Bundt Cakes. She's learning job skills and the art of decorating baked goods. Thank you to the staff of Nothing Bundt Cakes, who teach and care for Marie!
Tactile/Braille Book of ASL
A special “shout out” and thank you to Cindy Cummings and the Colorado Instructional Materials Center(CIMC) staff for collaborating to create a braille and tactile book of the American Sign Language (ASL) alphabet for blind and low vision learners; thank you for helping to make ASL accessible to all staff on our campus! One of the users said, “Yes, this book is helpful for learning the letter signs, though I think it will work best in tandem with being physically shown all the signs. We suggest showing the signs for left-hand and right-hand, possibly mirroring each other on opposite pages.” In response to this suggestion, the CIMC team is making several new books that incorporate both left and right-handed tactile graphics. (The graphics do not belong to CSDB. This book is being used internally by CSDB staff and students for educational purposes only.)
CSDB Bulldog Band
Last week, students performed in the Bulldog Band, directed by Julie Harrison. In this photo, nine students and a staff member pose for a photo with Julie, who is holding flowers. The show was amazing and can be found on our YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPTkUC6dlQE&t=1356s .
As you know, CSDB students recently competed in the Communication Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. an Optimist scholarship program. We are delighted to announce that in the ASL contest, Luke, a CSDB student, was a Finalist at the Colorado/Wyoming District level. Congratulations!
Super cool tactile bulletin board captures the attention of a student in the School for the Blind. This art is created by Tina, the CSDB Braillist. Thanks to Robin Teuting for the photo.
Cane Quest Winners!
Congratulations Cane Quest winners!! Cane Quest, a competition from the Braille Institute, is a challenging orientation and mobility contest for School for the Blind students in grades 3-6.
Tonal Braille Project
A few years ago, our elementary school TSVI (Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments) Julie Vinikoor, approached me and my music therapy intern, Mia Hartley about creating a way for pitch to be used as a memorization strategy for her students learning braille letters. She noticed that many of her students that year had excellent affinity and memory for pitch. Indeed, most of her students had perfect (or absolute) pitch: They could identify a musical note without the assistance of a reference pitch. Studies have indicated that this skill may be more common in blind populations than in the general population (Hamilton et al. 2004; Vitouch, 2003).
We formed the Tonal Braille Team (Julie Vinikoor, Mia Hartley, Jamie Lugo, Sharon Kay and myself) to study the effectiveness, among eight students, of using musical pitch with the braille cell. We used six bells (pictured above) to represent the dots in the braille cell, and assigned fixed pitches to each of the dots. We created a procedure to teach braille letters using these pitches. This tonal braille strategy was successful for 7 of the 8 students. One of the issues that we encountered was that to use this strategy with bells, the facilitator must be able to sing on pitch, which isn’t always feasible, especially for teachers not trained as musical therapists. Dr. Keith Harrison helped us develop a voice-controlled Android app that plays the pitches of the bells, and displays the corresponding braille cell on the screen and on a braille display. Video of the app in action
If you are interested in helping us gather data on the effectiveness of this strategy, or if you would like to learn more about the app, please contact Julie Harrison, MT-BC at Jharrison@csdb.org or Sharon Kay, MT-BC at Skay@csdb.org.
Hamilton, R. H., Pascual-Leone, A., & Schlaug, G. (2004). Absolute pitch in blind musicians. Neuroreport, 15(5), 803–806. https://doi.org/10.1097/00001756-200404090-00012
Vitouch. (2003). Absolutist Models of Absolute Pitch Are Absolutely Misleading. Music Perception, 21(1), 111–117. https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2003.21.1.111
Beeping Egg Hunt
Did you know that the technology used in our Beeping Egg Hunt was invented by a CSDB volunteer, in the late 1960s?
Vernon Grimes, helped develop this remarkable device allowing visually impaired people to use a sound-emitting beep to play adaptive baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and participate in the Beeping Egg Hunt! Grimes was a member of the Telephone Pioneers service club, which continues to provide our Beeping Egg Hunt, to this day!
The Colorado Springs Police Dept. returned to challenge the students, in the School for the Blind, to a goalball game. This time, they brought the Chief of Police, the Deputy Chief and the Mayor!
This is part of the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) Community Relations Unit’s new program called “PLAY COS.” The program is aimed at creating more opportunities for positive interactions between officers and community members in Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs City Government
Keep Learning Alive Over Summer Break
As summer break approaches, you are probably wondering what you can do to help your child transition back to school in the fall. Since reading is fundamental and connects to every field of learning, below are some suggestions to get you started.
Books (braille, twin vision, and large print) are available for summer checkout from the Adams school library (please contact me for details, if you are interested). The Colorado Talking Book Library (CTBL) has titles available for check-out also. You may complete an application to have books delivered to your home. Applications are available in the school library office or at the CTBL website. For more information, go to https://myctbl.cde.state.co.us/
Research shows that reading greatly impacts a student’s learning. Our literacy teacher has posters stating these facts at the entrance of her classroom. A student that reads for more than 20 minutes a day is exposed to 1.8 million words a year. A child that reads on average 5 minutes a day is exposed to 282,000 words per year and a child that reads approximately 1 minute per day is exposed to 8,000 words per year.
If you are interested in listening to audiobooks with your child, check out Sora (CSDB’s online library). Students can log-in with their CSDB student login. Sora is also available through Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) if you have a PPLD card. Tumblebooks is another resource that can be accessed through PPLD. I also recommend Learning Ally and Bookshare. These reading programs were developed specifically to assist students who have difficulty accessing print books. If you have questions, please contact me.
Other suggestions you might find helpful in supporting your child’s learning over summer break.
Brighten A Day
Jacksun's message of love to share with senior citizens, "Remember that you are wanted and people love you."
Pi Day! What's that?
March 14, or 3/14 commemorates the mathematical sign Pi, 3.14159....
Yesterday, several classes celebrated this number, the relation of a circle's circumference to its diameter.
Rockin' the game competition!
Students are playing Connect 4 that has been modified so half of the chips are marked with Braille. Now, the game is accessible for students who are blind or visually impaired. Students are wearing eye shades so each person's vision classification is the same for game competition.
Read Across America Day
Read Across America Day brought together CSDB students along with students from other schools (virtually) to enjoy stories and crafts.
Braille Challenge is the only academic competition of its kind in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired. Braille Institute launched Braille Challenge in 2000 to motivate students to practice and hone their braille literacy skills, which are essential to academic and employment success. Regional events are held from January through mid-March throughout the United States and Canada. The top 50 students (10 in each category) with the highest scores are invited to the National Finals in Los Angeles, California.
Denver Metro (Virtual) Braille Challenge
The Denver Metro Braille Challenge event is hosted by the CSDB Outreach Department. Nine students from six Administrative Units across Colorado participated virtually this year. TVIs had the month of February to proctor the contest for their students. Games, songs, dancing, and snacks were fun activities students enjoyed in addition to the contest. Here are quotes from two of the participants:
When asked if he looked forward to and enjoyed the Braille Challenge, one student responded. “Yes! I love the Braille Challenge! We get to have a party all about braille. Some of the tests are pretty hard, but I can try to win a prize for doing good work!”.
“The Braille Challenge is cool because I have the ability to participate in something my sighted friends don’t. I like the brailled Uno cards and dog tag I got. I also am excited for the opportunity to compete in California if I make it that far, and if the pandemic lets us.”
CSDB Campus, Colorado Springs
CSDB celebrated the Braille Challenge on campus on March 3, 2022. Students enjoyed the braille competitions and rookie activities scheduled throughout the day. Gift cards and prizes were raffled off, yummy pizza was served for lunch, and the day ended with a celebration and closing ceremony in the School for the Blind Auditorium with songs from our very own Bulldog Band! Thank you so much to the Braille Institute for supplying the contest materials, prizes, and swag to all the students.
Some students in the School for the Blind experience winter outdoor education with the help of ski guides!
Did you know? Today is Fat Tuesday, a celebratory day during Mardi Gras. Purple, green, and gold are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras: purple stands for justice, gold represents power, and green reflects faith.
Check out these students making Mardi Gras masks, in the School for the Blind!
100th Day of School
Today is the 100th Day of School! We are in the midst of many fun activities, but check out how we started the day in one building! Staff dressed up as if they were 100 years old. Can you tell who they are? Watch, next week, for a video with more 100 Day fun!
But what’s a refreshable Braille display? Read on to find out.
The American Foundation for the Blind provides the following definition for refreshable Braille displays:
“Braille displays provide access to information on a computer screen by electronically raising and lowering different combinations of pins in braille cells. A braille display can show up to 80 characters from the screen and is refreshable—that is, it changes continuously as the user moves the cursor around on the screen, using either the command keys, cursor routing keys, or Windows and screen reader commands. The braille display sits on the user’s desk, often underneath the computer keyboard. The advantages of braille displays over synthetic speech are that it provides direct access to information; allows the user to check format, spacing, and spelling; and is quiet.”
Many CSDB students are learning to use the Mantis Q40 Braille display from American Printing House for the Blind. This device has a full QWERTY keyboard to input information and a 40-cell Braille display along the bottom of the device for Braille output. This is a great device for students who prefer to type information on a standard keyboard rather than to input Braille. It helps to reinforce the student’s typing skills, and when it is connected to a computer and screen reader, the student’s knowledge and use of Windows, Word, and screen reader commands are reinforced. As a stand-alone device, students are learning to use features such as notetaking in the editor and reading digital books in Braille. Students enjoy using the Mantis display connected to their computer or iOS devices such as iPads and iPhones.
A second device students appreciate is the QBraille XL from HIMS. This device has a Braille keyboard for input and a 40-cell display for Braille output. It also has all of the QWERTY system and function keys, therefore reinforcing the student’s understanding and use of Windows, Word, and screen reader commands. This is a great device for students who prefer to enter information using a Braille keyboard. Again, students like to connect the QBraille with their computer or iOS devices to navigate and read information on their devices with the Braille output.
One student says: “I like the QBraille because it has Windows keys all around it. This helps me use my Windows commands and screen reader commands. I also like the QBraille because it helps me with my spelling, and I can see whether the words are capitalized. If I were not using the Braille display and just using the screen reader, I wouldn’t have known that the word was capitalized.”
Some of our students also enjoy using the Orbit Reader 20 Braille display paired with an iPad. This device is helpful for beginning Braille students who are just learning to input Braille using a Braille keyboard. When the Orbit Reader is paired with an iPad, the VoiceOver screen reader provides auditory feedback.
Written by Emma Avery, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, CSDB-School for the Blind
"If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.” -Gerald R. Ford
Middle and high school students, in the School for the Blind, recently had the opportunity to work on these two skills in preparation for the Optimist Society’s annual Oratorical Contest. The theme this year: “Staying Optimistic in Challenging Times.” Students were required to compose a speech as a class assignment, and could receive extra credit for entering their speech in the official contest.
The National Institute of Mental Health has reported that anxiety around public speaking effects an estimated 73% of the population (nationalsocialanxietycenter.com). Yet public speaking is a skill that can open doors, make connections, and inspire change. As an English teacher, a large part of my job is to teach students how to communicate effectively. This overarching skill was woven into the Optimism Speech assignment in several ways. First, as students planned and drafted their speeches in writing, they identified their main argument, gathered evidence, and presented effectively. Next, they asked peers for feedback, making revisions to hone their communication. Finally, they presented their speeches, using oral and visual tools such as intonation, facial expressions, gestures, emphasis, and pacing to deliver their arguments.
Some students were apprehensive about this assignment at first, but the results were spectacular. They’re unlocking a skill that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Congratulations to the top three, see photo!
2022 GFPD Patient Ambassador
Jayla, student in the School for the Blind, was chosen to be Patient Ambassador for the Global Foundation for Peroxisomal Disorders. Congratulations to Jayla and her family!
Martial Arts and Mediation
One student, in the School for the Blind, chose the topic “Martial Arts and Meditation” for her capstone project. Her mentor is a CSDB staff member who helps with the skills needed for successful learning. In the photos, the student demonstrated martial arts moves and helped students practice, while the mentor provided accessibility for a student who participated. Great job on this capstone project!
2022 Denver Metro Virtual Braille Challenge
The Braille Challenge is the only academic competition of its kind held in January through March, each year in North America, for students who are blind or visually impaired. Any blind or visually impaired student, in first through twelfth grades, who can read and write braille is eligible to participate in the Braille Challenge. In Colorado, CSDB hosts two contests. One in person at CSDB, February 17, 2022 and the Denver Metro Virtual Braille Challenge. January 17, 2022 is the registration deadline for the 2022 Denver Metro Virtual Braille Challenge Contest, which is open to all students, in all school districts, across Colorado.
The National Braille Institute Braille Challenge is co-sponsored by Humanware and Mattel!
National Braille Literacy Month
January is National Braille Literacy Month
World Braille Day
January 4 is the birth anniversary of Louis Braille. He discovered a tactile method by using raised dots that allow visually impaired people to read and write. Braille was born in 1809. He lost his sight when he was 3 years old. In 1825, he created the braille code that is used today.
February 17, 2022, CSDB will be hosting the Braille Challenge. This is a contest where students compete against other students across the nation. Prizes are awarded and students have fun competing and showing off all their braille skills. Contests are held at various locations and times throughout the nation.
5 interesting facts about braille from https://blog.byjus.com/early-learn/world-braille-day-louis-2022-blind-people-read-story/
- Braille started off as a mode of ‘night-writing’.
- Braille books are thicker than print books.
- Did you know there are braille games now?
- Braille math is called Nemeth Code (Also, UEB Math Code).
- Braille keyboards in smartphones.