Thursday, February 3, 2011

From Perkins School for the Blind


1. Inside Story: Social Skills

2. Perkins Spotlight: Deafblind Program Social Lunch Bunch

3. Perkins International: Social Skills Targeted in East Africa

4. News: Grousbeck Center for Students and Technology Groundbreaking

5. New Educational Webcast: Wheelchair Orientation & Mobility

6. Important Dates: Holiday Concert

7. Featured Products: Adaptive Technology for Daily Living

8. Other Resources: Perkins Scout

9. Support Perkins: Donate Now to Double Your Gift

10. Advocacy Appeal: Join Our Advocacy Efforts




1. INSIDE STORY: Social Skills

Imagine walking into a crowded lunchroom and looking for a seat. You notice a group of people about your age and similarly dressed. One of them is wearing a baseball cap with the name of your favorite team. You watch them leaning in towards each other talking and smiling. Their body language appears welcoming and approachable. You sit down and strike up a conversation.

Now imagine walking into the same situation with your eyes closed. You are led to the first available seat. You don't know the gender or age of the person sitting beside you and you can't rely on visual cues to find common ground.

When it comes to developing social skills, people with vision have the advantage of incidental learning as they naturally observe their surroundings and the interactions of other people. But for students who are visually impaired, social skills must be explicitly taught in the curriculum.

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2. PERKINS SPOTLIGHT: Deafblind Program Social Lunch Bunch

Nick, 18, stands in front of a wall of snacks running his hand over packaged pretzels, microwave popcorn, and poptarts. Unfortunately he left his wallet back in the cottage. No treat today.

"Aww shucks!," exclaims Christa Gicklhorn, who oversees the social lunch bunch group in Perkins Deafblind Program. "Next time remember to go over your list and plan out what you need for the day."

During the lunchtime period students develop social skills and put concepts learned in the classroom to practical use. Practicing personal responsibility is part of the process.

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3. PERKINS INTERNATIONAL: Social Skills Targeted in East Africa

Supported by the USAID Disability Fund, Perkins International is helping children in East Africa who are blind and visually impaired with additional disabilities or deafblind to develop communication and social skills and break through isolation.

"When a person has a significant disability people don't think about them as having social lives and having families," explains Perkins International Program Coordinator for Africa and Caribbean Regions Marianne Riggio. "But no matter what their disability all people have the same fundamental human need for social relationships."

In Tanzania and Uganda, Perkins International is expanding transition programs for students with disabilities, focusing on social skills and sex education. To feel a sense of belonging and acceptance, students need more than training in vocational and daily living skills they need to be included in the social fabric of their home communities.

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4. NEWS: Grousbeck Center for Students and Technology Groundbreaking

At Perkins School for the Blind, the use of a simple tool the shovel launched the construction of a 17,000 square foot social and teaching center that will employ the most sophisticated high-tech tools available to people who are visually impaired. Sparked by a generous gift of the Grousbeck Family Foundation, the new building will be known as The Grousbeck Center for Students and Technology.

Following an official groundbreaking ceremony on September 29, 2010, students who are blind tried on construction vests and hard hats and took turns shoveling dirt or sitting at the bulldozer controls. The sensory learning experience was designed to orient students and staff to the new construction project.

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5. New Educational Webcast: Wheelchair Orientation & Mobility

In this new webcast, James Scott Crawford, a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, addresses the training needs of people with visual impairment who use power wheelchairs as their primary mode of transportation.

Watch it now >>


6. IMPORTANT DATES: Holiday Concerts

December 9 (7:30 pm) & December 12 (3:00 pm) 2010

Perkins Holiday Concerts

Listen to the sounds of the season at Perkins. Our concerts have included performances from The Music Makers, The Upper School Chorus, Chamber Singers, The Handbell Ensemble, and various vocal soloists. Join us for the holidays!

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7. PERKINS PRODUCTS: Adaptive Technology for Daily Living

Perkins Products offer a wide range of gift ideas to make life easier and more fun for people who are blind or visually impaired. Shop at home from our web site or visit our new store on the Perkins campus.

Learn more >>

Visit our online store to see all our product offerings >>


8. OTHER RESOURCES: Perkins Scout

In this growing online database, you'll find reliable, authoritative, and up-to-date resources covering a range of topics, including general information on blindness, help for families with relatives who are visually impaired, and resources for educators and

other professionals.

Start searching today.


9. SUPPORT PERKINS: Donate Now and Your Gift Will Be Doubled.

Double the Power of Your Gift

Help us raise $100,000 before the end of the year. Give to our 2010 Holiday Challenge Match Appeal.

Donate Now >>


10. ADVOCACY APPEAL: Join Our Advocacy Efforts

Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), integrates essential life skills, such as independent living, social skills and alternate communication modes like Braille, into the education of students who are visually impaired with or without additional disabilities. These foundational skills not only help students with disabilities to access core school subjects but also prepare them to live and work independently

Perkins is teaming up with other organizations to make the ECC mandatory in all mainstream schools. To do this we need the U.S. Congress to include the ECC in the reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the law that guarantees services to children with disabilities throughout the country. IDEA is scheduled to be up for reauthorization in 2011

Join our advocacy efforts. We will need your voice to tell the educational secretary that the ECC should be mandatory in all mainstream schools.

Learn more about ECC >>

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