Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement


Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.

Teaching BVI 101 at AHEAD
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AHEAD Logo College and university providers of accommodations to students with disabilities are getting an in-depth look into accessible textbooks with the help of Learning Ally at the AHEAD 2011 conference in Seattle. Our own Annemarie Cooke filed a report. AHEAD (the Association on Higher Education and Disability) has drawn some 1,000 professionals from schools throughout the U.S., Canada and a host of other countries.  Running from July 11 - 16, this year's event, the organization's 34th annual conference, was titled "Sustainable Access Through Partnership." Presenting a half-day session called "BVI 101" were blind long-time Learning Ally member and representative Annemarie Cooke (pictured below); Kathy McGillivray, director of disability services at Hamblin University in St. Paul; and Cary Supalo, Ph.D, president and founder of Independence Science, a company that creates products for facilitating science, technology, engineering and math as careers for blind students. Cary also is a past winner of a Scholastic Achievement Award from RFB&D/Learning Ally and is a highly accomplished blind professional chemist. Here's the official conference description of our half-day seminar: "Feeling a little nervous about the arrival of the first (or second) blind or visually impaired student on your campus? Blindness continues to be a low-incidence disability, representing but a fraction of a percentage of all people with disabilities. It’s no wonder that many disability service providers never have served a blind or visually impaired student over a span of many years. This presentation will get you started in understanding blindness and vision loss, determining appropriate accommodations and where to find them as well as why some myths about blindness are just myths." Stopping by the Learning Ally booth at the AHEAD conference in Seattle was Kelly Woodward, Director of Disability Services at Virginia Tech. She wanted to thank our organization for its quick turnaround in recording a physics textbook that one of her blind students needed. "I called kind of in a panic," she recalled. "It was the late Spring and we needed the book for the Fall semester." Kelly was directed to send us a hard copy of the book -- and the first accessible audio installments arrived for her student in mid-July in plenty of time for the Fall semester. "I was excited, very excited and that's what we needed. I'm SO glad y'all do physics books!!!" - Annemarie Cooke

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