wow, what a summer!
For many of you, summer just zoomed by these past three months, especially in the field of deaf-blindness. It definitely was not “deaf-blind time” this summer! Below are some of the exciting highlights:
American Association of the Deaf-Blind National Symposium
First stop was the American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB) National Symposium in Fort Mitchell, KY in June. There were about 500 participants, of whom 165 were deaf-blind, 300 Support Service Providers/interpreters, and the rest exhibitors, professionals, and family members. This was the first time AADB held its symposium in a hotel compared to university campuses as with previous conferences. That translates to more easily moderated temperatures and a restaurant on site! Ahhh, happy SSPs….
This symposium had a heavier focus on workshops and exhibits, mostly on the latest technology for deaf-blind people. Additionally, a teen/young adult program and parent group ran concurrently to symposium activities. Wow, oh wow, was there a lot of activity during the 3-day General Business Meetings for AADB members! Due to a strong and determined membership, a change of the guard took place in the middle of the symposium installing Jill Gaus of Michigan, former Vice President, to acting president of AADB. Jill stepped up and took her new position with great gusto!
By far, the most exciting thing related to SSPs and interpreters during the symposium was the first-ever mentoring program for interpreters working with deaf-blind individuals, spearheaded by the Gallaudet University Regional Interpreter Education Center. The program entailed a 3-week online course laden with deaf-blind related content culminating in a 5-day onsite experiential learning at the symposium. Instructors, Jamie Pope, Rhonda Jacobs and Susanne Morgan Morrow, led eleven mentors and twenty five mentees throughout the course. Participants were matched in teams of two or three to work with the deaf-blind delegates. Under the expert direction and support of experienced mentors, mentees had an opportunity to put into practice the content that was learned online with the delegates at the conference. They had an opportunity to utilize a wide range of communication modes – everything from close vision signing to reduced field signing to tactile, not to mention providing auditory and visual support to individuals who are oral communicators! There was much practice with human guide techniques and giving visual information throughout the long days. Participants in the mentoring program met for one hour everyday to debrief and share their experiences with one another. The program was a win-win all around and a huge success! This proved to be the perfect way to help interpreters gain experience and confidence working with deaf-blind people!
Many thanks must go to Gallaudet University Regional Interpreter Education Center, Northeastern Regional Interpreter Education Center, Western Regional Interpreter Education Center, The CATIE Center, AADB, and National Task Force on Deaf-Blind Interpreting for their collaborative support for the program.
Annual Deaf-Blind Project Directors’ Meeting – Washington, DC
Just before hopping on the plane to Atlanta, all of the directors and coordinators of the state deaf-blind projects gathered together in Washington, DC for the Annual Project Directors’ Meeting. The day before the main event the project staff attended a day-long conference on content related to deaf-blindness and the provision of technical assistance. Much of the day was devoted to use of technology to leverage resources and creative ways to meet the needs of stakeholders across the miles. However, a most fascinating presentation was given by Dr. Charles Berlin of Tampa, FL on the important difference between Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) and Auditory Neoropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD). We learned that these very different diagnoses greatly affects programming and appropriate auditory interventions. For more information: www.nationaldb.org/dbp/apr2010.htm#auditory
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf National Conference
Next up, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) held its biennial conference in hot Atlanta (Hotlanta!) in July. The temps outside weren’t the only thing that sizzled! The three workshops on deaf-blind interpreting related topics given by DB-TIP owner, Susanne Morgan Morrow, were well attended and well received.
The following presentations were provided:
Attendees had the opportunity to interact with each other and participate in various hands-on activities. As research shows, we learn best from doing so DB-TIP kept the participants moving! There were many new faces in the crowd, which shows a continued interest in learning strategies to facilitate communication with deaf-blind community members.
Thank you to Bryen Yunashko for his technology and interviewing skills as well as to the many community friends who shared their pictures of work in action to support the presentations.
As a 'thank you' to all DB-TIP members the presentation materials have been available to you at the following link: www.deafblindtip.com/rid2011.
10th CHARGE Syndrome International Conference
On the heels of the RID conference came the 10th CHARGE Syndrome International Conference, “Where Magic Happens” (and did it ever!), the following week in Orlando, FL. CHARGE syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes deaf-blindness. Each letter in CHARGE represents a pattern of birth defects specific to the disorder: Coloboma of the eye, Heart defects, Atresia of the choanae, Retardation of growth and/or development, Genital and/or urinary abnormalities, and Ear abnormalities and deafness. The conference provided learning, networking and social opportunities for families and professionals on an array of topics related to CHARGE Syndrome. There were multiple simultaneous breakout sessions releasing current research data, personal anecdotal experiences and communication success strategies – just to name a few. But it wasn’t ALL business! So much fun was had at the CHARGE Idol contest and carnival event, CHARGE-a-palooza! Additionally, a professional development opportunity was coordinated during the conference for certified and pre-certified interpreters. Several mentors in the program were representatives of the RID Deaf-Blind Member Section. This opportunity allowed the interpreters to gain knowledge about CHARGE Syndrome, practice interpreting modifications and even bid on some fun items at the silent auction! Consider becoming a member of the CHARGE Association and join us in 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ! Visit them at www.chargesyndrome.org.
Now it’s time to catch our breath before the fall flurry begins! Check out the fantastic fall offerings in this newsletter.